“I’m sure the Queen, who must feel a bit constrained in her day job, will understand the tug.”

The Guardian’s Michael White covers a lot of ground in his post at the Big G’s Politics blog – including the crisis in the eurozone.  But here’s a, lengthy, excerpt to start with.

If Gaelic had a word for chutzpah (perhaps it does?), the Sinn Féin president, now an Irish TD (MP), would win the chutzpah prize every time. He was on his best behaviour for the Queen’s trip – even he can see it has been a modest success. Not daft, Mr Adams.

So he stressed his own republican credentials (in the broader constitutional sense) but also acknowledged the “affinity to the English crown” of many Irish unionists. The Queen’s apology for past colonial wrongs had been sincere, though it could have been done “more directly”, he said. It was still a work in progress.

John Bruton, the former Fine Gael taioseach, was also on Radio 4’s Today, saying how splendid the visit had been, and long overdue. Adams was a bit equivocal on that point. But, amid the pleasantries, he was also working hard on his “poc a poc” agenda.

Ireland was still a divided island, and the Brits could do more to fully implement the Good Friday Agreement. What, for example, about their involvement (alleged) in the [1974] Dublin/Monaghan bombing, a loyalist attack in which 34 people died? Clearing that up would turn another page.

“We need to go on writing the next page and the next page and the next page,” he said. Poc a poc.

Well, that’s true. But history is also about rewriting past pages in the light of subsequent experience and current priorities.

It’s what Salmond is skilfully trying to do in recasting Scotland’s history, and he was being very conciliatory at Holyrood on Wednesday.

What Adams wants to write about the Monaghan bombings is not what plenty of other Irish people, on both sides of the border, would regard as a priority. They’d like more frank answers than they get from folk like Adams about what Sinn Féin/IRA did in the Troubles.

In making such points, I don’t seek to be snide, as some posters predictably complain when – here this week – I tease Salmond for playing a double game, moderate and maximalist. Of course he plays a double game – most good politicians have to do that sometimes because they know that many voters are ambiguous within themselves, torn in two directions.

Read the whole thing.

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  • John Ó Néill

    You left out the lead which clearly sets the tone for the piece: “I’ve got sympathy for nationalist underdogs of all sorts, but that doesn’t mean to say I think the answer lies in the chimerical attractions of sovereign independence”.

    Ok, you could put getting the date of the bombing badly wrong down to poor sub-editing (how badly hammered would you be on here with such an error). But Michael White also doesn’t seem to grasp that the issue is that the British government refused to engage with the inquiry held by the Irish government.

    btw sotalachas is about as close as it gets.

  • Pete Baker

    John

    I’ve corrected the error, as I’m sure someone will at the Guardian post eventually.

    And I could have included the subsequent paragraph which would have put that [lead] line into this post. But I’ve already excerpted enough. And there’s more to his post than just that particular point [on sovereign independence].

  • 241934 john brennan

    “the Sinn Féin president, now an Irish TD (MP), would win the chutzpah prize every time.”

    If ye can’t beat them; join them!

  • John Ó Néill

    Pete – I think that, as the error was in the original, it is misleading to change it. It’s no more sophisticated than a belly ache about nationalism in Britain and Ireland – I’d have called it a critique but the detailing is so poor that would be too generous.

  • qwerty12345

    Even the Guardian cant get the year right, says all you really need to know about “liberal” Britain. And to think this world wise “English Fleet Street writer” has been to three “Celtic” capitals this year!

    Big woop.

    “chimerical attractions of sovereign independence” funny how the Brits caution against independence while holding on to their own tooth and nail.

    By the time I got to the next nonsense I was wishing I had the print version as I’m running low on loo roll:

    “The trouble is that big states are often drawn into the affairs of small states on their borders because the small states make a nuisance of themselves or fail to manage their own affairs properly. That is where the expression ” beyond the Pale” comes from. The Pale was Dublin’s immediate hinterland, and things beyond it were pretty rough.

    That is part of the story of empire everywhere. Yes, greed, ambition, and evangelical enthusiasm to spread civilisation, technologies and religion to assorted foreigners were driving forces, too. But so was the desire to stop cattle rustling, piracy, the kidnapping of women into slavery and other obstructions to peaceful co-existence.”

    Oh God, where do you start?

    And apparently people both sides of the “border” arent bothered about the Dublin / Monaghan bombings ( bloody rich coming from a hack who cant even get the year right)

    So for any of you who havnt read this dreadful article heres a quick summation:

    “The English and English rule are/is best, foreigners mightnt like it but its really for their own good, I mean, even when we kill them they arent really bothered”

    I can see why this would appeal to some unionists.

  • Mick Fealty

    Since this didn’t go in the paper, you can be sure it wasn’t subbed by anyone… It is a little impertinent, but hey, he’s political journalist, that’s what they are supposed to do…

  • Henry94

    It was not Gerry Adams who raised the issue with the British PM during the visit. That was Enda Kenny and it was a very specific request for information the British declined to supply to the tribunal.

    So the writer can put what ever question he likes to Gerry Adams and good luck with that. But he is very wrong to suggest the bombings are just a Sinn Fein issue.

  • Mick Fealty

    Henry,

    Was White putting a question to Gerry?

  • perseus

    Were Scottish SNP voters to vote Yes in a referendum
    where would that leave the Union?
    Wouldn’t there be enormous pressure on NI to unify?
    Is there room for a Scots/Irish polity?
    If Wales wanted in, there’d only be England left.
    The tories would love it surely as it’d save all the subventions
    and virtually guarantee Tory Gov’ts in England for years to come.
    It comes down to:
    what’s in it for the English, the Union that is?
    They are paying for it , after all.

    I’m either dreaming or 10/15 yrs ahead of everyone?

  • Henry94

    Mick

    I didn’t say he was. I said he could. It’s the obvious thing to do if you think there are questions to answer. And you are a journalist.

    “They’d like more frank answers than they get from folk like Adams about what Sinn Féin/IRA did in the Troubles”.

    Go for it but that is something completle outside the issue of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and conflating the two is at best misdirection. We have a word for that don’t we? Whataboutry.

  • Gosh, it must make one warm inside to do a verbal evisceration of “Sir” Michael White. And a typo, too — something that never happens here, hmmm?

    Pity nobody has picked up his back-reference (poc a poc) to his Wednesday piece about the election of Salmondthe most successful politician currently practising anywhere in the British Isles, Celt or Saxon (spot my emphasis):

    Sharp at 10 o’clock in the hemispheric chamber the SNP’s Trish Marwick (“please do not refer to me as Madame presiding officer”) called for nominations and promptly suspended the session for 30 minutes (as the rules require), just in case there was a late challenge. Sharp at 10.30 she announced: “I have received one nomination” – two if you count Statesman Salmond and Smart Alex…

    No mucking about here with Westminster-style division lobbies, breastfeeding rows or disputed votes: Please ensure your voting cards are correctly inserted, you have 30 seconds, said Marwick. Bingo! Yes 68 votes; no 0; abstentions 57.

    I shall now tell the Queen he’s the winner, said Marwick. It was another symbolic difference with London SW1: we elect, they appoint.

    Pick the bones out of that. You know you want to.

  • qwerty12345

    Im still trying to get my head round this

    “The trouble is that big states are often drawn into the affairs of small states on their borders because the small states make a nuisance of themselves or fail to manage their own affairs properly.

    That is part of the story of empire everywhere. Yes, greed, ambition, and evangelical enthusiasm to spread civilisation, technologies and religion to assorted foreigners were driving forces, too. But so was the desire to stop cattle rustling, piracy, the kidnapping of women into slavery and other obstructions to peaceful co-existence.”

  • Pete Baker

    For the benefit of some commenters. Here’s something I posted last year

    As I’ve mentioned before, on “the ability to dehumanise large tracts of fellow human beings“, whether in relation to past or recent history it’s worth noting, again, this from Stephen Fry

    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.

  • qwerty12345

    Pete are you saying that Gregory Campbell should try to understand Padraig Pearse?

  • qwerty12345

    Note to self – dont be a smartarse throwing irony about – someone will get annoyed. thanks for the yellow card, I stand corrected.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Tho’ Seamus Heaney’s passprort’s green,
    He raised his glass to toast the queen.

  • Pete Baker

    John

    And you think he should have refused?

    At an Irish state dinner in honour of their invited guest…