Mr Cameron “has intervened, threatening recklessly to destroy a generation of work, in order potentially to gain marginal seats in NI”

Interesting report from RTE outlining references to David Cameron’s approach to Northern Ireland during the devolution of policing and justice in 2010 from Hillary Clinton’s advisor Sydney Blumenthal.

He reports that Mr Cameron “has intervened, threatening recklessly to destroy a generation of work, in order potentially to gain marginal seats in NI in case of a hung parliament”, adding that “secret meetings” had been held at a country house between the Northern Ireland Unionists and the Tories.

In a later email, Mr Blumenthal again queries the commitment of  Mr Cameron, who was leader of the opposition facing into a general election.

Mr Blumenthal says “it is unclear what is going on with Cameron. Is he actually pushing for the agreement or not? If he is, does he have any influence? Either Cameron is purposefully not being strong with Empey or he is being spurned, making calls.

“If he is not really pressuring Empey, it would be out of a desperate and vain attempt to grab a parliamentary seat in the case of a hung parliament – a seat that is out of his grasp – the Sylvia Hermon seat”.

Reg Empey was the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party at the time.

There are 7,800 pages emails in the current batch just released last night by the US State Department, in line with a court order to do so. Many of them are redacted.  Of those released now, dozens of emails refer to Ireland in some way.

Mostly the emails comprise of news alerts and Irish and British media reportage of the progression of various rounds of talks in Northern Ireland.


David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

  • Nevin

    David, might you be giving undue credence to Blumenthal’s opinion?

    A bit more than a decade ago, I had a public showdown with Blumenthal, who was then professionally engaged in defaming more than one truth-telling female witness against then-President Clinton. I thought it was wrong for the White House to be involved in such creepy tactics. .. source

    Two days later, Mr Blumenthal sent her a newspaper article updating her on the developments in Northern Ireland, writing in the subject line: “Latest news on NI. Empey Dumpty … Sid.” .. source

  • Kevin Breslin

    To be indirectly associated with the sort of wrecker mentality typical of the DUP by a group of Americans in trying to win the “seat that is out of his (Leader of the NI wing of UCUNF Reg Empey’s) grasp” I really don’t know what Ian James Parsley will make of that!

  • OneNI

    Then again maybe Mr Cameron just thought it was a good idea for Northern Ireland to stop gazing at its navel and become fully engaged in the left/right politics of the UK?
    An interesting insight from Mr Blumenthal who reveals that the Clintons are totally bought into the idea of locking NI into Nationalist referenced politics until we all see the error of our ways and join a Independent United Ireland
    Sad that UUP and DUP are also locked into this self defeating mindset

  • chrisjones2

    What a reliable source of intelligence and assessment. Presumably the Unionists weren’t offering enough business opportunities

    From Wikipedia

    “Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation. During the 2011 uprising in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi, Blumenthal prepared, from public and other sources, about 25 memos which he sent as emails to Clinton in 2011 and 2012, which she shared through her aide, Jake Sullivan, with senior State Department personnel. In the form of intelligence briefings, the memos sometimes touted his business associates and, at times contained inaccurate information.[19][20]

    The tabloid New York Post asserted that Blumenthal’s “intel was shoddy, with basic errors like mixing up Libyan politicians with similar names. In one instance, Blumenthal asserted that a businessman named Najib Obeida was among ‘the most influential’ of the Libyan prime minister’s new economic advisers—without mentioning that Blumenthal was advising a group of contractors courting Obeida as a potential business partner.”[21]”

  • David

    The BBC report has the actual memo. There’s a significantly more interesting detail in it that I’d argue RTÉ misrepresents.

    1. Brown and Cowen ended their NI negotiations at 3.30 a.m. at Hillsborough. Shaun called me directly afterwards.

    3. Cameron has intervened, threatening recklessly to destroy a generation of work, in order potentially to gain marginal seats in NI in case of a hung parliament. Secret meetings were held at a country house on NI Unionists and Tories. The enclosed Guardian article below is highly accurate.

    4. I will forward you Shaun’s memo asap on Tuesday. [added emphasis throughout]

    That would be the then NI Secretary of State, former Tory, then Labour, Shaun Woodward.

    Seems to me the memo demonstrates an over-reliance on partisan briefing.

    Here’s Mark Devenport’s take from the same BBC report

    BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said the emails were unlikely to affect any relationship between Mr Cameron and Mrs Clinton if she succeeded in her current bid to become US president.

    “He would have known that the US State Department would always push for agreement and the emails were probably reflecting what was being briefed by the Labour government at the time,” he said.

    “The US would always be pushing for the successful conclusion to any talks, and right now, that’s where the Conservative government would want them if there was any hiccup in the Northern Ireland political process.”

  • OneNI

    Yes Pete I COULD interpret this email as ‘Labour Cabinet Minister endangers peace process to seek party’ advantage.
    BTW Who decides we aren’t allowed to know Point 2.?

  • Nevin

    Here’s an earlier mention of Shaun Woodward:

    Gordon Brown called me today to convey his very best to you, etc, etc, taking the phone from Shaun, in the office they now work in together, right after Shaun briefed me that he and Gordon will be meeting with Martin McGuiness together on Wednesday and may want your help with Adams. I said that he and Gordon should let me know before Wednesday whether your involvement is essential and what they request. That is fine with them and Shaun will get back to me. Sid .. source [June 14, 2009]

  • Granni Trixie

    Good to remind people of UUPs would-be close links to the Tories. I say would be because one of the unionist pacts big selling points at last election was that it was “a chance in a lifetime to influence Westminster”. Only thing is the British voters showed the Tories didn’t need the NI unionists. So much for ‘country before party’.
    Or the pledge that the UK government would have ‘no strategic,selfish,economic interest ‘ in NI

  • Reader

    Granni Trixie: Or the pledge that the UK government would have ‘no strategic,selfish,economic interest ‘ in NI
    “The UK government” doesn’t stand candidates for election. Political parties do.
    Also, Cameron wasn’t in Government at the time. He was in opposition.

  • Granni Trixie

    Officially Labour and the Tories have an arrangement to take the same line on Ni. Behind the scenes may be another story although I think the fact that Cameron is not Blair is beside the point.

    Perhaps these revealing American emails will lead to people asking for formal clarification as regards ” strategic” interests etc. I hope so.

  • Reader

    no strategic interests = “the cold war is over”
    no economic interests = “Are you kidding, this place costs a fortune”

  • Gingray

    Small change in grand scheme of things and still cheaper than fixing the problems or funding the troubles.

    Plus the taxes of the 600k northern Ireland educated workers in gb helps, we train them up then ship them over

  • Gingray

    Not just RTÉ that misrepresents it appears …

  • Pete

    Don’t see what the issue is, to be honest… If two parties want to work together, then so be it. They tried it, and it was decisively rejected by the electorate.

  • Greenflag 2

    Cameron’s small 20 seat majority could still disappear before the next election and then the UUP will have their chance of a lifetime . John Major lost an even bigger majority back in the day . Can’t blame Cameron for grasping at straws . I think even he was surprised by the fluke 20 seat majority on 37% of the vote or 24% of the electorate .

    In democracy it’s your VOTE that counts . Under feudalism it’s your COUNT that votes . We may be on our way back to a kind of feudalism in politics ;(

  • Chingford Man

    Fancy that: a lecture on ethics from a good friend of the Clintons.

  • Kevin Breslin

    As a democrat, I have no objection to the right to have a homegrown Conservative party running in either part of Ireland, I might have several issues though with a party claiming to represent “non-sectarian” unionism entering a pact with the DUP and UUP simply because the Sinn Féin supporting denizens are a target a non-policy candidate can rally around.

  • Ben Archibald

    Granni, I can tell you for certain that there is no ‘official’ arrangement to take the same line on Northern Ireland, though during the peace process there was a united front. The ‘bilateral approach’ has been dropped repeatedly since Kevin McNamara was shadow SoS and then picked up when it was politically logical. The Conservative Party fields candidates across the UK and, during the period being reported on by Blumenthal, was in the process of establishing the (thankfully temporary) UCUNF. The reaching out to the UUP was partially in response to a rejection by the party in NI of having anything to do with the DUP.

    Blumenthal wasn’t dealing with intelligence here – this is a distinctly outsider report from someone with no idea what was happening inside.

  • eamoncorbett

    Plenty of counts still knocking around.

  • Reader

    Well, the 600,000 could always head to the booming south instead, instead of joining their fellow islanders on the mainland.
    Why does the republic also export its young?

  • Gingray

    Visit Newry or Derry and you will find a fair few are working in the south, while living here. Benefit of being one island.

    Um mainland? That’s the subservient attitude I expect, for many northern unionists such as yourself we are second fiddle.

  • npbinni

    The lesson from this whole email scandal, and of course all her other failures, is that Clinton would be an extremely incompetent president.

  • Greenflag 2

    There’s one later this evening in the Oldham West by election .
    Although perhaps that’s not the count you had in mind ;).
    The spin merchants will no doubt try to read the entrails of a 30% turnout in a safe Labour seat to see if they can nail Corbyn . Perhaps the Commons debate might help increase turnout .

  • Reader

    I guessed someone would quibble over ‘mainland’. The UK exists; it has a ‘mainland’; Northern Ireland is not on the mainland.
    Easy acceptance of those three facts is not subservient – I would rather live in NI than anywhere else in the UK, and I made that choice deliberately. It’s your own sensitivity to the term that should be examined – no one is demanding that you use the term yourself.

  • Gingray

    Oh God no, I realise you wouldn’t force the term upon us.

    See the term UK – it’s the united kingdom of great Britain and Northern Ireland. So Northern Ireland is an equal constituent part, along with England Scotland and Wales. I can understand islands off each referring to mainland, or in less devolved systems without unique political states.

    In Alaska, Hawaii, Tasmania, Newfoundland etc mainland tends to be used by people only just moved in, not long term residents.

    It’s implies an insecurity I suppose, from here but not really from here

  • aquifer

    Tories are champion vote grabbers. Pensioners vote, pensions up. House prices boosted by freebies to buyers. Polling to persuade labourites to stay home. And tax breaks on borrowed money. Your money.

  • mike

    the DUP keep referring to this “great little country” in referring to the North so disappointing to find its a region of UK

  • mike

    so you would prefer Trumph!