May’s and Corbyn’s descent to bickering over the response to jihadist terrorism shows their mutual mediocrity

Theresa May  is under pressure  even in her supposed area of expertise. The attacks on her for “police cuts” are election chaff. Her real defence  that cuts  that seemed sensible in 2010 are less so in the light of recent events doesn’t work in the climax of an election campaign, and Jeremy Corbyn’s call on her to resign is almost  laughably hypocritical.

Even so she has only herself  to blame  for misfiring in her reaction to London bridge outside No 10  yesterday morning.  For a start,saying “enough for was enough” implies that there was “an acceptable level evidence of violence” previously  as in Reggie Maudling’s notorious phrase from 1971.

Matt Chorley of the Times’ Red Box  (£) has some sensible things to say about her raising hares without being more specific.

The person who has been in charge of national security for seven years announced a pause in election campaigning, and then used a speech outside No 10 to make what appeared to be a series of highly political pledges on dealing with extremism.

It could include more powers for the police and security services. It could include breaking up segregated communities which foster extremism. It could include locking up suspected terrorists for longer, despite prisons being blamed for radicalising some inmates.

And it could include a crackdown on the internet used to plot atrocities, as if there might be a similar crackdown on notepads and hire vans.

It is notable that the warning that “we cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are” was not just aimed at tackling tolerance of extremism but also at the intelligence agency’s handling of potential jihadists.

In her speech, Mrs May said it was time for some unspecified “embarrassing conversations”. Mr Corbyn had a suggestion of where to start: “Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology.”

Chorley calls on the politicians to stop squabbling –  fat chance as we’ve seen since, four days before the general election. But May should have risen above  the contest to make a wholly appropriate appeal to bipartisanship- and by doing so could have strengthened her electoral credibility.

Clare Foges in the Times (£) slays an old dragon.

In recent weeks, since the Manchester attack — and with increasing urgency since Saturday — an old word has been exhumed: internment.

Last week Tarique Ghaffur, assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard at the time of 7/7, called for internment camps where “extremists would be made to go through a deradicalisation programme”. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall has said, regarding internment, that “nothing should be off the table”. Farage said yesterday that “the calls for internment will grow”. Social media is alive with calls to lock people up without trial.

Ask more questions of the idea of internment and it falls apart. Who would we actually intern? MI5 has revealed that as well as the 3,000 suspected jihadis who are currently on the radar, a further 20,000 individuals have been “subjects of interest” in recent years. Leaving aside the logistics and eye-watering expense, what is the threshold for interning one of these people? A social media post railing against western foreign policy? Mumblings in favour of “freedom fighters” in the Arab world? Other than the evidence necessary to bring someone to trial, what form of words means we can lock someone up?

Once we have determined this threshold and rounded up hundreds or thousands of these men, is it a wise idea to put them together in a confined space, to concentrate and inflame their toxic beliefs, given that we know radical ideas in prison are as infectious as MRSA in hospitals? Would they come out with new networks and grievances — or would we keep them in there indefinitely?

Most importantly, what impact would internment have on recruitment to the cause? Here we would be wise to learn the lessons of history — specifically our history in Northern Ireland. Operation Demetrius began on the morning of August 9, 1971, with dawn raids and doors battered down to round up and intern 342 people with suspected links to the IRA. There followed an eruption of protests and riots. Violence increased dramatically, from 34 conflict-related deaths in the first seven months of the year, to 22 in the three days after. Internment failed to quell the terrorists, instead rallying foot soldiers and donations to the IRA’s cause. One officer in the Royal Marines reflected that Operation Demetrius “increased terrorist activity, perhaps boosted IRA recruitment, polarised further the Catholic and Protestant communities and reduced the ranks of the much-needed Catholic moderates”. Do we need any further grievances to fuel the fire?

Of course, we shouldn’t avoid anything that would be effective merely because our enemies might call it a “provocation”. But the main argument against internment is that there are more effective and less inflammatory tools we could use.

For instance, we could reintroduce control orders, which were foolishly repealed in 2011 and replaced by TPIMs (terrorism prevention and investigation measures). Control orders were far more restrictive than TPIMs in several respects. Suspects could be placed under curfew for 16 hours a day. Their access to mobile phones could be limited and internet access banned. They could be barred from associating with certain people.

In the wake of barbarity we can all sympathise with the urge to take tough action, but that action should aim to take the heat out of the situation, not turn it up. It should aim to identify, constrain and where possible deradicalise these people long term, not recruit more people to the cause. We are clearly in for a long, wearying and brutal fight — but internment will never help us win it.

It is always necessary to cut through the crazed fanaticism of the suicide bomber – or the hoax suicide bomber – to the more rational motivation and try to address it.  Richard Barrett, a former director of global counter- terrorism for MI6 writes in the Guardian.

It is not yet clear what May) intends to do to translate sentiment into effective action, and she could just as easily make things worse. The greater the securitisation of our society, the longer the fear and impact of terrorism will last.

(Officials in Muslim counties)  complain that western counter-terrorist policies in conflict zones are often counterproductive, especially when bombs and drones kill civilians. This is also true, but is far less defensible. Military action is not an appropriate response to the terror threat unless it forms part of a far wider strategy that takes into account the various drivers of extremism. The strategic counter-terrorist objectives of our military involvement in Syria are as obscure as they were in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Security services and police forces are not clamouring for new laws, and they already have promises of more resources. Most professionals, however, agree on the need for more intelligence, both on who may be contemplating an attack and on why.

Perhaps there’s some reassurance in Met commissioner Cressida Dick’s statement this morning that

All of the recent attacks had a “primarily domestic centre of gravity.

“We will always be looking to see if anything has been directed from overseas, but I would say the majority of the threat that we are facing at the moment does not appear to be directed from overseas”

But it also puts greater pressure in the authorities for what they are supposed to be able to control at home.

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  • mjh

    “Enough is enough”
    “Brexit means Brexit”
    “No deal is better than a bad deal”

    Does Theresa May actually have anything meaningful to say ….about anything?

  • Nordie Northsider

    Another way to look at it: for Corbyn, perceived as weak on security, to go in hard on Theresa May on just that issue (even calling for her to resign) makes a lot of sense from his point of view. I’ve heard him a few times now accuse the Tories ‘defending Britain on the cheap’ . It’s a clever slogan.

  • Albert Tatlock

    May’s politicising of the third terror attack on her watch was a really stupid move. She’s proving to be a strategic desert. Corbyn has done the right thing by turning the screw.

    Of course no one expects her to resign, but by calling it puts her on the defensive, May has invited this.

    She’s starting to look punch drunk, and people will start to ask “is she really capable of negotiating Brexit?”

    From her point of view, Thursday must seem a long way off.

  • Zorin001

    Even when she wins (I don’t think there is any doubt in it) she has done some damage to her authority with the way she approached this campaign. Meaningless slogans and U-turns have partially eroded her aura of competence, she sometimes comes across as an “empty vessel”.

  • Salmondnet

    Great. Well thanks Mr Walker. For a quartet of a century IRA terrorists managed to find enough support (and to fund raise) from the Irish population in Britain to help them to carry out a series of successful bombings, but a politician is now mediocre if he or she can’t stop Islamic terrorists who have a Maoist sea in which to swim of four times the numbers of that available to the IRA. Short of a full on police state (and perhaps even then) some terrorists will always get through, especially if they are prepared to die in the process. Perhaps you will tell us how mediocrity may be avoided and Islamic terrorism defeated. It would be really helpful to know.

  • the Moor

    Indeed. Further signs of increasing desperation: May politicises the third attack in as many months, breaking the cross-party protocol. Her speech, composed of phrases designed to sound dramatic/authoritative, amounts in fact to little more than more empty exhortation. Take the first of four: ‘enough is enough’. Wasn’t 9/11 enough? Was 7/7 not enough? Wasn’t Lee Rigby enough? Westminster bridge enough? Mancherster enough? Weren’t 6 years as home secretary enough? The effect is to achieve the opposite of the campaign recitation: ‘strong, stable leadership’. With each refrain the complacent message – manifestly without substance – sounds less and less convincing. She may, probably will, still win on Thursday but in doing so has emboldened and unified a divided oppostion and weakened her position in her own party and the country (i.e., demonstrably showing weak, unstable leadership). And it may not be a bad election to lose …

  • james

    “Perhaps you will tell us how mediocrity may be avoided and Islamic terrorism defeated. It would be really helpful to know.”

    I think that’s a fair question. Would indeed be interesting to know how the author feels May should be dealing with the terrorists.

    Brian?

  • james

    “Corbyn has done the right thing by turning the screw.”

    Really? Corbyn is a man who seems to have a hard time even condemning terrorism in the UK – if his wishy washy stance on the IRA is anything to go on.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    As we in NI know, terrorism, like the Lernean Hydra, can’t really be defeated. It can only be contained, restricted and ideally and ultimately outmanoeuvred. The last has to be made to look like it was the terrorists’ decision so that they carry no suggestion of defeat. Even then there’s the problem we and they face of finding a more productive use for their lives from playing a relatively constructive role in wider society like the rest of us.
    Kamikaze attacks, wider international sponsorship (usually claimed after the event), no organisational structure and scatter gun attacks by mavericks operating semi-independently all make the ‘problem solving’ much more challenging than the British response to the IRA ever was. In these circumstance only imaginative approaches will stop us looking mediocre.

  • Zorin001

    ” And it may not be a bad election to lose …”

    I think that Corbyn will see a result that allows him to save face and cement his authority in the Labour Party as a strategic victory and has one eye on the next election.

    Certainly this campaign hasn’t put the fear of May into the heart of the EU’s negotiators, and her “No deal is better than a bad deal” mantra more of her meaningless nonsense she spouts instead of anything of substance.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    In the vacuum that you outline, stridency is being heard where desperation is felt. Fearful times dealt with by ineffective measures can result in disastrous knee jerk responses.

  • the Moor

    like internment without trial for suspected ‘islamic terrorists’ … An object lesson from our own experience, in August 1971. A handful of deaths up to that point, a cascade of violence, death, destruction, and unstoppable acceleration in the months after that most foolish of moves.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Her campaign, Zorin001, is rapidly turning into something which could be paraphrased as “Give me another five years to actually try and work out what I, and my party, are thinking”………

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    It seems to me that the reason some of these attacks are occurring is because there aren’t enough resources available to deal with the suspects when alarms are raised by family, neighbours and others when it seems some people are going off the rails with extremism. That’s been raised in a number of the recent cases. At the same time Theresa May has cut 20,000 from the police force and has cut other relevant services also. This is not what Labour is saying – this is what the police themselves are saying and the Met CC Cresida Dick said it again today. It’s not increased powers the police need – it’s increased resources and there’s a certain slight of hand going on here by the Tories and their media apologists to obscure that central fact. I don’t have a vote in the British General Election – I have a vote in NI, which is a separate election entirely with no real relationship to the British election except that it occurs on the same day and is to the same parliament. That said I hope the Tories get defeated on Thursday. It couldn’t happen to a nicer party. It’s also interesting to note that the Tories are enthusiastic salespeople for selling British arms to the Saudi Government which channels funding to ISIS who claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack Also Trump has just concluded a major deal with the same Saudis. I wonder who really is the security risk here….

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    His ‘wishy washy’ stance on the IRA was just a progressive stance ahead of its time. Meanwhile the Tories arm the Saudi Government which channels support to ISIS who claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack. Who’s really wishy washy on terror?

  • Reader

    Concubhar O Liathain: the Met CC Cresida Dick said it again today. It’s not increased powers the police need – it’s increased resources and there’s a certain slight of hand going on here by the Tories and their media apologists to obscure that central fact.
    The article mentions 3000 jihadis and 20,000 persons of interest. How many police do you think are needed to watch that many people round the clock?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    What she’s negotiating is Britain’s future status as a rather over-sized version of the Cayman Islands, so trade with Europe is an irrelevance, and the sort of sane concessions that would be required for any proper deal with the EU an irksome annoyance. Her clear indecision on things is going to be a very big plus in such a negotiation, which probably actually need to break down to open the way for the solution she’s putting forward.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/theresa-may-threatens-eu-with-tax-haven-hard-brexit-plan-ready-to-do-so-if-eu-blocks-trade-migration-deal_uk_587cbbdae4b04a8bfe6af15b

  • Zorin001

    “It’s also interesting to note that the Tories are enthusiastic salespeople for selling British arms to the Saudi Government which channels funding to ISIS who claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack Also Trump has just concluded a major deal with the same Saudis. I wonder who really is the security risk here….”

    Funny how that report into foreign funding of Jihadi groups still hasn’t been completed and unlikely to be published isn’t it?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    So, Reader…too expensive to put together……….so we may as well just just carry on as we have been doing then, and hope not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: …so we may as well just just carry on as we have been doing then…
    That’s almost the opposite of my point. Instead of doing much more of the same, maybe look around for a different plan.
    (The second paragraph of my previous post was an edit and may have been added while you were composing your reply – it does show that Labour had no plans to do anything different about the current threats)

  • james

    “His ‘wishy washy’ stance on the IRA was just a progressive stance ahead of its time.”

    Ahead of his time? In that we should tolerate terrorism??

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Despite the fact that my old History master used to tell us “people say suppression of ideas only encourages greater resistance, but how many Protestants did the Inquisition leave in Spain?” no-one has seemingly discovered how to actually “beat Terrorism” nowadays on a budget.

    I can think of many worse approaches to trying to re-connect with the now separated fragments of the community……

  • the Moor

    I wonder who really is the security risk here….

    As the most (only) visible muslim, that’d be the Mayor of London …

  • Zorin001

    Never mind May and Corbyn, its seems that Trump has decided this is a perfect time to re-ignite his “feud” with Siddiq Khan.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    That’s what our masters (and mistresses) appear to think is how its actually done, “beating Terrorism”, that is. One looks in vain for any “plan B” either over the water or here……
    So Jeremy is clearly “ahead of his time” in the technique of talking out some negotiated resolution rather than all of this rather pointless macho posturing and tough-guy rhetoric, when the powers that be know they can’t actually ever beat what they are fighting…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Trump just keeps giving…….

  • the Moor

    And one thing’s for sure, the citizens/subjects of ‘tax havens’ don’t enjoy universal health care …

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed they don’t. Or many other economic considerations, either. It will be an interesting lesson (in folly) for those of us who survive the next ten years……….”interesting times” and all that…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Bless you Reader, I too look at what I’ve just written, and go back to opening up those things that were certainly in my head but not in the comment. No problem at all, and again, thank you for the clarification. As Edward Gibbon once pointed out, “budget security” simply does not work, unless you really don’t care what happens to your community. I think we’re loosely agreeing here.

  • the Moor

    ‘You can kill the terrorist’, etc… ad nauseum. In ‘object lessons from colonial history’ (Ireland and elsewhere), only an understanding of the consequences of necolonial interventions and jaw-jaw attention to the root causes of these over time (Including the self-harming consequences of alliances with sectarian sunni regimes because they are opponents of (shia) Iran, the US & UK’s principal, preferred enemy) can provide the social and geopolitical antidote needed to eradicate this virulent outbreak of hysterical young men pumped up by disaffection, woman-hating retro nativism, and a sense of self-righteousness heroic–victimisation.

  • james

    Ok, well let’s look at that.

    I’m not sure which particular terrorist group you are referring to here.

    If it’s the IRA then, yes, negotiations did (at length) have some success in forcing them to stop killing people – though thrir fundamental aim of a UI remains, and we don’t know yet what their reaction will be to that being voted down on either (or both) sides of the border.

    As to ISIS, I am at a loss to understand what kind of ‘negotiated settlement’ you think might do the trick?

  • ted hagan

    May and Corbyn, along with other leaders, should have shared a platform to condemn the attacks, not used them for political pointscoring. Agree with this article, it’s sickening.

  • ted hagan

    Labour is far from innocent when it comes to Saudi arms sales. The point of the article is that Corbyn and May are using these atrocities for politicial pointscoring, which is pretty sick.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    You’re right about Labour but Corbyn has been consistently against arm sales to the Saudis. He has been consistently right on most issues of historical import, it seems to me, and his judgement has been borne out by subsequent events. Which is more than can be said for the Tories – remember the Tories getting photos taken with the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan back in the 80s when they were fighting the Soviets in that proxy war? That was where Osama Bin Laden cut his teeth it seems.
    As for using the issue as a point scoring exercise, I don’t agree. Corbyn isn’t the only one pointing out that the police numbers have been cut back drastically under the Tory regime and while it’s debatable that these attacks would have been prevented or not had these cuts taken place, it’s certainly arguable that the cuts did not help the police track down these suspects or keep an eye on them prior to the attacks.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You don’t think they will find a way of neutralising the varieties of “Islamic Jihad” sooner or later, with money or with a few flashy concessions? I doubt they, the governments, will ever find any other way, other than perhaps boring them to death with all the empty macho posturing they regularly indulge in. Even if this were not so utterly, horribly tragic, the sheer silly ineptness of Teresa’s response of “now its gone too far”, (after all the deaths, all the attacks which have preceded this), would be quite shocking in itself.

    But, ah…you are admitting Jeremy was right then, and accordingly “ahead of his time”, I caught that.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    No – you should be equally intolerant of all terrorism, including State terrorism. Including terrorism which is supported by those with whom you do business – sell arms to etc….

  • hgreen

    How is Corbyn calling Mayhem to resign hypocritical? This wasn’t explained in the article.

  • james

    “You don’t think they will find a way of neutralising the varieties of “Islamic Jihad” sooner or later, with money or with a few flashy concessions?”

    No, I don’t. And I’m not at all sure what kind of ‘flashy concessions’ to ISIS you are advocating. Please enlighten me.

    “But, ah…you are admitting Jeremy was right then, and accordingly “ahead of his time”, I caught that.”

    You’ve ‘caught’ it wrong, then. Corbyn’s approach to terrorism doesn’t, in my opinion, work – and in the long term probably makes it worse.

  • Zorin001

    I wouldn’t agree with Brian that it was hypocritical, though I think it Corbyn phrased it badly. He would have been better to say that if she was still Home Secretary that he would be advising her to resign while making it clear that it is up to the country to decide her fate come Thursday. In fairness he clarified that point soon after.

  • Granni Trixie

    He exercised terrible judgement in taking sides, not the role of an honest broker or even that of a critical friend.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Are you somehow under the delusion that British governments have been ‘honest brokers’ in the north? Really?
    Corbyn comes from a noble tradition of Labour MPs – the likes of Tony Benn, Chris Mullin and others – who didn’t demonise the Irish and deify the British Establishment. He may have made mistakes but the consequences from his mistakes were not as tragic as those of the Tory or ‘New Labour’ who supported allsorts of nasty regimes and terrorist groups over the years, mostly for profit rather than principle.

  • TheHorse

    Indeed Concubhar and it’s noticeable that those who continuously point the finger at Corbyn blindly refuse to acknowledge the fact that British intelligence who are under the control of a Conservative minister are the people who trained and financied lots of those Jihadi terrorists to fight on their behalf in Libya especially when Threasa May was Home Secretary. The Manchester bomber was one of those Jihadi terrorists trained and financied by British intelligence and no doubt once the smoke has cleared after this latest horrific attack we will hear British intelligence has some kind of connection with the terrorists be that being on their watchlist or just like the Manchester bomber somehow slipped through the radar.

  • hgreen

    The Tories and May have a large number of questions to answer on these recent attacks.

    http://johnpilger.com/articles/terror-in-britain-what-did-the-prime-minister-know

  • Granni Trixie

    With respect, I do not agree with your analysis. Nobody’s all bad. In making the decision to break the convention in Westminster not to “interfere” in Ni, Major and then Blair (like Clinton) definately did right in grasping the nettle in NI.

  • hgreen

    What would be sick is not asking the Tories why they are trying to defend the UK on the cheap and continuing to sell arms to SA.

  • hgreen

    She’s a calamity. She has the inverse Midas touch.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    It seems that your stance is nobody – except Jeremy Corbyn – is all bad. I didn’t say that good wasn’t done – just that I did not regard the British Government/Establishment as an honest broker in the peace process. Apart from the rare exceptions I mentioned, there was a cross party crookedness about their approach to Ireland.

  • Jag

    May should be out on her ear for misleading the public yesterday when she implied it took 8 minutes for the police to respond to, and kill the attackers. The attack happened at 9.58pm. The police are saying the first call from the public came in at 22.08 and eight minutes later, that is, 22.16, the three attackers were killed.

    London is covered in central CCTV. An operator will have seen the van crash at 9.58pm, and will have seen the three attackers emerge and attack people. They will have immediately have informed the police. The City of London is just across London Bridge, it should have taken the police less than a minute to get to the scene. There is supposed to be permanent mobile anti-terrorist policing units in the City.

    The facts are, it took the police 18 minutes to kill the three attackers. You might say that’s still pretty impressive, but given the capacity and the fact there are permanent units on patrol in the City, the poor response may have cost lives.

  • Jag

    Yes, she does. In fact, she’s “clear” (“very clear”) about the “strong and stable” thing.

  • james

    Hmmm…. the Irish Republican definition of ‘state terrorism’ is decidedly ropey, though.

    By Sinn Fein’s defintion,the UK police would have been deemed guilty of ‘state terrorism’ in their response to the recent terror attacks in London – since they shot the terrorists (themselves ‘victims’ in the Sinn Fein playbook.

    Mind you, had the London attack happened in the 80’s, Gerry Adams might well have been found carrying one of the attacker’s coffins at the funeral.

  • Clanky

    I think it shows much more than the “mutual mediocrity” of both of them, sadly, it shows the horrendous level to which UK politics has been dragged by the media.

    May has avoided anything of substance from the beginning of the election campaign preferring to stick to media soundbites, Corbyn has for the most part tried to stick to policies, but even he realises that what works in modern UK politics is going for the jugular and making your opponent look like an idiot rather than debating policies and practicalities of government.

    The odious cretins in rags like the S*n posting pictures of the previous Labour leader (so memorable that I can’t remember his name) looking ridiculous eating a bacon sandwich, the left wing media showing Theresa may with various silly expressions and the Daily Heil all but claiming that Corbyn is a member of both the IRA and ISIS all serves to drag populist politics into the mire while at the same time what used to be the more serious face of politics has now descended to Paxman turning every interview into a head butting contest.

    It now is better to have a good strategy for demonising your opponents than to have a sensible manifesto. I would love to think that the recent swing to Corbyn is the British public saying that they want more of his kind of politics as much as it is them saying that they want his policies, but I have given up on political optimism.

  • james

    To be fair, you are being grotesquely hyper-critical here. With hindsight, yes, sure one could react in about a minute.

    It isn’t as if they knew the attack was about to happen, is it?

    Yes, operatives are supposed to be alert (and evidently they were – otherwise much greater loss of life could have resulted), but your criticism implies negligence where none exists.

    This may be a kneejerk reaction by now for those of an extreme Irish nationalist bent – but please, reality check?

  • Jag

    No, I’m suggesting Theresa May misled the public by implying police reacted in 8 minutes (first call from the public to the end of the killings), when, in fact, they reacted and killed the attackers in 18 minutes (crash which was observed on CCTV and immediately relayed to police, to the end of the killings).

    Theresa May has overseen the 20% reduction in armed police, and maybe if there had been another 100 armed police in the City on Saturday, the response would have been a minute and killings and woundings could have been avoided.

  • the Moor

    what’s the inverse of gold?

  • Jag

    Bangor, according to the Shinner last week, (before HQ intervened)

  • james

    The response would have been a minute?

    Really?

    I think you’re attempting to apply an almost impossible to meet standard there – just not sure to what end: Bash the Brits? Criticize May for something, anything? Suggest that the response under Corbyn would have been better?

  • hgreen

    Begins in s and ends in t.

  • lizmcneill

    And whither Brexit, if the Tories return a slim majority?

  • Zorin001

    That will likely empower the more Eurosceptic backbencher so the chance of a Hard Brexit becomes extremely more likely

  • Zorin001

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40165646

    I can see this being brought up by those looking for a hard border.

  • Zorin001

    I’ve lived there on and off the past 35 years and can tell you Bangor aspires to reach the level of sh*t

  • SeaanUiNeill

    James, you are misreading my comment. You have seemingly read “I” where I’ve clearly said “they”. I’m not advocating anything here, simply describing how Realpolitick always works, where the cheapest and most efficient ways of ending a problem have always been what Westminster (and other) politicians invariably turn to. The Saxon kings paid Danegelt because it was cheaper than fighting, their successors always do the very same thing sooner or later. As with all revolutions, the true believers either wear themselves out in the quest or discover the joys of being paid off in some way, and cashing in on their “success”. I doubt that Daesh will be any different once its price has been raised to a high enough level. The “Saxainach” (old Irish, no offence intended) has not modified the end game in over a millennia, I doubt that the revolutionaries will be less true to their encoded habits of inevitable response either.

    Talking about encoded responses, you’ve clearly said in the earlier response that “If it’s the IRA then, yes, negotiations did (at length) have some success in forcing them to stop killing people.” I’m reading that as Unionistspeak for “Oh yes, talking worked with PIRA but I have to be a wee bit against it because the inevitable compromises eroded any possibility of the Thousand Year Partition project succeeding now.” Please let me know if this is an inaccurate translation, as in such matters I have to go on what impressions I glean from my many staunch Unionist relatives.

    But you still appear to be saying, though rather begrudgingly, that Jeremy was actually prescient in attempting to turn things to a sensibly negotiated agreement rather than waiting until a few decades of Westminster machismo had clearly failed (in the aftermath of the Isle of Dogs warning) and had finally espoused negotiation, although at too late a date to save those of our community who paid the price for their reliance on decades of superior but (inevitably) indecisive violence. Even that great advocate of force, Churchill, said “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

  • james

    “Talking about encoded responses, you’ve clearly said in the earlier response that “If it’s the IRA then, yes, negotiations did (at length) have some success in forcing them to stop killing people.” I’m reading that as Unionistspeak for “Oh yes, talking worked with PIRA but I have to be a wee bit against it because the inevitable compromises eroded any possibility of the Thousand Year Partition project succeeding now.” Please let me know if this is an inaccurate translation, as in such matters I have to go on what impressions I glean from my many staunch Unionist relatives.”

    Yes, you are misreading. I’m surprised you see the world in such black and white terms. Negotiating worked, to a degree. Would it have worked without showing the IRA that they simply couldn’t win militarily? No. They are terrorists. Terrorists always start out with the assumption that talking won’t help.

  • lizmcneill

    So we should be cheering for the Tories for now? Vom.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Talk about “Black and white terms”, james!!!!!!!! Your employment of the term terrorists is an enormous reification, here. The broad spectrum of motivations for people turning to violence needs to be taken into account if you are serious (that is, rather than simply scoring cheap points) and its a truism that one mans terrorist will always be another mans freedom fighter, and that it is never a simple case of “Terrorists always start out with the assumption that talking won’t help.” What they start out with is a willingness to deploy violence alongside talk usually. What they are trying to do, along with the state itself, is to enforce their will on a community. Violence has always been used, as Clausewitz tells us, t further political ends where talking does not work. “War is simply politics by a bother means…”

    Even rather Unionist leaning historians such as Richard English who have made the study of NI violence their particular study state that the PIRA had little choice but to act as they did. If their political goals faced the refusal of the state to address those goals, and if they had no possibility of even addressing those goals within a majority Unionist system, how else should they present their case? With the targeting by Britain itself, in WWII, of civilian populations as a legitimate act of war, even the attacks on civilians have become in general political thinking “legitimised.” You must not assume I support either of these things. I’ve written often on Slugger both against the recourse to political violence as a legitimate political action (using Unionism in 1912 as my example, but seeing what followed as equally culpable) and have castigated the targeting of civilians both by governments and as a policy by political groups. But Unionism itself frequently supports violence against other parts of the community as state policy, and then sees the inevitable playing up of these things, the”monkey see-monkey do” of the state’s opponents, as simply Terrorism.

    No the term “terrorist” really needs a great deal of very careful unpacking, and simply cannot be employed loosely in this sound bite manner, no matter how engrained this habit has become within Unionism (and Conservatism over the water).