However imperfect, what is the alternative?

Is a line that Sinn Fein has been confronting its dissenters with for some years now. Alex Kane is no fan of the St Andrews Agreement, but he believes that even the most erudite critics, like Bob McCartney, will struggle to find any free space in which to lead a potentially large following. Whether there is or isn’t a Plan B, he warns, further integration into Great Britain structures is a non starter. In the meantime, the most tangible outcome of DUP negotiating prowess will be the Balkanisation of Northern Ireland and a Shared Future document which he colourfully describes as an odious, anti-unionist, Union-damaging monstrosity.By Alex Kane

I have a lot of time for Bob McCartney. We may not have agreed on very much over the past ten years, but we share two particular traits; a reluctance to be force-fed on spin and a determination to point out when an emperor is both naked and emasculated.

He is spot-on in his critique of the DUP. It has made a dog’s dinner in terms of negotiation, producing, not a new deal, but rather a badly doctored version of the original. St Andrews is, in fact and in effect, immeasurably worse than the 1998 deal and it will produce an utterly ineffective administration hamstrung by mutual veto.

But even though Bob may be right about St Andrews, it leaves him with a problem: namely, where is the viable and available alternative to the DUP’s comprehensive cock-up? Or, putting it more bluntly, what are the alternatives for those unionists—and I am one of them—who would have voted against St Andrews had there been a referendum instead of an election?

The ones that come to mind are either non-starters, or worse than St. Andrews. A voluntary coalition of the centre would have been my first preference, but the SDLP never had the guts to face down Sinn Fein and team up with truly democratic parties. The fact that they are now so keen to push ahead with the Irish Language Act would suggest they would continue to rule out voluntary coalition—either in government or in a formal opposition—in the future.

Integration isn’t going to happen, either. Labour just isn’t interested and a new Conservative government, for all of Cameron’s wooing of his local members, wouldn’t lift a finger. Similarly, neither Brown nor Cameron would endorse a form of Direct Rule which would be benign and impartial.

Of course, we have already been warned about Plan B, with its “greening” of the relationship and its cranking up of the machinery of de facto joint sovereignty. On top of that we would have the formal Balkanisation of Northern Ireland under the Stalinesque-styled Super Councils, accompanied by the odious, anti-unionist, Union-damaging monstrosity that masquerades as the innocuous sounding “Shared Future Framework for Good Relations in Northern Ireland.”

Sorry, I misled you there. The Super Councils and Shared Future are on their way, with or without St Andrews and there is nothing that the DUP can do about it!

Bob says he wants to reach out to “frustrated and despairing” DUP and UUP voters; but what is he planning to offer them? I ask the question because the DUP promised us something better and gave us something worse. I ask the question because Bob’s former UKUP Assembly colleagues abandoned him when offered a false choice between authentic mammon and bogus gods. We have been here before. I’m not convinced that there is something better on offer, but if Bob thinks there is, then he has a duty to spell it out and explain how it can be delivered.

As for Peter Hain! “We said in January that a power-sharing Executive must be formed this year. If by 24 November the Assembly has failed to achieve this…there would be no choice but to cancel salaries and allowances for MLAs…” Given that he has hawked that threat around for six months, how does he justify the decision to continue the cash-flow and call an election to yet another Assembly for which there has been no prior, let alone firm commitment to create a power-sharing government?

We have a Secretary of State who has jelly for a backbone and the integrity of candyfloss. He has had absolutely nothing up front from either the DUP or Sinn Fein, both of whom have spent the last two days telling us that the fat lady hasn’t even reached the opera house yet. He is, and by a very considerable margin, the worst Secretary of State we have had. He has made a fool of himself and done a huge disservice to democracy. Mr Hain, you are naked; you should go.


First published in the Newsletter on Saturday 18th November 2006

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  • slug

    He’ll be gone in 6 months.

  • PaddyD

    “Integration isn’t going to happen, either. Labour just isn’t interested and a new Conservative government, for all of Cameron’s wooing of his local members, wouldn’t lift a finger. Similarly, neither Brown nor Cameron would endorse a form of Direct Rule which would be benign and impartial.

    Of course, we have already been warned about Plan B, with its “greening” of the relationship and its cranking up of the machinery of de facto joint sovereignty.”

    While integration isn’t an option due to devolution in Scotland and Wales there’s no reason why the Centre ground parties cannot become part of governmental parties such as the Tories, Labour and Fianna Fail.

    The Tories are willing to spend a bit of money to organise in the North and Empey’s UUP is going nowhere. The two Labour Parties are allowing organisation in the North and dual membership. Fianna Fail allows members in the North. These are all small but significant changes on the way that the Labour Parties and Fianna Fail used to blanket ban Northern residents joining their ranks.

    None of the above parties will move forward unless the centre ground parties want to link into their organisations. However the centre ground cannot be revitalised unless it is integrated into the broad centre ground of Southern Ireland and Britain – societies which SF/DUP niether can dominate or understand. It is the North-South and East-West dimensions of our society that can often move us forward and get on with bread and butter issues – not the parties of tribal head counts.

    When SF/DUP peak and don’t deliver the existing SDLP & UUP will not be able to capitalise on this due to the fact these parties are fundementally one trick ponies. Tories, Fianna Fail and Labour would be far better financed to capitalise on such a scenario. All have expertise in running REAL government and working with a multiplicity of interest groups and cultures. It is this expertise is what Northern Ireland now needs – not the Tribal FREAK SHOW we have that couldn’t run a corner shop let alone a state!

    We already have one all Ireland Party and a second one (Fianna Fail) is not going to change our constitutional status – it would however work better with the mainstream British Parties than SF. It is British politics (Tory v Labour) in Northern Ireland and not Ulster politics (UUP & DUP) that will really secure the union and allow Northern Ireland truely enjoy the benifits of the multi-cultural society that is the United Kingdom.

  • joeCanuck

    I’m beginning to accept David Ford’s (?) contention that, if this wagon does get rolling, the wheels will fall off at the first bump in the road.
    Although it looks less and less likely that it ever will get rolling.

  • Truth and justice

    Alex Kane is talking rubbish the Irish Act is not even in the leglislation for the St Andrews Agreement, it will be up to the Assembly to agree and Unionism has a veto, more scare tactics and sour grapes from the UUP.

  • Smithsonian

    Truth and justice
    Maybe, but can you really see Ian Paisley and Martin Magennis working together? It will be a fight a day at the tax payers expense. There is no basis upon which to form a government. The two sides are not only fundamentally opposed to each other, but they hate each other personally. I just can’t see how it will work.

  • slug

    Joe Canuck may be right.

    I suspect that if it does get rolling it will be very stalemated and there will be an opportunity either for NI people to rethink who they vote for or for a change in the rules of the assembly making it a bit more workable.

  • Henry94

    On reading AK’s contribution my first thought was, so what’s the bad news?

    Nationalists who are hung up on policing need to see the bigger picture. Northern Ireland can never again be what Unionists want it to be.

    The British simply no longer wish to allow it. Calling for Hain to resign while accepting that you won’t get any change out of Brown or Cameron either is pointless. He is the face on the policy but the policy is set.

    What the British want is to leave us alone to get on with it. They are even offering “feck off money”

    Most interesting was the insight into how the unionists wanted the SDLP to behave.

    A voluntary coalition of the centre would have been my first preference, but the SDLP never had the guts to face down Sinn Fein and team up with truly democratic parties. The fact that they are now so keen to push ahead with the Irish Language Act would suggest they would continue to rule out voluntary coalition

    Don’t only drop the Shinners but drop any ideas above your station.

    For those unfamiliar with the concept, those who want coalition partners make offers not demands. What you would need to be doing is supporting the Irish Language Act in order to entice them in.

    The advice to Bob McCartney is to offer the people an alternative. Why? Paisley didn’t and he beat the UUP off the board. the only question is will the unionist voters pay twice for the same pig in a poke.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    A statement from DCAL regarding the Irish Language Act which might clarify things for “Truth and Justice”

    “It is not possible to bind Parliament to pass legislation. Whilst the
    Northern Ireland (St. Andrews Agreement) Bill contains provisions which
    place a duty on the incoming Executive to adopt a strategy setting out
    how they will enhance and protect the development of the Irish Language,
    the Government also remains committed to introducing an Irish Language
    Bill. I can confirm that a related consultation paper will be issued and
    that there will be a 12 week period for interested parties to submit
    comments. Consideration of the responses will hopefully enable the
    Government to make firm policy proposals during March 2007. If possible
    preparation of a Bill will commence before the end of March.”

  • Truth and Justice

    BOB McCartney has no alternative, he cried about a cap on the rates and the DUP delivered on that, he then cried about the Grammar school and no accedemic selection , the DUP delivered on that and now he is crying about the Irish Language Act that is not even in the St Andrews Agreements leglislation and the Assembly will decide, he has no arguments he has no alternative he will lead Northern Ireland back into the Ice Age!

  • Truth and Justice

    If there is an Assembly up and running by March 2007 making its own leglislation then how can there be a bill going through the House of Commons for an Irish Language Act i think you have been had!

  • Smithsonian

    Truth and Justice
    How exactly did the DUP deliver on capping rates? Did they propose capping when the Assembly first considered the matter?

  • Truth and Justice

    Its is part of the St Andrews Agreement if you read it you will see it!

  • GavBelfast

    How do people (DUP and SF) possibly work together for good governance when they don’t merely oppose each other or compete (for they don’t) but actively detest each other and each party’s voters.

    This just isn’t going to work, how can it?

    PS. These notions of the DUP winning concessions on rates and academic selection are a joke. The work pyrrhic could have been invented for these minor side-shows.

  • Crataegus

    He is, and by a very considerable margin, the worst Secretary of State we have had.

    Too true and this is the nub of the problem, We are collectively moving backwards, extremes pandered, middle ground shafted, and it worries me as I sense real anger in many parts. We risk moving back into dangerous territory.

    The article is fair in its assessment. For the life of me I can’t see why we are continuing to pay MLAs and I have absolutely no idea why we are holding an election and what we intend to achieve by doing so. Is this more about buying Hain time to get out of here before the whole rotten carcass starts to collapse?

    I supported the Good Friday Agreement, though I had severe reservations particularly regarding institutionalised sectarianism and parity of veto. Give it a go I thought and suspend cynicism. What I got was the clearest demonstration of opportunity wasted that I have ever seen. I certainly don’t support the current incoherent mess. If you put the StAA to a referendum I would bet it would lose heavily as many people like myself would definitely vote NO.

    With regards joint authority I personally have no difficulty with the concept better than this mess.

  • the other one

    “and now he is crying about the Irish Language Act that is not even in the St Andrews Agreements leglislation and the Assembly will decide”
    the welsh language act and scottish act both went through parliament not the local assemblies.
    The draft Irish Langauge act is prepared and contains if memory serves me write 86 or 87 seperate items. (got a quick look at it on Sat)
    Should be consulted on starting end of Nov with 12 week consultation and order in council by end of March.

  • Smithsonian

    Truth and Justice
    The world must be a very simple place for you. I thought the St. Andrews agreement wasn’t an agreement but just the two government’s proposals.

    We are going backwards not forwards. St. Andrews was a botched negoitation. The people of Northern Ireland want a solution but this isn’t it.

    It is obvious that Northern Ireland isn’t ready for an Assembly. Until it is, the Assembly should be closed down. No pay, no consultations, no talks – of course we will have to deal with the reaction of the dissidents but so be it.

    Mr. Hain should do what he said he would do. No concensus, no government.

  • Tiny

    the only way to make devolution work in the long term is for the brits to get it up, and walk away, if the wheels fall off, the ‘locals’ will have to put them on again, that’s what devolution means!

  • joeCanuck

    well if I had a child still in High School, I would encourage him or her to enter a wheelwright apprenticeship course.

  • Blefescu

    “A voluntary coalition of the centre would have been my first preference, but the SDLP never had the guts to face down Sinn Fein and team up with truly democratic parties.”

    Which are these ‘truly democratic parties’ willing to share power with the SDLP that you talk about Alex? That description would fit only the Alliance Party. Surely you can’t mean the DUP, which spent thirty years opposing power-sharing with the 100% democratic SDLP? Remember, too, Bob McCartney was also opposed in principle to power-sharing with the SDLP throughout the nineties.

    As for the UUP the fact is that leading Ulster Unionists like Trimble and Taylor were part of the opposition against Sunningdale, maybe the last, best chance for all interests to make an honourable compromise and, yes, certainly in the case of Trimble, he was rational enough to learn from the 1974 mistake and make the Good Friday Agreement.

    As John Hume said at the time, if Sunningdale had worked, it would have met all his aspirations. Unionism blew it at Sunningdale and only a few people like Ken Magennis have had the honesty to admit that.

    I just wish unionist commentators had the insight to acknowledge that they always want to make the deal with the previous nationalist leading figure. For example, Eddie McAteer was a fine fellow, but as for that awful Fitt, Devlin, Hume and Currie and so on…Now some of them recognise that, yes, Hume was a statesman but as for that awful Adams…

    One thing I do agree with Alex on is that Hain is by the far the worst SoS, and given the competition from Rees, Mason, Mandelson and Reid, that’s saying something. Why are the really bad ones always Labour?

  • Truth and Justice

    The reality is this is a better agreement for Unionism than the Belfast Agreement, the option of plan B to give joint authority to the Two Governments would be a disaster and play into the hands of Sinn Fein, Unionism needs to get real this is the best we are going to get and the alternative will see us finished!Its fine to have principles but when they put us into a plan B that is far worse then its a plan for head bangers!

  • Truth and Justice

    Does Unionism really think it will foget what the UUP have done since 1998

    Prisoners out
    unaccountable North South Bodies
    unaccountable ministers
    destruction of the RUC
    50/50 recruitment to the PSNI
    No Decommisioning
    destruction of the RIR
    an all ireland parliamentary forum
    civic forum
    Irish passports being sold in our post offices
    More funding for the Irish Language
    section 75

    Dont forget who started this mess and it is the DUP that are fixing the mess left behind by the UUP

  • Henry94

    T & J

    Do you think the DUP could have done better in the negotiations? Shame they excluded themselves then.

  • Truth and Justice

    its a shame the the DUP have more common sence!!

  • Crataegus

    T & G

    Just face the facts internal squabbling in Unionism and the pursuit of self aggrandisement and over blown personal egos have done more to destroy and weaken the Unionist position than all the decades of PIRA bombs. The DUP sat back in the shadows and waited its moment and when the opportunity was ripe stabbed an ally in the back.

    It was more important to promote its own self interest and obtain revenge for the humiliation of the defeat over the Good Friday Agreement than unite for common good.

    Fair assessment don’t you think? What exactly has Doctor No achieved at St Andrews for I am mystified? Was the wait and the missed opportunities worth it?

  • Gonzo

    Nah, they were just too scared at the time.

  • Smithsonian

    T&J
    Dont forget who started this mess and it is the DUP that are fixing the mess left behind by the UUP

    Who opposed O’Neill, Faulkner, Fitt, Trimble. Who threw the stones at civil rights campaigns, the snowballs at Lemass? Who raised the spectre of an IRA campaign when none existed? Who refused to get involved with the Belfast agreement. Who said never, never, never? Who really created this mess?

    Can you really see a partnership between the DUP and SF working?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    T & J

    Seems you are the only DUP supporter who is willing to put hs head above the parapet.

    Do you really believe this the the new ‘FAIR DEAL’ that ex UUP voters voted for at the last election?

    Most of those I speak to think they were conned by a party with a lust for power who would lie and destroy anything or anybody who got in the way, just like Tony Blair.

    Their lies and ambition destroyed O’Neill, Faulkner, Stormont, Sunningdale, Trimble and the UUP and many more. The current state of the econmomy and politics in NI lies firmly at their door………and all you want to talk about are the things Unionism ‘lost’ in the GFA and that are still in place in the St. AA.

    P.S. It was the Conservatives that got a cap on the rates regardless of what happens in the Assembly not the DUP.

  • Does Unionism really think it will foget what the UUP have done since 1998

    Prisoners out
    unaccountable North South Bodies
    unaccountable ministers
    destruction of the RUC
    50/50 recruitment to the PSNI
    No Decommisioning
    destruction of the RIR
    an all ireland parliamentary forum
    civic forum
    Irish passports being sold in our post offices
    More funding for the Irish Language
    section 75

    Now you just sit back, calm down, and read over that list again slowly.

    Unaccountable N/S bodies… was it not the case these were meant to have included a NI Minister at every meeting, however this was avoided and an obvious breach of the GFA. This was mentioned not so long ago by previous SoS Paul Murphy.

    Destruction of the RUC… I think you mean re-naming and also you thank a Mr Patton for that.

    50/50 recruitment… When have the UUP ever put that on paper, never! The only Unionist party up to this date to have officially ‘supported’ this illegal practise has been the DUP.

    No decommissioning… Who do you honestly think acheived this??

    All Ireland parliamentary forum?… Annex A #21 of the SAA states the introduction of a new North-South Parliamentary Forum. The Northern Ireland Executive would encourage the parties in the Assembly to establish a North-South parliamentary forum bringing together equal numbers from the Oireachtas and the Assembly, and operating on an inclusive basis. I would advise you to actually read the 10th page of the agreement…

    Irish Passports… do you have one? Were you forced to get one? No, so what’s the problem?

    More funding for the Irish language… Ha! Amazed you even had the cheek to say that!

    In regards to prisoner releases and RIR disbandment… howver bad these were they were inevitable. That’s why the Unionist Parties moved their position from denial to seeking compensation. Prisoner releases were meant to be monitored and it has become clear that this is yet another breach of the GFA.

    The point is for all the sacrifices made in ’98 at least Unionism got some back. The constitution of the Irish Republic has been altered to remove its territorial claim on Northern Ireland. PIRA gave up on its final goal and instead settled for sitting in a British assembly (quite a change don’t you think?)!

    Now 8 years later and oh how things have changed, we have a new GFA but several times worse, we have an IRA godfather Deputy FM on the horizon. We have Ballymena getting the new name An Baile Meánach, with Belfast becoming Béal Feirste. But I’m sure this is all part of the DUP’s long term strategy at ‘sorting out the UUP’s mess’… indeed

  • Truth and Justice

    It seems that Fermanagh young Unionist does not have the courage to admit the failings of the UUP are you one of those sad indiviuals because your parents voted UUP then you have to, is your vote put up a donkey and we will vote for it. The reality is im a UUP voter but i see clearly what the DUP have acheived and i will be lending them my vote this time to get the job done, and to reward their efforts which in all honesty are better than what went before!

  • Alex Kane

    Morning all,

    Blefescu (06.15—19/11/06):

    “I just wish unionist commentators had the insight to acknowledge that they always want to make the deal with the previous nationalist leading figure…”

    In my own case I wanted unionists to do the Sunningdale deal; and argued at the time that any subsequent deals would only be worse from the unionist perspective.

    Truth and Justice (02.22—19/11/06):

    You accuse me of talking rubbish about the Irish Language Act. I will place a bet with you (and I’m happy to let Mick hold hard cash or an undated cheque for the sum concerned)that the Act will be in place on or before the end of November 2008, with or without the DUP’s approval.

    Given the list of what you say constitutes the UUP “mess” that the DUP had to sort out (08.09—19/11/06) I am astonished by your later assertion (08.50—20/11/06) that;

    “The reality is im a UUP voter but i see clearly what the DUP have acheived and i will be lending them my vote this time to get the job done…” (sic).

    Columnists are fair game for critics, anonymous or otherwise. That said, I would be genuinely interested to know (and I speak as someone who accepts the reality of a unionist/republican deal) in what ways you believe,

    A: St Andrews is better than the Belfast Agreement,

    B: That it represents a fair or fairer deal,

    C: That the DUP hasn’t simply triple-somersaulted away from every previous objection it had to “any deal whatsover which involves Sinn Fein at the heart of government in Northern Ireland.”

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

  • Smithsonian

    T&J
    The reality is im a UUP voter but i see clearly what the DUP have acheived and i will be lending them my vote this time to get the job done, and to reward their efforts which in all honesty are better than what went before!

    You have just lost all credibility. Get a new moniker and try again.

  • Greenflag

    ‘ the most tangible outcome of DUP negotiating prowess will be the Balkanisation of Northern Ireland ‘

    Does Bob McCartney not realise that NI is already ‘balkanised’ and has never been anything else since it’s foundation .

    What’s the difference between formal and informal ‘balkanisation’ ?

    The political cul de sac is narrowing for the DUP and SF .

    Hain has lost credibility . There is only way to restore it and indeed the credibility of any future NI Secretary of State and that is to do what he said he would do come Nov 24th . Pull the plug – remove the salaries .

  • Greenflag

    T&J,

    ‘Irish passports being sold in our post offices’

    So why is this a mess ? Given the huge demand for Irish passports from NI residents this is for the present a practical way to deal with this issue .

    ‘Dont forget who started this mess ‘

    Yes we haven’t forgotten . The State of Northern Ireland as a 6 county unit was a UUP idea . Everything on your list is merely the inevitable outcome of the original UUP ‘error’ .

    To judge from your post it seems the DUP would prefer to start ‘failed’ unionism all over again .

    Go ahead would be my advice . See what’s on offer next time . Don’t be surprised if your ‘list ‘of whines is longer .

  • Paul P

    Alex,

    What do you think of the UUP’s present position on the StAA?

  • Alex Kane

    Hi Paul P,

    I’m not sure that the UUP has a formal position on the SAA and I’m not sure that it has to have one. The reality is that all the parties face an election in March and all will be trying to hold or increase their seats and votes. The UUP is a pro-Agreement party and will campaign on that basis.

    My personal view is that the SAA is worse than the original Agreement and I think the DUP has missed an important opportunity to address longstanding problems. I also think the DUP is presently over-egging the pudding when it comes to the variety of gains it is now claiming on behalf of its negotiating skills.

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

  • Truth and Justice

    The reality despite all the spin from Alex Kane and the anti DUP spin doctors the UUP were at St Andrews and were part of the negotiations and their finger prints are all over it aswell, why did they miss the Irish Language Act, they have already given the nod to the Secretary of state their willingness to go ahead with the St Andrews Agreement and indeed their single Member for Parliament supports the deal!

  • Truth and Justice

    Alex i dare you to say the UUP are opposed to the St Andrews Agreement. (we all know your secretly for it!)

  • Porlock

    Truth and Justice

    Alex Kane asked you some very pertinent questions a few posts ago. You have yet to answer them.

    Bearing in mind that he has a well deserved reputation for answering questions that are put to him on this and other sites, it would be good if you were to return the courtesy.

    BTW Alex, how do you rate McCartney’s chances if he decides to put up candidates?

  • Truth and Justice

    Well Porlock i think the UUP can take Bob McCartneys seat he is a busted flush,whats your predictions for North Down.

  • Porlock

    Truth and Justice

    An interesting call on Mccartney in that you seem to think it will be a UUP rather than a DUP gain!

    On a personal level I hope he wins for, unlike the DUP, he does have personal and political integrity.

  • Truth and Justice

    I am not anti UUP Porlock, i just want to see a deal that everyone will work, and i feel the UUP are picking holes in an agreement they took part in, negoiated with the DUP and secretly support, you may be right about McCartney but the DUP have two safe seats and work hard the UUP were close to a third last time and i feel Mccartney is the vunerable one, he is only really seen at election time!

  • I have a lot of time for Bob McCartney. We may not have agreed on very much over the past ten years, but we share two particular traits; a reluctance to be force-fed on spin and a determination to point out when an emperor is both naked and emasculated – yup, and Kane’s about as modest as Bob too.

    Backing away slowly, eyes still carefully meeting Kane’s, from this latest fantastical exercise in, shure aren’t I the grand fella? – can I help the rest of Slugger’s readership breath slowly and relax?

    Many of you no doubt will be terrified as to how the Turtle’s going to get to sleep tonight? How, when that unforgiving midnight bell tolls, the poor man’s ever going to get to escape the waking nightmare that surely is his memory of Alex Kane’s unsparing criticism of his leadership. Well let me tell you how ginger Dave does, eventually, escape his waking sorrows: I’m there, whispering to him all the time down the phone, ‘worry not, put on that favouite recording of Parsifal, and hear this: “Alex Kane’s” not real, he doesn’t really exist, he’s just something your guilt has invented to torment you with’.

    And you know, it works. Eventually, cold hard reason works. Each time Dave howls or whines or whimpers to me, ‘but what about the determined nakedness pointing out he subjected me to, day in day out, always on UTV, always in the papers, and at every sodding council meeting there was? Always, always Kane, and him alone, speaking truth to power . . .’ Purposefully I break into this sobbed litany, ‘but David, no he didn’t. He sucked up to you where possible, and where impossible, he refrained from criticism even to the point of finding kind words to say about Michael McGimpsey*’. ‘But Karl’, the cracking voice begins again, ‘Karl . . . the emasculation, he mentioned it!’ ‘No he didn’t. At every turn when every other member of the UUP pointed out that you were a busted flush, set to destroy the party utterly, up would pop the real Alex, always ready to assure listening dozens that, shure weren’t you just the best of possible ginger leader in the best of all possible pro-Union parties. Your Kane, David, doesn’t exist. Now take your pills’.

    But since we’re here, and talking about Kane’s stellar, unprecedented political courage, my favourite example of this Undoubted, Incontestable Fact will always remain his performance on the radio a few months back. Remember, it was in pretty darn close proximity to Reg appearing on it, when, er, the storm of the week was Reg jumping into bed with the UVF? I’m sure all the other diehard fans of Alex don’t need to be reminded of the precise details that classic. Like a passable Python sketch, you could probably at this stage mouth the words yourselves. My goodness though, my ears still burn from the tongue lashing Alex gave Reg, and the poor ould critter just had to sit there and listen to it. Oh, wait.

    *And yes, a cold shadow did just fall upon your grave. Mind you, things fall off if you actually hear someone mention G*r*th’s ungodly name. So it could have been worse.

  • willowfield

    odious, anti-unionist, Union-damaging monstrosity that masquerades as the innocuous sounding “Shared Future Framework for Good Relations in Northern Ireland.”

    I must confess my knowledge of the “Shared Future Framework” is limited. Can someone explain why Alex has described it in such terms?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Karl Rove

    The bitterness and bile drips slowly and unendingly from your overworked verbose pen.

    Alex Kane has never been afraid to say what he thinks and to admit when he has been wrong. I don’t always agree with him but I respect him as man of integrity.

    You unprovoked attack on his character is unworthy of a contributor to this blog.

    Maybe you have something worthwhile to contribute to the debate, this was not a good example.

  • Smithsonian

    Karl Rove
    Seldom have so many words been used to so little effect. Dry your eyes.

  • Crataegus

    Smithsonian

    It is obvious that Northern Ireland isn’t ready for an Assembly. Until it is, the Assembly should be closed down. No pay, no consultations, no talks – of course we will have to deal with the reaction of the dissidents but so be it.
    Mr. Hain should do what he said he would do. No consensus, no government.

    I agree and on another threat (somewhere) you ask what I thought was the alternative. The problem with the current course is it is a fudge. I lets everyone off the hook for a while (long enough for Hain to depart) proves the threats were bogus and achieves absolutely nothing. If we can’t form an administration now why should we assume it will be possible in March, what will have changed? Pointless waste of time and money.

    If I were Hain firstly I would have adopted the attitude that there is an agreement democratically endorsed, and the structures for administering the place. Get on with it; it is your responsibility. If that didn’t happen I would have made absolutely no major decisions about the place regarding extra funding, or structures of local government, education etc. I would have adopted a policy of minimalist essential intervention, keep tightened the purse strings and let the place slowly go to hell. I would make no major decisions on hospital provision, road building, etc. I would view it as not my job, but the job of the Assembly and as they see fit to do nothing that is the democratic wish of the electorate here. That way the electorate would be faced with stark reality, vote in people who will work together to run the place or face the reality of voting for those that won’t. The brutal reality of the situation would soon become apparent.

    I can understand the difficulties that some of the players have with particular issues, but because the place is ticking over they are allowed to assume greater overall importance than would otherwise be the case. At the minute the electorate do not face the reality of their decisions and the politicians can indulge in their phobias these are both major mistakes.

    Where we are now, if Hain, I would hold to my promises and close the Assembly and again adopt the minimalist approach to government. I would hold new Assembly elections in May 2008 as scheduled, if there is an Executive or if there is not. In the interim I would set up a wide consultation on the short comings of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent deals and within the structures of that consultation severely reduce the role of the political parties and make it very clear that there is an intention to implement the recommendations of that process and that the process will be open and transparent.

    Basically increase the pressure, and also as a matter of urgency look at the structural problems and vested interests embedded within the agreement with a view to removing them.

    It is just a question of being firm, and creating an environment where those responsible take the flack. Keep it simple and be consistent has to be better than side deals and duplicity.

  • BooBoo

    Karl,

    You and Alex are both self-opinionated prima donnas—the difference being that he writes under his own name while you choose (as is your right) anonymity. He’s obviously a red rag to your bull, but your counterblasts are now tiresome, predictable and repetitive. As Smithsonian says, “dry your eyes.”

    BooBoo

  • darth rumsfeld

    ignore them karl. To paraphrase the words of Our Lords to St Paul “Karl, Karl. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (but keep on doing it)

  • The one thing *I’ve* learnt from AK’s crystaline prose is that, from now on, I will always be sure to preface anything I post with: I have a lot of time for Myself. We may not have agreed on very much over the past ten years, but we share two particular traits; a reluctance to be force-fed on spin and a determination to point out when an emperor is both naked and emasculated. Truly words to live by.