Tag Archives: United Kingdom

This Union






Next Generation Series

A while back This Union asked for articles from younger writers, the next generation. Rather than have established(ment) political statements on repeat, we want to try to gauge a range of views from younger writers and commentators. Contributions have been stored ‘on file’ for a while, trying to find a gap in the endless Brexit headlines to break out onto a more fundamental track that will remain on the political agenda past Brexit (if Brexit ever ends….).

Next week, starting Monday 19th August, we will post a series of articles that provide individual perspectives on The Union.

The five articles offer personal perspectives and make different arguments, reflecting the individuals’ particular background and experience.

There is a case that instrumentality and identity driving mono-ethnic nationalism provides short-term political gain but at a longer-term diminution of economic potential and social cohesion. The greater case is an open an outward looking society offered within the Union. This is reinforced by the view that when all strands, instrumental, non-instrumental, citizenship, allegiance and affinities are integrated coherently case for the Union is strongest.

There is a case that wonders whether The Union and devolution of powers to regional institutions are compatible or desirable, which is a debate to be had if only around the range and nature of relative powers within a United, though disparate political, Kingdom, particularly post-Brexit.

While nationalism has the advantage of appealing to a moment that ‘ends’ and denotes a new beginning (a soaring dove of endless possibilities), whether an United Ireland or Independent Scotland, and is a challenge to the status quo. The case for The Union can sometimes seem dull by comparison; “keep calm, and carry on”. Perhaps this has been aided by a series of uninspiring technocratic central Westminster Governments – it will be interesting, past the hype, how a full energy Government lead by the current Prime Minister Johnston might reset that balance.

The case is presented that the need for deeply laid and long-run stamina to promote The Union. That might need a ‘project’ or ‘concept’ that our series of short essays are unable to address, but perhaps others will pick up on that theme and take on that challenge going forward.

We start on Monday with a short local Northern Ireland perspective to kick things off, the most personal of all the articles, a basic case for This Union.

That was the deal that wasn’t.






What might have been the economic impact on Northern Ireland if the Prime Minister had in fact accepted the deal which was proposed by Brussels on the morning of Monday 4 December? Here are some key points:

  1. In order to ensure regulations continued to be aligned between Northern Ireland and the EU notwithstanding any changes in the rest of the UK, this deal implied a substantial increase in the extent of devolution to Northern Ireland.

That begs several questions. Even if we assume devolution can be restored, would it be sensible to give Stormont extra powers when we’ve seen just how erratic the progress of devolved government has been in its almost 20 years 1999-2017?

  1. If regulatory harmony between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (plus the other 26 EU members) is obtained at the price of opening up a regulatory gap between Northern Ireland and Great Britain that will imply a very large economic cost.

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.

Blair, Blair…






Two things stand out from Tony Blair’s comments around his visit to the European People’s Party meeting in Dublin last weekend. Both are puzzling.

First, Blair has suggested in response to the possibility of a “hard Irish border”, by which he should surely be honest in saying a hard EU border, that:

If the UK and the Republic were able to agree a way forward on the border, then we would have the best chance of limiting the damage. It is in the interests of us all, including our European partners, for this to happen.

The issue here is that now Article 50 has been triggered how exactly does Mr Blair think the Republic of Ireland can do this outside the EU negotiating team. Maybe he had a chat with Mr Barnier, who also attended the EPP meeting, and agreed this possibility?