Hearts and Minds: Haughey and Brown…

Hearts and Minds is on at 9pm on BBC2 tonight, because of the football (England 2 Trinidad and Tobago 0, btw). Charlie Haughey will provide the nationalist interest, whilst Gordon Brown renewal of British patriotism and flag waving should provide Unionists with a rare glimpse of a UK national issue. Though the programme will no doubt, “remind him of a few of the risks involved when you seek to encourage national fervour”.

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  • peter

    Charlie’s most famous quote on NI was that it was a failed political entity and needless to say it incurred the wrath of unionists saying he was a gunrunner; midwife to the Provos and a crook.

    Yet none of them ever said he was wrong

  • fair_deal

    I usually allow myself about one absolute rant on slugger a year and last night’s Hearts and Minds is going to be it. I have had to wait to this morning to ensure it was semi-controlled but it is still going to be a rant.

    My fiancee arrived home from work last night just after the episode finished and I think she is reconsidered her options after finding me wandering about our living room shouting at the TV kicking the furniture and slamming doors etc.

    I will be breaching the man not ball rule so if I am to be carded I will accept it with good grace.

    On the piece itself:
    1. It was clearly designed as a hatchet job and didn’t even bother to try hiding it. The introductory line describing the suggestion of a national day as a “wheeze” and how it was only a “perception” that Brisithness could actually be about positive values.
    2. The two guests brought on agreed on almost every point and they agreed on being negative, derisive and dismissive of the entire idea. This was all gently nudged along by questions and comments by Noel Thompson i.e. the implication that the place goes to hell in a handcart if someone displays a flag in their garden and his tongue in cheek use of “mainland”.
    Note to Jeremy Adams, the show’s producer, all the participants taking the same position is not a debate it is a diatribe.

    As to the “debate” itself. First Mr Feeney
    1. He defined this as a “nationalist” project. This may be the narrow prism he sees everything in politics through but Brown’s choice of “patriotism” not nationalism was deliberate. There is a difference.
    2. Feeney presented it as Brown trying to impose a common Britishness as a replacement for regional and national identities when Brown is advocating an overarching one.
    3. He also went for the tedious mainstay of “It’s against human rights you know”. Go on Brian name the human rights charter which forbids a state from promoting a common overarching identity? There are human rights protections to stop a government picking on national minorities (Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities) and Lesser Used languages (Convention on Regional and Minority languages) but no ban on the state promoting a common identity and/or language as well.

    Now to Alex. Head shakes very sadly. Never has Oscar wilde’s line about gutter and stars more appropriate.
    1. Alex immediately dismissed the idea as purely driven by Brown’s electoral concerns. Whether he is right or wrong SO THE FUCK WHAT? Brown has initiated a national debate around identifiaction with the state Unionists want to see florish. Maybe instead of cynicism Unionists should be jumping on the bandwagon and trying to get a hand on the steering wheel?
    2. He went on about how Brown hadn’t done much thinking about what this all meant. This isn’t bad, this is bloody wonderful. A person who will almost certainly hold the highest office in our country wants something to happen and seen to happen but needs help with the detail. Let’s give him some help. He has put the ball on the pitch, Unionists should not be standing looking at it complaining its one of the cheap 99p ones you get at portrush instead of those nice shiny Nike ones. Unionists should be taking the ball and scoring a few goals with it or offering him one of the nice Nike ones to play with.
    3. He was dismissive of Brown’s idea based on past failures – John Major’s warm beer and cricket and Tony Blair’s Cool Britannia. Again so the fuck what? Alex has got sucked into the detail when he needs a wide angle lens. If our Prime Mininsters keep returning to this theme perhaps they do so because it is an importnat issue that needs to be addressed?
    Major and Blair failing doesn’t mean Brown will or should. Progress is built upon experimentation until we get it right. Cavemen didn’t give up on fire when the first two flints didnt give a spark.
    4. Unionists should try to link the national with the local ie what national trends and issues can we harness for the good of the Union here. A significant division in Unionism is between cultural Unionism and civic unionism. Brown’s attempt to modernise Britishness could be a perfect opportunity to build a bridge between those two sections and/or the modernisation of the cultural Unionist narrative. Either would be good for Unionism.
    5. The “identity” is invention argument is a utterly pointless one. If britishness is an invention then so is all identity and that conclusion leads us all into a nice little cul-de-sac.

    Finally we are called Unionists as we are supposed to be committed to the British Union. The hint is in the name. Thus it would be advisable for us to actually act that way so when an important debate about our state comes along we work on how we contribute to it not perpetuate the stereotype that we are a pack of naysayers.

  • Alex. Kane

    fair_deal:

    My apologies to your fiancee for spoiling her evening and marring her opinion of you! I hope all is well again in the household.

    I think Brown will be an even worse PM than Blair and I think that this whole “Britishness” thing will be a three day wonder on his political and campaigning agenda.

    It was accident, rather than design, that Brian and I were negative on the subject. We weren’t asked in advance what line we would take.

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

  • fair_deal

    “I hope all is well again in the household.”

    Yes everything is fine. She is a tolerant soul.

    “a three day wonder”

    Maybe it will maybe it won’t but Unionism should be working to make sure it isn’t.

    “We weren’t asked in advance what line we would take.”

    Piss poor prep. BBC NI strikes again.

  • Aside from coat trailing marches and bullying litlte school girls, you have no culture and that is the core of your problem. Some of your remarks are akin to those of David Duke and the white supremacists south of the Dixon Mason line: When minorities organize, it is ok but when white/Unionist supremacists try to wear their white cloaks/sashes etc……

    Now Charlie Haughey: there was a man who understood culture, and your failed attempt at making an artificial one.

  • Mick Fealty

    Irish Times letters page on Haughey yesterday. First from David Marlborough.

    “In an interview with a British newspaper back in the 1980s, just after he had taken power again after the 1987 General Election, the then Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey, said: “Ireland is where strange tales begin”

    .

    At the strong behest of a resolute Fine Gael opposition he then went on to benefit from putting their stringent fiscal policy into force and incidentally helped lay the foundation for the Celtic Tiger.

    Then this, from Alan Sheehy-Skiffington:

    When reviewing the legacy of the late Charles Haughey, readers may be interested in the evaluation given in this newspaper, just a month before his own death, by my father Owen in May 1970, in reaction to the sacking from the Cabinet by Jack Lynch of Neil Blaney and Charles Haughey and the resignations of Micheál Ó Moráin and Kevin Boland following allegations of gunrunning.

    Under the heading “They’ll none of them be missed”, he said: “Intellectually, Mr Charles Haughey is the ablest of the four. His aesthetic sense is perceptibly greater than that of Mr Boland; the competition is not intense. He has an arrogance which beats the band and he can be every bit as intellectually dishonest as Mr Boland; and there the competition is intense.

    “He can be very charming, it is true, to those who flatter him; but a deep inner insecurity gives him a low temper-flashpoint, which renders him often petulant and sometimes absurd. His childish and churlish refusal even to receive the farmers, and his decision to let them remain for weeks in the gutter, marked him as the small-minded man that essentially he is.

    “Mammon is an old business friend of his and an active supporter. . .In the past few weeks I have sometimes been asked which of the many Ministers who appear before us in the Senate I would think least worthy of public confidence and esteem. These are the four names I have always mentioned first; and in arriving at this opinion, I have always seen a clear gap between these four and their Ministerial colleagues, not one of whom has their Messianic “infallibility”, their inflexibility, their arrogance, their ruthless pursuit of personal ambition, and their refusal to entertain even the possibility that they might ever be wrong.”

    Interesting to compare against the reality which unfolded over the following 22 years

    .

  • Franklin

    CH was wrong when he said “NI was a failed political state” ?
    What planet are you living on – look around you.
    NI is an economic wasteland – our politicans can’t even agree on who should chair committees!
    The culture of the majority community consists of the ‘right to march through Catholic neighbourhoods’.
    70% of employment is in the public sector.
    For over 30 years the police service controlled a loyalist paramilitary murder machine against catholics.
    All the sophistry and revisionism of Slugger will never disguise the truth – NORTHERN IRELAND IS A FAILED POLITICAL ENTITY!
    Stay up on the roof in Glengall St with Paisley and Trimble and let a decent man rest in peace.

  • Miss Fitz

    Franklin
    Ranting is great, but accuracy is greater.

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1292

    Public sector employment is recorded here at 30%. Where do you get your figures please, and do you have a link?

  • franklin

    Stay up on roof

  • Crataegus

    Franklin

    Failed political states are caused not by geography, but the people living there. A united Ireland may have been a problematic construct. You never know what might have been as we always assume that current problems would be solved if only history were different. May have been much worse.

    In or out of Britain, or Ireland, it is in the interests of us all to make this place work, improve education, improve the economy, the health service etc. So let’s all be positive and get on with it, the place has problems let’s address them.

    My memories of Haughey are of his failings and the tribunals. There are lessons for us all to learn and ponder how we ensure that society treats all equally before the law and how we set rigorous standards that apply equally to the lad from a working class estate as they do to those with wealth or in High Office. For me Haughey illustrated how a state can easily look morally bankrupt and hypocritical. His legacy is a lesson to us all.

  • George

    Missfitz.
    true 30% work in the public sector but over 70% of Northern Ireland’s GDP comes from the public purse, according to the latest figures I saw last month. The word “Soviet” springs to mind.

    In other words, Northern Ireland is consuming wealth at a far greater rate than it is creating it, a polite way of saying it’s an economic wasteland.

    On the Boss, I’ll never forget him saying he looked to China and its leaders when asked if it wasn’t time for him to retire.

    Or:
    “Deep down I’m a very shallow person.”

  • Miss Fitz

    George
    I didnt dispute the GDP part of it, but I was disputing the actual claim made by Franklin on employment in the Public Sector.

    I dont think there’s any room for debate on the idea of NI as a failed political entity.

    I was at a conference on Friday, and Patsy McGlone MLA asked a question from the floor. He challenged representatives from the Housing Executive and Rate Collection Agency on their policies on the lack of provision of social housing, and the unfairness of the new rate system.

    I just thought it was so rich to see one of our elected representatives sitting in the audience, totally surplus to need, and dependant on decisions mae within the Civil Service by non elected representatives.

    Somebody tell me what’s politically sound about that?

  • The Unionists of the North east of Ireland were well described by Harold Wilson as pompous spongers. No more shipyards, no more Belfast confetti, only coat trailing marches and the odd sectarian killing. Now that the Croppiers don’t lie down any more, their way of life is fallen itno the mire. It is hard to know whether it is best to pity them or just laugh at them.

  • George

    There is a great fat middle class in Northern Ireland and there will be for the forseeable future.

    The problem is that those with nothing will remain with nothing as everything is so stagnant.

    This doesn’t bother the British, Irish or middle classes as long as they destroy their own areas and lives.

    The politicians, such as Patsy McGlone MLA, are pampering to the middle classes as they vote.

    I don’t blame Patsy, I blame the hundreds of thousands that are happy to write of another generation of their fellow citizens if it means they get to continue in their pampered lifestyle.

    Old German saying:
    He who sows wind, will reap a storm.

  • Crataegus

    George

    their pampered lifestyle

    There are many problems in this place but one of them is the section of the community who in their narrow view of things see the state as being dysfunctional as being to their advantage. They almost rejoice every time some figure that is published supports their view of reality. It is equivalent to the person on the third floor flat rejoicing because the flat belonging to the b a s t a r d on the ground floor is on fire. That’ll show him.

    Of course from a Nationalist perspective imagine tomorrow and this place becomes an Irish problem! We need to sort the mess out NOW it is in everyone’s interest and I don’t think it is as bad as all the woe hungers portray.

    I own a number of businesses and don’t belong to the middle class civil service sector. There are plenty of opportunities. The biggest problems we have are;

    FAILURE OF POLITICIANS
    Collectively the biggest bunch of pathetic losers one should ever have the misfortune to encounter. Worse still pampered by the British Government which places them at them centre stage. Why keep going back to the same failed management team, set up a system that enables progress and get on with it. Lack of political policy and no coherent plan or vision other than the over arching we want to be Irish and we don’t scenario. If we would stop looking at the horizon and start to view our own fields how do we best cultivate? Whatever way a future poll goes better to have the place as an asset that someone may want rather than a liability that may sink a Nation’s economy.

    STRUCTURAL
    The public sector must be reduced, not as much as some imply, because many of the services are essential, but there needs to be some rationalisation and the removal of bodies that are not essential. This needs to be an ongoing process spread over a number of years. Some of us need to look at some cherished institutions, for example do we really need the maintained, integrated and state school systems? No point complaining about the inefficiencies on one hand and help create it on the other. Do we need all the Quangos? Time to get back to basics with a thump.

    STRATEGY
    We need a clear strategy for encouraging investment and regional development and it goes without say that we need to consider this in the context of both Ireland and Britain. Co-operate where it benefits us. Go our own way where it doesn’t. We also need to address the needs of areas that are deprived to encourage business growth in those areas. Much of this would probably be easy enough but for the political problem.

    On the issue of investment I know of various people who are making very substantial investments in this place so might not be as bad as some think.

  • George

    Crataegus,
    we agree on many things and I agree with most of what you wrote but as I have been put through watching two turgid England games in succession I shall wear my cynic’s hat on this occassion. As I am a cynic at heart please excuse my harsh exuberance.

    POLITICIANS
    They are “collectively the biggest bunch of pathetic losers one should ever have the misfortune to encounter” because the NI electorate is the biggest bunch of losers you will meet.

    “Why keep going back to the same failed management team, set up a system that enables progress and get on with it.”
    Because it is in Britain’s interest to have a say in the running of this island and better have the northern dog on the lead than seeing him going ferral.

    “If we would stop looking at the horizon and start to view our own fields how do we best cultivate?”
    The British or the cosy southern polity don’t want this and NI, although a liability, will never sink the British economy. The price is quite cheap to ensure we never become a Cuba or the like.

    The British and Irish establishments have cultivated the loser mindsets we see in Northern Ireland today because it is both their interests. They have decommissioned Ulster’s intellect and the people of Ulster should hang their heads in shame. Instead they go out and buy themselves another flag.

    STRUCTURAL
    The public sector will be reduced but Britain or the Irish establishment don’t want the patient to get better so the cancer of underachievement will remain. By the way, I don’t have a problem with each community having the right to educate their children in their culture. I do have a problem with them bringing up their children in a false reality, although I blame others for maintaining the false reality.

    STRATEGY
    You need to think to have a strategy. The people of NI are paid not to think and what is most depressing is that they are proud of their ignorance.
    The leader of unionism still refuses to shake the hand of the Taoiseach in public and Sinn Fein seem to think they can blithly condone/refuse to condemn killing Gardai while robbing a bank with Limerick criminals to the Irish people.

    Co-operation means respect and there is no respect. On the issue of investment, it isn’t significant enough to change mindsets.

    I feel better now. Bring on Sweden.

  • Crataegus

    George

    Agree about the performance of England, about as interesting to watch as Fame and Fortune, but you must truly be a masochist England versus Sweden!! Have you not had enough?

    Sorry just don’t buy having a liability is in anyone’s interest in Britain and less so in Ireland. I could think of more constructive ways of maintaining interest on this island. I would blame incompetence among senior civil servants, a series of politicians and Secretaries of State. Many in the Civil Service and elements of the Security Service may also consider political control as limiting.

    Those at the top are obviously not on top of it. In a business context the management team would be replaced. You need a group of people in here who are well briefed. have clear objectives, and good, fairly austere management skills. The dance that Hain is performing is asinine.

    The price is quite cheap to ensure we never become a Cuba or the like.

    You got to be joking Ireland is as conservative a place as any and the vacuum in the North is more likely to cause such a scenario than real progress.

    loser mindsets we see in Northern Ireland today

    A bit of a generality.

    You need to think to have a strategy. The people of NI are paid not to think and what is most depressing is that they are proud of their ignorance.

    No this is hog wash. The problem is the government gives pole position to those who are the problem, set up structures that foster them and ignore what others have and are suggesting.

    The leader of unionism still refuses to shake the hand of the Taoiseach in public and Sinn Fein seem to think they can blithely condone/refuse to condemn killing Gardai while robbing a bank with Limerick criminals to the Irish people.

    Our lamentable politicians, the points you raise are fairly representative of their deviant behaviour, but it also supports my argument that they should be shunted into a siding and we should set up a system of government that provides effective administration with or without them. Imagine an employee behaved like these people.

    I don’t have a problem with each community having the right to educate their children in their culture.

    I would prefer that they all had a better understanding of each others cultures given the background. I also have problems if it involves considerable additional expenditure and because it fragments the population makes the provision of a good education system with pupil subject choice more difficult.

    Co-operation means respect and there is no respect. On the issue of investment, it isn’t significant enough to change mindsets.

    It will take years to build trust and respect, we have to make the effort there is no other feasible option. With regards investment it is increasingly difficult to attract investment anywhere on this island and cost in the South are much higher than elsewhere.

  • Britian’s over riding goal has been to achieve peace in our time in the North. They have achieved this by getting a bigots’ group, the DUP, and the social clmmbers of the Sinn Fein to further emasculate the place for them. The other parties only hold relevance in relation to them, the North’ political North Stars.

    The Orange culture is one of sponging and, as a group, they disprove such facile notions as the Protestant work ethic which, in the context of Belfast and enirons is a kind of oxymoron. They like to march around Catholic churches, intimidate little schoolgirls, drink cheap beer and sign on the dole.

    Sinn Fein’s economic policies are pro sponger, which is not surprising given the work free background of their leading lights. They are Judy to the DUP’s Punch.

    They are flip sides of Ireland’s carnival of reaction. Look how many politicans of flawed pedigree get elected in all of Ireland. Look how well politicians do out of the EU.

    The six counties is a gerrymandered entity. Such an entity can hardly be expected to throw up great leaders. With the exception of Sean McBride, John Hume (on peace) and one or two others, it is hard to see any of them making the cut.

    Look at the South with the death of our beloved Charley. Why did Ms McAleese go to the trouble of returning from Africa? What difference did that further extravagance cost?

  • Crataegus

    Taigs

    I agree with much of what you say about the hypocrisy of Ireland and the standard of politics, but you paint with too broad a brush.

    I am in contact with many in business and most really do put their back into it. Even take the simple corner shop open 7 days a week, 7am to 9pm. It’s hard work.

    There is a good workforce in the North and people in both communities are resourceful.

    The problem is the idiots that run this place have set up a system where the wealth producing, business community are peripheral. They will grant aid a community project which is in direct conflict with an existing business, exempt charities from rates when their shops are in direct competition with the shop next door and better than that to ensure the shop closes hike up commercial rates. Getting a job in the Civil Service or a Quango is the sensible thing to do here because the risk in starting up a business is often not justified by the likely reward.

    The amount of time and effort chasing around after grants is criminal. If a project is viable go to the bank, perhaps the grants should simply be in the form of loan guarantees. That way the money is there for future use. But then the true purpose of the Grants is to buy off communities. They are bribes and millions have been squandered in daft projects that were never going to be sustainable.

    As stated on many threads we need to systematically go through the Civil Service and decide the best way to administer less than 2 million people, what Departments are needed, what should the councils take over, where is there duplication and which Quangos are necessary. Get it down to the bones. There isn’t the fat some think but a good reduction could be made and a clearer structure of administration provided.

  • An Question

    can anyone from the DUP answer this question:
    Where is peter robinson?
    Mr Robinson seems to have disappered following Paisleys change of heart on the comittee for the preperation of devolution.

    If anyone sees Peter can you let us know hes ok!!1

  • BVG

    I’m sure he is fine and certainly in much better form than someone in a political party which is presently embroiled in a financial scandal (and there will be more breaking news on that issue soon); which has just suspended yet another Chief Executive; and which is doing its stupid best to sustain a link with the UVF terrorists.

    How is Reg, by the way?

    BVG

  • A Question

    Seriously though, were is Peter Robinson?

  • Franklin:

    “NI is an economic wasteland”.

    If you think a 4% unemployment rate represents “an economic wasteland”, just jump in a time machine and head back to the Bogside or Ballymurphy of the 80s. Or even a Yorkshire pit village of the same vintage.

    All:

    I’m sorry in a way that the two themes above were intertwined since the way comments work, it is hard to sustain two themes of discussion in one thread. Rather than cut across this discussion it might be worth starting another thread on the Britishness aspect. I was particularly struck by this para from FD’s ‘rant’:

    “He [Alex Kane] went on about how Brown hadn’t done much thinking about what this all meant. This isn’t bad, this is bloody wonderful. A person who will almost certainly hold the highest office in our country wants something to happen and seen to happen but needs help with the detail. Let’s give him some help. He has put the ball on the pitch, Unionists should not be standing looking at it complaining its one of the cheap 99p ones you get at portrush instead of those nice shiny Nike ones. Unionists should be taking the ball and scoring a few goals with it or offering him one of the nice Nike ones to play with”.

    I was particularly interested

  • A Question

    have all the DUpes lost their tongues?
    Where is peter Robinson?

  • fair_deal

    A question

    You obviously haven’t looked very hard. He is at Westminster, hardly strange for an MP.

    http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?id=uk.org.publicwhip/member/1400&showall=yes#divisions

  • A Question

    fair deal
    why has he made no public apperances since paisley screwed him over the comittee for preperation etc

    no press releases, no tv apperances…very strange

  • fair_deal

    So when your first question gets an answer you have to shift to other ground. What a surprise.

    “no press releases, no tv apperances…very strange”

    For the rest to be significant the basic premise has to be true.

  • A Question

    fair deal
    why has peter run to ground in westminster?
    why has he not made ANY public statements here since paisley shafted him on the devolution committee

    Not a happy time in the DUP camp i hear