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

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   Later, after Mail on Line posted their attack on Corbyn etc  True to form  the Daily Mail devotes …

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Election time and the Age of Entitlement

Historians, like journalists, feed on drama like lions on meat. This general election, in case anyone has forgotten, is the most important general election since…well, the last one, actually… Drama infuses elections like most historical events, and, as every history buff knows, every century has its dramatic moniker. The 16th Century was the Age of Conquest/Discovery/Exploration (delete as appropriate), the 17th was the Age of Revolution (per Christopher Hill), the 18th the Age of Enlightenment, and the 19th the Age …

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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 …

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Brokenshire’s line on a border poll won’t do. Straight after next week’s election, it will be incumbent to spell out terms and conditions for holding a unity referendum. And Dublin cannot be left out

In their manifesto,  the SDLP have now joined Sinn Fein in calling for a unity referendum, albeit on slightly different terms. Both are linking it to Brexit. If the combined nationalist share of the vote next week reaches 40+% which is highly manageable, can a unity referendum or border poll, reasonably be denied?  If not, what is reasonable?  By one reckoning a 50% threshold would seem unreasonably high for our divided community. By another, a referendum should wait until nationalists have …

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Theresa May’s flying visit will not halt the strange ebbing of British authority in Northern Ireland

Brian WalkerFormer BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

Are the DUP sounding “generous and smart” or have they just lost their mojo?

Mick has just credited Arlene Foster and the DUP with making moves toward nationalists which Sinn Fein is struggling to answer.  I see very little that the DUP have done yet that needs an answer. It is not  news that the DUP  don’t want a hard border or that there is a case for some sort of Irish Language  Act, totemic as it is,  particularly when your own contemptuous rejection  whipped up demand for it.  How to answer SF effectively …

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Citizens’ assemblies in Northern Ireland planned to influence the Brexit debate

Three academics, John Garry and John Coakley of Queen’s and Brendan O’Leary of the University of Pennsylvania are planning citizens’ assemblies to feed into the Brexit debate in the absence of the elected Assembly. Good idea. We await an announcement which I hope will not be confined to academe, which is where I picked it up – you know, the liberal elite and all that. Their pitch is: How NI voted in the EU referendum – and what it means for …

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Westminster’s reply to the SNP’s case for remaining in the single market was taken seriously after all. So why did May allow Sturgeon to claim she’d been ignored?

Here’s a strange thing. There we were, led to believe  that Theresa May had dismissed almost with  contempt Nicola Sturgeon’s  carefully  considered case for the UK, or at least Scotland,  to remain within the single market. It turns out it wasn’t like that at all. We know that because the Scottish Government itself has just published a reply to the SNP’s paper Scotland’s Place in Europe, from the Brexit Secretary David Davis in a letter dated 29 March. It lists …

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The saving grace of electoral pacts is that they’re short lived. There’s a longer and bigger game to play afterwards

One sign of changed times is leading commentators  such as  Alex Kane Tom Kelly and Newton Emerson ranging across newspapers that not so long ago  would have stuck to simple uncomplicated messages for  well  understood and stable readerships. Times have indeed changed for us all. From my remote position in London however, Alex and Tom are making very heavy weather of the issue of electoral pacts on both sides of the divide.  They’re doing so for the best of reasons, …

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