#Brexit: “The irony of what is now happening could not be more painful….”

It’s good to know that Enda sent all his Secretaries General to meet with the UK’s Perm Secs last week, but it falls to Chris Haskins to say lightly what I think can be said on what Brexit may mean for the qualitative relations of the people in and between these islands:

The Ireland of my youth was bedeviled by twin negative emotions: nostalgia for an idyllic rural past, which in truth had never existed; and resentment against the historic cultural dominance of England.

Modern Ireland has, for the most part, rejected such views in favour of an outward-looking engagement with Britain, Europe and the rest of the world.

When I came to England in the 1960s I found a far more prosperous place, but also an outward-looking country beginning to recognise that close engagement with Europe was the only response to the demise of empire.

Yet nostalgia for the past and resentment about the world-in-general were the deciding factors in the Brexit vote and were ruthlessly exploited by the Europhobic, often xenophobic outpourings of some Brexit politicians.

The irony of what is now happening could not be more painful.

  • chrisjones2

    I think it was more practical … a sense that they had no Democratic control any more and, in some areas, that they were being denied fairness in housing allocation and jobs. A toxic brew of local and national issues ….and all politics is local

    Much of this was perhaps overplayed but it has festered for over 10 years, the political class class ignored it and confidence in the EU was destroyed

  • Nevin

    Chris Haskins, a Protestant Irish nationalist, favours the UK remaining in the EU, Scotland remaining in the UK and Northern Ireland leaving the UK.

  • Anglo-Irish

    What has housing allocation got to do with the EU? It is the responsibility of the local housing authority.

    No democratic control any more?

    The UK is one of the least democratic countries in the whole of Europe and that is down to Westminster, nothing whatsoever to do with the EU.

    In Northern Ireland you have the benefit of PR+STV and you have it basically because it has been shown what undemocratic gerrymandering can result in.

    In Britain the FPTP system is not fit for purpose, it is completely undemocratic.

    The whole purpose of allowing the electorate to vote is to ascertain and reflect the wishes of the people.

    FPTP does not fulfill that requirement.

    Since WW2 not one government of the UK has managed to obtain 50% of the votes cast.

    In other words, in every election since the end of the Second World War more people have cast their vote for parties other than the one that formed the government, yet have not received a commensurate representation.

    Add in an unelected Upper House, which has an input into legislation, and the influence of the Crown where every Tuesday when parliament sits the PM rolls up to Buckingham Palace and receives the ‘wisdom’ of the unelected Head of State and we are definitely ‘out on our own’.

    In what way can it be claimed that we are living in a democracy?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Not sure that I completely agree with Chris Haskins there.

    Having spent all my childhood summers in rural Ireland and lived there for eighteen months from 62 I didn’t pick up on any emotional nostalgia.

    We were living in the country, and everyone that I knew seemed fairly happy and content with their situation I don’t remember any resentment against ‘cultural domination’ by England.

    As my father was an English ex British soldier living and working there and I was a half English lad attending college there you would have thought that we would have experienced it.

    Leg pulling, codding, taking the Mick, definitely, but both my father and I were well able for that and it was never malicious just funny.

    My only criticism of Ireland at that time was the influence of the Church.

    I was raised a Catholic and took the sacraments until I was 19 but I always had doubts.

    Now an Agnostic ( but as Dara O’ Briain says ” Still a Catholic ” ) I believe in a secular arrangement with regard to countries constitutions.

    Religion is a powerful force and provides comfort for those who believe, but for those of us that don’t have faith is there any chance you can carry on among yourselves and leave us out of it?

    Other than that quibble, which has now basically been resolved, I have no real problem with the Republic and regard it as a good thing and I am honoured to hold a passport.

  • ted hagan

    ‘When I came to England in the 1960s I found a far more prosperous place,
    but also an outward-looking country beginning to recognise that close
    engagement with Europe was the only response to the demise of empire.’

    I think Haskins also has a nostalgia for an idyllic past. As far as I can recall there was fierce opposition from the left to closer engagement with Europe, led by Tony Benn and the the unions. This was matched on the right by Enoch Powell and many Tories.

  • terence patrick hewett

    FPTP has a great plus: that of no minority party can get a foot in the door without significant support. Even with 12-17% ukip only managed 1 parliamentary seat.

  • chrisjones2

    Doh … rules usually require that housing is allocated on need. Labour compounded this by introducing new tests that favoured deprivation which was defined In a number of ways. New migrants scored highly on many of these and got priority over local people who might have been waiting for a house for some time.

    Its the same as with access to schools here at the moment where additional points are awarded for unemployed, single mothers etc which means that working parents often find their children denied places in ‘their’ local school. This breeds tremendous resentment

  • chrisjones2

    “FPTP does not fulfil that requirement.”

    The electorate had a choice at a referendum…they chose FPTP . That Is democarcy

  • Simian Droog

    “The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

    The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people’s ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.

    As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, “very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is,”


  • Anglo-Irish

    No they didn’t, they chose not to take the equally poor substitute offered.

    They weren’t offered PR+STV for the simply reason that it is the most democratic voting system yet devised and impossible to argue against.

    They were offered AV a flawed system which could be argued against.

    That is what is called ‘stacking the deck’. Politicians wish to retain FPTP because it suits THEM and they don’t give a rats derriere as to what would be best for US.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Labour introduced new tests?

    That would be the British Labour party?

    The Secretary of State for Education ( that would be the British state ) has overall responsibility for schools but local councils play a major part.


    Quite a comprehensive report there from the Chairman of the LGA Children and Young People Board.

    No reference to any EU requirements.

    You have fallen and fallen heavily for the governments propaganda method which has been used by successive governments over the past forty three years.

    ” If it’s unpopular with the public, blame the EU, if it’s popular we did it “.


  • Anglo-Irish

    It has a great plus as far as the incumbent political party is concerned, and to them that’s all that matters.

    Public interest and democracy don’t get any consideration when it comes to the self interest of those who have made it into Westminster.

    I detest Ukip they are a joke of a party, relying on xenophobic jingoism but they should have had 80 plus seats at the election.

    As much as I hold them in contempt I believe in democracy and if that was the wish of that percentage of the electorate then that’s what should have happened.

    In fact if we had voted using PR I don’t think that they would have gained that number of seats.

    Many people voted Ukip as a protest knowing that they hadn’t a hope in hell of getting in.

    Bit like the referendum, but that one backfired!

  • terence patrick hewett

    The Labour Party managed it in the 1900s: which was rather the point I was making: not the desirability or otherwise of political positions.

  • The Irishman

    Well said

  • chrisjones2

    Fine forma party get elected explain it to 60 million people who dont want it and pass a referendum

    I will see you afterwards

  • Anglo-Irish

    Fair enough, but this tells a sorry tale when the country claims to be a democracy.


    2005 Tony Blair’s New Labour is elected with 35.2% of all votes cast.

    64.8% of voters wanted a different party and wound up with Tony and Gordan.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Ran out of any logical argument I see.

    As 60 million people haven’t been asked whether or not they want PR+STV how would you know if they want it or not?

    Pathetic comeback.

  • chrisjones2

    Nooooooo ….again you jump to conclusions and make a fool of yourself.

    The UK Government (national and local) made the rules. We then at the same time had floods of EU immigrants into the UK where infrastructure was already strained.

    Locals were or thought they were excluded. The problem is that there is no scope to control the inflow…that created the resentment. Even then if it had been recognised and respected and something positive done it might have been avoided – but Labour just labelled people as bigots

  • Anglo-Irish

    ” The UK government made the rules ”

    In your post that started off ‘ I think it was more practical ‘ you said ” they were being denied fairness in housing allocation and jobs ” and then ” confidence in the EU was destroyed “.

    The clear implication being that the EU was responsible for the situation.

    I pointed out to you that in fact it was British authorities that made the rules on housing.

    You are now agreeing with me and yet calling me a fool.

    Got a mirror?

    Locals ‘thinking’ they were excluded was also something the authorities could have addressed but it was always simpler to blame the scapegoat EU.


    Under the heading ‘ Summary ‘ read the third paragraph down in that link.

    When you look in that mirror, make sure you remove all the egg. : )

  • Anglo-Irish

    Thanks, but I’m pretty sure that I’m wasting my time here.

    Luckily I’m retired so have plenty to waste. : )

  • Celtlaw

    Now an Agnostic ( but as Dara O’ Briain says ” Still a Catholic ” ). Great description. That sounds like me!

  • Anglo-Irish

    There’s a lot of it going around. : )

  • Barneyt

    Should you be universally pro-union? Obviously the DUP are pro-UK but anti EU but I dont see that being motivated by anything else but British nationalism. That feels as incongruous as supporting Irish reunitication and being pro-UK with respect to Scotand.

    I think there are largely three separate issues here. Working backwards from NI, many that call for two pieces that were once part of the same country to be gelled together. There are clear territorial disputes as well as cultural matters at stake or at least contending with each other. Removing a partition is the “cure” as they see it.

    Scotland leaving the UK? Scotland will, as it stands today, remain intact as an entity. That make it immediately different from the Irish issue. Even within the UK they can have a united Scottish identify to a degree. Ireland is divided. So Scottish independence if neither an “ailment” or “cure”

    One could argue that the benefits of Scotland remaining in the UK are the same as those used by the UK remainers with respect to the EU. Pro UK along with Pro-EU aligns. Its consistent, so our friend above is ok there in my view.

    Irish reunification fits with a pro-Euro stance largely, for trading and tourism reasons anyhow. But if you are determined to “fight” for a united Ireland, then you have to be wary of the EU too, as in time, you will become part of a greater state…which in some ways has the same sovereign issues as being part of the UK. A little bit of Irish nationalism is at work here, he must see a united Ireland being a better an more able European partner that a disjointed one.

    Whilst I favour Scottish indepdence (alterior motives I will declare)…there is rationale behind Chris Haskins thinking if indeed you are right in your statement.