Cold water poured on new Downing St shuttle

Jonathan Powell can only be right, even though he was a prime supplier of the drug of access he now wants to replace with cold turkey. And remember, not everybody was equally appreciative.

Tony Blair’s secret negotiator with the IRA has called for an end to crisis summits involving Irish and British Premiers and Northern Ireland’s parties.

That is not to say there should never be talks to end the paralysis. What is Shaun Woodward for?

Malachi is listing as taking part in the Powell session in Liverpool. Perhaps he might shed some more light on the discussions?

  • Powell’s attitude is intensely patronising, and nigh on colonial. There is also the issue that it was London’s belief that the Irish question had been settled and that they could leave well enough alone that allowed the political slum that was NI under the Unionist Party to develop. I am not saying that the current arrangements could lead to such a system emerging again, but I can see a situation emerging quite easily where the DUP and PSF ride roughshod over everybody else, and nepotism and other problems become ingrained.

  • Turgon

    I suspect that this latest comment from Powell shows his complete failure to understand Northern Ireland and the history of our conflict in all its forms.

    Powell seems to have felt that there was a once for all “solution.” In this he is similar to practically every previous negotiator and leader that has come from mainland GB: they fundamentally fail to understand that the debate and argument (and I fear in the future again violence) exists in the context of what is in essence an ethnic conflict between two groups; I accept that the groups are ethnically the same but that does not change the nature of the disagreement.

    Even leaving aside the ethnic conflict argument: one need only look to the union between Scotland England and Wales to see that these issues ebb and flow. There is not a single once for all settlement.

    Of course I argue that the quest for a “solution” blinded Powell to what people like him should have done: produce a fair democratic system of government and impartially and rigorously impose the rule of law. Such boring practical ideas of course are not as exciting as “hand of history” moments.

    When one believes in such “hand of history” solution nonsense, however, one becomes disillusioned when the dreary steeples reappear.

    Garibaldy is of course correct: Powell’s analysis is patronising and almost colonial. It is exactly the same sort of foolish attitude which has driven too many highly intelligent and educated diplomats and the like. Their failure to understand the complexities, nuances and weight of history have resulted in many so called “solutions” to previous problems that have resulted in disasters: Yugoslavia, Congo and Rhodesia are simply three which spring quickly to mind.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    The spectrum of Unionist parties from Unionist-Lite in the shape of the Alliance to Unionist-extra-strong in the shape of the TUV do not want to implement the last and crucially important part of the STA which will copper fasten Nationlaist/Republican involvment with the state. Unionism says No – and going to country house in middle of England or a terraced house in the middle of London – is not going to change that.

    Summitry needs to be replaced with delivery – Brown, Cowen and Obama will presumably make that increasingly clear to Robbo, Reggie, Jimbo and Davy.

  • “Powell’s attitude is intensely patronising, and nigh on colonial. ”
    And your point is?

    JP was a representative of a British Prime Minister dealing with the feuding irish.

    Why shouldnt his stance be “colonial” he was, after all,in a colony.

  • Well Phil it’s a strange type of colony that has representation in the mother parliament, and has equal citizenship with the metropolis. Never mind the whole issue of whether Ireland has been a colonial society since, say, the C18th.

  • Algerian Goalkeeper

    Algeria

  • Well indeed. And several other places that have representation in the French Assembly. But there was no doubt who was the coloniser and who was the colonised in places like Algeria. One only need look at people to tell. That has not been the case in Ireland for hundreds of years.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Summitry needs to be replaced with delivery – Brown, Cowen and Obama will presumably make that increasingly clear to Robbo, Reggie, Jimbo and Davy.

    No, they won’t.

    And that is how I interpreted Powell’s remarks. The availability of the two governments to step in whenever the parties here cannot agree by themselves essentially means that the electorate here continue to elect people who cannot or will not agree. The electorate are thus protected from the outcome of their decision at the ballot box.

  • dub

    equal citizenship rights, Garibaldy? Labour have been in power in London for a long time and not only did noone in the North vote for them, noone has ever been given the opportunity to do so. All of ireland once had representation in the “Mother” parliament… so ireland pre-1921 was not a colony according to you?

    The simple fact about britain’s dealings with ireland is that Britain has never sought to integrate any part of ireland into the party political system of the uk, it has ALWAYS treated Ireland like a colony. And the “nanny” remark is entirely consonant with that approach. At the same time as Britain insists on wielding executive power in a part of Ireland whilst treating it as an off shore colony, it shows no intentions of relinquishing that executive power. Truly as ever, ni is between a rock and a hard place. Instability is british policy.

  • The fact the Labour party doesn’t want to stand in elections here is not an issue of citizenship, it’s an issue for that party.

    And I think that before 1921 the government of Ireland had colonial aspects but was not a colony. It lacked the key features of a colonial society. Not least in the fact that Irish people were key to the British Empire – all those fools who fought in WWI because John Redmond told them to were imperialists, as was the IPP which represented the overwhelming majority before 1918.

    By the way, Ireland being outside the British Party system is a phenomenon from the later C19th. And even then the unionists were essentially part of the Conservative and Unionist Party.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Garibaldy,

    “But there was no doubt who was the coloniser and who was the colonised in places like Algeria. One only need look at people to tell. That has not been the case in Ireland for hundreds of years. ”

    Not sure what you mean there – as colour would be a fairly powerful indicator – but it is what people think that matters not what they look like.

    CS,

    What Powell added was ” Of course if it breaks down totally Her Majesty’s Government would have to come in again,’ he added. ” – which renders the previous jibber-jabber irrelevant as suspension/breakdown will follow the current crisis.

  • Dewi

    “Not least in the fact that Irish people were key to the British Empire”

    Algerian soldiers not key to the French Empire? Imdian soldiers not important to the Brits?

  • The point is in colonies like Algeria, there were obvious and permanent distinctions between colonist and coloniser. Colour being the most obvious one. You could just about make the argument that Gaelic people dressed differently than the Normans, and then maybe again around the time of the Cromwellians, but there are no obvious or permanent distinctions between the people here that even approach colour in a truly colonial situation.

  • Dewi,

    Were Indians sitting in the British Parliament? Were they adminstrators of colonies elsewhere? What about the Algerians or the black soldiers from other parts of the French colonies?

    Ireland was nothing like those places. It is a false analogy.

  • Dewi

    “but there are no obvious or permanent distinctions between the people here that even approach colour in a truly colonial situation.”

    Land ownership maybe Garibaldy? The right to vote? The right to be elected? All colonial stuff dressed up in religion.

  • Dewi

    THere is relatively little time between emancipation and liberation – indeed 1918 probably first election which represented the will of the people. Complete digession yet again sorry. On topic it ain’t “a solution” it’s a “dynamic” ….a fairly slow “dynamic” at the mo.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dewi,

    the obvious coloniser at the Millenium yesterday looked deeply uncomfortable as he presented the trophy – what in the name of holy feck is a funny Engleze Prince doing there – how embarassing for the ‘Principlaity’.

    The following from Wales on Sunday from BJ – as good a warning as any to stay off the pop.

    “At this level, one error – and it’s game over WALES were down and out after 52 minutes, but I can’t speak highly enough about the way they fought their way back. With a bit of luck, they could have nicked it.”

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Garibaldy,

    “Never mind the whole issue of whether Ireland has been a colonial society since, say, the C18th. ”

    The appearance of the people is not relevant in determining whether or not it is a colonial society – it just makes it more obvious.

  • dub

    Garibaldy,

    funny that all the other british parties have made the same choice until very recently.. and any change has been forced upon them. You dress up this remarkable situation as a question of personal choice… like many others i dont think you appreciate the depth of what this complete exclusion from the politics of the state that governs you means… it is as far as i know unique in the western world.

    colonialism occurred in Ireland and Ireland was governed as a colony. colour and visible differences between people are utterly irrelevant.

  • Dave

    Garibaldy, the key delineator between coloniser and colonised was religion, not race. To try and argue that Ireland wasn’t the only colony in Europe because its people were black is disingenuous. Like all colonies, they are means by which the coloniser systematically extracts the resources and wealth of a country while pretending to govern it for selfless rather than selfish reasons. As President Sean T. O’Kelly wrote in 1920, “The position of Irish Catholics is a cruel one. We are enslaved by a Protestant power. The penal laws against our religion are not yet abolished in full. The injurious social and economic results of these anti-Catholic laws will not be overcome for generations.”

    In NI, what raison d’être would Unionism have without a people to oppress? What raison d’être would northern nationalists have without resistance to oppression? Zero. Neither group could adjust to normality. If unionists really wanted the right to determine their own affairs as a nation, then they would support a system that allows for it, such as repartition. What they actually want is a system that allows them to continue as an ascendency (with another group being in the descendent position). Northern nationalist are equally dysfunctional.

  • Dave

    Typo: were[b]n’t[/b] black

  • Ok. Dewi, the right to own land was never taken away completely, and the right to on land on the same basis as Protestants and the right to vote were both delivered in the C18th. The right to sit in Parliament not until 1829, but then did that mean English Catholics were colonised too as they suffered the same restrictions? (As an aside, liberation has of course not taken place in full yet.)

    In fact restrictions on political and civil rights according to religion were common in Europe into the C19th. These were not colonial issues, but issues of equality among the subjects/citizens of states. They have their origins in the response of kings/states to the divisions and violence in their populations caused by the Reformation. Religious homogenity was seen as the only guarantee of a loyal population.

    Sammy,

    In a colonial society can one shift from being a colonised person to a coloniser? I think not. Yet one could switch from being a Catholic to a Protestant, and join the supposedly colonial class. I chose colour for what it signified – an unbridgeable gap between the coloniser and colonised. Though of course colonial regimes depended on local collaborators.

    Dub,

    Initially the British parties did organise in Ireland, then after Irish people turned their backs on those parties in favour of Irish parties, they remained tied into the British political system through alliances. The Unionists were formally part of the British political system, their Westminster MPs before 1969 sat as Tories, members of the Conservative and Unionist Party. The Tories returned to NI as a separate entity without being forced to, and while they were in government.

    NI people were never totally excluded from politics of the UK state as a whole because they could and did vote for people who it was clear would sit with one of the two main parties, and act in concert with them. This changed only with the Troubles. I think there are examples in Spain and Belgium and Germany of regional or linguistic parties that are allied to bigger groups but are formally separate from them, and that the bigger groups do not stand everywhere, but am open to correction.

    Dave,

    As I’ve said above, religious discrimination in Ireland had its origins not in colonialism but in the European-wide response among governments to the Reformation. A colonial prism is the wrong one with which to view this.

    Overall, I do not seek to deny that colonialism occurred in Ireland. Ireland – or at least parts of it – were colonised from the C12th (assuming we don’t see Dublin, Waterford etc as Viking colonies either). Aspects of Ireland’s government remained colonial until 1921 and beyond in NI’s case. But the society that emerged was markedly different from colonial societies, and conformed to European patterns much more than colonial ones. And the differences between Ireland’s participation in the political institutions of the Empire and that of colonies elsewhere means it was also more akin to European political than colonial political arrangements.

  • dewi

    Sammy – one more “principality” reference and I’m taking my ball home.

  • dewi

    Gari – your error is to assume that European patterns are not colonial – Brittany, Wales, Dalmatia, Sicily, Ireland, Cornwall, Scotland, Euskadi, Catalonia, Galatia, etc.

  • Dewi,

    That is highly debateable. Can we really say in the C21st century that Wales and Scotland are colonies? Certainly Wales was colonised about the C10th but there comes a point at which that is such ancient history that it no longers matters. After all, England itself is a French, sorry Norman, colony, no?

    The pattern you are talking about is more about the expansion of the lands held by certain royal families, which as often as not came about by marriage or other alliances as military domination. The aristocracies often transferred their allegiances, and the people often remained loyal to them. This is basically how modern European states were formed.

    Even accepting for the moment for the sake of argument that you are right, and the list you give are colonies, we can point to religious discrimination, dispossession and exploitation within the same nationalities. Colonial expansion was not typical of European development.

  • Brian Walker

    I’m no uncritical fan of Powell but if NI communities behave like the stereotypes of C19 “natives”, the corresponding stereotype is bound to apply. This is a dud argument, guys, it’s all droning historicism (using history to justify a contemporary position, as if you’re trapped in it). Only the backwoods of Europe frozen by the cold war still indulge it. “Ethnic” my foot. It’s so embarrassing! If you won’t, others are moving on developing economic relationships, civil society and cosmopolitanism. You have the brains, why not the will? Surely something NEW can capture your fertile imaginations?

  • Dewi

    “Colonial expansion was not typical of European development.”

    What? Please explain?

  • You don’t think characterising the problem properly is important for understanding it Brian? I would say that assumptions about colonialism etc are a problem because they stand in the way of analysing the real problem and seeking solutions. To put it at its most significant, the fact that the Provos regarded the British as the problem, and not the division of the people who live on Ireland, cost lives.

    Ethnic is a bullshit term I agree.

    As for developing civil society, that’s a phrase that is bandied about, but I suspect few people think about what it means. How do you think we might do it?

  • Perhaps I phrased that badly Dewi. What I meant to say was that political development within much of Europe, and especially western Europe, over the last several centuries was not a matter of one country colonising another, but rather a central power expanding its control over people of the same nationality. There are obviously exceptions, especially in easter Europe but the fact that we were talking about the expansion of lands controlled by royal families with numerous titles means that the situation is not often colonial. For example, when a Bourbon is put on the Spanish throne, does that make it a French colony? Or when the Prussian King makes himself emperor of Germany is that colonisation? I don’t think so.

  • Dewi

    “If you won’t, others are moving on developing economic relationships, civil society and cosmopolitanism”

    Yeah – based on a global American culture – which I – for one – reject – but if that’s your bag go for it. Ain’t diversity worth preserving? Like with animals and plants and stuff? Why is culture and language not as important as bio-diversity?

  • Dewi

    “Perhaps I phrased that badly Dewi. What I meant to say was that political development within much of Europe, and especially western Europe, over the last several centuries was not a matter of one country colonising another, but rather a central power expanding its control over people of the same nationality”

    No. Only true in retrospect when the language and culture of the conquered have been vanquished.

  • Pete Baker

    Garibaldy

    It’s a failure or “more a pernicious refusal to enter imaginatively the lives of our ancestors.”

    In the end, I suppose history is all about imagination rather than facts. If you cannot imagine yourself wanting to riot against Catholic emancipation, say, or becoming an early Tory and signing up to fight with the Old Pretender, or cheering on Prynne as the theatres are closed and Puritanism holds sway … knowing is not enough. If you cannot feel what our ancestors felt when they cried: ‘Wilkes and Liberty!’ or, indeed, cried: ‘Death to Wilkes!’, if you cannot feel with them, then all you can do is judge them and condemn them, or praise them and over-adulate them.

    History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier. History is memory; we have to remember what it is like to be a Roman, or a Jacobite or a Chartist or even – if we dare, and we should dare – a Nazi. History is not abstraction, it is the enemy of abstraction.

    Indeed.

  • Ah but surely for most people there was no cultural and linguistic vanquishing?

  • Dewi

    “Ah but surely for most people there was no cultural and linguistic vanquishing”

    Not for most no – just the colonised – which was the point – and Pete – what is your point?

  • runciter

    I’m no uncritical fan of Powell but if NI communities behave like the stereotypes of C19 “natives”

    Pity the poor British, dragged down by the backward natives.

    Isn’t it funny how only that part of Ireland which is under foreign rule remains uncivilised.

    Almost as if the problem wasn’t native at all.

  • Thanks for that link Pete. I had forgotten all about it. Great stuff. Hadn’t realised I had been commenting for so long!

    As for entering the lives imaginatively of our ancestors in connection to this thread, I think we come with preconcieved notions and read them backwards. This is especially true of people who seek to use Irish history for political purposes – whether it is people saying it is and always have been a small nation versus an imperial power or that all politics and activity has been motivated by sectarianism at bottom.

    The desire to be seen as the same as elsewhere – be it the black South Africans or the Israelis – is also far from helpful, and stops us proerply understanding our own situation quite often.

  • Pete Baker

    The point, Dewi, is that you’re attempting to judge history rather than understand it.

    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so.

  • Dewi

    “The desire to be seen as the same as elsewhere – be it the black South Africans or the Israelis – is also far from helpful, and stops us proerply understanding our own situation quite often. ”

    Agree – and what is your point?

  • Dewi,

    The question then is should the expansion of state power under the crowned heads of Europe be seen as colonial or not, even where it extends to areas where the locals speak different languages to the centre. I don’t think necessarily it should. Scotland you gave as an example of colonisation. I find that a particularly difficult one to reconcile with a colonial framework. It seems to be that what happened is that the Scottish royal family took over the English throne, and that bound the two together. A process completed with the Act of Union. Given the acceptance of this by many Scots, and the subsequent massive role the Scots played in the British Empire, I cannot see them as anything other than colonisers, not the colonised.

  • Pete Baker

    Garibaldy

    “Hadn’t realised I had been commenting for so long!”

    Nor I how long I’ve been blogging here.. ;o)

  • dub

    Garibaldy,

    You are missing the wood for the trees with all your focus on ethnic difference etc. We are all of the same race orginally, everyone in the world.

    The problem in NI is that it is a semi detached part of the uk which exists in a kind of limbo, and a semi detached part of Ireland.

    Western democracy does not exist in NI and if both govt’s have their way it never will. That is enough to be going on with in terms of explaining the northern problem. What we all take for granted does not exist in ni, and surprise, surprise, it is a deeply dysfunctional society. But go on, carry on babbling about ethnic differences…

    Brian,

    when people in ni are permitted to live in a democracy then all the normal things you talk about will talk root… until then we will have to put up with its grotesque politics of ethnic attrition.

  • Dewi,

    My point about the comparative thing was that the search for false empathy with the history of other peoples is a problem in getting to the reality of our own.

  • Dewi

    “The point, Dewi, is that you’re attempting to judge history rather than understand it.

    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so. ”

    Wonderful – Pete attempts a syllogism. Absolutely total nonsense Pete – what I tried to portray was that colonialism sort of disappeared peoples – even in Europe – tell me about Dalmatia Pete? What lost cultural and lingusitic beauty have we lost ther ?

  • Dub,

    I reject the term ethnic for NI, as I said above. NI may be in a somewhat anamalous position within the UK, but its history is more “normal” in European terms. It seems to me you are shifting ground from saying it is a colony, to say it is not a properly functioning western democracy.

    To return to the point of British political parties, my own feeling is that they don’t want the humiliation of getting their asses kicked at every election. Certainly I think that is why FF decided not to stand here.

  • cynic

    “As an aside, liberation has of course not taken place in full yet”

    ….but of course if they hadn’t kept conspiring with foreign powers to overthrow the sovereign in the 16th and 17th Century and burning Prods as heretics it might never have been imposed.
    Sorry …I just felt a bout of anti-MOPEry coming on

  • Yes cynic, my contributions to this thread are pure MOPERY.

  • Pete Baker

    Dewi

    “what I tried to portray was that colonialism sort of disappeared peoples – even in Europe – tell me about Dalmatia Pete? What lost cultural and lingusitic beauty have we lost ther ?”

    Who’s attempting the syllogism?

    You asked me what my point was in linking the post from 2006.

    And I answered.

    The point, Dewi, is that you’re attempting to judge history rather than understand it.

    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so.

    That point still stands.

  • Dewi

    “what I tried to portray was that colonialism sort of disappeared peoples – even in Europe – tell me about Dalmatia Pete? What lost cultural and lingusitic beauty have we lost there ?”

    Dalmatia just disappeared Pete – is that good?

    The point, Dewi, is that you’re attempting to judge history rather than understand it.
    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so.
    That point still stands.

    Again no. but if it makes you feel good you can understand it – me – i’m into change (that you can believe in)

  • Pete Baker

    Dewi

    You seem to have missed the question associated with quoting you on that particular point.

    “what I tried to portray was that colonialism sort of disappeared peoples – even in Europe – tell me about Dalmatia Pete? What lost cultural and lingusitic beauty have we lost ther ?”

    Who’s attempting the syllogism?

    And you asked for my point.. Here it is again.

    The point, Dewi, is that you’re attempting to judge history rather than understand it.

    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so.

  • kensei

    Pete

    The point, Dewi, is that you’re attempting to judge history rather than understand it.

    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so.

    To judge is human. We must discriminate everyday, in a million different ways. Why do we seek understanding? We seek understanding because it helps us make better judgements. Else what is there, beyond intellectual vanity?

  • Pete Baker

    Hi, ken.

    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so.

  • runciter

    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so.

    It is understandable that some should fear judgement more than others.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Pete,

    “Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so”

    Rather judging others in history should not be at the expense of understanding it.

    If we applied your proposition to recent history in Norn Iron Slugger would be all but redundant.

  • kensei

    Judging others in our history may make you feel better, but you don’t learn anything by doing so.

    Funny thing, Pete, I read that the first two times. You have a truly irritating habit of repeating yourself when you have no answer. Aside from the fact that you are comparing apples with wolverines, I am also not sure you are right. Once we make a judgment, we learn something fundamental about the person doing the judging.