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Election spells the end of Ireland’s old order

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The reverberations of the dramatic Irish General Election continue as we go to press. Sinn Fein’s astonishing electoral insurgency has put a serious dent in the old order of Fine Gael/Fianna Fail, which had prevailed for nearly a century.

Not only did Sinn Fein win more of the popular vote than any other party, its leader Mary Lou MacDonald topped an impressive election campaign by winning more votes for Taoiseach (prime minister) than either the incumbent Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael or Micheal Martin of Fianna Fail.

Rishi Rich takes top job as chancellor

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Boris Johnson has just installed the richest man in the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak, as Chancellor of the Exchequer in his “people’s government”. The fact that Sunak is a disgusting sycophant, only appointed because he was prepared to demonstrate absolute commitment to the realisation of Johnson’s greatness, and who would do what he was told, should not disguise this fact. Indeed, a willingness to publicly humiliate and demean oneself before Johnson is now an essential requirement of being a Tory minister.

Cocky Johnson faces dilemmas

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Britain finally left the EU at 11pm on 31 January, signalling the ease with which Boris Johnson can now get his way in parliament following the Tories’ big election win.

Johnson was thwarted in his attempt to secure a special Big Ben bong to mark the occasion. However, his government has big ambitions. Johnson wants to shift the political landscape of Britain.

He sees being hard on immigration and law and order as key, leavened with gestures towards “rebalancing” London and the regions.

Billionaire super-yacht owner dies

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Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, according to the British establishment one of the finest, wisest, kindest men in the world, has died. Flags were flown at half-mast on public buildings and the prime minister, Prince Charles and the Chief of the Defence Staff flew out to offer their heartfelt condolences.

According to Boris Johnson’s official statement, Qaboos was “exceptionally wise…the father of the nation who sought to improve the lives of the Omani people”.

Labour leadership contest is not the key

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The current battle to lead the Labour Party stands in sharp contrast to the leadership contests in 2015 and 2016 when Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature electrified the campaigns.

Corbyn was both the most left wing Labour leader in history and the most popular with the party membership, which swelled to more than 500,000, making Labour the biggest political party in Europe at a time when Labour-type parties elsewhere in Europe are in crisis.

His victory in 2016 came despite two-thirds of the shadow cabinet resigning in an effort to bring him down.

Democratic race sees Sanders surge

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There is a real possibility of Donald Trump being re-elected in November. Trump has made much of the mini revival of the US economy, while the attempt to impeach him will have done little to hurt his chances. In fact it is likely to fire up his base by allowing him to continue to pose as anti-establishment.

So the imposing figure of Trump, bigot-in-chief, looms large over all the candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination for its presidential candidate in November.

Trump's deal is a disaster for Palestinians

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With much fanfare and mutual backslapping, Donald Trump and Binyamin Netanyahu launched the US government’s “peace plan” at a glitzy press conference on 28 January. In addition to the world’s media, three Gulf states sent their ambassadors: the UAE, Bahrain and Oman (although the Omani ambassador confided to the Times of Israel that he didn’t even know what was in the document).

What's in store from a Johnson government?

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The Tory election victory transformed Boris Johnson from a prime minister who could barely win a vote in Parliament to one who can, for now, do as he pleases. It is a grotesque prospect. Johnson is a serial liar, a product of the ruling class who, until the morning of 13 December, lacked the respect of many in it.

As recently as October, David Cameron compared Johnson to a “greased piglet that manages to slip through people’s hands”.

Yet the meaning of Johnson’s victory for his class was clear. “Hedge funds enjoyed a bumper payday”, the Financial Times reported.

Nationalists take the lead in North of Ireland

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The election results in the North of Ireland saw a drop in the overall share of the vote for the two main parties at Stormont. Both the DUP (down 5.4 percent) and Sinn Fein (down 6.7 percent).

The DUP lost two MPs to the Alliance Party in Strangford and to Sinn Fein in North Belfast, where John Finucane whose father Pat was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries, ousted Nigel Dodds, one of its leading strategists. Sinn Fein dramatically lost Foyle to the SDLP.

Eyes on the prize

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The devastating blow of last month’s general election defeat will be hard for Labour activists and all those who willed a Corbyn victory to get over.

A battle for interpretation began immediately after the exit poll, with Parliamentary Labour Party figures leaping onto our screens to tell us Corbyn was entirely to blame. But, as Joseph Choonara shows in this issue, the problems for Labour date back to the Blair years.

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