Enter Direct Rule (by back door)

Unless an agreement is reached it looks like we’re back to quasi direct rule on Wednesday. As a Conservative I think this is no bad thing. The Conservative government controlled NIO will essentially run the departments, keep cash flowing and, hopefully, our local MLAs will eventually cease to draw a salary – thereby saving quite a bit of taxpayer money (may be tokenism but it’ll go some way to reducing Northern Ireland’s vast fiscal deficit).

But this period of direct rule could also be useful in cutting devolution here down to size. Our sectarian party political system is not fit for purpose. James Brokenshire could make himself useful by restoring quite a few devolved powers back to Westminster – a sanction by the mother parliament for an unruly and undisciplined child.  He could go further and essentially make Stormont a glorified county council. That’ll kick any future RHI schemes to touch.

Interestingly, the Shinners seem remarkably cool about the potential restoration of direct rule (although they’ll, no doubt, play the ‘British are tyrants’ card). Perhaps they don’t want to be seen to be doing the dirty work of imposing ‘Tory cuts’. Instead they can moan about how the Tories are wrecking everything, imposing Brexit and walking all over democracy (overlooking the fact that our weird version of democracy has unworkability wired into it).

The extent of the (very recent) set of SF ultimatums would seem to imply that this is the case. But, not to worry, few people are that hung up on an Irish Language Act or same-sex marriage legislation. But Brokenshire could, at least, do something about our dreadful (lack) of abortion legislation.

So, onward and upward.  Over to James.

  • Barneyt

    Vote for those that tick most boxes and if they get in? Great for you. NI is disenfranchised in many ways.

  • Barneyt

    Can you take a seat without pledging allegiance to the monarchy?

  • Barneyt

    But you can only measure votes cast. I know the point you are making but results are results and the majorly of those that cast a vote elected to remain

  • Jeffrey Peel

    I have no issue with Marriage Equality. If, under DR, the SoS wants to do something about it, great. But a greater priority would be to (in my view) extend the 1967 Abortion Act. But that’s a different issue. The point is that none of these social issues will be addressed by a devolved administration where one side stone-walls the other (because they essentially hate each other). If we had a normalised political discourse we might get somewhere.

    As for the UK government not giving a hoot for NI…well one could say that about Yorkshire or the South West. If we do less well than those regions it’s because our MPs essentially don’t matter – because they don’t hold government or opposition whips. We don’t matter because we don’t participate. Our MPs aren’t part of the discourse and don’t aspire to government. Some don’t even show. But despite this the UK government still coughs up the £10bn or so to cover our annual fiscal deficit.

  • Barneyt

    Don’t you think some things are lazily and conveniently badged as sectarian in the true negative fence. You can express and wish to retain a British or Irish identity or unify Ireland or not…. without being sectarian … but there are dingbats too

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Well said.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Not really. Scots Nats achieved nearly 47% of the votes in the Scottish parliament elections in 2016.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    But it sounds as though you want that to be the case because you want a United Ireland. Nationalism is noisy and annoying, I give you that. But it withers when real politics gets in the way.

  • Obelisk

    Hypocritical and wrong.

    Brexit is the expression of English Nationalism, nothing more and nothing less. A mournful cry over a lost empire, over just being one on a team rather than calling the shots. Of not being exceptional. Of being NORMAL.

    To condemn Nationalism as noisy and annoying when it defines the political situation in Northern Ireland, Scotland AND England. Your own response is utterly myopic and patronising.

    The sort of politics you want no longer exists and won’t until such time as the constitutional issues of the past few years are sorted one way or another.

    P.S. I make no secret of my desire for a United Ireland. I believe the case for it economically, socially, politically and culturally is sound. It is the best solution for most of our issues. It would even end the tribal politics you despise, as there would no longer be a border to fight for and the southern political establishment is based on left-right lines.

  • Keith

    it matters not, one way or the other. The people of NI have, for now, elected to remain in the UK. We can’t cherry-pick the bits of the Union we want and go our own way on other things. Same applies to the Scots. I have sympathy, up to a point, with those who say NI (and Scotland) voted remain, but they also voted to remain in the UK, so it’s on them (us).

  • Keith

    I’m not alone, but I may have come to this way of thinking sooner than others. However, others will follow if and when the balance shifts in favour of a united Ireland. A lot of unionists will realise (already do) that you can’t argue in favour of partition on the basis that it’s what most people want, and then argue against it when the numbers change.

    Not sure how different I am; I may be a minority, but this is one of the reasons I don’t like the gross generalisations we see on here about unionists – statements that say unionists are this, or that. It’s not that homogeneous.

    Worth also bearing in mind that as a soft unionist, I am ripe for being persuaded to change my position, but I find it sad that nationalists are not reaching out to people like me.

  • hgreen

    Even more ludicrous is trying to defend your statement.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Nope. There were a few types of people who wanted Brexit. Some were English Nats and UKIP types. Others were free marketers, Old Whigs, Classical Liberals (e.g. Daniel Hannan, Douglas Carswell) or anti-EU lefties (like Kate Hoey, or here, Eamonn McCann). I’d put myself in the middle category, of course.

    The EU represents all that’s most repugnant about big government, corporatism and establish cronyism. Hence the support the EU receives from Blair, Campbell, Cameron, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc.

    As for your United Ireland, the problem you have is 1) most people here don’t want it (nearly 100 years after partition) and 2) Ireland is doing very well without us and 3) our dependence on state handouts makes us a Potemkin economy – and the UK is lumbered with the bill.

  • Obelisk

    While a few types wanted Brexit, each of those groups seemingly wanted their own version of Brexit yet only one kind of Brexit can be realised, the one selected by Theresa May at the behest of the extreme right wing of the Conservative party.

    That is the hardest Brexit possible, the one that segues into English Nationalism’s virulent rejection of being part of a team, it’s inability to come to terms with the loss of Empire.

    England must be alone, a sceptred isle, splendid and glorious in it’s aloof isolation, it’s light shining out like a beacon over a benighted, jealous continent. England pursues it’s past because it doesn’t quite like the cut of the jib of the future.

    As for a United Ireland…I’m not one to proclaim it is just around the corner or that one more push will do it. Northern Ireland will safely see it’s one hundredth anniversary (although if anyone moves to celebrate a hundred years of this ongoing disaster they should have their heads examined). But, despite my opposition to Brexit (in that Brexit is a terrible way to go about this) for the first time in my life a United Ireland is more than just a distant dream. It feels a little more tangible, and the path to it a little more solid. In the constitutional mayhem the leave vote has unleashed it would be incomprehensible for Nationalism, whether here or in Scotland, to waste the opportunity.

    And even if we fail in the short term, the damage we will do to the bonds of the Union in our attempt will make success the next time easier to achieve,

    That is the thing about Nationalist politics in a UK context. To paraphrase Golda Meir ‘Nationalists can fight a campaign and lose, then come back and fight a campaign again. Unionists can only lose a campaign once’.

    We will keep trying. Again and again. Never stopping, learning from every defeat until the day we do win. Because as long as there is a border, we will always have hope one day we will remove it. And right now we feel more hopeful than we have in a very, very long time.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Some wanted Brexit for the worst reasons. But, hopefully, I painted (during the campaign) a positive picture of Brexit and rational economic reasons for wanting to achieve it. SF never really campaigned for Remain – because I think, like you, they felt that a leave vote across the UK (and remain vote here) would work to their advantage. And Adams will, no doubt, use this (and already is) to rejuvenate his border poll campaign (like Sturgeon).

    But the end game for me is for the UK to get out of the basket-case that is the EU. As a global trading nation it makes sense. We’re not in the Eurozone. So our membership of the EU has been semi-detached for years. Also, like Ireland, we’re not in Schengen.

    As for your Nationalism, well you have every right to campaign for the removal of the border and for a United Ireland.

    But consent will not be forthcoming. As the advantages of Brexit become clear, and as the EU continues its decline, calls for the break-up of the UK will also decline. The SNP’s support in Scotland is already waning. The Tories there are on the rise again. And here our position in a revitalised UK will reduce the calls for, and impetus towards, Irish unification. Hopefully, our politics too, will begin to normalise in a stronger, revitalised and global-minded United Kingdom.

  • Old Mortality

    You deliberately misunderstand. There are certainly too many people who enjoy a comfortable living at the expense of the state. These people will never vote for a party which might make their lives less comfortable.

  • Obelisk

    Those are extremely dangerous, fanciful assumptions.

    Brexit is not assured to be a success. Tomorrow the ‘phoney war’ period ends and control of the process passes to a European Union keen to assure it’s own survival by making an example out of Britain. This will not be malicious but out of sheer political necessity. Nobody can have a better deal outside the club than inside.

    Even IF Brexit is a success, the chances of Brexit being a success for all parts of the United Kingdom is remote. London will be prioritised by the Tories as the entirety of the UK is orientated towards it’s success. London’s prosperity means the prosperity of the Home Counties which surround and depend on London. Once you get past that the picture gets much murkier. The North of England still struggles to get any attention from the government beyond the latest soap bubble catchphrase. I believe Northern Powerhouse is the term of the moment.

    Scotland and Northern Ireland? Scotland depends on how big of a bribe the Tories are willing to deploy to try and keep them in the Union. Of course the Tories, who are now the party of England, will be painfully aware that any concession to Scotland other than ‘youse wee jocks should sit down, shut up and behave yourselves and be thankful we pay for your spendthrift ways’ is going to go down like a lead balloon with many English voters. After all, without the EU to moan about, the English will turn on us in the Celtic fringe due to resentment over what they will be whipped into seeing as overly generous devolutionary settlements by the right wing press.

    As for Northern Ireland, well, this is why I believe you receive a lot of flak for your blogs on this site. Very few here believes your posts about Brexit being a success in Northern Ireland. You keep insisting on seeing things through a UK wide lens but that just does not fit here. Even if Brexit is a success overall, Northern Ireland will very likely suffer.

    We will probably become the UK’s version of Kaliningrad, an isolated and economically ruined exclave.

    But the future of the United Kingdom will be decided in Scotland. Should Scotland break away, that is it for Northern Ireland. It will instantly become a complete absurdity. The very morning of a potential yes vote in a Scottish Independence referendum there will be demands from Sinn Fein for a border poll here. And on THAT morning, they will actually mean it. Without Scotland, Northern Ireland has no rationale for a continued existence.

    Your great hope is that Brexit will be a smashing success, that the EU will collapse and the SNP will fall apart and be supplanted by the Tories.

    As I have suggested, none of those are in any way guaranteed to happen or likely.

    In fact what you have suggested is your perfect outcome.

    How often does that happen?

  • lizmcneill

    “people whose main concern is taxation” – how many people with a normal salary have a main concern of taxation? They’re more likely to be worried about services like the NHS.

  • Fear Éireannach

    We should have control over things with a particular NI context including the nature of trade with the rest of the island.

  • Fear Éireannach

    The EU is not the basket case, NI is the basket case. And Brexit has few advantages for England, none at all for NI, as you well know.

  • Reader

    Obelisk: So once again, for the third time. If the choice is between a reunified Ireland with proper left-right politics OR the continuation of Northern Ireland but with never ending tribalism, which one do you prefer?
    I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand that people answer hypothetical questions based on your personal premises. However, in case you disagree:

    If the choice is between a united Ireland with perpetual bad weather and an impending major meteorite strike; or a prosperous partitioned Ireland with perpetual good weather, which one do you prefer?

  • Doland Jon Trump

    “a sanction by the mother parliament for an unruly and undisciplined child”

    … careful what you wish for. Sometimes a sanction makes ‘the child’ even more unruly and undisciplined.

  • Gingray

    Is that a yes 😉

  • NotNowJohnny

    You don’t have the figures then?

  • North Down dup

    Y do you need figures, it’s basic maths

  • NotNowJohnny

    I need the figures to do the maths.

  • North Down dup

    44percent to leave and 480 thousand who didn’t vote, I think it’s over 50 percent

  • NotNowJohnny

    You think over 50% did what? Voted to stay? Wanted to stay? Voted to leave? Wanted to leave? Didn’t vote? Come on man, a bit of clarification wouldn’t go amiss. And try to work in the same units. Is it percentages or thousands you’re working in? Don’t mix your units when doing arithmetic.

  • North Down dup

    You don’t know what your even posting about now you troll, go back to your very first post , come on man

  • NotNowJohnny

    I do know what I’m posting about. I’m taking you through a process of demonstrating that your original claim is flawed. And you’re now refusing to respond to avoid that.

  • North Down dup

    Most people in northern Ireland did not vote to remain in the eu how is that flawed it’s fact. What the poster should have said was the people who voted the majority voted to remain In the eu. But all you hear now is the people of NI voted to remain when that is not true only about 35 percent voted to remain, 65 percent voted to leave r didn’t vote at all,

  • North Down dup

    I replied to concubhar when he said there is a majority in NI against brexit, that is wrong the majority in NI voted to leave the eu are did not vote at all.

  • Brendan Heading

    “wield power” and “administer” are essentially two terms for the same thing.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Look. It’s quite simple. You said “There is not a majority against brexit in NI” and I asked you for the figures and the source of them. And you didn’t provide them. And you still haven’t. Instead you give me the percentages of people who voted against PLUS those who didn’t vote. A meaningless figure which certainly doesn’t support what you claimed. After four days and umpteen replies I think I’ve had quite enough of this. The moral of the story is …. don’t make claims that you can’t back up or you end up looking foolish.

  • North Down dup

    Don’t make up claims , your the one who looks foolish, the moral of the story is your thick as champ, y would I give you figures, your just being stupid , can you really not work out the people who voted for brexit and didn’t vote at all is much higher than the people who voted to remain in the eu, other posters agreed but it’s the people who went out to Vote that’s what counts that’s democracy

  • NotNowJohnny

    There’s nothing wrong with my maths. And may I suggest that before you start claiming that other people are as ‘thick as champ’, you learn the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’.

  • North Down dup

    Yes I can’t spell, and sorry for calling you thick

  • harmlessdrudge

    Apologies for the late reply. Just want to say how much I appreciate your post and would like to extend the hand of friendship. We have more in common than dividing us. Although I’m a southerner and was reared as a Catholic (am pastafarian now) I watch BBC more than RTE and spend more time in London than Dublin, have and English wife, and kids who are either/both nationality. I’d love sweep away the SF/DUP divide and welcome unionists into a country in which they’d be hugely (more) influential and better off and still entitled to remain British. Most of us have no time for SF. It’s the DUP that keeps them in business. I’m not sure what kind of reaching out would work. What we see these days is the politics of spite from the DUP with their brexit agenda driven by a supremacist agenda. It won’t prevail.