Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


More evidence that the Westminster village is waking up to the threat of Scottish independence

Thu 17 April 2014, 1:07pm

Tweet John McTernan is among the shrewdest of political strategists. As quoted by David McCann, he offers  “don’t panic” advice to fellow strategists. What’s missing here are reasons for Scots to vote No. The McTernan view isn’t cutting  it with leading commentators on the centre left and right. Martin Kettle in the Guardian The psychological impact in England, […] more »

“Post-nationalist Ireland has arrived.”

Sun 13 April 2014, 5:21pm

Tweet [Once more into the breach then - Ed]  In yesterday’s Irish News, Patrick Murphy posited three theories to explain what he describes as “the latest dismantling of Irish political and cultural nationalism.”  That would be Martin McGuinness, et al, at Windsor Castle in white tie and tails, and the GAA deal with Sky.  From the […] more »

After the Visit, the greater epiphany?

Sat 12 April 2014, 12:28am

Tweet What we saw in Windsor Castle this week was a delayed act of official reconciliation that should have taken place fifty years ago but was held up by the Troubles. It was in reality the unfinished business of closing a sequence of turmoil that began over a century ago, whose shadow is finally lifting […] more »

Quebec says ‘Non’ to PQ govt after less than Two years.

Tue 8 April 2014, 4:28pm

Tweet It is 3,000 miles away and no, I am not arguing for a moment that you can transplant the political musings of the francophone province of Quebec on to our situation, but this election is a genuinely interesting one to watch. Scandals, divisions and student protests drove the last Liberal government from office after […] more »

Sinn Fein’s Demographic war for constitutional change is useless without middle class

Mon 7 April 2014, 10:55am

Tweet Interesting take from Denis Bradley on Friday on the current impasse. In it, he accurately describes the model as I suspect SF see it: While an unreformed DUP occupy one of the corners in the boxing ring, Sinn Fein are in no danger of being removed as their opponent in the other corner. Our […] more »

The Scottish referendum. The British identity that dare not speak its name

Sun 30 March 2014, 7:42pm

Tweet   The best article I’ve seen about the dearth of a cultural identity debate in Scotland by Alex Linklater, son of the great Magnus. Could Scots learn a thing or two from the Irish? Or maybe not?  You’d have thought the Scottish cultural air would be thrumming with an accrued history of intellectual fighting […] more »

Alliance is diversity in action by Lauren Mulvenny

Thu 27 March 2014, 7:54am

Tweet After the recent debate about the make up of Alliance’s party membership, Lauren Mulvenny-a party staffer writes for Slugger that its candidates in the upcoming elections have a diverse range of backgrounds. On the back of the Party’s 44th successful Conference, Alliance champions the individuality of its membership base, proving it is the only […] more »

Face it – Anna Lo and the Alliance Party are the only show in town

Sat 22 March 2014, 3:51pm

Tweet Anna Lo’s  remarks  show how Alliance can still impale themselves on the old cleft stick.  Anna tilted in the right direction but overbalanced, provoking a bit of electoral frothing at the mouth by the usual suspects. Never mind.  She must be doing something right to attract 240 Slugger comments  even if many of them are private chats as […] more »

Talking of shifts of opinion, what’s happening in Scotland?

Wed 19 March 2014, 11:14am

Tweet Even after several visits to Scotland to talk to political elites I confess I never quite twigged what the core appeal of Scottish independence actually was.  Now from reports like this  by Severin Carrell, I’m beginning  to get it. The Yes campaign would say all that wouldn’t they,  but all the same.. Margie Maxwell is […] more »

Why Irish America needs to get on board with modern Ireland, or get out of the way.

Mon 17 March 2014, 8:46pm

Tweet Reading the memoirs of Ken Bloomfield and Tony Blair for me give two very telling insights into the politics of Irish America and their priorities in viewing the homeland. I begin with Tony Blair who noted the contradiction of certain American politicians idolising Margaret Thatcher while having an ambivalent attitude towards groups like the […] more »

McCann meets… Alex Attwood MLA

Tue 11 March 2014, 12:18am

Tweet I met with the SDLP’s candidate for the upcoming European elections, Alex Attwood up at Stormont to discuss his views on Europe, Nationalism, SDLP and the Executive.   When we began, Alex told me about the impact that his parents, particularly his mother had on his politics of looking after others and standing up […] more »

Fine Gael to consider contesting elections in the North #fgaf14

Sat 1 March 2014, 1:03pm

Tweet Interesting development from the Fine Gael Ard Fheis this weekend as the party’s delegates have passed a motion to set up a working group to consider the possibility of contesting elections in the North. The motion that was passed only states contesting elections at Local, European and Assembly elections but it will be interesting […] more »

Whatever you do, don’t stand out from the crowd.

Fri 14 February 2014, 9:24pm

Tweet In an interview with Barton Creeth, the SDLP council candidate for Balmoral, Justin Cartwright made the following statement which caused a bit of a brew ha ha when he said this about whether he was campaigning for Irish unity No I’m not. I’m an economic unionist. Increasing numbers of nationalist voters are moving away from this idea of […] more »

David Cameron and love bombing the Scots

Fri 7 February 2014, 10:11am

Tweet The tempo is picking up at last with maybe just a hint of panic?  The BBC, the Times£, the FT, even the Sun are splashing David Cameron’s defence of the Union in the patriotic venue of the Olympic Park.  The future of the United Kingdom is up in the air, David Cameron will warn […] more »

When Manley met Marty

Thu 6 February 2014, 8:16am

Tweet The Irish News political reporter John Manley spoke with Martin McGuinness ahead of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Wexford this weekend. The interview covered his relationship with the DUP, the image of the Executive and his political future. It was overall an interesting interview as Manley compared McGuinness’ attitude to that of a […] more »

Haass – Larkin unrepentant, Allister is on the attack, but where oh where is the DUP critique?

Fri 3 January 2014, 5:47pm

Tweet Now hold on, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.  Inevitably most early reaction to Haaas is about the overall political verdict without going  much into detail. And you know how we can’t be bothered  to go into detail if we can stick  it into them instead. But hush!  Jim Allister QC has spoken. People […] more »

There are grounds for hope in the Haass document, even the outline of modest solutions

Wed 1 January 2014, 4:17pm

Tweet Here’s an early critique without benefit of interpretation. From the language of the paper it’s more difficult than I thought to spot the precise causes of breakdown. That awaits the parties’ own accounts which hopefully will be better than spin. It’s quite true that there’s a great deal in it that can usefully be worked […] more »

Haass had basic flaws. It’s time for the two governments to step up to the plate

Tue 31 December 2013, 4:29pm

Tweet It was in its way encouraging that the Assembly parties themselves launched the Haass process but they seem to have bitten off more than they could chew. They appear to have gone into the high pressure phase without clear ideas of how to reach goals other than muddling through. So far we haven’t heard of any back channels or […] more »

Despite the Haass setback we are not the prisoners of the past but masters of our own fate

Tue 31 December 2013, 10:22am

Tweet The issues of the Haass process are only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed it might be said that the talks were unlikely to succeed without rigorous challenge and examination of the beliefs and assumptions the parties brought to the table.  Behind the tortuous details of flags, parades and the past are the competing […] more »

Negative pro-Union campaign causes Tory jitters about Scottish independence

Sun 29 December 2013, 4:21pm

Tweet Have you noticed that here in in the news desert of Christmas to New Year which relies so much on looking back and looking ahead, Northern Ireland and Scotland barely rate a mention compared to a flooded village in Kent?  Until now perhaps in the case of   Scotland, although you have to search for […] more »

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