Category Archives: Commentary

What goes up…?

 

 

 

 

 

On this site we have argued on a number of occasions that the last refuge of a weak political argument is the argument according to inevitability. In the case of Irish nationalism it is often the first refuge because there is little else to say.

The same trait has informed much of the superficial self-confidence Scottish nationalists, proudly proclaiming the inevitable end of the United Kingdom since Tom Nairn’s Break-up of Britain published 40 years ago. However, on the subject of inevitability consider the result of the recent Survation poll for the Scottish Daily Mail published recently.

Dreary Option of Joint Authority Emerges Once Again

 

 

 

 

 

In April 1994 the Cadogan Group published a pamphlet JOINT AUTHORITY AND THE NORTHERN IRELAND PROBLEM.

It was written to challenge an idea which was being touted as the logical ‘solution’ to the ‘Northern Ireland problem’. It has re-emerged not as a ‘solution’ but as another of the present Irish Government’s – unhelpful – ‘non-negotiable demands’.

Of paradoxes

 

 

 

 

 

Newton Emerson is a journalist whose articles are always worth reading. His unique contribution is to engage honestly and intelligently with Irish politics without indulging those liberal pieties, that all too often provides thin cover for ancestral voices. He is all the more refreshing when found in the Irish Times which particularly lends itself to liberal piety, thinly covering ancestral voices, conveyed in the tone of smug Southern self-righteousness.

Opportunity knocks

 

 

 

 

We don’t yet know how Brexit will affect Northern Ireland exactly, but the referendum result certainly revived the nationalist trope that Irish unity is ‘inevitable’.

The Republic’s national parliament recently published plans for a forum “to achieve the peaceful reunification of Ireland”, Sinn Fein blithely assure unionists that the “British identity” will be protected in a thirty-two county state and newspaper columnists rush to tell readers that the fourth green field will soon “bloom again”. One particularly excitable author, Kevin Meagher, a former special adviser to Shaun Woodward, (remind me again why unionists didn’t trust that former secretary of state), even called his book “A United Ireland: Why unification is inevitable”.

In response, unionists have challenged nationalism’s “self-regarding, single certainty” in a series of astute articles.

A United Ireland: why unification is inevitable…. Likely not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Meagher, A United Ireland: why unification is inevitable and how it will come about  (Biteback, London, 2016)

Book Review

The only thing ‘inevitable’ about this book is its failure to persuade.

That said, Kevin Meagher has produced a thought provoking, well written, but ultimately flawed book.

The failure of A United Ireland to persuade stems from a selective use of evidence and an overreliance on implicit assumptions and counterfactuals (which often don’t hold up to even the most cursory scrutiny).

Attrition

 

 

 

 

 

The news that the talks at Stormont, aimed at kick-starting the Northern Ireland Executive, are to be put on hold until after the summer break does not really come as any surprise.

The (long) culture war

 

 

 

 

 

The emergence of an Irish Language Act as a ‘red line issue’ for Sinn Fein may be deemed to have its origins in the St. Andrew’s Agreement, indeed, under ‘Annex B’, it is stated that:

“The Government will introduce an Irish Language Act (ILA) reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and work with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language.”

It should of course be pointed out that this was an agreement made under the Labour Government, and we know that it, namely Blair, were keen on making promises to Sinn Fein: indeed they made promises and commitments to everyone to some extent and with not an inconsiderable shot of constructive ambiguity. Something strongly suggested by Peter Robinson. 

Wither nationalism… ?

 

 

 

 

 

So the election is over. Leaving aside the overall picture, it can be said that this was good election for Unionists.

Corbyn has betrayed Labour’s noble history of liberal internationalism

A noble tradition of liberal internationalism has pumped blood to the heart of the Labour Party since its foundation. It is an essential part of the Labour story.

As a biographer of Clement Attlee, I can testify to that skein running through Labour history like an arterial vein. It was the British Labour Party that was most enthused by Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points of January 1918, which aimed to put progressive, democratic and ethical aims at the heart of international affairs. At its pinnacle, socialist internationalism even went so far to envisage a “world state” that would eradicate war and want.

BRIT!

 

 

 

 

 

The comment made this past week on social media by a prominent Sinn Fein Councillor Ciaran Beattie, subsequently removed, where he accused People Before Profit MLA and Westminster candidate Gerry Carroll of being ‘a Brit’, isn’t anything new.