Britain’s Postwar Wars

The list of wars involving the UK since 1945 is long and chaotic. Looking at some of them especially the most recent does suggest some themes which are not especially encouraging when one considers the prospect of British involvement in Syria.

In the early post war period most of the conflicts Britain was involved in were either against expansion of communism (Greece and Korea) or else imperial entanglements. Greece and Korea had fairly clear objectives and the prospect of functional states existing in their aftermath; though Greece ended up with a military dictatorship subsequently and South Korea was left devastated by the war with American troops there to this day.

The other British post war wars tended to revolve around attempts either to keep or later to leave imperial possessions with varying degrees of political and military dignity. In general these were moderately successful for example in Kenya where the Mau Mau were militarily defeated and then the British left a few years later. Again there was usually some semblance of a plan in these cases which was usually to leave with a government at least moderately favourable to Britain – though very often the newly independent country became opposed to British interests shortly thereafter. Frequently the democratically elected new rulers also decided democracy meant one man one vote once and promptly abolished elections and the like whilst the British looked on impotently.

An exception to this polite cultured form of semi defeat was Suez which scarred British foreign policy for a generation at least. On this occasion an Anglo French force with Israeli help invaded Egypt to recapture the Suez canal which Egypt’s president Nasser had nationalised. This invasion was briefly militarily successful until the USSR offered military help to Egypt, the USA refused to help Britain and France and indeed behaved towards them in a militarily threatening fashion itself. This national humiliation resulted in the fall of Eden as premier, the decision to press ahead with an independent nuclear deterrent but a feeling that never again could Britain mount large scale military operations alone.

The later 1950s and 1960s were in some ways a golden age for post war British military power with state of the art weapons systems for the army, navy and airforce. All the while, however, this was undermined by some rather odd decisions on defence procurement which would have long term negative effects both on military ability and the defence industries.

This rather impressive military was studiously not used in major conflicts. Harold Wilson kept the UK out of the disaster which was Vietnam apart from British carrier born helicopters rescuing a few downed American airmen and rumours about SAS involvement (which was probably largely the Australian SAS). More markedly when Ian Smith’s Rhodesia declared UDI in 1965 Wilson pointedly refused to use military force to defeat the Rhodesian army and end the rebellion.

The idea that Britain could or would never again fight a war independently (or even with help) in the absence of an existential threat had significant currency in the 1960s and 1970s. That was changed by the Falklands War. When Argentina invaded the islands the 120 or so Royal Marines put up considerable resistance before surrendering to the overwhelming force before them – the standard post imperial pattern seemed to be playing out. What happened next took the whole world by complete surprise: a degree of surprise which we now fail to grasp. The Americans thought the British had no chance; many in the armed forces were also convinced it was impossible. In contrast the First Sea Lord Sir Henry Leach: Thatcher’s “Knight in Shining Gold Braid” proposed retaking the islands. The fact that the war went so well often hides some very good fortune for the British, some ill luck for the Argentineans but also the marked superiority of the British equipment and training.
The Argentinean army were conscripts but well trained: they were, however, rather poorly led in the land war and never advanced to attack the British. They also proved no match for British troops especially the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines. The Argentinean Navy was driven from the fight by the sinking if the Belgrano (they might easily have lost their aircraft carrier as well) as they had no effective answer to Britain’s nuclear powered attack submarines.

The Argentinean air force was the largest in the southern hemisphere, had modern French and Israeli planes and had been trained by the Israelis. They had the major disadvantage of being a long way from their bases especially after the iconic raid on Port Stanley’s airfield by the obsolescent Vulcan bomber supported by an almost endless circus of Victor refuelling tankers . Against the Argentinean air force the British had modern surface to air missiles but no one expected the Fleet Air Arm’s twenty subsonic Sea Harrier fighters (aided by the Royal Airforce’s ground attack Harriers) to deal with the French supplied Mirages and Israeli Daggers. The outcome has become something of defining British national legend as a mini Battle of Britain with the Sea Harriers almost totally destroying the Argentinean air force which still managed to sink several British ships. Not to detract from the Fleet Air Arm’s performance they were equipped with the latest American air to air missiles provided at Ascension Island.

The Falklands has become part of British national identity with myth and reality often blended. However, in military terms, stunning achievement as it was, the whole thing had an organised end game. Once the Islands were recaptured the Argentinean soldiers could be removed, the fleet stayed until the airfield could be repaired and RAF Phantoms dispatched which could defend the islands against further attack from what was left of the Argentinean naval and air forces. There was also a plan for long term defence with to this day a considerable number of combat troops, a squadron of modern Typhoon’s and a Royal Navy vessel always present along with the open secret that one of the Navy’s nuclear attack submarines (not the Trident ones) patrols the South Atlantic.

Papers recently made public show that Thatcher agonised personally about sending men (in those days it was till always men) to die in war and many of her cabinet had as young men fought in the Second World War. It is interesting that although she became increasingly jingoistic Thatcher did not commit British troops to foreign wars in the aftermath of her military victory.

She almost did in Kuwait but had fallen before Major had to commit British forces to combat in the First Gulf War. On this occasion again the British weapons and military personal were highly effective. Although the Americans were the dominant partner the Royal Air Force’s Tornados made a major contribution to destroying Iraq’s airfields and quite a number were shot down due to the low flying required. Supplemented by the aging Buccaneers they then attacked other targets with considerable success. Although the land campaign was brief again the British Challenger tanks proved far superior to the 1970s vintage Soviet equipment used by the Iraqis.

Again though the vital ingredient was a defined objective – getting Iraq out of Kuwait and the Kuwaitis were almost without exception supportive of this. In addition there was a commitment to long term defence against any future incursions. More than anything George H Bush’s decision to stick to the UN Resolution and pull back having liberated Kuwait stopped any Vietnam-esque quagmire.

The wars surrounding the gradual collapse of Yugoslavia ended up with limited Western intervention. The massacre at Srebrenica, and the failure of Belgium troops to protect the civilians resulted in late western intervention. When subsequently Kosovo declared independence from the rump Yugoslavia the British (by this time under Blair) and Americans again went to war. This operation was somewhat more problematic as they were supporting a breakaway entity which could be construed to be contrary to international law. Bigger problems came militarily from the Yugoslav army’s extremely effective air defence system. This meant the danger of planes being shot down. The Yugoslavs made fake tanks from wood which from the height the NATO planes flew at could not easily be distinguished from the real things. The number of real tanks etc. destroyed was very low. Furthermore the Americans supposedly radar invisible F 117 stealth fighters were tracked by the Yugoslav army’s modern Russian radars and one was successfully shot down (as interesting aside British ship radars were also reportedly able to track F 117s).

The NATO response to this was to bomb Belgrade’s infrastructure which resulted in Yugoslavia surrendering. The aftermath was, however, more problematic with a bizarre episode whereby the Americans ordered British soldiers to overpower a small Russia. The British troops (led by James Blunt) were ordered not to do this by British General Mike Jackson with the famous line “I’m not having my soldiers responsible for starting World War III.” The end result was less than satisfactory with Kosovo being essentially ethnically cleansed of Serbs and Roma and there has been significant lawlessness in Kosovo. Here although the war was victorious it demonstrated a lack of long term planning and also that Western military equipment is not as all powerful as was thought after the first Gulf War.

Buoyed by this success Blair intervened in Sierra Leone. There extremely violent rebels with Liberian help were in danger of taking over the country complete with rape, chopping limbs off civilians etc. Here British military intervention rapidly brought an end to the insurgency and proved popular with the local population.

These wars seemed to stoke Blair’s apparent fondness for military intervention: indeed critics have suggested that unlike Thatcher who agonised about causing deaths Blair saw committing British military forces to action as an opportunity to “prove himself” and even as a test of virility or machismo.

Blair soon had his chance after the 9/11 attacks. He supported the western intervention against the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Those who knew their history might have pointed out that the British have a history of defeats in Afghanistan. The British ended up in Helmand province supposedly stabilising it in an operation which was to be peace keeping.This rapidly proved a dangerous delusion. British troops were killed by road side bombs and in combat. Frequently they were stuck in isolated bases under frequent attack. Successes seems temporary and the attempts at nation building at times seemed to degenerate into a series of engagements more akin to Rourke’s Drift than the presented plan of building bridges, schools, dams etc.

Eventually the British were relieved by the Americans. The Americans seem to have been full of admiration for the British troops but fairly incredulous at their inadequate numbers of troops and amounts of equipment. By most analyses of the situation the British involvement in Helmand was a military defeat similar to that of the Rhodesian army in the Bush war or the Americans in Vietnam. Like those defeated armies they won every battle or engagement they fought but ended up losing the war. The reasons seem to have been lack of men and equipment, lack of political commitment and lack of a proper exit strategy yet an unwillingness to stay indefinitely.

A similar debacle played out over a shorter timeframe in Iraq. The Second Gulf War was the most controversial of recent times. Space does not allow for any analysis of the legality of the war or suchlike though it has scarred British foreign policy ever since.

The initial invasion was extremely successful – even more so than the First Gulf War. The British were given the safe and easy to control area around Basra where they started patrolling in berets and were joined by Blair for a photo opportunity. Unfortunately there were 1500 troops to control a city the size of Birmingham. Attacks on the British became commonplace mainly by the police the British army had helped arm. British military police officers were killed in an attack on a police station. Eventually the attacks reduced but this was because the British were withdrawn to a compound at the airport from which they were harassed by mortar fire. Like in Afghanistan they ended up being rescued by a much larger American force which with help from the Iraqi army swamped the area and disarmed the police.

This was again a military defeat – even more so than Afghanistan. The reasons for defeat were much the same: inadequate equipment maybe but centrally far too little of it; too few troops; a lack of understanding of the situation they were entering by the politicians sending them and the lack of an exit strategy.

These wars (especially Iraq) helped end Blair’s premiership. Cameron when he became Prime Minister seemed somewhat less keen on war. However, the Libyan uprising against Colonel Gadaffi was going to be crushed by his forces until the cry that something must be done became loud. On this occasion the British and French decided to solve this country’s problems. They launched repeated air strikes (avoiding ground troops) which tipped the balance against Gadaffi’s forces. There then followed the obligatory photo opportunity of Cameron wandering around a liberated city followed by a descent into anarchy. On this occasion the error of not having enough troops and as such their military defeat was cunningly avoided by having no troops and an arguably even more rapid descent into anarchy. Again there was no exit strategy – indeed there had been no real entry strategy but a decision that one side were the “goodies”, support for them and bemusement when our new found allies turned out to be no better (possibly more dangerous to us) than our enemies.

It looks as though the RAF will be sent to bomb Syria with a state of the art missile system and a few ageing Tornado strike aircraft. Again it looks as though we have neither an entry nor exit strategy. We will avoid British soldiers dying by sending none. Our enemies (IS) seem pretty clearly enemies. However, their most competent opponents seem to be the Syrian army who two years ago we were planning to bomb whilst our new friends appear to include groups allied to Al Qaeda and seem illusory at best.

Once again we seem to have equipment which may or may not be adequate in quality but clearly inadequate in quantity, a shifting cast list of allies / opponents and a very limited commitment to seeing the war won let alone a long term strategy for stabilisation. As ever, however, military action is in our national interest and “something must be done. Maybe this time it will be different but the precedents are far from encouraging.

, , , ,

  • Mer Curial

    Turgon, with regard to the Falklands war, the Argentinean air force wasn’t that modern really (maybe by Latin American standards perhaps). They lacked proper countermeasures or jamming equipment and air to air missiles were non-existent so they couldn’t really deal with the more maneuverable FRS1 Sea Harriers in air-to-air combat (which were equipped with the latest all-aspect version of the Sidewinder missile from the US just prior to the war).

    Added to that the Argentines failed to modify the captured air fields to operate their fighters from, as a result the jets were nearly on bingo fuel by the time they flew from the mainland into the war zone.

  • Gopher

    You have alot of different factors at work there Turgon. One must always remember certain facts that seem so obvious today were oblivious to everyone back then. Who could have told that scrapping Aircraft Carriers and several surface ships including an ice patrol ship to fund BAOR because Britain did not believe Europeans would fight if invaded would lead to the Falklands War.
    Then you have someone like Blair, he fooled the entire British people he even got elected to the eternal shame of the British electorate after Iraq. A man with a Napoleon complex. But the real culprit of Iraq was Tommy Franks if that is West Points standard officer we are in deep trouble. Any politician who presented the forces for that plan to Alanbrooke or Monty would have been told in no uncertain terms to come back with another 30 divisions. Like you say Birmingham with 1500 men, its laughable.
    Libya, Everyone wanted us to do Libya. We done it and nobody wanted to accept the mess. We should have stated if we do it its part of the EU and watched the cheerleaders scamper for cover.. We did not name our price! Rookie mistake, Salisbury would had that place sorted before lunch.
    Syria is simples you just need to find a convincing army that can clear the East bank of the Euphrates and then declare an epochal congress like Vienna or Westphalia.

  • Starviking

    I thought it was Dick Cheney who was the real culprit in Iraq – Frank’s predecessor told Cheney how many troops it would take to secure Iraq, and Cheney fired him.

  • Starviking

    Regarding Suez, American military maneuvers were halted after the RN showed they would not back down, and Soviet influence was just for show. The real kicker was the run on the pound organised by the US Administration.

    Also, the military side of Suez was a victory for the UK, France, and Israel (Including the first use of carriers as hellicopter assault carriers. The action was lost in the political arena.

  • Gingray

    Interesting post. Looking at wiki, there is some confusion over wars the UK has fought – I was trying to find out who was the last British Prime Minister NOT to use the armed forces in a conflict situation.

    Callaghan I think, one of the few veterans to have made it to PM in the modern era.

  • Derek

    Turgon, pretty sure it was Dutch peacekeepers at Srebrenica not Belgian.

    Otherwise, interesting post and useful to see the interventions collated and listed.

  • Gopher

    Franks should have resigned rather than implement the plan. I find it hard to believe given his staff training the size of the country, and the known “physics” of holding urban areas which have demonstrably swallowed whole armies through history he could have accepted the proposal.
    Notwithstanding that, giving the airforce carte blanche to implement massive infrastructure destruction was nothing short of absurd when you intend to liberate a country.
    Cheney and Rumsfeld and the rest of that cabal are as you say culpable but it was Franks *duty* to refuse to execute the plan based on those resources. The examples of Alanbrooke in Whitehall and Monty in the field putting a brake on Churchill are legion. Honourable mention has to go to Pound who had to fight Cancer and Churchill at the admiralty. And lets not forget the debt the world owes Dowding for saving Fighter Command from Churchill attempts to throw it into the debacle in France in 1940.
    Nope Franks does not rate highly in the pantheon of military commanders

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘Once again we seem to have equipment which may or may not be adequate in quality but clearly inadequate in quantity, a shifting cast list of allies / opponents and a very limited commitment to seeing the war won let alone a long term strategy for stabilisation.’

    Indeed its called muddling through . When asked one time about the lack of an FF coherent policy over a wide range of areas -Sean Lemass replied that FF is a pragmatic party -we make up our policy as we go along . He may have learned that one from HMG’s FO 😉

    When you don’t know what to do muddle through. But don’t muddle unless you are forced too . All wars are unpredictable in their political outcomes even if the victors of the miltary conflict are predictable by force majeure .

    Excellent factual post btw .

  • Anglo-Irish

    I have to take issue with your comment that ” he fooled the entire British people “.

    He didn’t fool me for one, when I first saw him interviewed with his tie carefully unknotted and his cuffs turned up once and he assured us all that ” I think I’m a pretty straight sort of guy ” my comment was ” snake oil salesman “.nothing transpired afterwards to change that opinion.

    I was by no means alone in that judgement, when he was elected in 2005 his party received 35.2% of all votes cast.

    The FPTP system isn’t fit for purpose, not one party since 1945 has taken office having achieved 50% of the votes.

    In other words the UK has been governed for the last 70 years by political parties who have had more people vote against them than for them.

    As for your assessment that ” Syria is simples ” I hope you are right, it’ll be a first in that part of the world but here,s hoping.

  • Eugene McConville

    Is this really our war? Worth a read on Le Monde diplomatique

  • Anglo-Irish

    Yes, but you need to get your priority’s right. Cheney was a former CEO of Halliburton who paid him a $34 million ‘golden goodbye’ in 2001, also he retained 400,000 stocks/shares in the company.

    Halliburton made $39.5 Billion as a result of the Iraq war which will have done those shares the world of good.

    War is profitable, and as long as ‘the right people’ come out smelling of roses a few hundred thousand dead and maimed ordinary people is a small price to pay.

  • Gopher

    He did not fool me either. We had a referendum and decided to keep the system we have because as it proved last night we have the best and most interesting parliament in the world.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Yes, lets not bother about such an insignificant thing as democracy, no need to try to fairly represent the wishes of the electorate, as long as it’s ‘interesting’ .

    Amazing coincident about ‘the best’ as well, I’ve noticed over the years that an enormous amount of British things are ‘ the best’ Parliament, the police, the armed forces, the NHS, the transport system etc etc.

    Amazing we’re not still running the world really, what with all that ubiquitous. excellence about the place.

    Tell me, have you any idea as to why the Unionists in Northern Ireland abolished Proportional Representation in 1929 and why it was reintroduced?

    Our referendum was a choice between AV and FPTP we were not offered PR+STV.

    Alternative Vote is no better than First Past The Post and in certain situations can be even less democratic.

    PR+STV is the most democratic voting system as yet devised, in other words the Best.

    But as we are apparently the Best at just about everything – according mainly to ourselves – perhaps its introduction would be over egging the pudding?

  • Starviking

    I’m not sure was can say the Argentinian air force wasn’t that modern. It had planes which were standard for the times and modern missiles. They had radar-guided missiles, which the RN did not.

    The problem with modifying the airfield was that the Argentinians could not get the equipment over – they were afraid of the transport ship getting sunk. Time to complete might also have been a factor.

    The Argentinians also switched some of their best interceptors to defend Buenos Aires after the Black Buck raids, which did not help the defence of the Falklands a bit.

  • Greenflag 2

    FPTP certainly worked in the Oldham by election with the Labour candidate getting 62% of the vote on a 40% turnout with the Tories managing 9%. I guess this proves Mr Corbyn is more unpopular than the Tories 😉

  • Greenflag 2

    That 1929 abolishing of PR in NI was in retro a huge political mistake . Not only did it minimize the then Nationalist representation at Stormont but it encouraged many to abstain from politics which resulted eventually in other methods of redress . Ironically it also reduced any possibility of having an effective opposition as unionists who might have opposed the old UP and could have attracted second preferences etc from nationalists were closed out by the FPTP system .Eventually PR was restored which means that over large areas of NI today Unionists have representation that they would’nt have under FPTP.

    Ironically in the Republic De Valera tried to get rid of PR in a referendum at a time when it looked like FF was having difficulties forming government because of reduced support . Wisely the Republic’s electorate voted to maintain PR .

  • Gopher

    As you demonstrate you cant please every minority.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Obviously you believe that it isn’t worth bothering with minority views.

    Which is how Northern Ireland conducted its affairs after partition, that worked out well didn’t it?

    Presumably, in the case of a UI you would have no problem with PR+STV being scrapped in order to prevent any minority being fairly represented?

    Ukip managed to return one MP at the last General Election, had PR+STV been used they would have gained 83 MP’s.

    Personally, I have no time for Ukip, bunch of chancers with a dodgy ‘used car salesman’ type as a leader in my view.

    However, in a democracy if that proportion of the electorate wanted them to represent them then that is what should happen.

    That would have made the ‘best’ parliament in the world even more interesting, wouldn’t it?

    The Conservatives would still be in government incidentally.

  • Anglo-Irish

    The thing about PR is that it provides a far more accurate – and therefore more democratic – representation of the electorates wishes.

    FPTP systems inevitably end up with two party politics as smaller parties and independents are sidelined.

    As few things in life are black or white with no shades of grey that isn’t healthy politics in my view.

    The drawback with PR is that it does allow representation for minority views which can be extreme at times.

    However, if there are sufficient people holding those views then in my opinion its better to have them out in the open where they can be debated against and shown to be nonsense rather than have them go ‘underground’ and imbue them with false ‘glamour’ which tends to attract the weirdos.

    Didn’t know that about De Valera but it doesn’t surprise me in the least, old fashioned autocrat who didn’t welcome differing points of view.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Have you ever been to Oldham?

    I have, and to put it mildly that result did not surprise me in the slightest.

    40% turnout, Could hardly contain their excitement at taking part in the democratic process obviously.

  • Greenflag 2

    There were two attempts one by De Valera in 1958 which was rejected by a small majority 51% to 49% .The second attempt in 1968 by Jack Lynch was rejected by 60% of voters . There have been no attempts since .

    Yes its true that it allows for minority views some of which may be extreme but while it takes time- exposure of their views eventually backfires on them if they are truly weirdos as you say . The large number of independents in Ireland now is a testament to how many citizens are no longer convinced that the political party’s represent anyone’s interest other than their ‘party ‘ .Thats an exaggeration but it’s how a lot of people now think .

  • Greenflag 2

    I have not alas but I assumed it was a safe Labour seat given the previous incumbent Michael Meacher . I believe some by elections in safe constituencies for either main party can go as low as 30% . I ‘d like to think that PR results in higher voter turnout but I don’t believe it does .

  • Ernst Blofeld

    War is a racket as smedley butler famously said. Problem Reaction Solution. The elites create the problem.. The adjustment bureau whisper In the ears of the blackmailed politicians..”bomb syria Cammy”…I’d rather not old bean” …dead on son you remember that night out with the bullingdons and the wee piggy wiggys head”…”when do you need the bombs dropped lads” ..It really amazes me that the ordinary citizens can’t work this game out..

  • Anglo-Irish

    Actually Oldham has a long history of Conservative and or Liberal MP’s and Churchill was their MP in the early 1900’s.

    Back in those days it was a fairly well off town as a result of the textile industry.

    It now has a large Asian community and there has been trouble from time to time as a result.

    It became a Labour stronghold and Michael Meacher held the seat from 1970 until his death in October.

    I believe Ukip were fancying their chances as the BNP stood in 2001 and came third only just behind the Conservatives.

    With regard to PR countries having higher turnout this link would tend to confirm that they do although I believe one or two on the list may have compulsory voting.

  • John Collins

    That was actually tried twice. First by De Valera and again in the late ’60s with the same result

  • John Collins

    Why do anybody worry about those who do not bother to vote?

  • Anglo-Irish

    It all depends on the reason that they don’t bother to vote.

    If the reason is simply that they have no interest and can’t be bothered then I agree, we don’t need to worry about them.

    On the other hand what if they don’t vote because they know that it won’t make a blind bit of difference whether they vote or don’t vote?

    I have lived in my house for 33 years, and the constituency it belongs to has returned the same party to power in every General and Local election since we have lived here.

    There have been occasions over the years when I have agreed with the vote and occasions when I have disagreed.

    However, it makes not one iota of difference what my views are because the same party wins every time with or without my backing.

    So under FPTP why should I bother?

    That is as good a recipe for voter apathy as you could come up with.

    I deliberately spoilt my voting slip as a – futile – gesture on the last occasion.

  • Greenflag 2

    Its not a question of worry . As things stand now Its possible for government of the UK to be elected as a majority party government with 25% of the total electorate vote . The 75% is made up of various opposition parties Labour , SNP , Liberals and others and those who don’t vote . Such a low level of support means that a government becomes in effect a government for one party and its interests and the opposing parties can be ignored mostly .

  • Greenflag 2

    Thanks for that . Churchill eh I guess he would have been a Liberal back then or perhaps he had’nt crossed the benches . Compulsory voting seems to work in Australia perhaps they get a lot of interesting spoiled votes ?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Funnily enough Churchill was elected as a Conservative and ‘ crossed the floor’ to the Liberals whilst he was MP for Oldham.

    Another thing that PR would have done was help the Liberal party survive as a power in politics.

    I have never been a supporter of any political party as it seems to me that the idea that one particular party always gets it right and the other lot always gets it wrong is ridiculous.

    But if pressed I suppose in British terms the Liberals would be the closest to my thinking, but as they have little influence what’s the point?

    Basically, I am interested in politics because it impacts on all our lives, but disillusioned with politics because the system is unfit for purpose and fundamentally undemocratic.

  • Greenflag 2

    More or less my own position although at one time I would have classified myself as an FF voter and supporter but even then with PR I would sometimes vote for a particular candidate from another party if I thought he/she had something to contribute to the Dail or politics generally .

    Ironically the Irish Labour Party now on the verge of committing hari kari a la the Liberal Democrats almost committed political suicide by trying to get one up on FF in Dublin back in the late 1970s . You have heard of Gerrymandering but the Tullymander backfired in FF’s favour and gave them the largest majority ever in 1977. Both FG and Labour faced political extinction or irrelevance in the Republic if the FPTP had been passed . The Tullymander was designed to win extra seats for Labour in Dublin at the expense of FF by changing the 4 seat constituencies to 3 seaters . Theres a link below which summarises the electoral fiasco .

    The important lesson learned from that mess was that constituency boundaries etc should NOT be left in the hands of politicians to adjust as they see fit . You have to have a non party independent agency to draw the lines as it were .

    Derry City comes to mind as a particularly crass example of the Gerrymander in the 1960’s . But the Tullymander had it worked would have been a political masterstroke for Labour effectively doubling their seat numbers in the coalition . And James Tully the Minister for Local Goverment by all accounts a good TD for his constituency .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    One of my favorite quotes from Emma Goldman (1911) :

    “The average mind is slow in grasping a truth, but when the most thoroughly organized, centralized institution, maintained at an excessive national expense, has proven a complete social failure, the dullest must begin to question its right to exist. The time is past when we can be content with our social fabric merely because it is “ordained by divine right,” or by the majesty of the law.”

    Even if we were getting different parties, it means nothing if every party serves exactly the same vested interests and furthers the same agendas in parliament.

  • Anglo-Irish

    And that of course is exactly what we have at present. There was no discernible difference between Thatcher and Blair.

    They were cut from the same cloth, other that in a slight reversal of class types Thatcher was middle class with an affected’ posh’ accent and Blair was a public school educated posh boy with an affected ‘estuary’ accent.

    They both played the same game for the benefit of the same people – and themselves – and the public payed the price.

    Unfortunately Corbyn lacks the leadership and charisma to change anything.

    Interesting how the ‘media’ has torn into him like terriers with a cornered rat though.

    Vested interests do not like to take chances and need to make sure that whoever is nominally in charge is onside and singing off their hymn sheet.

  • the rich get richer

    Why does the ordinary Joe/Josephine continue to show up for these wars (stolen from an american comedian; I don’t know if he was the first to say it)

    Why do people sacrifice themselves for Politicians/Leaders that would do sweet fook all self sacrificing for anybody but them selves.

    Will we ever learn ?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thatcher notably said that Tony was by far her most important acheivement.

    Don’t take Corbyn at the face value, especially when that face is presented by the Murdoch press. It’s a different kind of leadership, and in a world where the celebrity culture has insisted on sound bite razmataz he is having an uphill fight. But I’m finding his quiet politeness in that bear garden by the Thames a most welcome relief myself. His understated consensus public interest policies are the biggest threat “Bernaysworld” (Seaan ©) has had to face since its final triumph with Old Ronnie the bad actor, and his imitator, Thatcherblair (Seaan ©)………………

  • Anglo-Irish

    Corbyn seems a well intentioned man but unfortunately in politics that isn’t enough.

    Had he been someone of leadership quality he would surely have made his mark before reaching retirement age, he’s 66.

    His main claim to fame prior to becoming leader is that he was the most rebellious Labour MP in parliament having voted against his own party 238 times between 2005 and 2010.

    So not a team player, and therefore not in a position to criticise anyone differing from the party line under his leadership.

    Can’t help noticing that he’s been married three times and divorced one wife over a disagreement as to whether their son should be privately or state educated.

    Not being able to amicably resolve a disagreement such as that does not fill me with much confidence as regard to his negotiating skills in times of crisis!