Mick has pointed to the actual debate to be had around Gordon Brown’s defence of the Union. But, rather than looking for complicated reasons and strategies behind Brown’s apparent playing down of Northern Ireland’s role in the United Kingdom, sometimes, as Henry McDonald suggests here, there’s a simpler reason for these things.
In his promotion of the union, not only in relation to Scotland but also Wales, the prime minister failed to mention Northern Ireland, which drew a wave of criticism from Ulster unionists and their supporters in the Tory press.
Yet neither unionist politicians or their allies in the London media ought to be surprised over Brown’s omission of Northern Ireland – because the delicate political settlement that has guaranteed the union between the north of Ireland and Britain requires periods of diplomatic silence.
As Fair Deal has already noted here.
Unlike the printed version, the full online text of Brown’s article did mention Northern Ireland, but only in passing. And it’s a sufficiently fleeting a mention, compared to Wales and Scotland, to still support the argument made by Henry McDonald.
Unlike Scotland and Wales, Gordon Brown doesn’t have to compete for votes against other parties in Northern Ireland. That is because Labour doesn’t organise across the Irish Sea.
The only thing the prime minister has to concern himself with is that the political settlement at Stormont remains in place.
To trumpet the continued existence of Northern Ireland inside the UK would be to rub nationalist noses in it.
So instead the British government maintains radio silence on the north’s constitutional status.