Election eve is hardly the time for calm consideration of the future

Ken Livingstone and Gerry Adams take a walk after Westminster Bridge after press conference at County Hall.

Say what you like about social media but the old fashioned papers are hard to beat to bring you the feel of the last minute election atmosphere. They’re  all the more frantic for the polls being all over the place and  late tragic dominance of “ keeping us safe.”


Later still, the Guardian’s monster montage of the right wing tabloids

The Daily Mail and Sun front pages on 7 June.


Later, after Mail on Line posted their attack on Corbyn etc 

True to form  the Daily Mail devotes  THIRTEEN pages to monstering  the Jeremy Corbyn   “troika ” for acting as the IRA’s useful idiots  during the Troubles. If  they really wanted them to make much of an impact they’d have run them earlier. Their target must be the minority of last minute undecideds.

Yes, Mr Corbyn has impressed some with his quiet composure under hostile questioning. But he personally has spent a political lifetime courting mass murderers in the Middle East, Ireland and elsewhere in the world, affronting his party and its decent traditional supporters, while voting on 56 occasions against measures aimed at containing the terrorist threat.

Meanwhile, his closest ally, the Marxist shadow chancellor John McDonnell, has called for MI5 and armed police to be abolished, while saying that the IRA murderers of men, women, children, British servicemen and police officers should be ‘honoured’.

As for Diane Abbott, the clueless and incoherent woman in charge of the security brief, she has voted against anti-terror measures 30 times, while declaring in the past that any defeat of the British state by IRA terrorists was a ‘victory’.

Cheerleader for the IRA

MP Jeremy Corbyn with Gerry Adams at the Bobby Sands and James Connolly commemoration at Conway Hall, London

At an Irish Republican event in 1987, Corbyn took part in a minute’s silence to commemorate eight IRA men shot dead by the SAS as they travelled to attack a police station in County Armagh. ‘I’m happy to commemorate all those who died fighting for an independent Ireland,’ he said.

In 1996, the year of the Docklands and Manchester bombings, Corbyn invited Gerry Adams’s deputy, to the Commons with a group that included several suspected IRA terrorists. The Labour chief whip accused Corbyn of putting the Commons ‘at considerable and unacceptable risk’.

Corbyn put up £20,000 of his own money to stand bail for Roisin McAliskey, an IRA terror suspect facing extradition to Germany, where authorities wished to prosecute her for killing a soldier’s wife during a mortar attack on a UK army base. (Eventually, she was not extradited.)

Last month, in a Sunday morning television interview, Corbyn was asked five times to ‘unequivocally condemn’ the IRA. Five times he declined

While this is all great ammunition against the Labour left, Northern Ireland itself barely features in these purely British rows and our experience of coping with he Troubles has hardly been mentioned over the past grim fortnight. We’re just not part of the shared experience.

It hasn’t occurred either to the Mail and many others that in Northern Ireland we have had the real thing in government for a decade An essential condition for the return of power sharing after 2006 was Sinn Fein’s eventual acceptance of justice powers and  an effective  role in the Policing Board. Remember  dissidents skewered as ” traitors”?  If Martin McGuinness could change  his behaviour, so can Jeremy Corbyn.

But not Theresa May it seems. After a lacklustre campaign she is back to threatening to “ rip up “the Human Rights Act that  enshrines  the Strasbourg HR Convention into British law. “Rip up” isn’t her phrase but the Guardian’s , and shouldn’t have slipped so easily into  BBC use. Her position is more nuanced and may amount to a derogation or suspension of part of the Act in order to detain suspects for  longer or expel the deeply undesirable. The Conservative manifesto  already promises a review of the Act when the Brexit terms are known. Not a word anywhere about the entrenchment of the  Act in the GFA and how – or whether – it could be replaced.

Back home  Alex Kane is on the money in the Irish Times, stripping away all that anti-Brexit veneer.

But what all of this means is that the constitutional question is now nakedly and aggressively front and centre in Northern Ireland. That means that there will be less room for soft/moderate unionism and nationalism. That will change politics here, particularly in terms of the Assembly and Executive. It will put new pressure on Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to address the unity issue. It could complicate matters between London and Dublin if there is a return to direct rule. If both Sinn Féin and the SDLP are now prioritising the need for an early Border poll and Irish unity, “sooner rather than later”, it will make it incredibly difficult to reach any consensus on any other issue. It’s now all about identity and numbers. Nothing else matters.

It’s hardly a day for  balancing factors. But  if middle ground parties are to be squeezed in the polls, compromise in some form has to come afterwards from the victors if they are to win  the necessary margin of moderate opinion in a new tournament of the numbers game. So  when it is time for back to the Assembly? After the marching season?   More of that after the results.  Meanwhile my favourite post election scenario comes from Ruth Dudley Edwards.

In the alarming event that the general election produces a hung parliament, expect the republican movement’s inner circle to respond to its friend Jeremy Corbyn’s plea for help by having Gerry Adams (and appropriate sidekicks) fly to London for talks before calling an emergency party meeting to approve Sinn Fein taking its seats in Westminster.

Beat that!


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  • Redstar

    And this moderate party…. is it for remaining in U.K. or for Irish Unity?

  • Redstar

    Either way for supremacist unionism-the games up

  • Redstar

    Never got my head round that until now but you’re correct sir

  • BonaparteOCoonassa
  • grumpy oul man

    In maths or statistics it makes no sense but in politics it happens much to often.

  • hollandia

    If such an arrangement was made with a guarantee on unity post this Parliament (which would be the only scenario I could envisage where SF would take their seats), I can’t imagine there would be too much wriggling. That said, such a scenario is so unlikely as to be fanciful.

  • grumpy oul man

    Nobody ever defines what a “letgetalongist” is, surely its better than being a letsbeattheshitoutofeachother.

  • Redstar

    Real heroes-love it

  • grumpy oul man

    It is possible to be a unionist or republician and still want to have a civilized relationship with the other side.
    And yep sure there is some trite nonsense sprouted but the amout of BS sprouted by those who dont want to get along is enormous.

  • Redstar

    GOM-hate to break it to you but it’s make your mind up time

    Soon those ghastly Nat/Reps are gonna be at least on a par with unionists

    Then there’s no more of this fabled middle ground

    Yer in or yer out!!!

  • Redstar

    Well not according to the Dinosaur Unionist Party

  • ted hagan

    Do they speak Ulster-Scots in France I wonder? They’re an arrogant lot over there, so probably not.

  • grumpy oul man

    Not sure i agree with you. I never join anything i dont want to be in.
    Sort of a rule.
    And i can be a republician and respect those who disagree with me as long as they respect me.

  • ted hagan

    Enter supremacist Republicanism therefore?

  • ted hagan

    Wordsworth was a very vocal supporter of the French Revolution so there’s every chance he might have thought quite highly of the aforementioned
    ‘layabouts’. He might even have a penned a tribute to them.
    Sorry to destroy your illusions.

  • ted hagan

    She wrote a scathing attack in the Daily Mail against Ken Loach over the film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ concerning its portrayal of the English and then admitted later she hadn’t even seen it, ‘and wasn’t going to’.

  • Nevin

    Something he later referred to as a ‘juvenile error’, Ted.

  • eamoncorbett

    Only if you’re bad at it .

  • Brian Walker

    Alex is a bit too doom laden for me.To win a border poll don’t they have to be interested in NI? A numbers game just won’t do it. We don’t even know the criteria for calling a border poll, whether the Republic will claim a veto etc. It’s vastly more complicated than a Felons Club fantasy.
    But Alex I think is referring to power sharing. I suspect they still are interested but not as an end in itself. They have to deliver something in the meantime like dealing with Brexit consequentials rsther than just hoping it’s a disaster. They cant just keep harping on about a border poll and nothing else. And they’ll need a fallback if a referendum doesn’t happen or they lose it which they probably will.

  • aquifer

    If the constitutional question is now front and centre it is because the silly DUP put it there. When it comes to tribal commentators, the destruction of the middle ground can be their fervent and delirious hope, but not everybody else’s expectation.

  • 1729torus

    Mr. Kane claimed back in 2007 that Fianna Fáil running for election in NI could destroy the GFA. He doesn’t seem to have considered the possibility of SF being in government both sides of the border back then though, even though Enda Kenny allegedly put out feelers about a possible coalition in the aftermath of the May election that year.

    Calling a binding border poll would arguably de facto require the consent of the Oireachtas since both jurisdictions would have to hold plebiscites. Otherwise it would likely just be technically advisory, like the EU referendum.

    SF and the SDLP have a lengthly list of examples of the DUP openly boasting that they have no intention of making powersharing work, and instructions from their voters not to set foot in the executive until there is a credible and enduring change in attitude and behaviour on the part of the DUP.

    Nationalist politicians now have an excuse and mandate to renegotiate the GFA from a much stronger position than in 1998 – the only real leverage the DUP has is to threaten to POC an Irish language Act. Possessing 39 out of 90 seats is enough to throw in demands for joint sovereignty and border polls. The DUP always wanted the arrangements renegotiated, they can’t complain now that the other side has demands as well. SF published a technically sound paper on dealing with Agriculture and Brexit, so they won’t neglect Brexit in the meantime.

    Every Nationalist knows the border poll likely won’t be won unless Brexit is a trainwreck. The whole affair is an extended exercise in agitation to raise awareness, gather data, accelerate planning and groundwork for a UI, put pressure on the DUP, and to force southern parties to compete in elections here. It will still be a step towards unity – as gratingly single-minded and insane as that no doubt sounds lol.

  • Starviking

    The portrayal of the English in that film was well-reported at the time.

  • aquifer

    Voting Alliance to defy terror, defend democracy, and save a union that matters.

    Some days the choice is no choice.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Is that why they brought the Shankill Bomber onto the playing field ! Feck that was a marvelous substitute ! That has certainly rised up the Unionist Vote in North Belfast ! Dodds has just rammed the penalty kick into the Finucane Back of the Net !

  • Karl

    European union?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I think he was primarily referring to Mme. Annette Vallon, Nevin. He was very careful to distance himself from her and his illegitimate daughter “Anne Caroline Wordsworth” in after years, although he met Caroline and her now ultra-Royalist mother in Paris during his 1820 continental tour. Most sources would also identify his later absence of fervour for France less with theRevolution itself than with the “Tyrant Napoleon” (how wrong can any English conservative be!). Pity he could not live to see Abel Gaunce’s magisterial “Napoleon.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It’s always an abusive shorthand for “not fully supporting my own perfectly correct position.”

  • ted hagan

    The woman is a historian for goodness sake and surely could have had the professionalism to have gone to the primary source rather than relying on second-hand opinions from tabloid trash and the right-wing media?

  • nilehenri

    a single mother who got pregnant at sixteen getting to the top of the political tree in the north is a little more than schick.
    o’dowd and murphy aren’t asking that question because they’re not schtickies and are more interested in a common good than personalisation. anyway, for royalty we already have the durkan and paisley clans.

  • nilehenri

    what’s she doing messines around over there?

  • babyface finlayson

    It would be all too easy toulouse le track of things back home

    j’aurai mon manteau!

  • Nevin

    That would have been a different juvenile ‘error’!!!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Same one, Nevin. It’s become something of general trope in Eng Lit that Wordsworth’s later horrified reaction to the Revolution was all tied up with his abortive affair with the poor girl, and his nagging guilt at effectively deserting her.

  • Nevin

    He does refer to ‘juvenile errors’ so there may have been more than these two.

  • nilehenri

    true. there are lourdes of thing going on at the moment. maybe someone could give her a cannes version of events when she gets home.
    mon manteau aussi s’il tu plait…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Quite a few. All those dreary early poems where he was trying to get away from the lapidary perfection of Alexander Pope for a start….

  • babyface finlayson

    Le chortle! Le chortle!

  • Tochais Siorai

    Indeed. From the seanfhocail – ‘Go raibh tochais síoraí ar dó mhagarlaí.’ Roughly – ‘May you have an eternal itch on your testicles.’

    Not you , of course.