Much Ado about Nothing

I know some object to my using literary and historical allusions but this is too good an opportunity to miss. Has what we have witnessed at Stormont been “Much Ado about Nothing” where my copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare says “Comedy is tragedy averted.” In that play people conspire to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love and then there are twists and turns with another couple not getting married but it all ends happily. I would suggest, however, that what we saw this week was far from much ado about nothing and a battle was fought. A battle where I do not know who won; a battle that very few know who won except those who fought it. I suspect however, sooner or later, we will find the winners and losers.To analyse it maybe we could look at the combatants though I suspect we will be none the wiser after we have finished.

Turning first to Sinn Fein: I am not well placed to assess why SF felt the need to have this battle. They may have simply been stirring the pot, maybe they wanted concessions, maybe they also needed to keep the grass roots happy; I will leave others to speculate on the motives. It seems, however, that they did threaten to not nominate and hence, potentially bring the whole agreement crashing down; then they pulled back.

In the First World War the Germans very cleverly attacked the iconic French fortress of Verdun knowing the French would feel obliged to defend it at all costs. The French duly did, practically wrecking their army in the process; it was one of the few battles in that war where the defenders lost more troops than the attacking army. The Germans, however, became rather too keen on winning as a matter of pride which helped make their clever tactic less effective and they also lost vast numbers of men.

Maybe SF knew that the DUP feared an election and never intended to force one but by threatening it have gained some useful concessions. Equally, however, maybe they became too obsessed with their game and have walked away with nothing, having been faced down by the DUP. Who won depends on what has or has not been agreed upon and indeed whether or not SF can hold or cause the British government to hold the DUP to any putative deal. There could even have been a side deal between Brown and SF but we all remember that the words of a Prime Minister may not be worth the white board they are written on.

Turning to the DUP: They may have triumphantly faced down SF. They have been doing fairly well in blocking things they dislike in the assembly. This whole episode could and I am sure will be spun by them as a fit of pique from SF which was faced down by Robinson and the DUP emerged having had a further triumph. Equally, however, if they gave something or agreed to something they are going to be seen to have been defeated. The Zulus won a famous victory against the British at Isandlwana. However, the Zulus lost thousands of men killed and injured and it was a rather pyrrhic victory. If Robinson has agreed to a compromise and implements it, is forced to do so by the British government or indeed the government go over their heads then it will have been a defeat. Certainly his speech today would rival the Oracle at Delphi in how it could be interpreted with regard to P+J, ILA etc.

Even the more minor parties may have won or lost from this. The SDLP has accused SF of “political showboating.” If indeed SF have gained nothing then the SDLP may have a point and may gain a little from SF looking foolish and unable to successfully defeat the DUP. Equally, however, if SF come away with something from this over the next few months it may be seen that SF can deliver nationalist aspirations in a way that the SDLP condemned and could and would not have done.

The UUP are of course in exactly the same position as the SDLP. If the DUP do give something then the UUP can say that the DUP need not denounce them for previous compromises and might even say that unlike the DUP they (the UUP) were willing to collapse the executive. Of course the DUP counter will be that there were multiple UUP U turns and if the DUP do give away nothing then they will be able to point out that SF were so annoyed by lack of republican progress that they threatened to destroy the agreement and were defeated in a way that trimble never managed to hold for long. Clearly the TUV will like the UUP wait to see any weakening of the DUP’s position in the following months. Certainly quite a lot of Mr. Robinson’s speech seemed to be about people he did not intend to waste time looking over his shoulder at.

So this may have been all a bit of a storm in a tea cup and it may have been a political game but this was a game of high stakes and a zero sum game. Who won this game is not immediately apparent and it is unlikely to become clear for some time. However, I have no doubt some won and some lost. I also have little doubt that time will show us the victors and vanquished. If SF gained anything of any substance they won and the DUP lost: if they did not they lost and the DUP won. That is of course the dichotomous nature of our idiotic system of government and whatever the suggestions about reviewing the nature of government I cannot see an end to the mandatory coalition anytime soon. The Flying Dutchman sails mournfully onwards until the next time.

  • Yrrab

    Look, the turkeys were never going to vote for Christmas. I watched with cringing horror the sham in the big house today and really do feel pished off. The Nodding Dogs of SF and the DUP really get my goat. But, well done Peter! You have all the power of the Town Clerk of Gillingham (if even)…One question though.. If you, Allister McD, Sammy Wilson, Gregory, Martin, Gerry etc etc .. are all ball-licking each other up there .. who’s left over in Westminster? Or are ye all masterful Multi Taskers ..? with big bank balances..

  • DC

    ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ aka TUV?

    And what does a traditional unionist voice call for? The end of one-man-one-vote and back to the property-ownership-only voting privilege. Or is that being too much of an old, old traditional unionist.

    Some say slow surrender but it quickens the return of democratic politics heading towards debates on health, education, social and economic policy. Shove your traditional ethno-religious stuff, never got NI anywhere substantive and also I’m tired of reading about TUV and Jim Allister’s bitter capital punishment loving Unionist party.

    Mick Fealty needs his head looked at for continuing to place a part of Slugger up the anus of the rotting corpse of ultra-Unionism, despite your attempt to be learned using Shakespeare and World War analogies.

    Go take a course on democracy and recent NI history and instead steal some quotes from that, which actually might inform you better as to sincere attempts to build peace and a form of democracy, albeit a poor one as currently is, but it is still better than ‘no surrender’ and ‘not a bullet’ nonsense.

  • Turgon

    DC,
    Any thoughts on the subject of my blog? Incidentally Mick’s email address is on all slugger pages, if you want me removed please feel free to email him.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Turgon,

    regarding the winners and losers I dont think it will be that simple. A quick glance through the posts throughout slugger shows that the winners and losers from the GFA/STA, both published documetns in the public domain for some time, are still in serious and ongoing dispute.

    What is interesting about this is that those who are now referred to as extremes ( very unfair on reasonable men like yourself) who oppose the GFA/STA tend to support the analysis of the camp they oppose the most. So the TUV tend to think that SF have won and dissident republican camp tend to think that the DUP have won. As the famous football philosopher from east london ‘arry rednapp might say ‘funny old game’.

    For my part I see the devolution of police and justice as the cement that will hold the republican peace together and I think Robbo sounds like he is the boy to deliver it in return for the army council. My only disappointment today was the attempt by Reg to outDUP the DUP on Police and Justice and he may in fact be trying to shuffle belatedly into TUV territory.

  • DC

    If Mick Fealty approached you he needs a bit of the Gazza treatment. I’m sorry for the above comments Turgon, but fucked if I’m putting up with more winners and losers shite for we either hang together or separately. Separately has been horrendous, so enough of it as far as my views carry anyway.

    Jim Allister loving his capital punishment will know exactly what I mean by that.

  • Dewi

    Please – Zulus, Verdun, Shakespeare, Dromore…

    Anyway Turgon I was running your Presidential campaign. I’d booked 4,356 billboards saying “For Ireland itself for Ireland it’s Elf” (Passim)
    I’d got Bono and Sinéad to record your campaign song (“Advance Elenwe Fair” by the way – a sort of Reggae cum Trad number – pretty cool) – and now u tell me me you are back on the World domination gig…..

    No worries – the sale and leaseback deal on Rivendell has released 8.7 billion Euros – which compares well to the 6.7 million we’ve spent to date. Suggest we buy Gazprom and perhaps Cyprus for the Autumn offensive….and who do you want to win in November in the US? (Gimli tells me that there’s gold in them hills….)

    From Devenish to Ulan Bator – 100 days that changed the world (been here before but a lot more fun than your thread !!!)

    Nos Da

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    DC,

    what the feck are you on? This is a debating forum and Turgon puts his point of view up for debate in an interesting and distintive way, listens to what is said to him and replies politely. When people like Turgon get pissed off because of uncalled for abuse then count me out as well.

    Get a grip on your knickers.

  • DC

    That’s your view Sammy Mc, fair enough, I’ve given mine.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dewi,

    Talking of winners and losers.

    fancy a bet as to which country loses/wins by the least/most number of points – £1 a point. So if Wales lose by 15 points and Ireland win by 5 points you would owe me £20?

  • observer

    Mick Fealty needs his head looked at for continuing to place a part of Slugger up the anus of the rotting corpse of ultra-Unionism, despite your attempt to be learned using Shakespeare and World War analogies.

    SPot the bigot on this page!

  • Dewi

    Sammy – bring it on. “If Wales lose by 15 points and Ireland win by 5 points you would owe me £20”

    AGREED in big capital letters – could I please have a witness???

  • DC

    Specify that comment Observer, please, to particularise your statement to show just how in interpretative form via the dictionary that my wording and language qualifies me as a bigot?

    A bigot via the online dictionary runs as follows:

    Bigot

    “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”

    I said as an advocate of democracy that powers should be placed in the Assembly, which given the democratic operations thus far can be vetoed, but that it is better to have them and hang together than not and hang in groups separately.

    Now, tell me please how I have shown a preference, or why don’t you just go and join Turgon in reading together about different forms of workable democracies for more intense ‘democratically’ agreed change.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dewi,

    let the batle commence.

  • observer

    Shove your traditional ethno-religious stuff, never got NI anywhere substantive and also I’m tired of reading about TUV and Jim Allister’s bitter capital punishment loving Unionist party.

    Mick Fealty needs his head looked at for continuing to place a part of Slugger up the anus of the rotting corpse of ultra-Unionism, despite your attempt to be learned using Shakespeare and World War analogies. – DC

    i think that qualifies
    “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”

  • DC

    O

  • DC

  • DC

    OK then :-s.

  • [aside]”The Flying Dutchman sails mournfully onwards until the next time.”

    Is this code for a possible ‘hiccup‘ down at the DRD? 😉

  • DC

    But it doesn’t Observer because, one – I have no ‘in’ group, and two, I have no ‘out’ group, you are an idiot. I am saying devolve to work it out together! Are you really such a fool?

  • DC

    Ffs Nevin wtf is that do with anything seriously! This is ‘hell in a handcart’ stuff, spurred on the by King Ignoramus Turgon.

    As my peers used to say jokingly: “would you even fucking bother?”

  • Henry94

    If people backed off a political manoeuvre because they got the message that the people did not want the institutions interfered with, then what about calling it, the taming of the shrewd.

  • Events, my dear boy

    Turgon wrote: “Turning first to Sinn Fein: I am not well placed to assess why SF felt the need to have this battle”.

    The reason is far simpler than most people would have us all believe.

    The Sinn Fein leadership were rattled by the response from many of its activists to the full-page article from the two residents groups in the Lower Ormeau and Garvaghy Roads carried in the Irish News at the end of April which rejected and fully undermined the report of the Strategic Review Body on Parades on the same day that it was published – a body whose membership included a very senior Republican, Sean Murray, and two other nationalists who would be seen to be influenced by Sinn Fein.

    Remember, that report specifically said that devolution of policing and justice would be depend ent upon a resolution of the parades issue.

    I’m led to believe that even Sammy Douglas (who also sits on the Review body)was quite taken aback by the article as he had been reliably informed by a senior Republican that Ormeau would certainly agree with the report and that only the Garvaghy folk would disagree – leaving them isolated over the Drumcree church parade.

    However it hasn’t worked out that way. And given that what happens in these two communities is seen to be almost like a touchstone of progress or regression within the broad nationalist and republican community, the supportive reaction at the grass-roots level to the Lower Ormeau/Garvaghy stance seems to have made the Sinn Fein leadership create a crisis in order to divert attention from the full blown faux pas created by Mr Murray and Co.

    Fionnuala O’Connor wrote in the Irish Times about this over a week ago and said that these parades were the part of a deal which Sinn Fein would not be able to deliver upon.

    And what is one of those items which the DUP has put on the table for the Downing Street talks and confirmed by the PM? – none other than parades.

  • Driftwood

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article3776246.ece

    Much ado about nothing indeed!

    Basil does tend to stir fry a bit.