Just a Mo…

THE former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam, has died. I doubt the she will ever be forgotten, for different reasons, and her unique style was something NI had never experienced before from someone in such a position – remember Mayhew? She was much beloved of many here, although unionists had many problems with her irreverence and perceived sympathy for Irish nationalism. Few will forget her; she got a standing ovation longer than the Prime Minister‘s at a Labour Party conference; she visited loyalist terrorists in the Maze prison, as she believed it help secure the Agreement; opposed the war in Iraq; called Martin McGuinness “babe” while bugging his car (McGuinness kindly blames NIO securocrats in his tribute); called for the legalisation of all drugs; and (depending on which source you believe) she once asked a police officer, senior civil servant or Peter Mandelson to pop out and buy her some tampons.

On a more personal level, Mo was very likeable. On the few occasions I met her, she took the time to talk, and was chatty, personable and down to earth. She could be blunt too. Her first official visit as SoS was to Ballymena, and she was very well received. I have little doubt about what she would say if she were able to go back there today.

She was very human, but that means she made mistakes, just like the rest of us. After the murder of Charles Bennett by the IRA, she defined it as ‘internal housekeeping’, rather than the breach of a ceasefire. The legacy of that throwaway comment is still with us today, as loyalists slaughter each other, while the Government stands idly by and watches.

Talking to Mo wasn’t like talking to a politician. Some people who had meetings with her thought it was more like talking to a rather vulgar child, and I recall being told by one politician how she used to take off her wig and twirl it round her fingers when she had heard enough. Appalled by her brazenness and scared of her popularity, she was heavily briefed against when she fell out of favour.

Mo had little time for airs and graces, and she was widely regarded by the public as ‘one of us’, a regular person (though maybe a wee bit too rude and touchy-feely for a rather conservative place like NI), the child of an alcoholic father who battled bravely against illness, and brought a more human face to politics here.

In her own words, “a tough old boot”.

ADDS: There’s a good backgrounder on her illness and wig here.

  • la Dolorosa

    I was a delegate at Labour Party conference in 1998 and had the fortune of sitting in the second row during the Leader’s speech.

    It wasn’t the fact that Mo got a longer standing ovation than Blair BUT that she got it DURING the leader’s speech… It was great seeing Tony B and Peter Mandelson et al trying to look magnanimous…..

    Unfortuantely that made her position rather difficult in the Stalinist eyes of New Labour and we know the rest.

  • La Dolorosa

    I also to meant to add that her standing ovation was purely spontaneous and genuine unlike the rest of conference which is stagemanaged in minute detail.

  • damian

    As I said in an earlier thread, she was a breath of fresh air in a part of the Emerald Isle handicapped by the conservatism to which you refer. Would that there were more characters like her over there.

  • Gonzo

    There’s a round-up of the tributes here.

  • nmc

    Ah, auld Mo was great craic. She will be greatly missed. She knew how to enjoy herself…

  • La Dolorosa

    Even Jeffrey Donaldson was pretty positive and generous in his comments about Mo. (Fanny , Grammaticus, Keith M et al take note).

    JEFFREY DONALDSON, DUP

    “She came to visit unionist headquarters in Belfast, and seated around the table were the party officers. Mo came in and within five minutes, she had her feet up on the table and was resting back on the chair and this was an introduction to a very unconventional politician.

    I suppose we in Northern Ireland had been used to secretaries of state who sometimes adopted a very patrician, almost colonial style, approach to Northern Ireland – a kind of governor approach.

    And yet here was someone who had a very different style – very laid back, very easy manner, easy to talk to.

    And while of course we had many differences with Mo Mowlam, certainly she was someone who left an indelible mark on the politics of Northern Ireland. “

    (as posted on BBC NI website)

  • Millie

    Any politician who has the balls to tell Paisley to f*** off to his face deserves the greatest respect and admiration. Good on ya, Mo.

  • martin

    Mo you tried and thats what really counts -rest in peace

  • Millie

    Any politician who has the balls to tell Paisley to f*** off to his face deserves the greatest respect and admiration. Good on ya, Mo.

  • Two Nations

    when was that Millie? what was the response?

  • Bill

    “when was that Millie? what was the response?”

    Never!!!! 😉

  • David Vance

    Everyone loved Mo – she was inded our best hope for the future.

    I well remember her coming out of the Maze (for younger readers this was a Prison where we get very bad people back in the old unreconstructed days) and her memorably praising “Johnny and Michael – the unsung heroes of the peace process.” Johnny Adair and Michael Stone. That was all part of her charm – how she loved to praise murdering terrorists. A true friend of Ireland. She will be missed. No wonder the tributes pour in.

    Pass the sickbucket – I’m sorry she has died so young, and I am sorry for her family, but the sycophantic nonsense spewed out today by the media sure shows where THEIR bias lies, and continues to lie. Mo’s politics were an affront to any democratic – clearly Sinn Fein embraced her.

  • Denny Boy

    No doubt details of Mo’s final resting place will be disclosed in due course.

    [ed Mod]

  • Tiny

    Jeffrey is clearly off message, this is what Paisley said on the DUP website: “I would like to offer my sincere sympathies to the husband and family of Mo Mowlam on the occasion of her passing. Her battle against illness was faced with bravery and determination and amidst all her health problems she retained her character and personality.

    She was of course no lover of unionists. Stating that convicted murders were unsung heroes of the peace process caused great offence. Nevertheless she did recognise those who were truly unionist, but sadly never faced up to the widespread opposition to the Belfast Agreement.

    I remember the night on which the Agreement was signed, she had me unlawfully arrested and held in police custody until the senior police officer for Belfast intervened and had me released. She appeared to welcome the attacks made upon me personally that night without condemnation.

    When the full story of recent years is written one will see just how far the Labour Government was prepared to go in appeasing terrorists and thugs. The unionist cause will continue to achieve its lawful objectives, but my thoughts today are with Mo Mowlam’s husband and family.”

    ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY 2005

    Sympathy Paisley style!

    P.S. is he still on holiday

  • Denny Boy

    I’m assuming that the mod hasn’t edited this post as well.

    Hint: my deleted words referred to David Vance and others paying their respects to Mo Mowlam, God rest her soul.

    I’m off on holiday now so will no doubt miss the remainder of those generous accolades.

  • Dave

    I won’t speak ill of the dead.

  • Vespasian

    David Vance is correct and I support ALL that he said.

    Dying will not wash away the damage she did to the people of Northern Ireland by telling everyone that criminality was acceptable and that criminals were heroes… we are paying the price now as anarchy rules with the ex inmates she praised running large sections of NI with thuggery, murder and intimidation.

    What a legacy!

  • Man Farang

    There must have been something going for a politician that liked Ian Drury.
    R.I.P. Mo

  • Millie

    Interesting, MM was disliked by unionists because SF liked her??? Is this zero-sum politics gone mad? Exactly how would a peace process work in NI if it didn’t include SF, or do democratic mandates not apply in NI?

    Release of prisoners goes without saying in any peace process, and it’s virtually the only thing loyalists have got out of it, so if the loyalist paramilitaries weren’t on board then the peace process was never going to work.

    ‘the damage she did to the people of Northern Ireland by telling everyone that criminality was acceptable and that criminals were heroes’

    This state was once based on the premise that repression and discrimination against the Catholic minority was not only normal but government policy. Can you imagine Tony Blair and various cabinet ministers saying don’t employ blacks or Asians because they’re all scumbags and they’re out to undermine the state? It was this state’s inability to handle equality between Catholics and Protestants that started the curious wave of ‘criminality’ in 1969.

    The best regurgitated myth though is the notion that Protestants are law abiding and Catholics are prone to violence. This is as old as NI itself and is a similar sentiment held by settler communities around the world where the settlers are outnumbered by the ‘natives’. Violence in settler societies, on the part both of settlers and ‘natives’ is normal, and NI and beyond has a long history of violence. That a significant number of people now vote for a party which is linked to a paramilitary group is more a damning indictment of the NI state than it is of the voting behaviour of Catholics.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “so if the loyalist paramilitaries weren’t on board then the peace process was never going to work.”

    The loyalist paramilitaries still aren’t on board even now, or perhaps I missed the point.

  • Fanny

    What a load of tripe from Millie – the ‘notion’ she refers to is a decades-old prejudice apparently still much loved by republicans. You’d thing they’d be glad it was consigned to history, but I guess that makes it difficult to keep playing the victim.
    As for referring to this as a ‘settler society’, this is bigotry beneath contempt. If Millie still feels her Protestant neighbours are ‘settlers’ then there is no hope for her – and, ironically, no hope at all for her precious ‘united Ireland’.

  • The Watchman

    I wasn’t going to say anything about Mo Mowlam’s record until I saw the gushing BBC tributes to our departed Secular Saint. It’s easy to understand. Re the BBC, Mo was One of Them, not so much New Labour as Metropolitan Labour. How could they not love her, to the extent that many of the fluffy liberal-leftists who dominate BBC News could not give a realistic appraisal of her tenure in Ulster. She was even anti-war, the pet grievance in Islington salons. The right person in the right place at the right time as Denis Murray (bless) said? Er, no.

    Mowlam was extensively praised for her “people skills”. Yet she managed to alienate disastrously some of the most important persons with whom she would work. And number 1 was one David Trimble. Mo was lucky enough to be SoS when the Agreement was signed. Its green tinge may have been in keeping with her (inadequately assessed) radical history but otherwise she contributed little to the key job of persuading the nervous UUP to go along with it.

    Some people will say that Mo was undone by men who couldn’t stand women. (I’m reluctant to develop this argument here as I’m sure Susan McKay will do so somewhere before the weekend is out.) If it was a factor, it was considerably exacerbated by the personality of Mo herself. She was a child of the radical 60s, a former researcher to Tony Benn, with all the usual leftist failure to understand Northern Ireland society. In particular she never grasped the essentially conservative nature of Protestant Ulster (which would have been scandalised if it had known in full about her colourful private life) and didn’t temper her manner when she needed to do so. Some Sluggerites (does Millie really exist?) may cheer her for telling Big Ian to “f*** off” but no one who really was serious about genuinely getting on with the people she had to work with would have addressed Paisley in those terms, whatever the provocation. There’s also the anecdote related in Dean Godson’s biography of Trimble of the time when a UUP delegation to Downing Street caught out Mo in a bare-faced lie.

    I have 2 memories of Mo. The first was that squalid visit to the Maze when she debased herself and her office to plead with the paramilitaries not to be bad. The second was her reaction to the Bennett murder. She had to explain why a murder was not in breach of the ceasefire and could only do so by accepting the validity of the IRA’s own definition of its ceasefire. I watched her tripping over words which needed to be particularly well-chosen on this occasion and felt sorry for her.

    On the personal level, it is tragic for anyone to die so young and I concede that she acted as she did for what she considered to be the best motives with personal courage. But there’s no point in beating about the bush. She was the most pro-Republican SoS here so far.

  • Fanny

    Pro-republican schmo-republican (and Hain is certainly more pro-UI). Mo’s personal opinions on Irish unity should not have been an issue and weren’t much of an issue either, if I recall.

    Her problem, as Watchman has almost identified, is simply that she was a spectacularly incompetent negotiator who antagonised people unnecessarily. Which, in the long run, hasn’t done any of us any favours.

  • Millie

    Oh I’m sorry Fanny did I mention a united Ireland? Nope didn’t think so. Ireland was thee original settler colony so let’s not go into all that again. Plenty of academics and history books define Ireland as a settler colony, Britain’s first to be precise, although I can understand Protestants’ desire to downplay their settler origins given the unpopularity and illegitimacy the term now confers.

  • Fanny

    Another comment positively brimming with hatred.
    What’s your general view on immigrants then? Send ’em all back I suppose.

  • The Watchman

    Millie, do you not have anything better to do, like titter at the X Factor? Your feeble brand of chippy ethnic grudge-fest lost any conceivable relevance when Parnell was off doing a Sven. But however fascinating and irritating it is to read it here, at least it confirms that republicans see unionists as invaders. So what’s Gaelic for Lebensraum?

  • damian

    >Can you imagine Tony Blair and various cabinet ministers saying don’t employ blacks or Asians because they’re all scumbags and they’re out to undermine the state?

    Well, that is a very important quetion and only time will tell what the Brit attitude to their Asian countrymen will be given the new climate of international terrorism within which we are living. I hope a purge against Asians does not ensue.

    On another note, I wish more people from Northern Ireland, both Protestants and Catholics, could live abroad in first tier countries (by that I mean both economically and politically) such as the US for some time, because then they would see how petty and mired their politics really is and maybe they would start working together with real vigor. Northern Ireland does not often get a mention over here unless something really dreadful has occurred or there’s a peace initiative with an American angle–and then it’s a ten second news piece, tops. (I do not include the American-Irish media in this equation, just mainstream American media.) Of course America has its problems and the political system is polarised, but there is a sense that we are all Americans at the end of the day. The sad truth is Northern Ireland is currently a world backwater, of little consequence and, in order to move away from that, the enlightened people from both cultures need to get together and work to make changes that will better all the population’s interests.

    I will say that the Irish Republic, for all its flaws and past governmental corruption, seems to have moved on and is on its way to becoming a major player on the world stage. Some people down there had foresight a few years ago and have directed that part of Ireland to what should be the island’s true destiny, a country of influence and culture in the world community. Northern Ireland, unfortunately, remains spent, isolated and at war with itself.

  • The Watchman

    Millie, do you not have anything better to do, like titter at the X Factor? Your feeble brand of chippy ethnic grudge-fest lost any conceivable relevance when Parnell was off doing a Sven. But however fascinating and irritating it is to read it here, at least it confirms that republicans see unionists as invaders. So what’s Gaelic for Lebensraum?

  • Millie

    MM provided a great needed dose of humility to the stale political atmosphere of NI. Any British politician with even a modicum of sense and intelligence would neccessarily ridicule the unionist position as belonging to a bygone era, an era when the British ruled the world and the Empire was wholly intact.

    MM really could have gone to town with the third rate politicians who make up the Ulster political landscape, but at least she had the good grace to conduct the majority of the negotiations with a straight face. If there’s anything this country needs it’s a healthy dose of disrespect towards its elected representatives.

  • Millie

    My original contention was that settler societies whether 40 yrs old or 400, are characrterised by violence. NI was well f***** before MM came on the scene so to suggest that she somehow lowered the tone of the place is laughable. Abnormal solutions to an abnormal society.

  • Fanny

    What absolute rubbish.
    There isn’t a country on earth that hasn’t seen a wave of ‘settlers’ over the past 400 years.

  • lib2106

    The problem is that in Ireland the settlers neither succeeded in their attempts to wipe out the native population nor became assimilated into the meltingpot.

    Instead a section of the minority are making their last stand in yet another attempt to create a ghetto for themselves.

  • Keith M

    “There must have been something going for a politician that liked Ian Drury.”. It might have been more impressive if she liked Ian Dury. (I’m not normally petty enough to correct spelling, but I’m so glad to be back from holiday and away from those funny European keyboards, I can’t help it!)

    lib2106 “The problem is that in Ireland the settlers neither succeeded in their attempts to wipe out the native population nor became assimilated into the meltingpot.” On the contrary the celts did a wonderful job of wiping out the indiginous people of the island.

  • Greg

    Ah, but we don’t know if that’s true, Keith. Most modern historians would reckon that the Celts no more replaced the previous settlers than the Angles and Saxons wiped out the Romanised inhabitants of what became England. Rather, in both cases, a relatively small grouping blended with the locals and managed to veneer their culture on the populace as a whole.

    As for Millie calling Northern Ireland’s Protestants ‘settlers’, well, it does seem rather childish.

    On the other hand, it’s hardly surprising when they persist in claiming that they’re British rather than Irish – something they only started doing just over a century back, as up till the Home Rome movement began they were happy to call themselves Irish. They can’t really claim to be British people in Ireland and then claim that they’re not a settler population. That’s just trying to eat their cake and still have it.

    Sorry.

  • Keith M

    Greg, whether the indiginous population was wiped out by conquest or osmosis is irrelevant, given lib’s statement.

    “They can’t really claim to be British people in Ireland and then claim that they’re not a settler population.” Oh yes they can. Just as one can be English and British, Scottish and British or Welsh and British, one can be Irish and British. These national identities are not now and never were mutually exclusive. It isn’t the fault of unionists that Irish nationalists wanted to go it alone and thereby moved the goalposts on the definition of Irishness.

  • lib2016

    The fact that the majority of Irish people chose self-determination is not the fault of unionists. It would be nice though, if unionism could accept democracy, however belatedly.

  • Keith M

    lib “The fact that the majority of Irish people chose self-determination is not the fault of unionists.”

    Please remind me when this happened (and please remember that I have already bebunked the “1918 mandate” for the nonsense that it is). The majority of the Irish people (freely and conclusivly) chose partition in 1921/2 and again in 1998 and this explicity allows for Irishness and Britishness to be politically conjoined.

  • cladycowboy

    ‘The majority of the Irish people (freely and conclusivly) chose partition in 1921/2 ‘

    I’m sure the British Govt threat of returning to war had no play in the freely and conclusive ‘majority’ decision.

    Ask the Irish people today if they still want partition, go on, dare you, all of them freely and conclusively as one people.

  • lib2016

    Or, for that matter, the British people!

  • Millie

    Fanny, I think you’re confusing settler and emigrant but there’s a fundamental difference, mainly the disproportionate amount of social, economic and political power involved in the status of settler.

    Greg, I wasn’t calling NI Protestants settlers per se, but they are the descendants of settlers. In fact, many academics have recognised that as long as settlers constitute a group which is seen to be distinct and which maintains status closure and a relatively powerful position vis-a-vis ‘natives’ who present at least a latent threat to this supremacy, the settler society remains in place, however old the settlement.

    The Israeli settlers in Gaza and the West Bank would seem to be a classic modern day example of this. Not only do they steal other peoples land but the colonisation process itself ensures the prevention of any meaningful form of self-government by the natives. How viable will a Palestinian state be with more than half its territory stolen and the remainder ringed by walls, barbed wire and colonial outposts full of settlers who are armed to the teeth?

    Anyway back to MM, top geezer and colonial administrator.

  • Jo

    Last word on this subject:

    Despite all that I have said, posters continue to criticise in highly personal and vindictive terms about Mo Mowlam, despite everything that she worked for being the policy of the Labour Government of which she was a Cabinet member and Tony Blaire the Pirme Minister and Jonathan Powell (possibly) being the chief architect..

    To single her out for condemnation and contempt ignores the fact that she implemented British Government policy – and the only reason this venom is being expressed at this time is because – she has died at a relatively young age of a terrible illness.

  • Keith M

    Jo, I’m begining to treat your increasingly paranoid comments on Mowlam on various threads with a mixture of amusement and incredulity.

    “Despite all that I have said, posters continue to criticise in highly personal and vindictive terms about Mo Mowlam, despite everything that she worked for being the policy of the Labour Government of which she was a Cabinet member and Tony Blaire the Pirme Minister and Jonathan Powell (possibly) being the chief architect”.

    Firstly, who made you the right to stop other people from making genuine contributions to this and other threads, simply because they don’t agree with your opinion? Little of the criticism of Mowlem is anything beyond fair comment.

    Secondly, you cannot have it both ways. Either Mowlam was (as you now seem to suggest) the mouthpiece for the Blair/Powell policy and was simply an aparatchik (in which case she doesn’t deserve the praise which she received in the past few days) or she actually did make a personal impact, in which case personal criticism (and praise) is meritted.

    If you believe that the timing of personal abuse is insensitive (something I fundamentally disagree with), then I’m waiting for your condemnation of the far more vicious personal abuse that was handed out to Ted Heath after his recent death. It’s strange (not to say completly hyprocritical) that you continue to criticise those who have attacked Mowlam, and never saw fit to make a similar contribution to the Heath thread.

    Finally there is something supremely ironic in your trying censor forthright speech on this subject when this is one of the attributes that others have seen fit to praise in Mowlam.

  • Man Farang

    Keith M

    Wot a blockhead I am!
    You just don’t get it.

  • Jo

    Keith
    I was away at the time Heath died but would have thought it similarly incumbent for people to try and restrain their hatred until at least the man was cold – something that was not obvious here. If youre trying to assume that I am allied with the politics of those posters who castigated Heath – thats just downright, moronically stupid.

    While Mo was still alive, there were those who posted that they “would cheer her death.” As for censorship, I mentally screen out posts which brim with hate but am happy for Slugger moderators who apply the commenting policy as they did with the above post to which I refer.

    Now, when someone you have regard for dies, try and have a little empathy – or perhaps you might carry your argument to its logcial conclusion and appreciate that someone spitting at the coffin of the next member of your family to die is just expressing a reasonable opinion.

  • Grammaticus

    Jo

    Who said they would “cheer her death”?

  • Jo

    Gramm;
    Someone for whom I henceforth will find it difficult to have any respect.

  • La Dolorosa

    I was back in NI this weekend and read that Belfaat City Hall had decided not to open a book of condolences for Mo.

    Now I am not a big fan of these things but since they are so commonplace these days I thought it was extremely mean spiriited – not that Mo would have been suprised by it – she was well aware of a certain type of neandethal thinking

  • Mark

    “Ask the Irish people today if they still want partition, go on, dare you, all of them freely and conclusively as one people.

    Posted by: cladycowboy at August 21, 2005 06:03 PM

    Or, for that matter, the British people!

    Posted by: lib2016 at August 21, 2005 06:11 PM”

    I don’t think there’s any doubt what the British people would say – most on the mainland would love to be shot of us – but I have long held a suspicion that republicans might be very disappointed by the outcome of an all-Ireland vote on the subject. It might scrape through on sentiment, but do you think any sensible member of the government would want us even as we are, much less with the inevitable loyalist violence that would immediately follow any move to unification.

  • Keith M

    “I was back in NI this weekend and read that Belfaat City Hall had decided not to open a book of condolences for Mo.”

    BCH showing a bit of common. How many previous SoS’s had a book of condolences opened?

    Like it or not Mowlam was a controversial figure, her passing was more notable because of her ralative youth than anything she actually achieved (especially in Northern Ireland). In those circumstances a book of consolences would be entirely inappropriate (and I would say the same of Mandelson died tomorrow).

  • la dolorosa

    keith – you must be a minority of 1 if you think the GFA/BA was not an achievement.

    Yes it’s not perfect – what peice of legisaltion is??? but given the convulluted and protracted history of NI and the 2 communities trying to progress etc it can only be seen as an achievement and MO was a main playor in securing it.

  • Keith M

    le delorossa, the belfast Agreement promised a lot, delivered little and it’s only achievement is to prove Lincoln’s “you can fool some of the people all of the time..” statement.

    No tribute I saw gave Mowlam any credit for it. As I’ve said elsewhere, she can get neither the blame of the credit, as she was little more than a by-stander.

  • La Dolorosa

    Kieth N – yes it is a shame that some politicians couldn’t see the big picture (prize- peace) but then again it’s quite clear that when it comes down to it – there are still some who do not want to share power and move on and ignored the wishes of the people North and South who voted unanamously for peace.

  • lib2016

    ‘there are still some who do not want to share power…’

    …and how Mo would have laughed to see them wriggle as it all works out!

  • Keith M

    La Delorosa ; “peace” could have been achieved years earlier, in either of two ways; either achiving a military victory over the terrorists, or by completly caving in to them. How long or sustainable this “peace” would have been is debatable.

    You are right “there are still some who do not want to share power”. As people if they think that an armed terrorist organisation should be in power and I believe the vast majority of people would say “no”. Sharing power is not an end in itself, it is simply a small step on the way to putting democracy in the forefront in conflict resolution. Taking the gun and bomb away (and the threat of their use) is an even more significant step.

    “the wishes of the people North and South who voted unanamously for peace.” The people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic ALWAYS voted against parties linked to terror, it’s a shame it took others so long to heed that.

  • La Dolorosa

    Keef – you have a very black & white attitude to life don’t you. As someone born and brought up in the North (if I am right in thinking you live in the South) the Good Friday Agreement was a massive achievement and the only show in town.

    Achieving peace is not always about a military victory – one side defeating the other – I think there are more evolved ways (less macho if you like) to get there. Negotiation, dialogue, understanding of the ‘other’, integrated education etc etc… it has to be ground up of course with sensible/innovative political leadership.

  • Keith M

    If having the (sadly now unfashionable) ability to tell the difference between right and wrong is having a “black & white attitude”, then I’m guilty as charged and I make no apologies.

    I was born in the Republic, and have spent almost all my life here, and I believe that this distance gives me an ability to tell the wood from trees, which is something that some posters from Northern Ireland appear to have difficulty with. The Belfast Agreement might have been the “only show in town” for a very limited time (probably as long as it took the IRA to issue their first “not a bullet” statement in May 1998), but it’s slow but steady unraveling made it anything but a massive achievement (unless you count ambiguous verbiage as such).

    “Achieving peace is not always about a military victory”. I never said that it was, but history has shown that for real and sustainable peace, there are no better substitutes for a military victory and fair and honest peace terms which follow. An acknowledgement of guilt by the wrong doers is also a help.

    “It has to be ground up of course with sensible/innovative political leadership.” Indeed it does, and sensible politicians know that a lasting and sustainable deal cannot be done where trust does not exist. Unfortunately Northern Ireland is not blessed with innovative politicians. Indeed there are still some who’s thinking has been restricted to what was agreed in 1998, and never worked afterwards.

  • bertie

    I wonder how often in Germany in the ’30’s the german equivalent of “the NAZI’s are the only show in town” stated.

  • alexander bowman

    KeithM,
    A military victory is the best way of achieving real and sustainable peace?

    In a context such as N.I.?

    Along with fair and honest peace terms afterwards?

    To begin with, in a contested state, who are or who would you define as the co-belligerents?

    An apology from the wrongdoers would also be welcome?

    To whom are you willing or prepared to apply that moralistic designation?

    The ability to tell the difference between right and wrong may be limitedly useful in interpersonal situations. In the world of politics and war it is worse than unfashionable it is dangerous.

  • Yoda

    Boing!

    And Godwin’s Law has just been tripped.

  • Confused

    Currently, Mo has the third highest number of postings here. At least she was noticed, unlike many SoS’s. I think regardless of her substance or achievements, anyone who was as unpredictable, unconventional and direct as she must have been a breath of fresh air in the sour, repetitive, inward-gazing world of NI politics. Did she, warts and all, harm the process? Hard to see how at this stage, notwithstanding any indiscretions of the past – hard to see how any of them has had a substantial effect long-term, however offensive her conduct might have been at the time. Did she help it? Hard to see how shouting in anger and throwing wigs at Paisley could do otherwise, given that deeply offending Paisleyism has been at the heart of all progressive political journeys thus far in NI over the last thirty-odd years.
    In our judgment of her, I think it is necessary to have regard to the possible effect of her illness. Not as an excuse, but an explanation. If her health was effecting her performance, the question of whether she ought to have held the post at all arises; I for one am glad she came our way.

  • La Dolorosa

    KeithM – I am sure about the ‘objerctivity’ that you think you have and question your so called ability to ‘tell the wood from the trees’….

    All I can say is that I think people who grew up with it (not necessarily in the thick of it) NI is not just West/East Belfast and Derry etc have a more pragmatic attitude towards the whole thing as opposed to an ‘arcmchair’ view of things.

    The Good Friday Agreemenst/Belfast Agreement (take your pick) was unravelled by more than one group of politcians – and against the will of the people. It was/is the inability of politicians on both sides to implement it – when they just spent time and effort posturing.

  • Hatchet Field

    I met Mo Mowlam. I think she was an awesome person. I know its personal but I feel she took risks for the future of this country. I believe she really cared. I dont feel her risks were in vain. She made an impact on me. I met her at the signing of her book. I shook her hand and personally thanked her for all the things she done for me and my children. I told her I appreciated all the things she done for us that were written in the book and the things that were not written.

    I will never forget her!

    I realise that Mo wasnt everyones “Cup of Tea” but I thank the lord that I got to personally thank her for her contribution.

  • GurnyGub

    Well said Hatchet Field

    I met her in Downing St (oooh) at a reception, and she was wandering round with a bottle of red under one arm and white t’other, slippers on, and being a waitress really. Once she heard the accent, she visibly relaxed and was open, friendly and very candid. Can you imagine any of the others doing that?