A handbag

Brexit has been sold to the people as the UK retaking its place as a world leader, but its shambolic execution has instead shown that the UK’s place as a world leader is largely an illusion based more on expectation and bravado than on any underlying capability. The incompetence of its leaders has been laid bare as grand promise after grand promise has turned out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Over everything hangs the ghost of Margaret …

Read more…

Margaret Thatcher And The Road to Brexit…

It was while reading Will Hutton’s and Andrew Adonis’s recently published book Saving Britain that a curious and disturbing thought came into my head, unexpectedly and without invitation; it hasn’t gone away. I’m not a great fan of either author, though they can give useful insights at times. The book has two main parts, firstly, how Brexit came about, and secondly what can be done to save Britain. The thought occurred while reading the first part. Apart from this thought, my views on Brexit …

Read more…

Two centuries on, how Special has this Relationship been?

It must rank as one of the most spectacular early Christmas presents ever.  Exactly two hundred years ago, representatives of the British and American governments met in the Flemish city of Ghent to agree a Peace Treaty, ending the increasingly-misnamed War of 1812.  OK, it did not mean that all the fighting was yet over: the two countries’ armies would meet in one final battle in New Orleans just over two weeks later, in which the Americans comprehensively thrashed their …

Read more…

Hunger Strike: Margaret Thatcher’s Battle With the IRA (1980-1981)

Hunger Strike: Margaret Thatcher’s Battle With the IRA (1980-1981) Thomas Hennessy Irish Academic Press, 488pp, £19.99 A senior member of the royal family is blown up on his yacht together with his 14-year-old grandson, another teenager and an elderly lady. Hours later, 18 soldiers are killed by two roadside bombs in an ambush on British soil. The following year, prisoners belonging to the terrorist organisation responsible begin the first of two hunger strikes, in which ten of them will die. …

Read more…

Margaret Thatcher: A deeply qualified encomium…

Never trust the Irish. They are all liars, liars. That was Peter Mandelson this morning recounting Margaret Thatcher’s words of advice to him on being made Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (possibly in lieu of some more substantial criticism of the late British Prime Minister) who is buried today under a plan that does not radically differ from those laid out under Mandelson’s New Labour regime. I didn’t get much sleep the night new Labour won their landslide victory in 1997. …

Read more…

Is demonising Mrs Thatcher over the hunger strike also being laid to rest?

  It was said of the republican “long war “ – (was it by Danny Morrison? – if not it ought to have been) – that one death in Britain was worth about 20 –  or 100? in Northern Ireland.   The corollary is that one of the lessons repeated in the welter of Thatcher press coverage is how little concentrated attention has tended to be paid in Britain to even the worst horrors of our Troubles. In the list of Thatcherite landmarks …

Read more…

#Thatcher: Ten Children Dead

From Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister on the 4th May 1979 until her resignation on the 28h November 1990, ten children aged sixteen or under were killed by the security forces (the number is actually eleven as Hugh Maguire should be included in this list, see below). For anyone who wishes to evaluate or find the positive in a re-evaluation of her premiership, it is hard to ignore the recurrent moral failure to adequately protect children over whom she claimed the …

Read more…

UTV’s Thatcher’s Ireland: “She stood firm…”

Last night’s Thatcher’s Ireland from UTV has breadth, nuance, great editorial intellectual content and some of the most acute insight on Thatcher you’ll hear in the next week. It’s a revelation of the machiavellian core of politics… Paisley, dismisses the Hunger Strike as ‘a purely political stunt’… Mrs Thatcher’s actions at the most critical of times influenced through a chain of allegiances through the United States.. You can watch the whole programme in the following chapters… 1. Beginnings. Denis Tuohy …

Read more…

Commons Debate on Margaret Thatcher: Glenda Jackson goes and spoils the party by, erm, having a debate….

I don’t know whose idea it was to have a debate on Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons. Glenda Jackson (no, I didn’t know she was still there, no idea John Whittingdale was still there either) could not stand the restraining convention of polite respect. She exaggerates, of course, she’s a politician after all. Care in the community was, for instance, poorly thought out and ill-managed, but did eventually lead to a civilised move a way from life time …

Read more…

Is the proof of Margaret Thatcher’s Northern Ireland policy the prosperity of modern Sinn Fein?

So Gerry Adams is persisting with the idea that Margaret Thatcher’s policy failed in Northern Ireland in his piece for the Guardian yesterday (longer version here at Leargas). In fact Thatcher’s policy was little different from her predecessors. It was Merlyn Rees who introduced the idea of criminalising political prisoners, not Thatcher. It was mostly dictated, as Gerry Collins noted on Prime Time by her military advisors, since the military threat posed particularly by Republicans at that stage was very …

Read more…

Margaret Thatcher roundup (2): Or how Ireland came to love ‘the Anglo model’…

Much has been made of the great events of Margaret Thatcher’s career (the Journal.ie probably has what might pass as the definitive list of the top five in terms of Anglo Irish relations (which is how we quaintly used to refer to it back then). But the truth is the real relationship was deeper, more cultural and more subtle. And it manifested differently north and south. – No matter what he thought of his country’s relations with Thatcher’s Britain, Charlie …

Read more…

Margaret Thatcher is like Alex Ferguson…

I don’t intend to comment on the putative legacy of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher [Too early to say? – Ed]  Perhaps.  And Mick has it covered…  But I will point to Tom Chivers’ observations on some of the more, erm, extreme reactions. My own hypothesis, and it’s only a hypothesis, is that she’s hated by some of the less thoughtful elements of the Left in the same way that Sir Alex Ferguson is hated by less thoughtful Liverpool fans: because she …

Read more…

Margaret Thatcher roundup (1): Britain’s growth in wealth and poverty

Listening watching the reams of coverage on Margaret Thatcher, whether you loved her or loathed her, she certainly had impact. I’ll come back to her contentious Irish legacy later, but first a round up on today’s coverage… – Richard Branson covers his back somewhat over some of the warrior queen’s more extreme social interventions and claims: She really did set the groundwork for entrepreneurialism and business in Britain. She will go down in the history books as somebody who made …

Read more…

13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Margaret Thatcher: An Ireland ALMOST reconciled to a bitter legacy from the Troubles…

Margaret Thatcher may have the distinction of being a ‘great’ leader in some parts of Britain. In Ireland she was less ‘well got’ as we say. And the Anglo Irish Agreement is the dividing line. Unionists hated her for it. ] They even hated the RUC for protecting Irish diplomats based in their fortified headquarters at Maryfield, just outside Holywood. It was a tense period the sordid details of which many professional politicians may prefer to forget today, with a …

Read more…

Margaret Thatcher dies….

In lieu of something more substantial, here’s a link to probably the most generous thing I’ve ever written (or thought) about the self styled Iron Lady… Such generosity does not come easy… She came to prominence the same year I first got the vote, and I came to England just as she was in the latter stages of an almighty asset strip of much of Britain’s industrial base… But, she was a force to be reckoned with, and not all …

Read more…

…the British Government has planned the sell-out of Ulster

So Ian Paisley was right after all! In his The Revivalist editorial of January 1982, he reflected on 1981 saying: 1982 is the year when the British Government has planned the sell-out of Ulster. It is essential that Ulster prepares itself for the great battle which lies ahead. Without Divine intervention all is lost. Admittedly, he had began 1981 by stating: Having made a dirty deal with the I.R.A. terrorists the Government has proceeded to enter into an underhand mini-Munich …

Read more…

“and ‘Soon’ would have known this”

Perhaps the most interesting [and least covered? – Ed] response to the release of UK National Archive files from 1981 was that of the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, TD.  An edited version of his blog post appeared at the Guardian. The interesting part is not his declaration of “Another myth busted”.  That particular “war of words”, as Brian Rowan says, “will go on”. The interest is in Adams’ calling into question “the relationship between London and ‘Soon’” – Londonderry businessman Brendan Duddy – …

Read more…