Monthly Archives: August 2022

British Soccer Media Ignores Chelsea Fanbase’s Anti-Semitism……

If, like me, you watched the Chelsea vs Spurs Premier League match yesterday you couldn’t help but notice the deep animosity of the home fans to Spurs and its supporters.

The commentators could hardly ignore it – the hostility of Chelsea’s fans to those who support Spurs is a regular feature of games between the teams at Stamford Bridge – but explaining it was a different matter, since to do so honestly would be to admit that there is something rotten at the heart of this part of the Premier League.

Conveniently the two managers, Spurs’ Conte and Chelsea’s Tuchel, were both awarded red cards at the final whistle as one celebrated the result (Conte) and the other (Tuchel) lamented it, so the behaviour of the Chelsea fans could be assumed to be an extension of that rivalry. No need then to dig deeper to explain the special, deep hatred so many Chelsea fans have for their north London neighbours.

Except there is another explanation and it can be found by typing the following words into the Google search bar: ‘Chelsea’, ‘Fans’ and ‘anti-Semitism’.

If you do, you are likely to discover stories that have opening paragraphs like this: ‘Shocking footage has emerged of Chelsea fans giving Nazi salutes, singing anti-Semitic songs and hissing to mimic the noise of a gas chamber.’

Or this: ‘A Chelsea fan who posted antisemitic and racist tweets aimed at fans of rival London soccer club Tottenham — including photos of Auschwitz and a man doing a Nazi salute — was Friday jailed for eight weeks’.

And this: ‘Shocking new footage has emerged of Chelsea fans performing Nazi salutes, singing anti-Semitic songs and mimicking the noise of a gas chamber. The explosive revelations feature in new BBC Three film Shame In The Game, which examines the devastating impact of football racism in the UK after a year which saw hate crimes at professional games soar by 66 per cent in England and Wales.’

These three examples of Chelsea fans’ anti-semitism are notable on two counts – they happened very recently and are a small sample of scores of similar incidents involving Chelsea’s fan base that can be found on the internet.

The former owner of Chelsea FC, Russian zillionaire, Roman Abramovich, who is himself Jewish, but was forced to sell the club following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, owned the club for nearly two decades but only recently made any effort to tackle this bigotry.

As the US television network, NBC attempts to popularise British soccer on American cable television this aspect of the game is not something the station’s executives want to explain or even highlight to their viewers. Like nearly everyone else involved in the sport, it’s best to pretend it’s not happening.

Watch NBC’s coverage of the Chelsea vs Spurs game yesterday and you will not be able to find any explanation of the anti-semitic basis of the Chelsea fan base’s hostility to Tottenham Hotspur. Isn’t that how the holocaust itself happened? Pretend it is not happening until it is too late?

‘Sinn Fein Moves To Centre’ – Another Media Spot As Election Nears…….

Fair play to the Dublin-based media for keeping a wary eye on Sinn Fein’s rightward lurch as a general election in the South gets closer. It is encouraging to see the press at least doing its job – although none of what is happening will surprise this writer or the more devoted of his readers – and the latest to join the business of hard-nosed Shinner watching is The Irish Examiner’s political editor Daniel McConnell in this piece published today.

Here is the article for those unable to link to the Examiners site:

Daniel McConnell: Is Sinn Féin moving to the centre as it prepares for power? 
Pearse Doherty and other senior party members have been increasingly interacting with major businesses and employers. Picture: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Tue, 09 Aug, 2022 – 07:00

Daniel McConnell,  Political Editor

News that Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty and other senior party members have been increasingly interacting with major businesses and employers may not be surprising, in light of their current poll ratings.

But, given its history and its previous anti-wealth policies, it is, on another level, truly remarkable how normal it is sounding these days.

By normal, I mean not radical.

For example, the cornerstone of its 2011 election manifesto was the introduction of a third 48% rate of tax on all incomes over €100,000 and a 1% wealth tax on high earners with assets over €1m, including family homes.

This was from the party who at the time made its TDs only take the average industrial wage and surrender the rest to the party coffers.

Such noble stances have since been dispensed with and pragmatism now reigns.

The party’s current tax policies are far more temperate, with the party now saying it wants to remove tax credits on a tapered basis on individual incomes above €100,000.

It does still want to introduce a 3% solidarity tax on individual incomes above €140,000 but has made clear it is only on the portion of the salary over €140,000 and not the whole lot. 

It says it also wants to end the corporation tax break for the bailed-out banks.

But what Sinn Féin has been saying to big tech firms is really interesting.

Firstly, it is interesting that such firms see Sinn Féin as likely holders of ministerial office after the next election and wanted to see the whites of the eyes of those who they need to lobby.

Second, the response back from Doherty and co was fascinating.

“We have stated our commitment to a high-wage economy and sustainable tax base,” the party confirmed to me.

Sinn Féin is sounding and looking more and more like a party of the centre, one that will end up adhering to the status quo. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Sinn Féin is sounding and looking more and more like a party of the centre, one that will end up adhering to the status quo. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

“That includes increasing research and development through changes to the tax system, implementing the OECD international tax agreement and maintaining the current 12.5% rate, and protecting Ireland’s competitiveness by tackling long-run failures in housing and childcare,” it said.

This is some transformation and combined with its abandonment of its opposition to the Special Criminal Court, Sinn Féin is sounding and looking more and more like a party of the centre, one that will end up adhering to the status quo.

But Doherty and co will want their pound of flesh in some form to prove their change credentials.

They have chosen to focus in on the Special Assignee Relief Programme (Sarp), which was established in 2012 to entice entrepreneurs and social innovators into Ireland by providing additional tax relief on high incomes for up to five years.

Doherty and co detest it, or at least they say they do.

They have argued that the party does not support such a tax break that in one year gave 55 millionaires tax breaks worth more than €111,000 each.

Sarp was introduced by Fine Gael and has been highly controversial, as those on the left have argued that school teachers and nurses have ended up paying more tax than multi-millionaires.

Tax breaks

Such tax breaks are much beloved of the big tech firms, which clearly do not want to see them abolished.

Gerard Brady, IBEC head of national policy and chief economist said abolishing Sarp “would risk damaging Ireland’s ability to compete for highly skilled staff”.

Brady said highly skilled and increasingly mobile workers are the key to competitiveness in an age where knowledge and intangible capital are driving global growth.

The truth is that this tax break is not just for a handful of people but hundreds who are able to offset large portions of their income.

According to the most recent data, 50 executives earning between €1m and €3m benefited from Sarp in 2019, with significant tax write-offs available on a large chunk of their income.

The scheme also allows write-offs of private schooling fees up to €5,000 and the cost of a return trip home once per year, if paid for by the person’s employer.

In 2019, a total of 1,574 people were enrolled on Sarp, with 433 in finance and insurance, 337 in technology, and 258 in wholesale or retail trades.

Should Sinn Féin’s poll ratings continue to remain where they are, such meetings with big business and big industry will not only reoccur, they will intensify.

At Last Some Truth-telling About SF And Being In Government……

Comes courtesy of Harry McGee in The Irish Times today (Sat, Aug 7):

For those without a subscription, here it is:

For Sinn Féin, the reality of government won’t be change, it will be compromise

Sinn Féin’s rhetoric is populist but is not achievable in government

By Harry McGee

In the early 1990s, a representative of one of the ratings agencies arrived in Dublin to meet experts and academics while reporting on how Ireland was performing economically. Among those he met was a senior political journalist. A general election was imminent and the opinion polls were suggesting that the Labour Party would do well.

The ratings agency guy said it seemed to him from the election rhetoric that a Labour-influenced government would fundamentally alter the course of Irish economic policy. The journalist dismissed the suggestion out of hand. “Labour is not going to change anything. No matter who is in power, it will all remain the same.”

The reply might have had more than a sprinkle of cynicism but the net point was strong. Reinventing the wheel is not a regular occurrence in settled democracies. New governments – even those with a radical change agenda – find that the faster they try to go, the faster their wheels spin in the mud. The superstructure of the Irish State budges haltingly and slowly.

There’s been a long history in Irish politics of new brushes sweeping suspiciously like the old brush. When it looked like the radical new party Fianna Fáil could gain power in 1932, the government party Cumann na nGaedheal went full throttle with negative campaigning.

“The gunmen are voting Fianna Fáil, the communists are voting Fianna Fáil,” read one of its posters. Another focusing on Eamon de Valera, read: “Devvy’s Circus, absolutely the greatest road show in Ireland today – Señor de Valera, world famous illusionist, oath swallower and escapologist. See his renowned act. Escaping from the straitjacket of the Republic. Frank F Aiken, fearsome fire-eater. Shaunty O’Kelly, the man in dress clothes. Monsieur Lemass, famous tightrope performer, see him cross from the Treaty to the Republic every night.”

The scare tactics did not work and failed to halt the Fianna Fáil juggernaut. The fears stoked were unfounded. Fianna Fáil had new policies – especially on housing provision – but little that could be classified as revolutionary in the context of the age.

And so it is with Sinn Féin. The next general election is not due to take place until 2025. Before that are the local elections and the European elections in 2024.

Before a vote is cast Sinn Féin is on a winner. It had dismal showings in both polls in 2019. It saw its number of council seats halved from 159 to 81, and garnered only 9.5 per cent of the vote, a 5.7 per cent fall from 2014.

The party also lost two of its three European Parliament seats. It was that poor performance that influenced its decision to run a reduced slate in the 2020 election hardly six months later, unaware of the extraordinary windfall that was about to come its way.

So, starting from a low base in 2024, it is highly likely that Sinn Féin will be the big winner in those two elections, taking votes – and seats – from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Even returning to the status quo ante will give it momentum going into the 2025 general election. Of course, second-tier elections are not a direct indicator of performance in general elections (as many, including me, painfully found out in 2020) but in this instance, Sinn Féin will be able to galvanise a growing view among the public that it can be trusted by the electorate to govern the country.

We are coming close to that point now. Bertie Ahern, always an astute reader of emerging trends, did an interview in 2005 when he said that Sinn Féin in the south was not ready for government and would need a period of time to transition, as happened with the evolution of Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party. He predicted it would take two decades.

It looks like he was on the money. Many in the older generation view the prospect of a Sinn Féin government with horror, given its bloody legacy. For anybody under the age of 30, that does not register.

The party has adopted a left-leaning and populist agenda in opposition and has gained traction with the young, especially with its housing policies.

Some of those grand promises, especially in health and housing, will take years to be realised, if ever

The party’s policy offerings in some areas are thin. Its climate change policies have little credibility. It supports the targets but has no thought-out ideas on how to achieve them other than to oppose the key policies of the current Government including the carbon tax. Its own alternative budget last year had the cheek to include a sucker payment for cows and sheep (€124 million) as a “climate change” measure (when such a payment would lead to increased emissions).

Its promises will leave a good few hostages to fortune – 20,000 social and affordable homes in a year, full redress for Mica and pyrite homes, the pension age reduced to 65, no increases in carbon tax, rent relief, welfare increases, VAT reductions on fuel and energy prices, abolition of property tax, reductions in creche fees, State-run childcare facilities, large increases in health spending and provision (including €250 million to tackle waiting lists). As against that, it promises to balance the books by increasing the tax take from those who earn more than €100,000, and by targeting more punitive taxes on the perceived villains of the housing and economic crisis (banks, speculators, vulture funds, data centres).

Some of those grand promises (especially in health and housing) will take years to be realised, if ever. In interviews earlier this year Mary Lou McDonald sounded like she was tempering expectations of what the party can achieve in a first term in government. She is right. The biggest reality for any new government isn’t change. It is compromise. Sinn Féin, if it gains power, will be no different from any other party in that respect.