Author Archive | Brian Walker

Pressure on Ireland mounts

By next Monday night, after the visit to Dublin of Nicholas Sarkozy as President of the European Council, Brian Cowen will have been forced to declare some of his hand for persuading the Irish people to hold a second vote on the EU treaty. I say “some of his hand” because Sarkozy is unlikely to more…

I've seen the future..

I’ve seen the future..

Like buses, my big beasts of the British political jungle came in a pair on Wednesday, at two of my associations, the Hansard Society on parliamentary reform and the Mile End Group on contemporary history. They’re two bodies where you get to find out what’s moving. Jack Straw, fresh from his Lords reform proposals, joined more…

Orangefest footnote and the art of nudging

Long ago, I decided that the influence of behavioural psychology was a very mixed blessing indeed. In marketing, it’s applied to manipulate our desires and needs to get us to do what others want, the very essence of the soft sell. So if you want to clean up the image, say, of the clunking old more…

Pressure mounts on both party leaders as economy dives

Update “Families’ annual food bills rocket by £1,000,” says the Bel Tel’s lead story in its better, brighter website. P.S. I wonder why it’s so much like the Independent’s? As recession looms, here is the real news: Inflation hits 10 year high. Read closely and that means well over 10% up for food and fuel. more…

Faint hope of Lord Adams of Ballymurphy set to disappear….

I’m in two minds about the prospect of the end to the House of Lords. Reluctantly, I’m finally having to give up the fantasy of a Lord Adams of Ballymurphy or Lord McGuinness of Brandywell and Lone Moor. ( yes, I know they would never have put on ermine and coronet: that’s the point of more…

Abortion by web backlash begins

As reported in the Belfast Telegraph, the predictable backlash has started over the disclosure that Northern Ireland women may have been ordering abortion drugs via the Women on Web website. Apart from registering shock at being able to sign up for appropriate drugs in just fifteen minutes, neither the Bel Tel’s reporter nor any other more…

Scottish Catholic Church hits Labour where it hurts on abortion

Update. Gordon Brown brushed aside the question: “Is the Catholic church trying to hijack the Glasgow East by-election”? “This is a repetition of the debate previously.. The House of Commons ( and later the Lords) made its position completely clear on a free vote and a decision (presumably keeping the abortion limit to 24 weeks), more…

Orangefest - first verdict

Orangefest – first verdict

How has the rebranding of the Twelfth come across to us exiles? “Work in progress,” is probably the safest verdict. It’s always hard for the interested abroad to judge how much real menace and threat lies behind the typical reports of rioting and injured policemen . I noted the attack on Rasharkin Orange Hall and more…

State funeral for Thatcher

State funeral for Thatcher

Relax, she isn’t dead yet although the Iron Lady may be rusting slightly at the seams. The Mail’s exclusive that on her death, she will enter the pantheon of British heroes in company with Churchill, Gladstone, Wellington and Nelson will attract approval and anger in equal measure – plus I guess quite a lot of more…

Better news Sunday!

Sunday morning reading the newspapers often leaves me feeling like a client for suicide watch, and no time like the present, with recession, even slump threatening, nasty politics. etc. But today, what a pleasant surprise! First, in Scottish politics, what a difference a day makes: good news for Gordon Brown! A 14 point Labour lead more…

Gemma and Ronnie: just to wrap up a strange campaign

Gemma and Ronnie: just to wrap up a strange campaign

Update Sunday July 13. Some of you may have had enough of this ( spare us “you’ve said it”, please!) but I can’t resist sharing this post from the sparky Tory Guido Fawkes, that Gemma has made at hit and may even have a Tory future. I almost forgot.. I started so I’ll finish.. Miss more…

“Earthquake” as SNP ahead of Labour for Westminster

It’s probably a vain hope I have of tearing you away from the Twelfth, but the news that the SNP are nudging four points ahead of Labour for the Glasgow East by-election in a fortnight might add spice to your Orangefest. The Herald “shudders” at the YouGov poll results, while the Scotsman goes the whole more…

Male sexism in the blogsphere

I though it worthwhile hauling out these two comments from women as a separate post. They were in response to a plea I made for female comment to my post Abortion at home about the Women on Web site for on line abortion material. It’s hard to identify gender if you use pseudonyms. So I more…

New Catholic vs pro-choice clash over easier abortion

And just when we’d been talking about abortion…a battle within the Labour party between Catholic MPs and the pro-choice majority has resulted in the Monday’s big votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill being put off to October. Pro-choice supporters were gearing up to move an amendment making abortion easier by requiring only one more…

MI5 and the IRA

The historian of the Security Service ( MI5) Christopher Andrew threw out some intriguing comments about tackling the IRA at a lecture I went to last night, attended by a formidable line-up of academics and insiders. The main problem with the secret services he said, was that because they were so obsessed with secrecy, they more…

Abortion at home

It’s inevitable that the web will be used to promote do-it-yourself abortions in countries where elective abortion is banned. And that of course includes Ireland north and south. The BBC’s early lead today woke me up by headlining Northern Ireland in its story about a clinical review of the website Women on Web. Stand by more…

“The government must do more…”

Update 5% Interest rate held as UK house prices continue to tumble… Ditto NI house prices… The Golden Mile turns into a wasteland, all those blocks of new flats lie empty, half finished building sites are abandoned, the elderly hunch over cold radiators wrapped in blankets, employment queues lengthen for the first time in decades… more…

Gemma scores with Davis

Gemma scores with Davis

Who was it again who dared suggest that Belfast-born Miss Great Britain Gemma Garrett was standing in the Haltemprice byelection against top Tory David Davis, just for the exposure? I’ll be accused next of seizing any excuse just to brighten up the look of Slugger with pretty women on a wet summer’s morning. No, there’s more…

42 days looks doomed, killed off by the Lords

On the big issues, it’s the House of Lords not the Commons that so often rises to the level of events. Yesterday’s debate on the counter-terrorism Bill was one of those. We have come a long way it seems, from the bad old days of internment. That “deal” with the DUP was one of the more…