Category Archives: Views

Not spooked






Alex Kane increasingly sounds like the elderly Auntie who is forever telling everyone in the family how what they are doing is not the right way of doing it; and if we have heard it once, we need to hear it over and over again – maybe different words, same message.

Alex’s most recent piece in the News Letter “Why the leaders of Unionism should be well and truly spooked” is a case in point.

Referenda, Majority & Consent







It seems odd that those most vocal within Irish nationalism who challenge the majority outcome from the Brexit referendum are to the fore demanding a Border Poll where frankly fifty percent plus one vote would be acclaimed a victory.

That is evident in the squeals in response to Lord Kilclooney’s recent tweet on the subject 

That tweet was a comment to Leo Varadkar’s wider reflection on the nature/outcome of a border poll. 

We need new arguments not new parties


It’s become common to assert that Brexit has changed the contours of British politics forever.

That remains to be seen. After the UK leaves the EU, older loyalties and divisions may re-emerge, as allegiances and rivalries that developed since the referendum become irrelevant.

That hasn’t prevented some fairly animated discussion about the potential for new parties to reflect a ‘realignment’ of politics after Brexit.

Mutual Interest






The Legatum Institute has taken a look at maximizing the UK and Republic of Ireland mututal interests in trade opportunities around the world, post-Brexit: depending on the output of current UK/EU negotiations.

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?

History repeating




As you approach the Military Museum in Vienna there is a large sign at the entrance proclaiming ‘Kriege gehoeren ins Museum’ (wars belong in the museum). That is a fine sentiment indeed and a striking one.

If you are interested in the wars of the Habsburg Monarchy – especially the Empire’s calamitous experience in the First World War – then the Military Museum is a must see if you are ever in the city.

Austrians are, however, still reluctant to devote the same attention to the country’s incorporation into the Third Reich and its military role in the Second World War.

It isn’t that there is no information. It isn’t that the appeal of Hitler and Nazism is ignored. It’s just that 1939-45 appears to be someone else’s war – suggesting that some wars don’t belong so easily in museums after all.

Despite this coyness, one exhibit is striking.

EU’s position on ‘Ireland’ is neither coherent nor constructive






Last month the government published its Brexit position paper on ‘Northern Ireland and Ireland’ (by which it meant the Irish Republic). It was hardly a scintillating document, but at least it tried to imagine how a ‘seamless and frictionless’ border might work in practice.

In response, the EU Commission issued a set of truculent and unhelpful ‘Guiding principles for the dialogue on Ireland / Northern Ireland’.

All at sea.






Professor James Anderson in the Belfast Telegraph “Brexiteers are holding NI to ransom” provides an interesting viewpoint on what he sees as the menu of options relating to Northern Ireland and GB trade with the Republic of Ireland post-Brexit. However, his consideration appears to be only partial, and incomplete.

How Bad Will Brexit Really Be For The UK?







The great majority of the economic forecasts have concluded that Brexit will damage the UK economy. In the case of ‘no deal’ between the UK and the EU, the majority view is that the loss of GDP could be severe.

The UK Treasury, the OECD and the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Policy (CEP) all agreed, in reports published during the referendum campaign, that with no deal the loss of GDP by 2030 would be in the range of 7-10%.

A free-trade agreement (FTA) would be little better. Much of this was ignored by ‘Leave’ voters in the Referendum, who had long since lost all confidence in economic forecasts.

That the short-term forecasts of these forecasting bodies were largely wrong strengthened this pessimism, but the long-term projections remain influential and form an important context for the Brexit negotiations now underway between the UK and EU.

These long-term forecasts, that leaving the EU with no deal on trade would be economically disastrous, undermine the UK’s optimal negotiating strategy.

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.