Monday, January 30, 2017

Muslim Ban and the New Right

The idea of a New Right and New Left is something I've brought up before.

I am working on a large post that will detail the split better than I have before; but wanted to note this "Muslim Ban" is one of the 'wedge issues' that will differentiate the New Right from the New Left.

I'm also aware of the attacks in Quebec City last night; but don't have anything of use to add to that discussion.

These events will have a massive impact on politics in this country, and on ongoing leadership races; but at this moment in time I find myself personally drained, and will need to recharge my batteries before making posts about these topics.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Quick Advertisment

The Rogue POTUS twitter just tweeted this

Suspicion that Bannon urging POTUS to egg on protests, then call in National Guard to disperse, as demonstration of power. #resistpeacefully

I'd just like to remind new readers that our regular readers already knew to expect this.

Quoting from a post I made on September 20th of last year

When police were caught on TV assaulting a protester by hitting her on the head with a baton, Joh gave them a pat on the back. The protesters, enemies of 'order', were the bad guy. This plays well because the majority of people who vote have never taken a part on any mass demonstration of this sort. They can not identify with the protester, but they can identify with fear. Who is it they fear? Not the policeman, who is their neighbour, their friend, but with the protestor, who is behaving in a way that seems incomprehensible.

Joh's control was in the press. While he did not force opposition off the air, his strategy was one of a showman. Joh used television to gain control not of the executive machinery, not of craftily devised legislation, but to gain control of society and the voters themselves.


Of the three presented above, Trump is most like Joh Bjelke-Petersen. In some ways, Trump is also similar to Margaret Thatcher, and different from Ronald Reagan. Trump's view, to summarize, is that there are two kinds of American. A "Normal" American, who has a job, a family, watches lots of television, and is probably white, and an "Abnormal" American, who sticks to strange traditions, spends their time protesting, and gets all their news from online sources.

Could a "Calexit" work?

Generally when people ask this question they are talking about money, so lets dive right in.

After about an hour of research and number crunching, I've come up with the following data.

Federal and State spending in California is 640B, while Federal and State revenues are 570B. Of this, roughly 70B is the existing Federal deficit.

In short, California would be in the exact same position it is now; as part of the USA.

I've been rounding as some of the information I've found is inexact, but generally, the only "deficit" California would face is that currently existing on the Federal level.

There are a few ways to cut into this.

Tripling the state sales tax would cover the gap.
Doubling the state income tax would also do so, without the need to touch the federal income tax rates.
Upping all Federal income taxes by a third would also cover it.
As would cutting all military spending to 0.

Of course, each of those is silly on their own, and a combo would likely be used.

20B of the military spending is on spending outside the state; stuff like research and development for new projects California may not be interested in, or deployments overseas. That could easily be sliced in half.

Another roughly 25B could be raised by adding a 2.5% sales tax, bringing us halfway there.

California likely has little desire to remain as well armed as the US as a whole, as such the 50B military budget could easily be cut by a fifth.

It also makes little sense to have two overlapping income tax bracket systems, so abolishing one and adjusting the other seems prudent. Abolishing federal income taxes and multiplying the income tax rate for each state bracket by 3.7 would just about break even, meaning the current 1.00% tax bracket is now a 3.70% bracket, and the current 12.30% bracket is now a 45.51% bracket. However, by using a flat "4" and increasing the 1% bracket to 4%, and the 12.3% bracket to 49.2%, you can take another 20B off the deficit.

The remaining 5B likely could be found the way other small deficits are covered, small cuts to other programs. Remember that we are now talking about 5B out of 575B in spending.

So in short, yes. When it comes to the ability of the government to pay for services, California could indeed "work" as it's own country.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A proposal for mild electoral reform in Canada

The mydemocracy survey indicates Canadians want more proportional representation, but do not want (full) proportional representation. How can we best achieve this?

I'd say we do so by adding a mild reform; one that would be retro-active to the last election.

To achieve this we simply ensure that in each province, the most under-represented party (as calculated by Jefferson's Method, invented by Thomas Jefferson) shall be assigned additional seats.

Each province shall be given a minimum of 1 seat. Beyond that, each province shall be given a number of additional MPs according to population, so that the province has no more than 1 proportional MP per 2 million persons.

This means 1 seat for most provinces, 2 for Alberta and British Columbia, 4 for Quebec, and 6 for Ontario.

As you may know, Jefferson's Method provides the identical results as the D'Hondt method does; but "Thomas Jefferson" is a lot less 'scary' to political parties than "D'Hondt" is, especially to those parties that think voters are frightened by mathematical formulas.

The Conservatives are the most under-represented political party in PE, NB, NS, and MB, and so would receive an additional MP in each of those provinces in the first round. The Greens are the most under-represented in BC, Ontario, and Quebec, and so would gain an MP from each; while the NDP is the most under-represented in Alberta and Newfoundland, and so would elect an MP from each of those provinces. Lastly, The Liberals would gain an MP from Saskatchewan.

The second round would see 4 different parties gain seats; the Bloc in Quebec, the NDP in Ontario, the Liberals in Alberta, and the Greens in BC.

The next two rounds would see the NDP gain two Ontario seats, while the Greens and Bloc gain 1 seat each from Quebec. This will bring the Bloc Quebecois up to 12 seats and thus, party status.

The final two rounds would see the NDP and Greens gain a seat each from Ontario.

The sum total of these results would see the Greens and New Democrats gaining 6 seats each, the Conservatives gaining 4, and the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois each gaining 2.

This kind of minimalistic PR will help ease Canadians into the idea that proportional representation is not a scary thing.

Friday, January 27, 2017

27JAN2017 - Updates and thoughts (2017 predictions)

I have a few suspicions on what the "themes" of the year will be, when we all look back at things 11 months from now.

  • The Unusual
  • Fake News
  • Repeating History

The Unusual replaces The Unexpected; the theme of 2016. Take the fact that former UK Prime Minister said he likes to name birds after Boris Johnson before shooting them, or that Trump apparently likes even his showers to be golden.

In a similar vein is fake news; but this will play out differently. Rather than people posting fake stories and claim they are real, people will start looking at real stories and claim they are fake. This will be the major direction "fake news" will take this year.

Lastly, I expect repeats of history to be a major theme as well. Take for example Jason Kenney and Brian Jean. Jean is the boring not-too-popular leader of a right-wing party in a place with two right-wing parties that uses green as it's primary colour; while Kenney is liable to become the next PC leader, and merge it with the other small-c conservative party to create a merged Conservative Party.

Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper already did this dance, and we saw how it turned out. The boring guy won the leadership because the PC leader had just run and won a leadership campaign and didn't have the ability to properly fundraise or get volunteer hours from those who already 'gave their all' to get him elected as party leader.

In terms of general politics, a few things to update.

Iceland finally did pick a government, Independence will sit in coalition with Bright Future and Reform. Interestingly, despite winning 21 seats, compared to the combined 11 for the other two parties, there will be 6 IP members of Cabinet, 3 Reform, and 2 BF. Only one poll has been released since the announcement, and it shows all government parties down slightly, with the Left-Greens being up by a significant margin. The next election is expected in 2020.

France will see the Socialists hold their presidential primaries on Sunday, which will solidify the main candidates from each party.

The Netherlands votes in March. The nativist PVV has a lead, but will have difficulty finding coalition partners should they win a plurality.

Germany has seen the SPD elect a new candidate for Chancellor in this year's election. All the polls since 2013 have shown the current CDU/SPD coalition will win a majority of seats, and that alternative left coalitions will not have enough seats to displace the CDU; but this new leader may shake things up.

Western Australia votes in March, Labor is expected to win.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Change to schedule

Due to low readership numbers, and other pulls of my time, daily posts about Northern Ireland are going to be delayed somewhat.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Past elections in Northern Ireland

All was not doom and gloom prior to the 1998 stormont elections.

Local government, one of the biggest problems prior to the 1972 collapse of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, had indeed been 'fixed' in a major way. Starting in 1973, a series of elections were held that continue to the present day. Through the entire period, Northern Ireland, while lacking a government of it's own (at, what we in canada would consider a provincial level) did retain council-level governance (what we in would consider municipal-level)

These elections were held under proportional representation. The old first past the post, single-member wards were now merged into multi-member wards that would proportionally elect councillors, ensuring that gerrymandering could not be so simply used to disenfranchise catholics. The rules were also changed to allow all to vote, not just property owners, so long as they met the same criteria as voting in UK-wide elections (IE only over 18, etc) A map of these multi-member districts can be found here:

I fear these districts mapped may be slightly out of date, but, it does show demographics. Districts with an "irish" flag pattern and green background are those with nationalist majorities, while those with a "british" flag pattern, and an orange background, have unionist majorities; those with a "blank" pattern, and red background, have no clear majority. In the upper left is the constituencies used for UK-wide elections, while the upper-right contains the new council areas (IE municipalities) which were changed a short time ago.

The old areas, along with a colour-coded index of how "British" or "Irish" it's residents consider themselves, can be found on wikipedia:

These are the boundaries used from 1973 to 2014, when the new boundaries came into force.

1973 would see the the UUP take 17% of the vote, over 14% for the Alliance, 13% for the SDLP, and 4% for the DUP. SF did not contest these elections.

1977 saw the party vote solidify. The UUP took 30%, compared to 21% for the SDLP, 14% for the Alliance, and 13% for the DUP. SF again did not contest.

1981 saw the DUP win with 27% of the vote, and the UUP finish second with 26%. SDLP took 18% while the Alliance took 9%. SF did not contest, but an Irish Independence party did, taking 4%.

1985 saw the UUP regain first, winning 30% to the DUP's 24%. SDLP retained 18%, while SF came on to the scene with 12%. Alliance dropped to 7%.

1989 saw the UUP take 31%, and the SDLP finish in second with 21%. The DUP took 18%, and SF 11%, while the Alliance retained 7%.

1993 would see the UUP at 29%, ahead of the SDLP at 22%, and the DUP at 17%. SF managed 12%, and the Alliance returned managed 8%.

1997 had the UUP winning 28% of the vote, and the SDLP winning 21%. SF managed a third placed finish with 17% ahead of the DUP at 16%, and Alliance back at 7%.

the 1996 election to the consultative assembly was similar. 24.17% voted UUP, and 21.36% voted SDLP. The DUP managed third at 18.80%, ahead of SF with 15.47%, and the Alliance at 6.54%. Also winning seats was the UK Unionists, at 3.69%.

The UK Unionist Party (UKUP) were part of a long tradition going back to the 70's, of unionist parties who opposed power sharing. From 1972 to 1978, that party was the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party. It was founded by William Craig, who remained it's leader when the party dissolved. The modern Traditional Unionist Voice, founded by Jim Allister, is another.

4 other parties also joined, as the 1996 assembly gave 2 seats each to the top 10 parties, to ensure that the parties that represented the loyalist militias took part. As a result, the PUP won seats, as did the UDP, which represented the UDA terrorist organization. Also elected were the Labour Coalition, and the NI Women's Coalition (NIWC).

1998 would see each of the 18 westminster constituencies elect 6 members to the assembly using the single transferable vote.

The popular vote results were as follows:

21.99% SDLP
21.28% UUP
18.03% DUP
17.65% SF
6.50% APNI
4.52% UKUP
2.55% PUP
1.61% NIWC
1.07% UDP

However, in a system using STV, seats do not perfectly match the popular vote. Seats were as follows:

28 UUP
20 DUP
18 SF
and 3 Independents (all unionists)

There were 3 reasons for this. Different turnouts in different parts of Northern Ireland meant that unionist seats saw fewer votes needed to elect a member. Additionally, the UUP proved better at politically using the STV system, not only balancing their candidates better so that they are not dropped early or stay in for too many rounds, but also being able to convince voters of other parties to rank them highly.

The next step would be to choose a First Minister and deputy First Minister. The GFA outlined that the largest party in the assembly, Unionist or Nationalist, would submit a nomination for First Minister, and the largest opposite party, for deputy First Minister. Thus the UUP, a Unionist party nominated David Trimble, and the SDLP, a Nationalist party, nominated Seamus Mallon. The two were then sworn in.

Next is picking the Executive. Parties are guaranteed a number of seats based on the number of seats they hold in the assembly. With all 4 qualifying parties deciding to participate, this meant 3 UUP members, 3 SDLP members, 2 SF members and 2 DUP members. The DUP, while participating in government, refused to attend meetings of the whole executive, due to the participation of SF. The DUP had accused the IRA of not disarming as agreed to.

Failure to disarm also caused suspension of the executive on for 3 month period in 2000, followed by short 24 hour suspensions in 2001 to deal with other issues. Finally, it was suspended in 2002 due to an alleged spy ring of the IRA operating in and around stormont, home of the assembly.

In late 2003 another election was held to return local rule to Northern Ireland. The DUP won with 30 seats on 25.7% of the vote. SF proved next most popular, winning 23.5% of the vote, but only 24 seats, behind the UUP at 27 seats, with 22.7% of the vote. The SDLP dropped to 18 seats on 17.0% of the vote, while the Alliance took 6 seats on 3.7% of the vote. 3 others also won seats.

The DUP refused to nominate a First Minister to sit with SF due their refusal to accept the PSNI as the new reformed police service in NI.

In 2007 another election took place. The DUP increased it's lead by taking 36 seats on 30.1% of the vote, while SF also increased it's lead by taking 28 seats on 26.2% of the vote. The UUP dropped to 18 seats, and 14.9% of the vote, behind the SDLP on 15.2% of the vote, and 16 seats. The Alliance managed 7 seats on 5.2% of the vote, while 3 others were elected.

Rather than fall into another period of direct rule from Westminster, the DUP and SF started negotiations. The parties came to an agreement. The DUP would enter into coalition and SF would accept the PSNI.

Gerry Adams of SF then nominated Martin McGuinness to be the deputy First Minister.
The DUP nominated Ian Paisley to be First Minister.

And with that, two men, who, 20 years prior were literally working to kill one another, decided that peace and democracy was the better way.

In 2010, powers of justice were returned to the assembly, and David Ford, leader of the Alliance, was asked to serve in the executive as Justice minister, he agreed.

2011 would see more stability. The DUP won 38 seats on 30.0% of the vote, while SF won 29 on 26.9%. The UUP won 16 seats, but again only took 13.2% of the vote, behind the SDLP at 14.2% and 14 seats. The Alliance took 8 seats, on 7.7% of the vote, while 3 others also won seats.

Ford would continue as Justice minister. This was a job nominated outside the normal procedure of assigning cabinet positions based on proportion of seats taken. As a result, the Alliance, with 8 seats, qualified for a seat chosen the 'normal' way, and had 2 members in the executive, despite both the SDLP and UUP only having 1. This was against 4 SF and 5 DUP members, when counting the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

During this period, the SDLP, UUP, and Alliance began to accuse SF and the DUP of being in cahoots; saying the two parties would agree on a position and then present that position to the executive as a united front. The 3 parties said this was against the spirit of the executive, and threatened to sit in opposition.

2016 would see the DUP hold at 38 seats, with 29.2% of the vote, compared to SF's 28 seats on 24.0%. The UUP would regain an undisputed 3rd place taking 16 seats on 12.6% of the vote, ahead of the SDLP with 12 seats on 12.0%, and the alliance with 8 seats on 7.0% of the vote. 5 others also won seats.

The number of positions in the executive was reduced. Despite qualifying, the UUP, SDLP, and Alliance all announced that they did not feel the DUP and SF would consult with the executive in the way they wished, and all 3 announced they were going into opposition. This left only SF and the DUP in the executive.

This left some concerned, as the Justice portfolio is a sensitive one. Both the DUP and SF agree that the other can not be left with full control over the department. As a result, an Independent member was approached to take on the role, and accepted, leaving 5 DUP, 4 SF, and 1 Independent members in the executive, if you count the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

This is where things stood when the RHI scandal hit. As I spelled out earlier, this has plunged NI into an election.

There are more issues beyond simply the ones listed. SF has felt the speaker of the assembly is biased towards the DUP, and both SF and the DUP have complained about things the other has done. With the UUP, SDLP, and Alliance all in opposition during the last assembly, it's possible that the next assembly will be unable to nominate a First Minister and deputy First Minister, and as a result, will fail.

It's also possible that the 5 main parties will sit down after the election and negotiate changes to the way Northern Ireland operates. They could get rid of the FM/dFM system, or amend it to allow for more flexibility. They could change how the executive works, and how you qualify for it.

All of this is currently up in the air and on the table. Where this goes is something we'll have to wait to see.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Troubles

A number of main players took part in what became known as "The Troubles". I thought it would be wise to introduce them.

Ian Paisley.
His ethnic background is Ulster Scots. He was a Presbyterian preacher who founded his own church, after he was prohibited from preaching by the official Presbyterian church at the time. Paisley became famous during his campaign against homosexuality, and created the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, from which the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, or UPV, split off. The UPV was close to the UVF, and many members belonged to both.

Ulster Volunteer Force.
The UVF would be the main paramilitary and terrorist organization backed by Loyalist forces. They would later set up the Progressive Unionist Party, or PUP, to be their political wing.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.
I've had the chance to talk about both these men recently in another blogpost.

Provisional Irish Republican Army.
This is the faction of the IRA that became the main paramilitary and terrorist organization backed by Republican forces. Sinn Fein was their political wing.

Gerry Fitt, John Hume, and the SDLP.
Leaders of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, or SDLP. The party was founded as a merger between nationalist forces and pro-Labour forces

Oliver Napier and the Alliance.
Created as a cross-community bridge, Oliver Napier helped to found the Alliance, Northern Ireland's 'neutral' party.

You may be wondering what "Ulster Scots" is. These are people who are descendants of those brought in from Scotland in what was known as the "Plantation of Ulster." At the time, Ulster had a low population density, and protestant landlords brought in many protestants from Britain to settle these lands, many of which would later identify as "Ulster Scots".

Following the events of Bloody Sunday, the violence erupted as never before. With the local government paralyzed, the government in Westminster decided to have it suspended, and abolished. As such, in 1972, the Parliament of Northern Ireland came to an end.

The government in London then created the Assembly. Elections were held in 1973. 31 UUP members were elected, but 7 of them opposed the Assembly's existence. 19 SDLP members were elected, along with 8 from the Democratic Unionist Party, or DUP, which had been set up by Ian Paisley. 7 members were elected from the Vanguard Unionists, 3 from the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, and 5 others also won seats.

An agreement, later known as the Sunningdale agreement, would be worked out that would see the UUP, SDLP, and Alliance go into coalition. This angered many in the UUP and broader unionist community as they refused to share power with nationalists, and prefered a more traditional system where the majority party can form it's own government.

The response to this power sharing was the Ulster Worker's Council strike, which saw Northern Ireland basically shut down for 2 weeks and roads blockaded, all while Loyalist terrorist organisations shot civilians and refused access to petrol stations even for emergency vehicles (until the army showed up)

The assembly and sunningdale agreement collapsed.

The following year, a consultive assembly was set up to hash out an agreement for how to govern Northern Ireland. By this point, the UUP had become decidedly against power sharing, and a splinter faction, the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, was set up to support the idea. Elections to the assembly would spell it's doom, as 46 of the 78 seats, a majority, were taken by those committed to the United Ulster Unionist Council, an umbrella organization that opposed any form of power sharing.

This would mark the end of attempts to revive a devolved government in Northern Ireland for years.

All the while, the violence continued. Through the entire period, 50,000 were estimated to be direct casualties of the violence.

In 1981, 10 republican prisoners staged a hunger strike, during which Bobby Sands died. Over 100,000 attended his funeral. This convinced the IRA that a mass movement could be started, and as such, Sinn Fein decided to become more involved in politics.

An attempt was made in 1982. Nationalist parties, while participating in the election, refused to participate unless power sharing was on the table, while Unionist parties refused this. SF would win 5 seats in this assembly. As a result of the disagreements over power sharing, this assembly also collapsed.

It is after this that the more well known period of The Troubles began.

the IRA began receiving weapons from Libya, and money from the IRA organization in other countries like the United States.

1984 would see the Brighton Hotel bombing, where the IRA blew up a hotel housing guests for the Conservative Party conference, including Prime Minister Thatcher. The IRA had already killed Airey Neave, whom Thatcher considered a friend, in 1979.

1987 would see the Remembrance Day Bombing, where a time bomb set by the IRA killed 11 and injured 63.

Other, smaller events took place. For example, in 1990, the London Stock Exchange was bombed by the IRA, and in 1994, Heathrow airport was shelled with explosive motors. Given the critical nature of the locations attacked, I hope it is clear just how many "major bombings" I am skipping over as to focus on the background of the politics.

During this, Gerry Adams was determined to see a negotiated peace, and worked with John Hume and the British government to find a resolution. This would eventually produce results.

In 1996, consultative assembly was set up to propose rules for how to govern Northern Ireland. Unlike attempts in 1974 and 1982, this one was much more successful. This would spark off a negotiation process that eventually ended with what is now known as the Good Friday agreement.

The Good Friday Agreement, or GFA, was agreed to by not only the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom, but 4 of the 5 major parties in Northern Ireland, with only the DUP under Ian Paisley saying "No."

The agreement stated that a majority of people in Northern Ireland wished for NI to remain part of the UK, but also that a substantial minority in NI, and a majority in Ireland, wanted a united Ireland. It accepted both views as legitimate, and as a result, saw Ireland accept that NI is a part of the UK. Ireland's constitution was also amended to reflect this. It was agreed that until both a majority in Ireland and Northern Ireland wanted union, that NI would remain part of the UK, and that when this happens, both governments will respect that decision.

The agreement had 3 strands; however strands 2 and 3 are not crucially relevant to this discussion. Strand 1 outlined the powers and responsibility of both the Assembly at Stormont, and the Executive (IE Cabinet). This will be looked at in greater depth when discussing the results of the first election under the system (in 1998)

Sinn Fein, the unofficial political wing of the IRA, and the Progressive Unionist Party, the unofficial political wing of the UVF, both agreed to disarm.

Since Ireland requires a referendum to change the constitution, a referendum on the GFA was held. On 56.3% turnout, 94.4% of voters agreed to the change, a majority of all registered voters.

Northern Ireland also had a referendum. Unlike 1973, when a referendum on NI joining Ireland or remaining in the UK saw only 58.9% turnout due to a boycott by the nationalist community, the referendum on the GFA saw high turnout.

With 81.1% turnout, 71.1% of voters voted yes to accept the agreement.

By in large, the GFA is similar to the Sunningdale agreement. While there are some significant differences, perhaps the only real change is the context. Sunningdale was proposed just after the collapse of the pre-existing Parliament, while the GFA came over 20 years later, while Northern Ireland had seen little to no government of it's own, and faced decades of violence.

Either way, this successful agreement lead to new elections for the assembly. The DUP, despite opposing the GFA, agreed to participate and sit in the new assembly, and so, in 1998, Northern Ireland went to the polls for it's most important election in decades; which, due to length of this post, will be looked at tomorrow.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The History of Ireland

Due to the size of this topic, I am splitting it into two blog posts, one this morning and one tomorrow morning.

For the purposes of what we need to know, the history of Ireland starts in 1167 with the Norman invasion. From this point to the English Civil War, the Normans/English forces had control over variable parts of Ireland, usually focusing on the eastern coast in and around Dublin. The English would bring English troops, English lords, and English laws to rule over the Irish.

In the 1640's, During the English Civil War, the Protestant government of Cromwell invaded Ireland to gain control over the whole of the Island, and complete the overthrow of James, the King who found support on the Island. A series of brutal reforms took place where Irish and Catholic landlords were replaced with Protestant landlords, many from England. Finally, in 1690, the Battle of the Boyne took place. It's celebrated every year on July 12th. This battle cemented Protestant and English rule in Ireland.

This began a period where the 5% of the population who were members of the Church of Ireland (Anglicans) ruled over the Island. This began the famous period of famines, and due in large part due to absentee landlords, was very difficult on the Irish Catholic population.

In the 1870's, the Irish Parliamentary Party was formed. This party would be the first, perhaps in the world, to use the modern whip system. The party would agree on a position with all it's members, and then all members, even those who were privately against the position, would vote for it in Parliament. This block of votes ensured the party had the power to sway the government at times of minority rule.

Finally, in 1898, a new local government bill was passed that allowed for the mostly catholic residents to have a true say in how they were governed.

Debate over home rule (IE Sovereignty) lead to conflict between nationalists and unionists. By 1912, the government in London agreed to give Ireland home rule. The granting of home rule was delayed during WW1.

In 1916, fed up with waiting, nationalists in Dublin held what would be known as the easter rising, an armed revolt, which was put down harshly by the British. 16 leaders of the revolt were executed, and this shifted mainstream public opinion in Ireland towards Independence.

The December 1918 elections saw Sinn Fein, the pro-Independence party, win 73 of the 105 seats. SF declared that a meeting of all Irish MPs would take place in Dublin, and at the meeting, declared Ireland independent, and that the 105 MPs elected to Westminster, would in fact, sit as the first Dail (Irish Parliament).

22 Unionists, 3 Labour Unionists, and 1 Independent Unionist refused to sit the Dail or even recognize it. The 6 members of the Irish Parliamentary Party that were elected also refused to participate.

This makes the election unique. Not only is it a UK election, but it's also considered the first Irish election.

You may also notice a geographic trend. In what would later become Northern Ireland, Irish Unionists won 20 seats, joined by 3 Labour Unionists; while the party would only win 2 in the south, who They would be joined by an Independent Unionist. Sinn Fein would win 71 seats in the south, but only 2 in the North. The IPP meanwhile won 4 in the north but 2 in the south. This puts 2 Northern MPs on the "wrong" side of the border, and 5 southern MPs on the "wrong" side.

In the south, Arthur Samuels, Irish Unionist, would go on to serve as a judge in Northern Ireland. Independent Unionist, Robert Woods, retired from Politics; both these men from the University seat in Dublin (the circles on the map) Irish Unionist Maurice Dockrell would retire from politics, but his son, Henry Morgan Dockrell, would serve as a TD, and his sons, would also serve. Edward Kelly, IPP member from the province of Ulster (but outside Northern Ireland) would also retire once his term expired. William Redmond was the IPP member from Waterford. He had served in WW1, and his father, John, had been IPP leader. Redmond would serve his term as MP until 1922, when the term ended, and then seek election to the Dail, where he won as an Independent Nationalist.

In the north, both SF members had simultaneously been elected in other seats, and as such, continued their political life there. Others had also done this in the party; This means that while 73 seats were won by SF, only 69 members were elected, all of which had seats in what would become the Republic of Ireland.

In 1920, an act was passed by the British to split Ireland in two. The north would be retained by the UK while the south would become an independent dominion. In 1921, elections were held in both parts of Ireland. In the south, SF won 124 seats, while Independent Unionists won 4. While these 4 members would refuse to sit in the 2nd Dail, they would all become active in the south, with half being re-elected to (and sitting in) the 3rd Dail, and the other two becoming a Provost of the University, and a Judge respectively. In the north, the Ulster Unionist Party (successor to the Irish Unionist Party) won 40 seats, while SF won 6, and the Nationalists (successor to the IPP) won 6. 5 of the 6 elected members for SF were already TDs in the south, and the 6th did not choose to 'test' if he would be allowed into the Dail.

This period would see the south fall into civil war, fighting over if Ireland should accept not only partition, but the idea of dominion status (meaning the King remains) but the south is not our focus, the north is.

Ireland has 4 provinces. Unlike Canada, these "Provinces" have no power, and are geographic areas only. Northern Ireland is made up of 6 of the 9 counties of Ulster. As such, many unionists consider Northern Ireland and Ulster to be one in the same, while nationalists consider such use of the term offensive, as only 2/3rds of Ulster are in Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Unionist Party we know today is a direct successor to the Irish Unionist Party that contested these elections. At the time, the party was seen as a local branch of the Conservative Party, and as such, the UUP has some ties to the Conservatives.

The civil war in the south, and the loss of interest of SF in the North would lead to the disappearance of the party. Sinn Fein would not re-appear until 1954.

Starting in the mid 1960's, a civil rights movement started in Northern Ireland. The movement had evidence that Catholics were less likely to be hired, and that social housing was allocated to Protestants ahead of Catholics on the waiting lists. It demanded reform of the RUC, the police force, saying it was 90% Protestant, and demanded repeal of the Special Powers Act, which allowed the police to arrest without warrant, and was used against Catholic Nationalists. It also demanded an end to Gerrymandering, and the introduction of one man one vote to local elections.

I've drawn this map to help explain. Areas in dark Green were those with Catholic majorities, where the local council also had a Catholic majority; but areas in light green, despite a (usually significant) majority of residents being Catholic, were controlled by Protestants. Laws and rules about who could vote (for example, limiting the vote only to homeowners) were used to keep Catholics out of office.

In response, many in the Protestant community said that this was a front for republicans to unite all of Ireland. In 1966, parades were held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. In response, Ian Paisley set up the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, which set up a troublemaking wing called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, or UPV. At the same time, in Belfast, the terrorist Ulster Volunteer Force, or UVF, was set up (they would later found the Progressive Unionist Party)

This entire period had seen low-level terrorist activity from the IRA with the objective of uniting all of Ireland. Both the UPV and UVF declared the IRA as their main enemy, but both also opposed, and were opposed by, Terence O'Neill, the protestant Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and leader of the UUP. The UVF began a concentrated terrorist campaign of bombing houses of catholics, saying that it was opposing anyone who allied with the IRA. UPV members also started physically attacking Catholics who marched in protest of their conditions, while the RUC did little to nothing to intervene.

O'Neill tried to deal with the situation, but his concessions were rejected as too little by the nationalists and too much by unionists. Protests would continue and riots would break out from time to time, including a 2 day period of fighting between Loyalists, backed by the police, and Catholics in Londonderry. This caused the IRA to become more involved in Derry (the Irish name of the city) and other areas.

During this period, the IRA split in two, both calling themselves the IRA. The Provisional Irish Republican Army, or PIRA (or Provos for short) began to arm and prepare for conflict.

On January 30th, 1972, a group of mostly Catholic protesters gathered in Derry for a march scheduled at 2:45pm. Martin McGuinness was in attendance. Youths began throwing stones at the gathered police and British Army members, who responded with rubber bullets and water cannons. This was not unusual and was a common sight. At 3:55pm, some in the crowd spotted paratroopers on the 3rd floor of an abandoned building. Protesters began throwing rocks at the windows. The soldiers responded with bullets.

Over the next 30 minutes 26 civilians were shot by the paratroopers. 13 died on the scene, and 1 died later in hospital. This would mark what became known as "The Troubles". This, was Bloody Sunday.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Martin McGuinness is retiring

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, is retiring from politics. McGuinness has been a staple of politics in NI for many years.

Gerry Adams has been leader of Sinn Fein for decades. Adams took over the leadership of Sinn Fein, and, unofficially, of the PIRA (the main terrorist organization on the republican side in the troubles) in 1983. At about this time, Adams and McGuinness were elected to an attempted power sharing assembly in Northern Ireland which failed. This marked a change in SF from a leader born in 'the south', or the Republic of Ireland, to one born in 'the north' or Northern Ireland.

By 1996, McGuinness had been elected again to the assembly. This time, a power sharing assembly was successfully set up, with McGuinness as unofficial leader of SF.

It should be understood that SF does not see Ireland the way most people from outside Ireland do. Consider the Bloc. Every election here in Canada, poll after poll tells us that many in Quebec think the Bloc can take a majority of seats across the nation. How is this possible? Simple: The nation is, to them, just Quebec. By the same token, SF is a party across the entire island of Ireland. It is not in "both the Republic and Northern Ireland" it's just "in Ireland." With that context in mind, it's easy to see how McGuinness rose to become the unofficial leader in Northern Ireland while Adams remained the overall leader.

Consider as well that it was not until 1997 that SF elected it's first TD - member of the Irish Parliament. Consider as well that in SF's most successful election in Ireland under it's modern form (another party of the same name existed 100 years ago, the modern party considers itself a successor, but there are no official ties) was in 2016. And in 2016, the party took 13.8% of the vote across the Republic. Compare this to the worst election modern SF had in Northern Ireland. While the party did run in 1982, it was unwelcome, and 3/5ths of it's members were barred from taking their seats. As such, the 1996 election is the one I am comparing it to, even if this was an election to an assembly whose sole purpose was to write up an agreement to govern the assembly elected in the following year. In that election, they took 15.5% of the vote across all of Northern Ireland.

While this entire period had Gerry Adams as the undisputed leader of the party, it's not hard to see how McGuinness could easily be thought of as the "#2" especially in the North. Consider as well that in 1998, when the first executive (IE government) was formed in Stormont, Adams did not take a seat while McGuinness did. McGuinness would go on to become deputy First Minister in 2007, and remained in that post until his resignation a week ago.

Of course, there are minor caveats to that. Due to the nature of the agreement that NI operates under, very technical and specific procedures need to be followed. As such, when McGuinness ran for President of Ireland in 2011, he was officially replaced by John O'Dowd.

Given that Arlene Foster filled in, in a similar manner, for Peter Robinson, and then went on to succeed him as First Minister, and given O'Dowd's presence in the media, it is very likely that he will be SF's candidate for the office should they win the election and decide to enter into the coalition.

Tomorrow, barring more unexpected events, I will finally cover the history of Northern Ireland that lead us here, and what some of the background issues are.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Kevin O'Leary is not Donald Trump

With O'Leary entering the Conservative Party leadership race, there are many stories about how he is a Donald Trump. There are many reasons why this is simply not true. My Northern Ireland history post will have to be pushed back to tomorrow.

First, O'Leary has only been "famous" since around 2006. Trump, meanwhile, became famous during the 80s, and was well known by the 90s.

Secondly, O'Leary's "success" is all based on his talking, whereas Trump has towers with his name on it seemingly all over the place.

Next, O'Leary is horrible not looking like a fool. Trump has much better at it, even when he's making fun of a disabled reporter, he can still come across dignified enough to have millions vote for him. O'Leary, meanwhile, just seems to irritate people.

O'Leary's polling does not match Trump. Note, however, that leadership polls over a month our are horrendously inaccurate in Canada. In short, Trump had more of a lead, and fewer strong challengers.

O'Leary does not have the same "personal touch" Trump does. People like O'Leary because he's unlikable, while people like Trump because he's likable. Trump knows how to act like a smooth talking businessman, while O'Leary's 'charm' is that he's as smooth as gravel.

And I've not even touched on policy.

Trump is a nativist, and his policies have been gobbled up by Kellie Leitch. Perhaps if Leitch and O'Leary were a single person, you could make a Trump comparison, but that is not the case.

O'Leary is also more liable to tell the poor that they are at fault for their situation. Trump sold his entire message to the less well off, while O'Leary has always focused his message on people more like himself.

O'Leary has talked about politics before and nearly all of his venom is saved for taxes and regulation. Trump always had a more wide ranging set of policy ideas, including things like immigration and culture. Again, it is Leitch who is taking up that banner.

And that does not even touch on the differences between Canada and the US.

O'Leary, if he wins, will become Leader of the Opposition. He will need to win a seat, and have a local riding to represent. A President needs to do none of these things; there will be a level of security put on O'Leary that Trump never faced.

Additionally, the Press is not as mistrusted here as they are in the US. Consider that the plurality american voters listed Fox News as their primary source of news, while Sun News failed and is off the air.

In many states, "only" Republicans could vote in the primary; this meant around 1/3rd of all voters. Others just let anyone vote, whereas this Conservative leadership will have, at most, 0.5% of voters casting ballots.

Lastly, due to the way Primaries work VS the way our leadership elections do. Trump won because he was an outsider to the Republican Party, but with only party members (IE insiders) allowed to vote in Canada, O'Leary can't win using any strategy remotely similar.

In short
O'Leary is not a Trump
He's a Prentice

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Northern Ireland heads to the polls

As noted previously, Northern Ireland (or NI) is heading to the polls.

While I will detail the history and background tomorrow, I want to focus on the present situation today.

There are 5 major parties in Northern Ireland.

The DUP is a right-wing party. It is unionist, this means it wishes for Northern Ireland to remain in the "union" with the union referring to the United Kingdom. The DUP has traditionally been seen as being more hard-line on issues relating to unionism. The party draws some of it's support from the old loyalist community; the more extreme end of the spectrum. They took 29.2% of the vote and 38 seats in the most recent election.

SF, or Sinn Fein, is a left-wing party. It is nationalist, whis means it wants to unite with the remainder of the nation of Ireland. SF traditionally has also been the hard-line party, but on the opposite end of the spectrum from the DUP. SF in particular has wide support among the old republican community; the more extreme end of the spectrum. In the 2016 election, they took 28 seats, on 24.0% of the vote.

These two parties currently form the government. Northern Ireland is governed on the basis of power sharing; this means the two largest parties from each 'community' (unionist and nationalist) are allowed to choose the First Minister and deputy First Minister, and that they (along with all other qualifying parties) are automatically invited to sit in coalition.

With the other 3 parties who qualify refusing to sit in said coalition, these two have been governing on their own since the last election, a year ago. Consider that the First Minister, Arlene Foster, was nearly killed in a bombing as a schoolgirl, and that she lived in the area that is has been claimed that the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, commanded as a member of the PIRA. The divides between the two communities run deep, and I will detail this more tomorrow.

In short, the split in Northern Ireland is less about left VS right and more about unionist vs nationalist. A more extreme unionist is considered a "loyalist" while a more extreme nationalist is considered a "republican". I do caution, these are generalizations and it spackles over some nuance in order to simplify things.

The next largest party is the UUP. They are right-wing and unionist, and historically had been the largest party in NI. They refused to join the coalition after the last election, accusing SF and the DUP of consistently working together to present demands to the other parties in the coalition, rather than truly sharing power between all parties. From time to time, the party has taken the Conservative whip in Westminster. They took 16 seats, on 12.6% of the vote.

The 4th largest is the SDLP. They are left-wing and nationalist. Like the UUP, they were not happy with the way the coalition was operating, and so decided to sit as an opposition party. Perhaps Interestingly, the party takes the Labour whip on "non-NI issues" while in westminster. They took 12 seats on 12.0% of the vote.

Lastly is the APNI, or Alliance. They are neither unionist nor nationalist, preferring to sit as "other". The party is moderate, leaning liberal in some ways, and while most of their members and voters are protestant, they are opposed to dividing the polity among the two groups of "nationalist" and "unionist" and would prefer to see a Northern Ireland that has a more traditional left-right divide. The party managed to win enough seats to qualify for a spot in the coalition, but as with the above two parties, refused to do so out of protest of the way the DUP and SF had been running things. They retained 8 seats, on 7% of the vote.

There are also smaller parties contesting the election.

The Traditional Unionist Voice is a party run by Jim Allister, a rebel from the DUP. The party wants an end to the mandatory coalition and an end to power sharing. The TUV can be considered as the most extreme "unionist" party that currently has members. They have 1 seat, with 3.4% of the vote.

The Greens are similar to Green Parties elsewhere in the world, but like SF, share an organization with the party in Ireland, and as such, is an Irish party. As an Irish party, the party operates as a regional branch that is only active in Northern Ireland. They managed 2 seats on 2.7% of the vote.

People Before Profit (PBP) is a socialist and anti-capitalist party that is part of the hard left. They too are an Irish party. Some elements within the party are Trotskyist, and there are some elements of euro-communism to be found in it's political platform. They took 2 seats on 2.0% of the vote.

Independent member Claire Sugden also won a seat, rounding out the parties and people represented in Stormont. She joined the coalition being the first Independent to do so, at the invitation of the DUP and SF. She sits as Justice minister, a portfolio considered too controversial to be handed to either SF or the DUP.

Other parties exist outside the legislature.

UKIP is a branch of the UK wide part of the same name. They managed 1.5% of the vote.

The PUP or Progressive Unionist Party, took 0.9% of the vote. This party is made up of left-wing loyalists, and was considered the political wing of the UDF, the armed terrorist organization fighting against the PIRA during the troubles.

Other parties include "NI Conservatives" and "NI Labour", both local branches of the UK-wide party of the same name; however, combined, the two parties only managed 0.6% of the vote.

The Liberal Democrats have no local branch that runs candidates in NI elections, preferring to work with the Alliance, a party with which it shares many policies and ideals.

Elections in Northern Ireland are done using the single transferable vote, or STV. Each voter has one ballot and ranks the candidates available. Once a candidate reaches a certain level of support, they are declared elected, and their surplus votes are distributed to other candidates. If no one meets the quota, the least popular candidate is dropped, and their votes are redistributed.

For this reason, parties like the UUP, SDLP, and Alliance, which are seen as more "moderate" than the DUP or SF, and far more moderate than the TUV or PBP, sometimes increase their standing in later rounds. In recent elections, however, all 3 parties have lacked primary (IE #1) votes, and as such, have often not been able to make it to those crucial final rounds.

Each of NI's 18 constituencies (used for Westminster, or UK-wide elections) elects 5 MLAs (previously 6) to the assembly, also known as Stormont. This helps to ensure that outside of the most dedicated unionist or nationalist strongholds, each constituency, will elect at least one member from each community, and in many cases, at least one MLA from each of the major parties.

Due to the process of counting ballots through STV, results are often not known right away. Unlike Canada or the UK, which counts ballots the night they are cast, ballots in Northern Ireland are traditionally not counted until the next morning. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue.

Usually, due to the expected nature of vote transfers; DUP votes to the UUP, and UUP votes to the DUP, and a similar relationship on the nationalist side; it can become clear what the shape of the assembly will be early in the counting.

One thing that differentiates Northern Ireland from other jurisdictions is the lack of regular political polling. We have no idea where the parties currently stand, and no idea who may win. People may decide they want the current parties to work together, and re-elect the DUP and SF as the two largest parties. People may decide that enough is enough, and elect the UUP and SDLP as the two largest parties to replace them. People may also vote differently based on the different parties. A split in the unionist vote, might allow SF to finish first, a goal they've been working towards for some time, while a split in nationalist voters may allow the DUP and UUP to emerge as the two largest parties.

Even if this should happen, though, the rules state that each community is allowed to nominate a leading member (First Minister and deputy First Minister) and as such that won't change; unless, the parties all agree to it.

The negotiations following this election will be one of the most interesting in a very long time. It's possible they will fail and NI's assembly will be resolved and the area returned to direct rule from Westminster. It's also possible the negotiations will provide for a new effective 'constitution' meaning how the legislature operates will be radically different, and lastly, it's possible the entire election process will see nothing change at all.

At this point, we just don't know.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Endorsement Map - Conservative Party Leadership

It is presumed that MPs are endorsing themselves. Note as well, since neither area elected any Conservative MPs, the Atlantic and Montreal are not on these maps. Grey seats are those not represented by a sitting Conservative MP.

The choice of colours was mostly random, so don't read anything in to that.

I've also doubled up on colours for those candidates who only have endorsements in a single province.

What I find interesting is how O'Toole has endorsements in many vulnerable ridings. Scheer meanwhile has endorsements from areas that traditionally had a strong Reform/Alliance base. This is not true in every case; Sarnia was never a hotbed of Reform support, nor is Banff likely to be lost in the next election, but in general, that is the trend.

This suggests to me that Scheer is "the right-wing candidate" while O'Toole is "the moderate" and that when it comes time to count 2nd round ballots, and so on, that it could turn into a Right vs Moderate battle with these two candidates going into the final round.

Alternatively, should one or both of them be knocked off prior to this, it could be indicative of where their supporters will go; to other moderates like Raitt and Chong, or to other right-wingers like Bernier and Leitch.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Northern Ireland heading to the polls on March 2nd

This post I made earlier gives some background.

January (and December) tend to be dead months politically, with only the US generating news. By the time of the NI election, things should pick up again, and as such, we will be returning to a closer to
regular schedule here at Teddy on Politics.

The Assembly is still sitting, and something unexpected could happen, but all signs point towards en election. Should one occur (and it seems "inevitable", the BBC's own term) Wednesday, I will give an introductory post to the NI election, detailing the parties and their positions, as well as possible projections, some major issues, and the electoral system.

On further days this week and in to next week, I will go party by party in detail and explain where they stand and why. Should events occur elsewhere, this will interrupt the schedule, but there are no elections scheduled that I follow anytime soon.

Tomorrow is reserved for news closer to home, with a map showing the Conservative Party's leadership endorsements, something you may have already seen if you follow me on twitter.

Saint-Laurent By-Election

With the resignation of Stephane Dion, a by-election will need to be held in this riding.

I wanted to take a look at the riding, and examine who might win. The answer to that part is simple, the Liberals. However, there is more to an election, and by-elections by extension, than who wins.

The riding was created in 1988. Prior to this, most of the voters in the riding were in the Dollard riding, merged in with the municipality of Dollard, an anglophone community. In 1984, the former Mayor of Dollard, a Tory, managed to win the seat in a close race. Outside of this one blip, the seat was held by Liberals going back to 1953, at which time, this riding, which developed in the 'suburban boom' after WW2, had a very different nature. 

In short, this riding has been Liberal for it's entire life. 

In 1993, the PC Party managed to take 7.4% in this riding. In the 1996 by-election where Dion was first elected, the joint PC and Reform vote was 15.5%, and in the 1997 general election, the joint vote was 15.3%. 2000 saw the joint vote drop to 9.4%, and in 2004, it hit a low of 6.2%.

2006 saw the start of an increase in the vote here. First to 13.2%, then to 17.2% in 2008, and 17.5% in 2011, despite the "Orange Crush" in the province and across Montreal. This only increased to 19.5% in 2015, despite the Liberal surge.

It is, in fact, the resiliency of the Tory vote in this riding, despite the ups and downs in nearby ridings, that caught my attention. 

I harken back to Calgary Northeast. Which the Liberals won with 45.9% of the vote, compared to 39.8% for the Tory Incumbent. In the last election the margin was 56.8% for the Tories to 27.7% for the Liberals. In fact, despite a steady decline in the Liberal vote province-wide, the party held firm in this riding.

It is similar riding trend VS province-wide trend differences that is what's catching my attention here.

The question is to why. The answer is somewhat simple; minorities. Some of the boost in vote comes from the parts of this riding where a large number of Jewish voters live. There, however, is also a trend in the riding from areas where other minority groups live. The party's strategy of reaching out to minorities has not only been successful in the Toronto area, but in this riding here in Montreal. 

So, where are we in terms of how far off a Tory victory is?

The Tories won't win this by-election. The entire political system would have to be turned on it's head for that to happen. Nor will they win this riding in the next general election, and likely, not even in the one after that.

However, the MP elected in the by-election may find themselves in a difficult battle by 2023, and if they win, 2027 may see this riding go Blue, especially if the Tories manage to win a majority government in said election. 

10 years may seem like a long time off, but when it comes to breaking through in a place that has not elected a Tory MP since Justin Trudeau was a teenager, it's quite significant. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

09JAN2017 - Northern Ireland heading to the polls, possibly

Northern Ireland may be heading to the polls soon.

The political system in Northern Ireland is complex, but I will try to provide a bit of background.

Stormont, the name usually given to the assembly, has special rules in place to allow for power sharing between the Catholic and Protestant communities. Martin McGuinness, the deputy First Minister, has resigned, which means that his Sinn Fein, his party, does not select a replacement (or re-nominate him) to the post within one week, stormont will fall and Northern Ireland will head into elections.

It is, as always, far more nuanced.

This has been sparked by a scandal involving a the "Renewable Heat Incentive" or RHI. In short, this involved the government giving money to people using renewable fuels to heat their buildings; but it was abused by people heating empty buildings because they would end up with more money.

The problem is the cabinet minister who set up and ran this program is now the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster.

Again skipping important nuance for the sake of brevity; Sinn Fein (SF), who governs in coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was unhappy with this, and aligned with the opposition parties, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) to demand Foster step aside.

Such a move is not unprecedented, and it has become somewhat 'normal' for a First Minister in the midst of a scandal to temporarily step aside.

The move by SF and McGuinness has forced the issue, and it is likely that unless Foster agrees to step aside by the 16th, that SF will refuse to nominate a replacement for McGuinness, and the assembly will collapse.

After this, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, a cabinet-level position in Westminster, will have the power to call new elections, which is expected to happen soon thereafter, likely placing the election for March 2nd or 9th.

I will keep you all updated if there are any movements towards elections.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

04JAN2017 - Quck Update

I just wanted to share this graphic I've made showing the number of Senators in the new ISG - Independent Senate Group

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy new year

Happy new year to all readers.
I am working on a few posts to go up this month.