The pendulum swings – time not for Unionist panic nor inaction

So the elections results are in: a sea change has occurred. The bark of unionism’s boat is near overflowed. All may not yet be lost but all is about to be. Wail, lament, tear clothes, put on sack cloth or more realistically start surfing rightmove to find a nice house in the North of England or Midlands or maybe Wales (house prices preclude the south and Scotland will soon be gone). Well maybe and only a naïve unionist would dismiss … Read more

Another of Brexit’s big losers: the opinion polls

In the maelstrom of comment following Leave’s victory in the referendum there have been many groups blamed, criticised etc. Amongst the greatest of the losers, however, are once again the pollsters. The pollsters have a singularly poor record in forecasting British national elections when they are remotely close. The original failure of recent times was John Major’s victory in 1992. Then the pollsters all claimed Kinnock would win. During the Blair years the pollsters did better but that was as … Read more

Ditching Corbyn now: probably the daftest political idea in the world

As I write Labour politicians are defecting from the shadow cabinet at a rate faster than people left the Titanic. That analogy is flawed as it seems most people behaved rather honourably in that bygone age (although First Class women passengers had the highest survival rate, Third Class women had a higher survival rate than First Class men). The reasons for this mass desertion are many but fundamentally they come down to Corbyn’s leadership during the referendum campaign and his … Read more

Boris Johnson as the next Winston Churchill: not necessarily a complement

The Brexit victory has brought forward its leading light in Boris Johnson. Many now expect him to become the next Tory leader with Cameron having announced his resignation. Against that it must be said that the Tory party does not always forgive the slayer of its previous leader: Michael Heseltine never became leader; though Thatcher herself did. Boris Johnson elicits adulation amongst many of the grass roots. He is perceived despite his very posh roots as somehow a man of … Read more

Referendum result: DUP in touch with Middle England

Mick has his first thoughts on the EU referendum below. He has pointed out that although the majority of Northern Ireland voted to remain it was close: realistically most unionists voted to leave. To disgress for a moment. Prior to last year’s assembly election people suggested the DUP were beginning to lose touch with substantial parts of the unionist electorate. The victory for the UUP in South Antrim and the fairly close run win for the DUP in East Belfast … Read more

Labour and Europe: a brief history

The recent narrowing of the polls in the EU referendum has prompted much soul searching by the Remain camp. This may all be unnecessary as exactly the same was seen in the Scottish referendum before Remain’s victory. However, for the meantime Remain is rattled. Much of their angst seems to be coming from the revelation that substantial numbers of traditional Labour supporters are going to back Brexit. This realisation has come with much complaining that Labour is being too metropolitan … Read more

Kingsmills Inquest latest

The Kingsmills inquest has been going on now for a couple of weeks. A new twist has, however, just been announced. Last week we were told that a finger print expert decided spontaneously to look again at a palm print on the get away vehicle and that a match had been found. It has now been claimed (unsurprisingly) that the palm print belongs to a well known republican. Little more surprisingly this republican is one who opposes the current Sinn … Read more

Hundredth anniversary of Jutland

Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. This was one of the largest naval battles ever fought and although a confused and indecisive battle of itself in some ways marked a major turning point in the First World War. In essence it was a tactical victory for the Germans against the deeply intellectual, apparently very caring to his men, but cautions British admiral John Jellicoe: a tactical victory snatched from what could have been the jaws … Read more

Cameron gambled with national security?

The BBC are announcing that today David Cameron is going to claim that the UK leaving the EU would increase risks to peace. The BBC suggested Elgar or Vaughan Williams should be playing. I suspect Holst’s Mars would be the most appropriate. Turning from the classic music back to the politics. One of the primary responsibilities: probably the prime responsibility of a Prime Minister or the like is maintaining the safety of the population that elected him and as such … Read more

Arlene’s triumph: time for others to reconsider their pitches and where that horse is

So the results are all in. The result: nothing has changed and a bit has changed. The fall in the nationalist / republican vote and levels of seats has been analysed and will bear further analysis. The changes or lack of them on the unionist side are, however, just as interesting. Ben Lowry and Sam McBride in the News Letter have their analyses and I would demur little from either of them. Arlene Foster and the DUP’s triumph is marked. … Read more

Burying bad news: the defeat of People’s Democracy

The elections have proved a good day to bury bad news. Not the minor issue of a government U turn on the decision to make all English schools become academies but rather the scandalous decision to defy the democratically expressed will of the British people. I refer of course to the scandal of the naming of the new Polar Research Ship. This is going to be named RRS (Royal Research Ship) Sir David Attenborough. Previous ships have been named after … Read more

Assembly election: the old Stormont and King Solomon’s Mines

One of the first books I read myself as a child was King Solomon’s Mines by H Rider Haggard. It is a ridiculous (and at times racist – though less so than was typical of the times) colonial romp across a fictitious Africa. One image that always stuck with me was when one army (the bad “savages”) attacked the elite of the good army (“noble savages”). The baddies rise three times and fall back each time, defeated but leaving a … Read more

Livingstone’s spectacular implosion damages no one more than Khan

Election campaigns are one of the most disappointing parts of politics from an analysis point of view. Rarely do campaigns actually sway the result as much as people like to think. Clearly they are vital and manifestos etc. are essential. However, all too often the manifesto and the campaign itself are the out workings of the almost inevitable result. As examples the disastrous longest suicide note in British political history of Labour’s 1983 campaign was merely the outworking of an … Read more

Brexit and foreign doctors (parking fines and other things)

David McNarry’s latest foray into controversy has been to float – and then retract the suggestion that foreign workers (specifically a hypothetical Polish surgeon) be deported for minor crimes such as parking tickets. Although this may play well with a few it seems something of a gaffe: maybe UKIP’s leadership will not be too sorry to lose their sole NI MLA when McNarry stands down at the Assembly elections (to be fair retiring at 67 seems pretty reasonable). It also … Read more

Raymond McCreesh play park: Council and Equality Commission’s decision goes to judicial review

The ongoing saga of the Raymond McCreesh play park took another turn yesterday. Bea Wotton the now 88 year old mother of one of the IRA victims at Kingsmills was granted leave for a Judicial Review of the decision to name a play park in Newry after McCreesh. The park was named after the IRA Hunger Striker (who was arrested in possession of one of the weapons used in the Kingsmills murders) in 2001. In 2014 the Equality Commission ruled … Read more

Thoughts on Terrorists and Nuclear Bombs

The Nuclear Security Summit which has just ended in Washington included the usual assertions about the danger of nuclear proliferation whether to rogue states or terrorists. It is interesting, however, that despite a vast number of nuclear weapons being produced by a large number of countries and many weapons tested not one since 1945 has been used in anger. Essentially now four potential nuclear scenarios cause concern. The least talked about currently is the most lethal: a nuclear war between … Read more

Tory Uncivil War based on Europe but continued on everything else?

The dust has begun to settle on the budget and Ian Duncan Smith’s dramatic resignation: not enough that said to know what is going to happen in the medium term. The episode was, however, much worse than the Omnishambles of the 2012 budget. It revealed a series of fault lines within the Conservative Party that do not simply relate to Europe but the coverings over which are cracking under the weight of that juggernaut. The Conservative Party like any political … Read more

Easter Rising 2016: Live and let celebrate

Last week a Muslim acquaintance of mine wished me Happy Easter. I try to remember to wish Muslims Happy Eid. I would submit this has parallels with how Unionists and other non Republicans should approach the Easter Rising celebrations. Christians can and do invite those of other or no religion to Easter events as a form of evangelism: I believe Muslims do the same thing. At such events an attempt is often made to “convert” the invitees to the religion … Read more

Gulf War 25 years on

It is now twenty five years since the First Gulf War. I remember being woken by my radio alarm clock on the first morning of the air campaign. There was a roaring sound which I thought was static on my analogue radio. Actually it was the planes taking off on bombing raids: the harsh sound of low bypass ratio military turbofans. Now twenty five years later we can see that the world changed yet remained very much the same. At … Read more

Arlene Foster the vision thing and Angela Merkel

Following Arlene Foster’s successful first conference as DUP leader and before the frenzy of the run up to the elections in the spring it is maybe time to take stock of the third DUP leader and her achievements thus far. Firstly even to have become DUP leader is a significant achievement and one which speaks of her political talent no matter what one’s views of her politics. Foster was a gradually rising star in the UUP under Molyneaux and Trimble’s … Read more