Cameron drives last nail in the coffin of a separate Human Rights Bill

David Cameron has driven another nail in the coffin of a Northern Ireland Bill of Human Rights. The Newsletter has got a statement from him saying he would not enact any Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland as envisaged by the Human Rights Commission.

“It is important the rights of everyone in our society are protected,” he said. But Conservatives and Unionists do not want to take power away on issues such as social and economic policy from democratically-elected representatives and hand it over to unelected judges. That is not good for democracy. We are proposing that any Northern Ireland-specific issues are best dealt with in a sub-section of a UK-wide Bill of Rights and Responsibilities – protecting rights and respecting the role of democratically-elected representatives.”

The Conservative leader has always been clear he wants to limit the scope of rights legislation generally to the basic and the general and to rein in on any consequential extension of the power of judges. Locally though, his move is bound to be seen through the sectarian prism, as another tilt towards Unionism and a further sign that Cameron does not regard every section of the GFA as set in stone. This will worry nationalists, although I very much doubt if Cameron would alter the basic architecture. His next move, scaling back the expenses entitlement from the abstaining Sinn Fein MPs now seems likely as part of the general expenses reform. Note by the way, that Sir Christopher Kelly’s Committee on Standards in Public Life will take evidence in Belfast on Wednesday 1 July – their only out-of-London visit scheduled so far.
Cameron’s support for unionism in NI diverges from his offer of guarded engagement with the SNP government. Contrast his sparring relationship with Alex Salmond with his awkward alliance with the Ulster Unionists, after failing to achieve a federation in a proposed new ” Northern Ireland Conservative and Unionist party.” under his leadership.. This looks like an experiment rather than an election-winning strategy.

As Cameron says, any separate NI provisions would now be a footnote in his UK Bill of Rights. As the Secretary of State has shelved NIHRC’s recent Advice on a comprehensive and detailed NI Bill, how will Labour proceed?. There must be doubts now that any NI specific rights Bill will emerge at all. This would be consistent with the recanting views of the first NIHR Commissioner Brice Dickson in a recent memo to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, rejecting his successor’s advice.

All of Cameron’s moves in the devolution scene seem designed to create a stronger framework for the evolving relationship between the centre and nations and regions. If he makes any party gains out if it, so much the better, but he knows he starts from a very low base. Not everyone will see the wider horizon beyond the Copeland islands in Cameron’s approach. I doubt if they should have any real cause for concern though, and they should try to control their paranoia.

  • kensei

    Locally though, his move is bound to be seen through the sectarian prism, as another tilt towards Unionism and a further sign that Cameron does not regard every section of the GFA as set in stone. This will worry nationalists, although I very much doubt if Cameron would alter the basic architecture.

    It’s irrelevant. The desire to cherry pick bits of established and democratically endorsed agreements should be highly worrying to Nationalism, not least because it is very hard for them to hit back.

    All of Cameron’s moves in the devolution scene seem designed to create a stronger framework for the evolving relationship between the centre and nations and regions. If he makes any party gains out if it, so much the better, but he knows he starts from a very low base. Not everyone will see the wider horizon beyond the Copeland islands in Cameron’s approach. I doubt if they should have any real cause for concern though, and they should try to control their paranoia.

    It’s not paranoia if they are out to get you, and I think I will…. mmmmmmmm… pass on taking the Tories on trust. I don’t believe this is about “evolving relationship between the centre and regions”. No. It is about challenges to a future Tory governments power. Hopefully the various elements opposed are too smart to play along.

    And since he’s alraady skewing dangerously towards Unionismso much for the wonderful “New Force”

  • Driftwood

    Cameron just seems to get higher in peoples opinions here in this part of the UK with every speech. More please, David.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    It is refreshing to see a politician take a ‘bull hook’ (for those of a country leaning) to all the rubbish that is going on in our multiplicity of Quangos and other unelected bodies.

    When it has been cleared we can then start to look at REAL issues rather than manufacturered ones that most, outside the anoraks, don’t give two damns about.

    So let’s get on with the economy, jobs, education, and health and when we have a solution underway for those we can move on to other areas.

    Topping the poll, smash SF, and a UI are not what we need to be discussing today, they are the politics of the past not the future.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brian,

    re. “the sectarian prism”.

    That is an inappropriate/pejorative term to use in relation to the view that might be taken of the Tory leader backtracking on the GFA – you dont need to have a sectarian prism/outlook to be disappointed/angry/outraged at a prospective National leader not honouring the committments of his predecessor.

  • The desire to cherry pick bits of established and democratically endorsed agreements should be highly worrying to Nationalism, not least because it is very hard for them to hit back.

    The relevant section of the agreement was already enacted. A NIHRC was set-up. It failed do deliver a report based on the remit which it was set.

  • Driftwood

    Lets hope he dismantles all those useless quangoes like the Equality Commission, Human Rights commission etc as well.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    FD,

    “Topping the poll, smash SF, and a UI ” are not needed – neither are PoshBoyDC’s tribal offering about his support for the Union – that is the politics of the past as well i.e. before the GFA.

    Remember his collegaues in his party helped to secure the IRA ceasefire by saying they had no strategic interest in this part of Ireland – as long as the GFA stands so should that statement – if not we can rightly accuse the Tories of dishonesty or irresponsible backtracking – take your pick.

  • Alex

    “It failed do deliver a report based on the remit which it was set.”

    Chekov, that nonsense has already been nailed once today in the comments section of your blog.

  • the Tory leader backtracking on the GFA

    What the Agreement actually said was we’ll set up a NIHRC “to consult and to advise on the scope for defining, in Westminster legislation, rights supplementary to those in the European Convention on Human Rights, to reflect the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland.”

    What Sammy read was, “to make inviolable whatever contentious stuff we can jam into a bill which then must be passed whatever parliament thinks of it”.

    It’ll teach you to have a second glance, to read the words and consider what they mean when thus ordered.

  • kensei

    Chekov

    The relevant section of the agreement was already enacted. A NIHRC was set-up. It failed do deliver a report based on the remit which it was set.

    In which case you go again, tightening the remit. You don’t go “I’m get my own HRC with black jack, and hookers. Wait, forget the black jack. Forget the hookers. You know what, forget the whole damn thing”. The intention was not for a proces staht produced bugger all.

    I have a lot of sympathy for not putting legislation in a constitutional document. But I do not like this. What else will he start cherry picking?

  • Chekov, that nonsense has already been nailed once today in the comments section of your blog.

    Yeah. Sure it was. Because you read the relevant section of the agreement and came back with a whole bunch of rights particular to Northern Ireland.

    Wait.

    No you didn’t!

  • In which case you go again, tightening the remit.

    No you don’t. You say – we’ve had 10 years of this. No-one has even mentioned a single right which is particular to people in Northern Ireland. If anyone thinks of one we’ll stick it in the UK act. The Agreement didn’t set this body up in perpetuity. Show me the provision which states otherwise.

    We’ve had the forum, two chairmen and not one single specific right. Time’s up. Move on. The agreement has been truly satisfied.

  • SM

    Given that Human Rights are generally considered to be universal, why did we waste all that money on yet another pointless quango? Can anyone point out what is allegedly missing from the HRA 1998? From what I heard the NIHRC issued a crazy report saying lots of social and economic policy issues which people vote for parties on should be reclassified as HR and fixed in stone.

    On the more general point about quangos – seeing as the IMF says we need to cut public spending how about abolishing all public sector jobs which have “Commisioner” in the title, unless they can justify their continued existence.

  • kensei

    No you don’t. You say – we’ve had 10 years of this. No-one has even mentioned a single right which is particular to people in Northern Ireland. If anyone thinks of one we’ll stick it in the UK act. The Agreement didn’t set this body up in perpetuity. Show me the provision which states otherwise.

    It didn’t set this body up with the intention to do nothing. Oneill managed to run a few suggestions on his blog and I doubt he was even trying. If the problem is truly the remit, then perhaps more focus would produce a more productive report.

    But the problem isn’t the remit. The problem is that Unionism and even more so Conservatism hate the whole idea.

    We’ve had the forum, two chairmen and not one single specific right. Time’s up. Move on. The agreement has been truly satisfied.

    Tories have spoken. What next will they decide that “The Agreement has been truly satisifed” and abolish?

  • perhaps more focus would produce a more productive report

    The remit was provided in black and white in the 1998 Agreement. All the focus that was required was to stick to the remit.

  • BonarLaw

    kensei

    “What next will they decide that “The Agreement has been truly satisifed” and abolish?”

    Well, off the top of my head:

    sectarian designation
    mandatory coalition
    d’Hondt
    implimentation bodies

  • kensei

    Bonar

    Well, off the top of my head:

    sectarian designation
    mandatory coalition
    d’Hondt
    implimentation bodies

    Which is any of that was even hinted at unilaterally would lead to major instability. I am almost sure that he wouldn’t be stupid enough to actually do it. I certainly worry he rattle the saber or nibble at the edges in a counter productive way.

  • Alex

    Jeez, David Cameron has spoken. All bow down, quick.

    No need to actually hold a public consultation with the actual people who actually live in Northern Ireland, then…

  • SM

    Which is any of that was even hinted at unilaterally would lead to major instability. I am almost sure that he wouldn’t be stupid enough to actually do it. I certainly worry he rattle the saber or nibble at the edges in a counter productive way.

    Posted by kensei on May 28, 2009 @ 04:42 PM

    IIRC Owen Patterson, Shadow Secretary of State, is on record as saying that such changes could not be unilaterally changed but would need to be looked at in the medium term. The Conservatives are well aware of the sensitivities and the need to proceed carefully.

    As the current system is a horrid sectarian mess, incapable of producing good government I imagine over time that all parties will be willing to look at fixing it. Well parhaps I’m being optimistic there, but certainly the general public will be pushing for change.

  • BonarLaw

    kensei

    nothing is set in stone, after all the legislation enacting the Agreement has been significantly altered already. More ammendments are only to be expected, especially with a government of a different hue than that which was in power in 1998.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Kensei,

    I think Boner is only teasing – he may well be pining for the good old ways when the Tories – like his namesake – were as mad as brushes.

    PoshBoyDC knows full well that he will have another Republican insurgency on his hands if he fecks about – he may well make a few Orangey noises – but after fecking up the UUP party right and proper and reducing them to zero MPs he will presumably have the good sense to think about things before making a complete pigs mickey out of them.

  • Driftwood

    No need to actually hold a public consultation with the actual people who actually live in Northern Ireland, then…

    No. Why should he? The UK government is the state authority here. Come next May David Cameron will be the man who says what goes here.

    If SF don’t like that they can go to hell. No big loss.

  • oneill

    “Jeez, David Cameron has spoken. All bow down, quick.”

    Alex,

    Not only Cameron has spoken, Bruce Dickson, as mentioned in the post and also Professor Liam Kennedy have criticised the “advice” produced by the NIHRC:

    http://tinyurl.com/rcqju2

    Kennedy’s point is rather an obvious one, human rights are universal, not specific to Northern Ireland.

    Sure there are certain human rights available in the rest of the most of the democracies of the world which are now sadly lacking in NI- full reproductive rights for women would be one. If the NIHRC had instead concentrated on those areas specific to NI, then they and you would have a much stronger argument. And those specific, or areas “particular” (as it was defined in the BA/GFA) to Northern Ireland were the areas the NIHRC was supposed to give its “advice” on.

  • IIRC Owen Patterson, Shadow Secretary of State, is on record as saying that such changes could not be unilaterally changed but would need to be looked at in the medium term. The Conservatives are well aware of the sensitivities and the need to proceed carefully.

    I asked Paterson about this at his talk at Hammersmith Irish Centre last week, and he did say it would be done though the review mechanism in the Good Friday Agreement.

    I also asked him how he would convince nationalists to support the abolition of mandatory coalitions and he had no real answer other than to suggest that it was a long term goal.

    Most people I talked to there thought he gave a fairly conciliatory impression, but there was a lot of scepticism around. This kind of thing is not going to dispel that.

  • ABC

    Oh dear. Nice of Brian Walker to eliminate all reference to Diane Dodds comments and the Secretary of State on this article.

    Did you used to be a professional journalist?

  • BonarLaw

    Sammy

    “he will have another Republican insurgency on his hands if he fecks about”

    And I bet you can’t wait.

  • SM

    When the public are stuck with the same Stormont Executive election after election due to mandatory coalitions and d’Hondt I think we’ll see the mood change.

    It is a fundamental for democracy that you can kick out a government you don’t like – in NI we can’t.

  • frustarted demcorat

    Sammy

    Are you saying that a few words will make the IRA go back to their arms, get real.

    Remember the Conservatives didn’t negotiate the GFA and have always been unhappy about sections of it. They have accepted that it is in place and can only change it with the consent of the parties, it doesn’t mean that they can’t propose improvements to the GFA, such as a properly funded opposition.

    Maybe if SF snd the SDLP stop going on about a UI then the Conservatives might stop emphasising the United Kingdom. Until SF and the SDLP have done that you have no grounds to stand on about DC. The CU’s have as much right to promote the United Kingdom as you do for a UI.

    Get out of the past and look to the future.

  • kensei

    fd

    Are you saying that a few words will make the IRA go back to their arms, get real.

    “The IRA” as in the PIRA are not going back. Not now, not ever. A hideously unbalanced adminstration will stoke dissident fires and serious upset the delicate political balance here. I say that with no emotion; it is simply a fact. No one wants it.

    The Tories are more interested in the wider game, particularly Scotland. Of course, they have a history of stoking up trouble here to suit their own agenda but we’d kind have hoped that had passed.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    No one in their right mind would want to return to violence but equally no one in their right mind would unilaterally change the GFA in the way suggested by Boner above.

    Should some Tory nutcase show up from the past like a modern day Bonar Law then the British would clearly have their wish met to kick of another round of insurgency.

    But PoshBoyDC may sound like a bit of a twit in relation to Norn Iron but nobody (perhaps except Boner and Driftwood and other anti-agreement Unionists) really think he is that stupid.

  • percy

    If SF don’t like that they can go to hell. No big loss.
    Posted by Driftwood on May 28, 2009 @ 05:15 PM

    Did you forget to say Connaught?

  • Greenflag

    SM ,

    ‘When the public are stuck with the same Stormont Executive election after election due to mandatory coalitions and d’Hondt I think we’ll see the mood change.’

    Well the last time that NI enjoyed the same Stormont Executive in election after election (1920 -1972) it took 50 years for the ‘mood ‘ to change . Alas the ‘mood ‘ change came only from that half of the population who had been deliberately excluded from any power by the NI State’s deliberate carve up of a sectarian majority .

    ‘It is a fundamental for democracy that you can kick out a government you don’t like – in NI we can’t.’

    Of course it’s fundamental . But as Northern Ireland was never a democracy and even now it’s still not a proper democracy -because it can’t be- given the State’s format – then you are just going to have to wait until the next 50 years are up and then it’ll be back to the drawing board again .

    I would no more trust the Tories on matters Irish than I would trust a serial rapist to take my daughter to school . As Kensei says above their history in Ireland is a long one of divisiveness , bloodshed and terror . The leopard has’nt changed it’s spots either .

    The Tories were never -ever interested in Ireland . They just use it for their ‘convenience ‘ If it can help to get them back into power at Westminster that’s all they want.

    Unionists putting their faith in the Tories are like turkeys putting their faith in a post Christmas happy ever after !

  • Brian Walker

    Some people’s suspicions are implacable. I anticipated the fears and don’t dismiss them. Having known and reported them for 30 odd years, I’m probably less omniscient about the Tories than some. Let’s’ briefly look at the record. Yes, the Conservative – and Unionist – party “played the Orange card,” resisted Home Rule etc. In 1938, they returned the Treaty ports. It was Labour who copper fastened consent of the Stormont parliament – not the people – in 1949. Who abolished the Stormont Parliament in 1972? Brought in powersharing and the Council of Ireland in 1974, although abortively? The Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985? Some people simply may not realise the trauma all this caused traditional unionists. The legacy of this recent history is partly responsible for the UUs’ reluctance to team up tightly with Cameron today. Yes, there was a tougher security policy in 1970 but this was matched by Labour after 1976. The version of the hunger strike as we’ve seen, is not straighforwardly anti-Thatcher. A very pragmatic party the Conservatives. Cameron ( and it was I who made the GFA point after all) needs to discuss all this with more than unionists, granted. But NI is a sidebar he has yet seriously to think about. He doesn’t quite get the measure of its sense of exceptionalism and the continuing insecurities of both unionists and nationalists. It would be creative if some nationalist critics would be more open to wider contexts as well as reflecting on the real strength of their political position, the three strands, the mutual guarantees, the international treaty etc. The same applies mutatis mutandis to unionists. Political debate rally won’t get anywhere at that level. Saying No very grimly a lot isn’t a refutation or any other kind of argument. Remember Paisley and Molyneaux in 1985.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Dearie me, Stuck-record Sammy has moved on from his “they can’t do it” (what with Sammyt’s fantastical misreading of the Agreements plural) to “shurely tae God they won’t do it?” Keep on fantasising Sammy: it’s a lot nicer there for you than it is in the real world.

  • It is important to note too that Cameron’s position is not consistent with Dickson’s, if I am interpreting them correctly.

    Dickson gives two reasons – the lack of consensus behind the NIHRC report (on the Forum), and the existing legislation.

    On the first, Dickson can claim impartiality, but Cameron cannot. His party (the UUP) contributed to that lack of consensus he seeks to use as justification for the report’s rejection. This argument amounts to, as arbiter I say you can’t have a bill because my party doesn’t want one.

    On the second, Dickson notes that the human rights situation in NI is comparable to GB, which he attributes to the Human Rights Act, and also the ECHR. But Cameron has pledged to abolish the HRA and to hold a referendum on membership of the EU. Thus, NI could have zero human rights law outside a Good Friday Agreement, whose review is being approached with this level of a priori decisions under joint Unionist/Tory control.

    Cameron’s anouncement flies is the face of the Good Friday Agreement, and the very idea of using
    the Good Friday Review as a means of implementation betrays concern about judicial review. The Tory party seeks the removal of all human rights legislation – even those who oppose their implementation should give this some thought.

    Chekov – rights reflecting the particular circumstances of NI are not the same as rights particular to NI. The point is that they are universal and inalienable and would be given solid legislative expression “reflecting the particular circumstances”. Dickson believes should be in a constitution, as opposed to a Bill of Rights, but he will be aware that neither NI nor GB as one.

  • Brian Walker

    Damian, Surely it’s a bit parochial to call the UUP “Cameron’s party”? You’re indulging in a wee bit of rhetoric, stretching s point – now come on, you are. I seem to recall that the SDLP at some stage had reservations about what Brice Dickson called an all singing, all dancing NI HR Bill on the grounds that it reduced democratic discretion, but no doubt I’ll be put right about that, and whether they now unreservedly back Monica’s version. Under either UK party, there will be a UK Bill of Rights which will be ECHR plus. I frankly don’t know if NI add-ons would be a violation of the NI Act. Do you? Chapter and verse? I genuinely would like to know. And why would add-ons necessarily be unsatisfactory before we see them, if Human Rights are universal? The main reason both parties want a British Bill is (a) to try to reduce the discretion of the courts in crime and terrorist cases ( an aim most jurists believe is doomed to failure) and ( b) to speed up hearings, in view of a Strasbourg backlog years long.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    LTU,

    A stuck record moving on? – thank you Mr Muddle.

    Brian,
    Nobody except fantasising anti-agreement Unionists serioulsy think PBDC will actually try to undo the GFA in a substantive way without the consent of the ROI and Northern Nats. – as he himself admitted in the speech as UU HQ he is limited by the GFA – if PBDC makes funny Orange Card noises from time to time it will of course give succour to those fantasists (and also worryingly to republican dissers) and you can already sense a bit of Unionist political maturbation on this thread as Driftwood and co over-excite themselves at the very thought of it.

  • Driftwood

    If, as seems likely, the general consensus of the next Conservative/Unionist administration at Westminster, is to halt the growth of the rights and equality industry, with its burgeoning socialist bureacracy, Brilliant. There is more than enough legislation in place, and with Unionist support, we can abolish all the silly commissions and quangoes that have sprung up in NI like weeds in the past decade.
    I hope this is only the thin edge of the wedge from Cameron. When in office, let’s hope he is far more ruthless in his approach.

  • Reader

    Damian O’Loan: This argument amounts to, as arbiter I say you can’t have a bill because my party doesn’t want one.
    You don’t need an arbiter to note that there isn’t consensus over the report. Any sufficiently honest person could note the same thing and draw the obvious conclusion that it’s a non-starter. Whatever did you lot do with John Hume? You need him back.
    Damian O’Loan: But Cameron has pledged to abolish the HRA and to hold a referendum on membership of the EU.
    No he hasn’t. The proposed referendum is on the Lisbon treaty. Did Ireland leave the EU when it voted no to Lisbon? Check with Alban Maginnis – he’s your party’s EU specialist, isn’t he?
    Damian O’Loan: Thus, NI could have zero human rights law outside a Good Friday Agreement…
    Wrong again. Even if your fantasised referendum went the wrong way and the UK left the EU (27 members), it would still be a part of the ECHR (47 members). If your party has a Human Rights specialist, check that with them.

  • universal and inalienable

    If we’re talking about ‘universal and inalienable’ rights, rather than aspirational rights, you can immediately remove all the socio-economic stuff for a kick off.

  • SM

    Damian

    You make untrue allegations re Tory policy.

    Tory policy is to replace the HRA with a similar but they feel better constructed version.

    Even if the UKIPers got their wet dream and we left EU that makes no difference as ECHR is a totally separate international treaty.

    Britain was instrumental in drafting ECHR and a founding member. All HRA did was make rights apply directly in UK law rather than having to appeal to Strasbourg.

    Go read Shadow Attorney General Dominic Green’s speeches and you will see Tory’s are pro-HR they just think how some of them have been applied has been unbalanced. Read the whole policy not the spin.

  • Brian Walker

    P.S. The GFA is a fundamental constitutional document, no question, but the law didn’t begin with it, nor does it end with it. And you will realise that it is implemented by a UK Act. The Assembly would never agree on an HR Act. On this you’re better off with Westminster. While phantoms can be conjured up, there are no good reasons to believe that Westminster would be bothered to erode nationalist rights. Can you think if any?

  • Driftwood

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I don’t think DC thinks a great deal about NI. He rightly assumes it’s just another region of the UK. Like Witney!. So all UK policies should apply here. There is nothing different about here. So separate (and wasteful) duplication of legislation is unnecessary.

    Public spending cuts are coming. I hope Monica McWilliams and co. are first for the chop.

  • Brian,

    It was indeed rhetoric, but with the idea in mind that Westminster’s role has changed, and will continue to change, a lot since 1998. I think in this case it just happens that the UUP policy suits his.

    You say “Under either UK party, there will be a UK Bill of Rights which will be ECHR plus” but there is no evidence for that, and years of Tory quotes to support my argument. The second reason you quote is one he rejected when it was presented in favour of the HRA. Would I accept nothing for the carrot of probably little more than that in future? No.

    I don’t know what the SDLP position is. Personally, I think if the Bill is to be rejected on the grounds of a lack of political consensus, the political parties should then have to reach consensus, maintaining consideration of the views expressed by civic society. The voting system in the Forum side-stepped that.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Stuck-record Sammy – you can run away from your own wet dreams as much as you want. You’ve droned on for years that he couldn’t do this, chiefly because you’re incapable of actually understanding basic constitutional law, let alone reading any of the Agreements in question. Now you’re slabbering that he won’t, rather than can’t. Faff away, you’re as unconvincing as ever to anyone else, what’s especially laughable is how you’re going about cheering *yourself* up these days – any tune will do, eh? Be sure to come back and make up some more specious guff: it’s good to have at least something that never changes.

  • SM,

    Cameron now wishes to hold a referendum on Lisbon, which is in line with the position previously stated by Hague advocating a referendum on EU membership. The spin has softened on the Tories, the position has officially softened, but I have no faith in Tory commitment to human rights protection.

    I realise that the EU and ECHR are separate, but as the Tory position is that ties with the EU need not go beyond trade agreements, I have no confidence in their commitment to the ECHR either. With their policy reversals at the moment, I have little faith in anything they claim.

    Reader,

    These are just my views.

    Brian,

    “The Assembly would never agree on an HR Act. On this you’re better off with Westminster.”

    I’d sooner see the Assembly forced to confront itself.

  • Alex

    Enough of the pundits, the ideologue politicians (and even the profs… of whatever hue)! As Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty has said over on his blog, it’s time to let the people have their say.

    What could you be afraid of?

    The NI people and that they might actually have a few opinions of their own, different to those churned out by predictable party policy officers?

    That those poll findings (about 5 different polls over a period of ten years, all conducted by reputable independent polling comapnies and all showing conistent levels of support from right across the community) might actually be true, despite the pundits’ sniping?

    Let the people have their say. Launch the public consultation.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Damian O’Loan,

    can you point to any practical benefits a seperate Bill of Rights for Norn Iron would bring – assuming (and I accept it is a big assumption) the appropriate British/EU legislation was in place. Was the reason for its inclusion in the GFA an assumption that it was neeeded because of the likely absence British/EU legislation?

    I think one reason for a lack of disappointment that the Bill might go ahead was a failure to communicate clealry and simply how/which practial benefits would follow from it – it does look like an easy target for PBDC and one which might give the the UU a desperately needed fillip before the Euros.

  • SM

    Damian

    Have you looked for the Tory position? No. Go read what the whole of what the shadow attorney general actually says and stop spouting nonsense. It is not Tory policy to leave ECHR.

    EU and ECHR are separate issues. Stop trying to conflate them.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    The following is the full extent of the phone survey carried out for the NIHRC, as far as they will let me know:

    * * *

    1. How important or unimportant do you think it is for Northern Ireland to have a Bill of Rights?

    2. If a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland were to be introduced, how important or unimportant would it be for it to have the following:

    a) The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

    b) The right to an adequate standard of living

    c) The right to work

    d) The right to adequate accommodation.

    * * *

    It’s hardly comprehensive, it doesn’t address many aspects of the debate, and its value doesn’t – to me – seem very high. The questions are clearly loaded. Who on earth is going to say they don’t think its important people should have a right to work?

    Where are the questions about issues that reflect the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland? Where’s the questions about paramilitarism, sectarianism and identity? Or the issue over abortion, which – whether you’re for or against it – is very particular to Northern Ireland.

    Answer: There are none.

    You might as well ask how important it is for you not be poor. It’s THAT simplistic. Who would possibly disagree with motherhood and apple pie, unless it set in context? Was it stratified, random or what? Was it landlines only? How was bias compensated for?

    Is it even scientific? Millward Brown get election predictions wrong, so…

    What EXACTLY is the value of this survey, if not to get a certain result in order to push a one-sided agenda? Why not release the full report – including background, contextual questions, methodology etc – for independent scrutiny.

    I’d love to add more, but the Human Rights Consortium doesn’t believe I have the right to read the full report.

  • kensei

    Brian

    Sorry I had to put one through the lens o’ truth:

    Some people’s suspicions are implacable. I anticipated the fears but I have absolutely no understanding of them at all

    Congratulations. Your earlier post has succeeded in proving that Nationalism should not trust any British government. Fortunately it’s one I don’t think we have to learn.

    All the talk of “wider context” and you miss the main point. This is a dangerous precedent from a party that is throwing out a roughly hands off status quo leaning neutrality for the past decade and a half for promoting Unionism and unilateral changes. It’s not a matter of trusting the Labour government, but knowing where you stand. If moves like this somehow manage to avoid startling the lead horses in the stable, well there are plenty of crazier ones still floating about.

    If FF had moved up with even moderate success it may have acted as a counterweight. But as it is it risks upsetting the delicate balance of power here, and the potential consequences of that.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Still running away from your years of fantastical slabber, stuck-record Sammy? What a surprise. Or do you want to explain how you, the most boring single-transferrable poster Slugger has ever suffered from, have managed to shift from asserting Cameron couldn’t do things to how Cameron shouldn’t do those very same things? If you’re going to make things up, all well and good, but to avoid being risible as well as laughable, you do have to stick to your first fabulation.

  • SM

    Now now LTU – any good classicist can remind you that risable comes directly from the Latin verb to laugh. So risable and laughable are in effect synonymns 🙂

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Laughing (Tory) Unionist/Mr Muddle

    Still running away from your years of fantastical slabber, stuck-record Sammy?

    ???

    More contradictory muddle – drink taken perchance?

  • Greenflag

    BW ,

    ‘The legacy of this recent history is partly responsible for the UUs’ reluctance to team up tightly with Cameron today. ‘

    You mean Lady Sylvia’s reluctance . The rest of the UUP have sold out to the Tories as it’s their only hope of an internal NI political revival vis a vis the DUP. They have no other raison d’etre .

    ‘But NI is a sidebar he has yet seriously to think about.’

    Indeed . He would not be the first nor the last Tory leader to leave the serious thinking until the fit hits the shan . Heath closed down Stormont not because he was pro nationalist . He simply had no faith in the ability of Chichester Clark and the rest of the Unionist leadership of the time to restore ‘normality ‘ in NI and by doing so not making a bad situation even worse .

    ‘ It would be creative if some nationalist critics would be more open to wider contexts as well as reflecting on the real strength of their political position, the three strands, the mutual guarantees, the international treaty etc.’

    I would think the attitude of NI nationalists and republicans at this time is it’s early days yet to mess with what after all took 35 years to ‘fix’ and even then the ‘fix’ is seen as still under threat from dissident elements within unionism and republicanism .

    ‘ Saying No very grimly a lot isn’t a refutation or any other kind of argument. Remember Paisley and Molyneaux in 1985. ‘

    Not a comparison I’d make . Paisley was saying no to any power sharing in Northern Ireland ever , and Molyneaux was for full integration of NI within the UK, which one imagines is what the current UCUNF ultimate default position must be in the event of an expected Assembly collapse . Irish nationalists and republicans in NI are still for power sharing within NI with Unionism and i think that’s about the widest context possible for NI at this time . This may change as time goes on but for now thats about the best that can be hoped for .

    The Tories and the UUP /DUP making any attempt to undermine the present uneasy consensus will just further increase mutual distrust no matter how pragmatic sounding their rationale . NI is not a place where reason sticks it’s head above the walls very often without getting ‘bricked ‘.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Stuck-record Sammy, I appreciate you’re doing the best you can, but it’s just pity laughs you’re getting at this point. For *years*, not understanding basic constitutuional law, you’ve, apprently sincerely, tried to claim in dreary post after post after post that there was some sort of limit to British sovereignty in Northern Ireland. That, in other words, Cameron couldn’t do the things being discussed on, for example, this thread. Now you’ve shifted, sans explanation, to bleating that he shouldn’t do such things. I’ve laughingly pointed this out to you. You’ve, each time, run away. Here’s some free advice: keep running.

  • Driftwood

    The Tories and the UUP /DUP making any attempt to undermine the present uneasy consensus will just further increase mutual distrust no matter how pragmatic sounding their rationale .

    Possibly a good point Greenflag, but an uneasy consensus will not last long, and the default stalemate position which is essentially a band-aid over a sucking chest wound is only held together by a massive Westminster subvention.
    That can’t last, so the Direct Rule option, with a minor consultancy role for Dublin in some areas is the least worst option.
    The Conservative and Unionist Party will have a responsibility to administer fair and balanced rule. Most people in this part of the UK and on the mainland will accept that.
    The big fear for Sinn Fein is that the Tories cut ‘benefits’ such as Incapacity benefit and DLA. (Their core electorate). Hopefully George Osborne will dramatically cut these scams. However the idea of not spending all day in the bookies and pub will alienate SF voters dramatically. Getting up before lunchtime or (horrors!)getting a job might prove a bridge too far for republicans. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

  • frustrated democrat

    There seems to be a widespread belief that CU policy is formed in a vacuum in London.

    Nothing could be further from the truth David Cameron has been here twice in the last few months,Owen Paterson the Shadow Secretary of State is here for 2 days almost every week. There are a large number of Shadow ministers visiting here almost on a weekly basis, there are many HQ advisors here regularly. There are well established Conservative and UUP organsisations here with a large paid up memberships which are growing fast.

    So policy is not formed in a vaccum in London it is formed on the basis of people who live here, members and non members, suggesting what they want to happen and that information being analysed and fed back to London. Those suggestions that fit with overall policy and some that don’t are then considered for inclusion in overall policy for the EU and Westminister.

    So people who want to have an impact on CU policy should contact their local Conservative or UUP representative and they will put any new ideas into the mix with all the other possible suggestions.

    The CU relationship is NOT a short term one, it may take several years to be fully effective and for voters to see the benefits of supporting a national organisation interested in real politics, but the will is there, on both sides, to make it work.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    SM – I’m glad even my weaker jokes are raising a laugh, or at least, a faint smile. If you turn to p. 150 of Stanford’s ‘Ireland and the Classical Tradition’, you’ll see Sam Johnson, speaking of Goldsmith, epated the likes of me more than 2 centuries ago.

    But we note, with whatever amusement we can bring to the subject, that stuck-record Sammy has declined to explain the staggering evolution in his thought, or, at any rate, in his monopost. For almost forty years of struggle, he – if we’re being charitable – misunderstood basic constitutional law and asserted that eg Cameron couldn’t do all the terrible things being being discussed on this thread. Now it v much that he shouldn’t. Curious and boring.

  • kensei

    Drift

    The big fear for Sinn Fein is that the Tories cut ‘benefits’ such as Incapacity benefit and DLA. (Their core electorate). Hopefully George Osborne will dramatically cut these scams. However the idea of not spending all day in the bookies and pub will alienate SF voters dramatically. Getting up before lunchtime or (horrors!)getting a job might prove a bridge too far for republicans. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Sorry I’m a bit confused – are you a troll or just a fucking asshole?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    FD – the GB Conservative/UUP link-up is a weak and fragile thing, filled with deceit on both sides. Reg, orginally the principal opponent of such a renewed link under the Turtle, doesn’t have a single principled reason for now supporting it, other than having presided over the electoral and more or less literal bankruptcy of the party. CCHQ doesn’t care any more about what the UUP thinks than it did about what the ‘local’ Tories thought. The ‘local’ Tories, before they realised that two legs were indeed better than four, were even more pointed critics of the UUP than the DUP. And worst of all, such is the lack of trsut, London is attempting to dictate to Belfast the three (Westminster) seats it intends to ‘take’ (ie supply a candidate for), and has said that it couldn’t care less about the rest (ie the UUP can supply cannon fodder for them, such as it sees fit). And when we get our coming dreadful result, there’s at least a 50:50 chance Reg will implode and the link will broken again within months. If it is, the dismal thing remains for ‘local’ Tories that even the wretched rump UUP will *still* do better in any polls here than they will.

  • Driftwood

    Kensei
    So you don’t see a wee bit of truth in that remark. Incidentally, it was several peole from a nationalist background that stated that to me.
    They work for the SSA.
    Massive abuse of the benefits system across certain geographical locations and political encouragement to do so. But vested interests don’t like that rock being lifted.
    No need to apologise.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Driftwood, I see where you’re coming from, and I think you should be free to say what you have without faux-PC outrage being poured all over you. But surely, upon reflection, you can see that the disproportionate likelihood of someone who falls into either the subset of the community self-defined as ‘nationalist’, or, confessionally, as Catholic, to be benefits recipients isn’t an indictment of them, but of the welfare state itself?

  • Driftwood

    LTU
    Labour created the potential for abuse. There is widespread abuse in certain areas across the UK. My point is that 1 particular political party in NI seems to encourage this abuse, and actually advise on seeking to maximise the abuse.

  • SM

    Having worked in a health related role in poor parts of NI of both tribal persuasions I would say benefit fraud is almost an industry. The amount of creativity and energy that goes into getting signed off by the doctor on to these benefits is amazing – if only the lazy sh*ts would put that energy into a real job they’d probably do quite reasonably in life! I do however have the impression that West Belfast is particularly bad for it, but thats not a scientific study it’s just my impression. Likewise I’m sure various parts of England are just as bad. The system needs serious reform to provide for those genuinely unable to work, and kick the rest out to JSA, which will get them looking for work.

  • kensei

    Drift

    I do not give two figs. Benefit abuse is by nomeans constarined to Nationalism, the North, or the UK. It has been trotted out as a slur by Unionists from year dot.

    “Replace “republican” with “black” and try to get a bloody clue. At least you have answered my question. Troll really would have been a better option in this instance.

  • Greenflag

    driftwood ,

    ‘but an uneasy consensus will not last long’

    True but it can go either way i.e to an even more uneasy consensus which would lead to another Assembly suspension or the consensus can strengthen in which case the Assembly will last it’s full term and/or perhaps another few terms . This conjecture is besides the point of whether the Assembly is ‘democratic ‘ and can provide permanent peace etc longer term . My view is that eventually the inherent contradictions within this mandatory system will cause it to fail despite the best efforts of both DUP and SF and others .

    As for the ‘benefit fraud industry’ ? Virtually the entire NI economy is a ‘benefit fraud industry’ and all those (70% public expenditure dependent )are able to make a living because of the simple economic fact that NI cannot support itself from it’s own resources except at a much lower standard of living . While reform of the system is probably long overdue you will not promote public peace by forcing people into a job market where there are either no jobs amidst rising unemployment, or wages are so low that people would rather not work .

    The other side to this is the ‘benefit fraudsters’ spend their monies locally and many may even work (illegally) on the side tax free thus promoting the ‘real’ economy ? We had a similar situation in the Republic prior to the Celtic Tiger – Taxes and income taxes were so high that a significant section of the economy went ‘black’ and government revenues reduced further .

    Northern Ireland is lucky in the sense that it is just a tiny percentage of the UK economy . Now as part of an all island Republic the ‘fraud’ industry you allude to would not be affordable and certainly not in the present situation.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Again, from the point of view of Republicans, I’m hard pressed to see quite how one faults them qua Republicanism for intentionally attempting to rip off the British welfare state. That, however, from a socio-economic viewpoint, nationalists and Catholics, to delineate two different, albeit substantially overlapping groups, are much more likely to be enmeshed in the benefits system is for precisely the same reason their mainland coevals are likewise stuck there (and it’s the bulk of the reason, and not intended fraud, why Catholics and Nationalists are so over-represented in this matter). The modern welfare state is a trap that keeps in place those at the bottom of the economic heap as and when it’s introduced.

  • Driftwood

    “Replace “republican” with “black”

    Among the finest MOPEhead phrases in the book.

  • Kensei

    Driftwood

    Among the finest MOPEhead phrases in the book.

    No, it is an attempt to penetrate that very, very, very thick skull of yours with a more startling example.

  • Daphné Tremble

    Laughing (Tory) Unionist = David Trimble.

    Think about it.

  • Greenflag

    laughing tory unionist

    ‘The modern welfare state is a trap that keeps in place those at the bottom of the economic heap as and when it’s introduced.

    I would’nt laugh at the ‘trap’. After all it keeps you laughing and means that your home, family , business etc will not be burnt to the ground by a starving horde of desperados.

    Never ever mistake a pimple for the pox . The Welfare State may be a minor pimple on the body politic and economic but lancing it could bring on a full strength pox . And some of us do understand why and how the Weimar Republic was replaced by the Nazis and why Lenin replaced the Tsar. The body of Wat Tyler may long since have decomposed into dust but his ‘political ‘ spirit remains perhaps not in Kensington Chelsea or Tunbridge Wells but certainly across large tracts of the UK and especially NI. I would’nt hatchet any counts yet though well not until they chicken anyway !

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    You can try and hatchet as many counts as you can – I’ve always believed that obrigkeitsfromnheit follows herrschaft as readily as eggs follow chickens. Or are both the other way round? Today is too hot.

  • Daft née Tremblz

    David Trimble (yes you, masquerading as L(T)U)

    How does it make you feel knowing that the vast majority of people living in Britain don’t give a flying fuck what happens to the sovereignty of the 6 counties?

    I should know. I live with four Englishmen and they couldn’t give a damn. In fact, two of them believe the island should be unified.

    Nobody likes us and we don’t care!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Driftwood

    Ach kensei, sure i was only gaiging. But obviously touched a raw nerve. Defending the poor wee benefit scammers will get you brownie points at your local felons club, but it aint gonna wash with a Cameron administration.
    Enjoy your tins of Kestrel later.

  • kensei

    Drift

    Ach kensei, sure i was only gaiging. But obviously touched a raw nerve. Defending the poor wee benefit scammers will get you brownie points at your local felons club, but it aint gonna wash with a Cameron administration.
    Enjoy your tins of Kestrel later.

    The only club I belong to is a jujitsu one. I do not drink. See how stereotypes and relaity differ.

    I’d not get too many hopes up about Cameron abolishing evrythign that went before, by the by.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Dudfey Tremble – you can ‘share’ your ‘house’ with as many men as you like. This ain’t Dev’s Oireland – thank the Anglican God – we’re all perfectly relaxed about your lifestyle choices. Good for you for opening up about them. Though by ‘opening up’ I obviously don’t want to raise a sore point for you.

  • Greenflag

    laughing tory unionist ‘

    ‘I’ve always believed that obrigkeitsfromnheit follows herrschaft as readily as eggs follow chickens.’

    That’s right . And when it came to noblesse oblige ( the rough equivalent of your obrigkeit frommheit the French Revolutionaries were only too happy to oblige by guillotining the aristocracy first.

    So when the Welfare State collapses we’ll be seeing you at the top of the steps beneath the blade eh ? . Try not to look up and for the occasion I’d wear a collarless shirt . The mob likes to see a clean cut 😉

  • Daft née Tremblz

    Getting lessons about living in the past from Lord Trimble!! har har har! Oh how we all laughed!

    Indeed I have touched a raw nerve given that your homophobia (the result of many’s a repressed gay tendency, no doubt) has manifested itself so rawly when the aforementioned reality is highlighted. Why play the ball when you can play the man? Because you can’t play the ball because the truth is so clear and it hurts you!

    Do you think it’s clever to smear somebody as a homosexual in this day and age? And I thought Unionism and Ulster Conservatism had moved on. Tut tut, another dream shattered. What will I do now?

    Back to fantasing about O’Neill for you little boy. And don’t worry, your old teachers can’t harm you now that you’re all grown up 😉

    P.S. Stop fantasing about a menage a trois with you, me and Dave – I’m just not that way inclined. It’d be best for you to relive the glory days because once Dublin and the Papists call the shots up here, the days of people “like you” are numbered.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Somehow I don’t think you’ll be outbreeding anyone.

  • Daft née Tremblz

    Ohhh, touché, my Lord.. your implacable sense of humour strikes again! How we laughed! NOT

    Why do you hate gay people so much? I mean after all, your missus looks, talks and walks like a man. Repressed feelings, anyone? Just relax and live and let live. Gay people can do you no harm. If you accept this reality then you may then actually discover your “true” self, if you know what I mean 😉

    My Lord, if I was gay I’d be very angry at you right now. Anyways, how’s your menage a trois fantasy going? Let me know if you want a brief description of my fine self just so as to add that added bit of realism…

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    “If I was gay” – your best line yet.

  • Daft née Tremblz

    [i]“If I was gay” – your best line yet. [/i]

    Now you’re just hurting my feelings 🙁 I’m off to break the bad news to my partner, family and friends.

    See you in Maynooth.

    P.S. Any time you’d like to answer my original question is good with me – it’s not like you’ve anything to hide, is it?

  • frederick venus

    Laughing Tory:

    why do you show such disdain towards gay people? Have you got something to hide that you haven’t come to terms with? Did your son, daughter, brother or sister turn out to be gay? Or is it simply against your religion? What is your secret?

  • It is more than ironic that, on a thread dedicated to Cameron’s position on human rights in Northern Ireland, we have a fellow Tory attacking gay people – or, at the very least, insinuating that gay people may legitimately be subject to derision.

  • Reader

    Greenflag: The Welfare State may be a minor pimple on the body politic and economic but lancing it could bring on a full strength pox .
    So, Danegeld then. But wait – was there a revolution when the unemployment benefit system was tightened up in the USA?
    I think very few would want to go as far as Driftwood! Still – allowing lifelong unemployment to be a lifestyle option has made life miserable on poorer estates, where people without any responsibilities or commitments own the streets, day and night.

  • Greenflag

    reader ,

    ‘allowing lifelong unemployment to be a lifestyle option has made life miserable on poorer estates’

    You make allowing sound as if other choices were considered or even thought about . Have a detailed look into the economic history of the NI State since it was founded -the pattern of investment etc and the economic advantages which a small area around Belfast enjoyed during the latter 19th and up to the 1970’s approx. Have a good perusal of the numerous reports which detail the pattern of economic deprivation in West Belfast , Shankill etc , .

    The issue needs to be addressed but I’m afraid blaming the poor for their ‘poverty’ is very much a Victorian thing even if in a few cases it’s actually true !

    ‘was there a revolution when the unemployment benefit system was tightened up in the USA?’

    There never was a tightening up of the USA unemployment system . The system has remained largely as it was back in the 1930’s sfaik . One of the reasons why the property market downturn in the USA is lasting longer than it should is because of rising unemployment. Because only one third of american workers ‘qualify ‘ for unemployment benefit at any one time . It lasts 6 months and then it’s down to food stamps but first you may have to sell your home, cash in any or all retirement , savings etc . Naomi Klein in one of her recent books made the claim that almost half of the American work force are two or three paychecks away from losing their home or it going into foreclosure – such is the pattern of wealth distribution in that country that has developed over the past 25 /30 years .

    It is not a social safety net by any means and is no doubt the reason why 3 million Americans are behind bars and why violent crime and homicide rates are the highest in the developed world and also explains the high cost of private medical insurance . It also helps to explain why many people in the USA feel the need to have guns and rising demand for same . Not it’s not for hunting or fear of government – it’s a fear engendered by the growth of a large section of the population who have become so desperate that they will have nothing to lose by committing crime . At least in prison they will be fed , clothed and receive medical care and attention .

    Northern Ireland has a way to go before it catches up on the American ideal . I guess the folks in NI must miss the full prisons and gunmen shooting it out in the street eh ?

    Odd the things that people miss eh ? When asked by a fellow Jew at Vienna Airport in 1936 why he was carrying a framed picture of Adolf Hitler with him to Palestine (Israel had not yet been invented ) the elderly Austrian Jew replied that it was to prevent an attack of nostalgia !

    Don’t forget now to vote TUV the Nostalgic Party ;)!

  • Greenflag

    reader ,

    Don’t forget now to carry around a good sized framed wall hanging portrait of either Balaclava masked Provo complete with AK 47, or a face scarved UDA man in militaristic pose – your choice .

    It may draw unfavourable comment from your neighbours but at least it should help you guard against ‘nostalgia ‘ eh ?

  • Reader

    Greenflag: Don’t forget now to carry around a good sized framed wall hanging portrait
    I would need to carry both – since both lots have blighted the place. And they do still seem to have a lot of time on their hands. Look at where it got us this week.
    Is the gist of your argument that during the GFA, the paramilitaries were bought off by a nod and a wink, offering them an easy life on benefit and DLA? Surely that’s Driftwood’s territory!
    Or you may mean it’s just accidental Bread and Circuses, and there isn’t an alternative yet. But I’ll keep looking; Bread and Circuses may have prevented revolution in the old days, but it undermined society and there was still lots of factional violence.
    Ugh. I hadn’t realised where this analogy was going. Scary.

  • Greenflag

    reader ,

    ‘Is the gist of your argument that during the GFA, the paramilitaries were bought off by a nod and a wink,’

    It cost more than a nod and a wink. It cost a 108 member Assembly , mandatory power sharing for ever , and bread and circus politics for the have nots , across both communities. It also cost the continuing involvement of British , Irish and American Governments for decades to even reach this amount of ‘normality’.

    If there was another alternative I failed to see it, even in better informed hindsight . Politics can be a filthy business . When the real horse trading begins the filth rises to the top on all sides suitably deodorised of course . But we must never forget that the reason this happened is because the previous ‘reigning ‘ filth stopped using deodorant. The stench became so unbearable that even HMG normally inured to political smells wafting across the North Channel was forced to close Stormont down . The fact that it’s successor is not odour free just means the return of ‘politics ‘ for now and hopefully it will not in the future cause a return to ‘gunfire’.

    As to what happened this week ? Par for the course . I don’t like to say inevitable but in a society like NI you have to expect that the ‘knuckle grounders ‘ will revert to what they do best on occassion . There may even be an element of nostalgia for them in resurrecting the good old days etc 🙁 Perhaps they should be encouraged to carry around large framed pictures of their ‘heroes’ of yore as an alternative nostalgia inducing tool to random murder ?

    I won’t be trying to persuade them mind you ;)?

  • The only club I belong to is a jujitsu one. I do not drink. See how stereotypes and relaity differ.

    We know fine rightly that you’re some 23 year old tech nerd getting your kicks by being a internet republican.

  • Actually I bet by the time Kensei’s 35 he’ll be in the Conservative party.