“only thing the prime minister has to concern himself with..”

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.

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  • Steve

    Gee Bob one religion calling for the banning of another religion how refreshingly………… 12th century

  • willowfield

    Prince

    Ah, I fear you may be missing the point. Without Scotland to help share the monetry burden, and without the need to worry about Scotland’s ties with the north of Ireland and all the kinds of sensitivities that entails. England may well decide to look after her own interests and decide that she no longer wants or feels obligated to prop up her colony over the water.

    First, Scotland is “subvented” from London, too (everywhere outside the south-east of England is), so Scotland’s loss will be a financial gain – or at least neutral, so your first point doesn’t work.

    Second, Scotland’s ties with “the north of Ireland” are of little interest or consequence either way to people in England.

    Third, it is implausible to suggest that a future Westminster government will decide to risk unravelling “peace” in NI.

    I don’t think there is really a real threat of major upheaval one way or the other.

    There would definitely be “upheaval” if Westminster arbitrarily decided to expel NI from the Union!

  • BfB

    Well, there’s this, and this, and this, but Rome isn’t burning yet, is it?

  • Prince Eoghan

    Willow

    >>First, Scotland is “subvented” from London, too (everywhere outside the south-east of England is), so Scotland’s loss will be a financial gain – or at least neutral, so your first point doesn’t work.< < If by subvented by the British government you mean underwritten, then aye, but England is too. If you mean subsidised, then you are wrong, that myth has imploded on itself finally. Here is a quote from the Herald; "an investigation by The Herald last year scotched five key myths about Scotland's financial position in the UK, concluding that, although it does well in some ways, it does not get special treatment. State spending in Scotland is £9631 per head, less than London's at £9748 or Northern Ireland's £10,271." http://www.theherald.co.uk/display.var.2160548.0.0.php?act=complaint&cid=1350686 Myths and reality rarely match. >>Second, Scotland’s ties with “the north of Ireland” are of little interest or consequence either way to people in England.< < Exactly my point, thanks for backing it up. Without Scotland there is no-one really within Britain to advocate on the north of Ireland's behalf. >>There would definitely be “upheaval” if Westminster arbitrarily decided to expel NI from the Union!<< Interesting take, please elaborate. They might not need to 'expel' 'arbitrarily' or otherwise.

  • willowfield

    Prince

    If by subvented by the British government you mean underwritten, then aye, but England is too. If you mean subsidised, then you are wrong, that myth has imploded on itself finally.

    I’m not sure that it has. There are different ways of arguing it: the Herald puts forward one view.

    It seems generally accepted that all regions of the UK, bar London and the South-East receive a net “subvention” (i.e. public spending exceeds tax revenue).

    Myths and reality rarely match.

    Exactly my point, thanks for backing it up.

    I didn’t back it up: I said “Scotland’s ties with “the north of Ireland” are of little interest or consequence EITHER WAY to people in England”. The fact that Scotland has ties with NI will not mean that the UK without Scotland will decide to expel NI from the Union anymore than the fact that it has ties with NI is the reason why the UK government doesn’t expel NI now.

    Without Scotland there is no-one really within Britain to advocate on the north of Ireland’s behalf.

    No-one in Scotland is advocating on NI’s behalf now!

    Interesting take, please elaborate. They might not need to ‘expel’ ‘arbitrarily’ or otherwise.

    Meaning there would be violence and political instability.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Willow

    >>I’m not sure that it has. There are different ways of arguing it: the Herald puts forward one view.< < No, the myth has imploded, thanks. >>t seems generally accepted that all regions of the UK, bar London and the South-East receive a net “subvention” (i.e. public spending exceeds tax revenue).< < Aye using distorted figures. eg, South East is the centre for most large companies, thus their payroll for entire company is counted through London. Also most government departments etc. Thus it is difficult to say just how much anywhere is 'subvented' Scotland brings in the largest amount of money of areas outside the South East. I don't believe that we in Scotland are in effect 'subvented' at all. >>No-one in Scotland is advocating on NI’s behalf now!< < Haven't you noted Alex Salmond taking a keen interest? And the people of Scotland are advocates at the moment. Without us in the union, N.I's position would undoubtedly be weaker. Having the glare of English attention to the amount of money pumped in to no account. >>Meaning there would be violence and political instability.<< I agree with political instability, but violence.............not so sure about that. Sorry for rushed response, am busy.

  • willowfield

    No, the myth has imploded, thanks.

    Well, if that’s the case, it seems to be lost on English MPs! And they’re the ones who will matter in this hypothetical scenario of which we talk.

    Aye using distorted figures. eg, South East is the centre for most large companies, thus their payroll for entire company is counted through London. Also most government departments etc.

    Well, if we are to “undistort” the figures, the NI subvention would also be reduced.

    Thus it is difficult to say just how much anywhere is ‘subvented’

    True

    Scotland brings in the largest amount of money of areas outside the South East.

    But is still perceived to run at a “loss”.

    I don’t believe that we in Scotland are in effect ‘subvented’ at all.

    But the English do. And there are competing arguments either way.

    Haven’t you noted Alex Salmond taking a keen interest? And the people of Scotland are advocates at the moment. Without us in the union, N.I’s position would undoubtedly be weaker. Having the glare of English attention to the amount of money pumped in to no account.

    No-one in Scotland, outside a few pockets in the West, gives a damn about NI staying in the Union.

    I agree with political instability, but violence………….not so sure about that.

    Why not?

  • anonymous

    An update on that 6 year old Guardian opinion poll; from this morning’s Scotsman:

    http://news.scotsman.com/politics/Majority-south-of-Border-think.3933272.jp

    Just 16 per cent of English people said England would be better off if the union with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was ended.

    What % did the only all-Ireland party score in last year’s ROI elections?

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>Well, if we are to “undistort” the figures, the NI subvention would also be reduced.< < Of course. >>PE – Scotland brings in the largest amount of money of areas outside the South East.

    But is still perceived to run at a “loss”.< < Well now that we have access to figures that tell us otherwise, we can dispense with perception and the myths that led to such. >>PE – agree with political instability, but violence………….not so sure about that.

    Willow – Why not?<< Have mentioned several times that the Loyalists that I speak to over here, one of whom is a friend of mine. Say that they(Unionist Paramilitaries) have no desire to get involved in bloodshed again. They regret doing Paisley and the establishment's dirty work. So unless people like you and Turgon, who perhaps represent the middle-classes are prepared to get their hands dirty, thus why I am not so sure there will be violence. Again it is all if, but's and maybe's, and things change. I do not forsee the circumstances whereby nationalists or Republicans would ever feel the need to rearm and fight, those days are gone.

  • willowfield

    Well now that we have access to figures that tell us otherwise, we can dispense with perception and the myths that led to such.

    Others will produce their own figures to argue the opposite.

    Have mentioned several times that the Loyalists that I speak to over here, one of whom is a friend of mine. Say that they(Unionist Paramilitaries) have no desire to get involved in bloodshed again. They regret doing Paisley and the establishment’s dirty work. So unless people like you and Turgon, who perhaps represent the middle-classes are prepared to get their hands dirty, thus why I am not so sure there will be violence. Again it is all if, but’s and maybe’s, and things change.

    Well maybe your Scottish “loyalist” has a better feel for NI than I do, and he may be right about loyalists presently having no desire to go back to “war”, but in a scenario in which NI was expelled from the Union, there would be plenty who would think otherwise. There would almost certainly be rioting and other such violence, if not a full-on terrorist campaign, but these things tend to get out of hand as history shows us. (And you might recall the outrageous violence that was unleashed by loyalists about 2 years ago aften Orange parade was stopped.)

    I do not forsee the circumstances whereby nationalists or Republicans would ever feel the need to rearm and fight, those days are gone.

    Nor can I in the short or medium term, although “dissidents”, of course, are currently engaged in low level activities.

  • willowfield

    Anyway, what about Billy Liar?

    Solicitor? Banker? Accountant?

    What is it today, Billy?

  • Prince Eoghan
  • willowfield

    Prince

    As I said, no Westminster government will seek to unravel NI, regardless of Scottish finances or NI finances.

    Re. Billy Liar, when he retracts his scurrilous lies against me, I’ll give it a rest.

  • Steve

    Willow

    Its patently obvious that since ol maggie was binned the government has been picking at the loose threads of the jumper that is nIreland.

    They have sold out almost every precious unionist privledge from a Protestant Storomont for a Protestant people to the right to wander the queens highway willy nilly and unencumbered.

    Face it willow its in your best interest to get along with your neighbours and not dismiss them out of hand because you disagree with their politics.

    Unionism is no longer in the ascendancy, it is at best level pegging and possibly into free fall.

    Prince
    I have been agreeing with you so much I am begining to feel like a sock puppet

  • Prince Eoghan

    Willow

    >>As I said, no Westminster government will seek to unravel NI, regardless of Scottish finances or NI finances.<< Discount the winds of change at your peril, but so be it. Steve Time tae get back oan ma feet, they ur gie cauld!