Category Archives: Long essay

The UK’s forgotten frontier?

When we think of devolution, it is not unusual for the Scottish independence referendum or the bloody struggle over Northern Ireland to spring to mind. Wales, by contrast, is often treated as an afterthought – nudged towards an Assembly when Scotland was getting one, and subsequently overshadowed in national debate by Edinburgh and Belfast.

Devolution is not the Solution

The biggest challenge facing the next generation of unionists will probably not be a direct separatist challenge to the Union.

Scottish capital-N Nationalism has stalled as Brexit pulls the rug from beneath ‘independence in Europe’; Welsh separatism remains a very minority pursuit; and whilst the situation in Northern Ireland is more precarious it’s economic circumstances are such that it would likely take the active collusion of the British Government to make any merger with the Republic viable in the decades ahead.

The task facing unionists of my generation is an internal one: shaking off the decaying intellectual orthodoxies of the devolution movement.

The Emotional Case for The Union is Just as Important as the Economic Case

The Brexit imbroglio has encouraged separatists in Northern Ireland and Scotland to intensify their attacks on the Union, as fundamental constitutional issues have become the focus of UK politics.

A little ironically, their short-term goals have coincided increasingly with the short-term goals of the most adamant remain-voting liberals, who were dismayed and disorientated by the referendum result, and are instinctively suspicious of any assertion of national sovereignty. Scottish and Irish nationalists believe they can dilute London’s influence by pursuing a closer relationship with Brussels for these regions, and therefore boosting their own visions of nationhood, while their liberal allies see the EU project as a means of containing all forms of nationalism.

Lessons from elsewhere.

I have had the privilege to live and work in one of the presently most vibrant and exciting cities in Europe, Budapest. It is not only now apparently “Party Central” for every Northern European waif and stray but it is also a place absolutely dripping in history, admittedly most of it melancholic.

Of course, like everywhere else there were aspects which I found difficult to cope with (more on that anon).

One of the indirect advantages of being there was that I could indulge my travel fetish for the obscure and “off-the-beaten track”. Ever since I left Belfast at the age of 18, I have wanted to visit places that you are unlikely to find in the typical travel brochure; places that even today where you are unlikely to access accommodation on Airbnb or Booking.com. For example, last year I was lucky enough to fly the 45 (!) minutes to Sarajevo, a place and people that have left a very real lasting impression on me.

The Case for the Union – A Personal Perspective.

The union for me has always been defined by what is best for the people of Northern Ireland. And one can at least measure this practically.

The United Kingdom offers Northern Ireland the best advantages in terms of economic, military and diplomatic standing on the world stage. Its greater links to trade and investment all over the world provide opportunities for job creation both here and in the rest of the UK. The whole shape of the world economy will change over the next two decades – robotics, artificial intelligence, new technologies – and I see the UK (post-Brexit) being well-placed to adapt to this change. The fragility of the Irish economy and its narrow dependence on foreign subsidiaries was demonstrated clearly in 2008.

Foundering on the Rocks of Reality

 

 

 

 

 

 

Republicans and nationalists call for a United Ireland, yet the thinking on what that might look like has to date seems crude, naïve, or non-existent. Irish mist-ical aspiration is preferred to the harsh realities of rational thinking. Philip Larkin asks some uncomfortable questions.

A crude reality

With increased discussion in social and political circles on the topic of the inevitability or otherwise of a united Ireland, the central object of this article is to examine what the true ramifications of creating a new state of Ireland will be, specifically from the viewpoints of northern nationalism and the population of the Republic of Ireland.

Forwards into the past, backwards into the future.

 

 

 

 

 

For a post-Truth Past; an Inverted Present?

There is genuine frustration within what might be described as ‘Middle Ulster’ – a term of art which includes both Unionists and those Nationalists that have not yet been seduced by Sinn Fein mantras. That frustration is in making sense of what passes for political discourse in Northern Ireland, which seems to exist in a land where morality has been turned on its head, where the moral compass has lost its axis.

How can this apparent condition of moral inversion be explained?

The End isn’t nigh

 

 

 

 

Back in 2008 Arthur Aughey wrote of “Endism” as a radical version of Hegel’s Philosophy of History, the appeal of which is its suggestion that ‘the good is already fulfilled just in virtue of the fact that it is in the process of being fulfilled’ (J McCarney Hegel on History). In this radically transformative understanding, expectation becomes fact.

In that respect, the short article identified ‘Endism’ as an essential component of ‘nationalist thinking’. This essay expands significantly on that article, developing and defining the idea of ‘Endism’ and what we are to make of it today.