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Goodbye Arlene Foster

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 01:49:02 PM EST

Such has been the DUP's reputation for incompetence under leader Arlene Foster that many might make the mistake of seeing her departure as a positive development. However what finally broke the back of her support within the party is not the many scandals under her tenure - the collapse of Northern Ireland's power sharing executive in 2017, the loss of the unionist majority at Stormont, or the intense scrutiny of a judicial inquiry into her stewardship of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. It was her decision to abstain rather than vote against a Stormont motion condemning "gay conversion" therapies that ensured her demise.


It must be remembered that the DUP's founder, Ian Paisley, founded his own "Free Presbyterian Church" because mainstream Presbyterianism had become too liberal for his tastes. Arlene Foster's Anglican church affiliation had always been regarded with suspicion by the few hundred active grass roots members who make up the party's power base.

However, there can be little doubt that her support for the N. Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement until last January also contributed to her demise. Northern Ireland's failure to leave the EU's Single Market and Custom's Union along with the rest of the UK thus creating a customs border "down the Irish Sea" was her original sin.

It didn't help that she had previously torpedoed Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal that required no such border. Politically literate unionists realize it was Boris Johnson who ultimately betrayed them, but there has to be scapegoat to take away their complicity and shame at their ensuing defeat. The rioters in the street have been told Sinn Féin are winning, so something had to be seen be done to wrest back control from the paramilitaries.

As unionist commentator Newton Emerson notes (Subscriber only):

Yet the collapse of Foster's leadership, triggered this week by letters from half the DUP's constituency associations, relates to her failing to vote against a ban on gay conversion therapy and resuming meetings with the Irish Government, despite pledging to boycott them over the Northern Ireland protocol.


The contrast between the leak and the letters reveals a profoundly conflicted party.

There is no simple split between hardliners and pragmatists or conservatives and relative liberals. The DUP is overwhelmingly conservative and will now almost certainly lurch to the right. But everyone in it is painfully aware this will paint them further into a corner. Most realise the pragmatic choice is to take the hit for setbacks and `sell' them, as Foster tried to do with the protocol as recently as January. They just cannot bring themselves to do it.

The response from some is to hack the party down to its Paisleyite roots. Four letters are in circulation calling for Foster to go. The letter from DUP councillors demands a return to "Christian values" and "Ulster conservatism" and also calls for the heads of deputy leader and chief Brexiteer Nigel Dodds, plus chief executive Timothy Johnson and director of communications John Robinson.

---{snip}---

The lack of any obvious successor to Foster has kept her in office for years. By initiating the DUP's first ever open leadership contest, a majority of its elected representatives have desperately decided to let the chips fall where they may.

But the real problem for the DUP is that recent polls have shown their voters drifting to the more centrist Alliance Party and the even more hard-line Traditional Unionist Voice party. Either development could result in the DUP losing the First Minister role to Sinn Féin and possibly even their leading role in the power sharing executive. That would be end of the world as far as many unionists are concerned.

Assembly elections are not due until May 2022, and a lot can happen between this and then. It is not clear whether Arlene Foster's departure will result in even more polarisation in N. Ireland, or a defeat of the extremists. The tectonic plates may be shifting, but we can expect quite a few earthquakes yet.

Jeffrey Donaldson, current leader of DUP MPs in Westminster, is probably the most able potential successor. He is chiefly known for his early work with Enoch Powell of "Rivers of Blood" fame, and opposition to the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. He may be too pragmatic for some DUP members' tastes, however, and there is no shortage of troglodytes within the party. He may also not wish to give up his Westminster seat and leadership to become First Minister, so a split between those two roles is also a possibility.

Whatever happens, don't expect a figure of Nelson Mandela's or John Hume's stature to emerge. They don't make those any more.

Display:
Fintan O'Toole: The DUP created this mess but now it belongs to all of us. (Subscriber only)
Unionism in disarray is dangerous, and tribalised glee at its plight is idiotic

When the DUP decided to back Brexit without thinking through its consequences, it abandoned the task that any political movement must always engage in: that of taking its bearings, not from its dream world, but in the landscape it actually inhabits. Waving the union flag took precedence over the cooler headed but much more necessary work of thinking about where, in the course of history, Ulster unionism now lies. The current crisis is the cost of that great distraction.

Let's be clear: there is no gain for anybody in unionism's pain. Tribalised glee at the disarray of the enemy is idiotic. Disarray, as we know all too well, is dangerous for everybody on the island.

And unionism is not, in any case, the enemy of Irish national aspirations - it belongs in them. It should not be necessary to emphasise this, but apparently it is: people in Northern Ireland have an absolute and permanent right, under the Belfast Agreement, to choose to be British, with or without being Irish as well.

And, under the amendment to the Constitution that 94 per cent of voters in the Republic supported in 1998, it is the "firm will of the Irish nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions".



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 03:33:28 PM EST
Jog On, Arlene

This is more or less the view from the UK. As you and he agree, the electoral beneficiary of all this will be the Alliance party. As the hardline loyalists retreat to their redoubts, they look less and less like a part of the solution for a 21st century Ireland, and the electorate know it.

Unionism is revealed as Ieland's Confedaracy. Without the ability to maintain its catholic population in servitude it has no real meaning, so it fall on the symbols of its Lost Cause; loyalty to Britain and Empire. And just as with the Confederacy, you can cling to its hatreds but, in the end, all you can hope for is a veto on progress. And that veto was lost when the Westminster DUP over-reached and threw out Theresa May.

Yes, loyalist gangs will cause trouble, if only as a recruiting tool by attracting ne'er do wells. But these gangs are themselves complicit in alliances with catholic gangs, the drugs trade considers sectarianism infficient. And the connection will wither.

Loyalism has nowhere to go to stay pure except into the Irish Sea.Within a decade they won't matter electorally, at which point they'll just be a bunch of marching bands

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 07:55:06 PM EST
Jonathan Powell, ex-PM Tony Blair's chief negotiator for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, was one of the few voices in the British establishment to warn that Johnson's deal posed a serious threat to Northern Irish unionists' interests. "The hard border in the Irish Sea is a real problem for them," Powell wrote in the Irish Times soon after Johnson reached the deal.
by Oui on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 06:10:39 AM EST
You link to a good article by Jonathan Powell where he writes as a British unionist. He argues that the continued operation of the Protocol should be subject to a cross-community rather than a majoritarian vote of the assembly, on the grounds that that is what is required for devolved issues under the Good Friday Agreement.

But Brexit was never a devolved matter - if it had been N. Ireland would have remained fully paid up members of the EU. When it comes to constitutional matters, the GFA provides for a 50%+1 vote for sovereignty to be transferred, i.e. a purely majoritarian decision.

Whether that is a good idea or not is a matter of debate, but that is the Constitutional Status quo. N. Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom until 50%+1 decide otherwise.

It could be argued that the Protocol institutes a sort of half way house - A N. Ireland outside the EU with the UK, but remaining within the Customs Union and Single Market. The UK remains the sovereign power implementing customs rules by agreement with the EU.

That all of this discommodes the DUP is transparently obvious. Their concept of majoritarianism was always winner takes all, and they opposed the Good Friday Agreement because it guaranteed "equality of Esteem" to nationalists and promised UK neutrality in the event of a referendum.

But the DUP weren't simply betrayed by Boris. They were enthusiastic cheerleaders for Brexit because they thought it would erect a hard border within Ireland. They vetoed Theresa May's deal because it required no such border.

So ultimately it was the DUP which forced a transition towards something they feel could be a slippery slope towards a united Ireland. Let that be a lesson to them: Try to have everything your own way all the time, and you risk losing everything.

Deep down the DUP know they overplayed their hand and made a colossal misjudgement on Brexit. Arlene Foster, as leader, is now paying the price. They can retreat deep into their sectarian bunker, but that won't bring their majority back, and they could even lose their status as the dominant unionist party.

It is not schadenfreude to observe they have reaped what they have sown, and will have to live with the consequences. Yes this could be unsettling for the peace and the status quo, but how could this ever not going to be the case as N. Ireland transitioned into having a nationalist plurality?

Seen within the larger historical narrative, a transition towards a united Ireland is as inevitable as the eventual Chinafication of Hong Kong.  It is a question of how well that transition can be managed, and how well minority rights can be safeguarded.  After all, the GFA can continue to apply after re-unification.

But Jonathan Powell is deluded to believe that we can go back to some pre-Brexit status quo as if Brexit never happened. Brexit broke the constitutional link between the UK and the EU, and hence between the UK and Ireland. The Protocol is merely papering over the cracks.

We cannot fix what Brexit and Britain broke, and I suspect they know that and don't want to either. They just like to create the illusion that this is now, somehow, our problem to fix. The protocol is that fix. Suck it up. Make it work. It is the new reality until a majority of the assembly or the people of N. Ireland decide otherwise.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 10:13:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My only concern with that is that it seems the Boris Johnson's days as PM are now numbered. Which means that he will be replaced, and probably by Michael Gove.

Gove is a fanatic. A convinced supply sider and a fundamentalist Unionist with a hatred for the compromises in the GA. If he gets into number 10, then there will be problems in Scotland, but that will be dwarfed by his attempts to impose a hard border between Ulster and the Republic. And he WILL try to do this.

Boris may be an absentee landlord when it comes to ...well, most things, but Gove has, imo, been the driver of all the disruptions with the Irish Sea crossing. He sees advantage to the Union in such a tactic.

He will, of course, fail. The US will guarantee that absolutely. But he will try and his failure will be messy for Ulster and ruinous for unionism.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 11:23:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will defer to your greater knowledge of internal Tory party politics, but viewed from this side of the water Boris looks safe at least until the next general election. He has managed to mobilize a voter base beyond the traditional Tory heartlands, and a continued Tory majority depends on that. Keir Starmer doesn't seem to be offering much of an alternative for the moment anyway.

Either way Gove holds no terrors for the Irish political class. He may be smarter and more hard working than Boris, but he was prepared to try to make the Protocol work and knows where the balance of power between the UK, EU and US lies for the next few years at least. He would have his hands full developing any kind of a positive relationship between the UK and the EU and US in any case. The UK has few friends in high places anywhere now, whether that be in the EU, US, China, Russia, and even the Commonwealth.

If I am right, the UK economy is now in long term relative decline. Trying to maintain a place at the top table in international affairs while your tax base is shrinking is going to be his no. 1 priority. His commitment to Union with Scotland is undoubted, his commitment to union with N. Ireland less so, and only because it could set an unwanted precedent for Scottish independence.

So the British and Irish governments will cooperate to keep the lid on things for as long as possible. N. Ireland will eventually reap some benefits from Single Market membership and things could settle down for a while. Boris, Gove, Sunak, Raab, Hunt, Patel, whoever. It doesn't seem to matter much who is PM from an Irish perspective, and nobody holds out much hope that Starmer would be any different. Globally the UK has slipped down the priority issue list faster than most Brits could have imagined. Let's not confuse polite diplomacy with substance. Brexit may have poisoned relations at a leadership level, but Boris' vaccine nationalism has poisoned them at every level imaginable.



Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 12:47:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The knives are clearly out for Johnson. This week's manufactured media outrage almost rose to the levels reserved for apostates like Jeremy Corbyn.

It was a shame that more than 120,000 people died of Covid unnecessarily. And the PPE supply corruption was similarly unfortunate. But when his girlfriend described the aspirational (John Lewis) furniture choices of the Tory party faithful as a "nightmare" - that was beyond the pale.

Of course it's opportunistic nonsense. But it's also clearly a campaign, with simultaneous synchronised attacks from all sides, many repeating the same talking points.

The Tories can afford to do badly in the local council elections, and poor performance - encouraged by the campaign - is an ideal pretext to remove last year's man.

But to what end? None of the alternative leaders are vote winners who can pander to the Idiot in the Street like Johnson does. Gove is repulsive and literally slimy, Sunak is cheery but brown, Patel is psychotic (and brown, and a woman, although that's not a bad thing if you're a certain kind of Tory), Williamson is slightly less sentient than a sandwich, Raab would do - chin and skin colour tick the right boxes, as does his heritage - but he used to be a lawyer and would fare poorly against Starmer.

There are various possibilities. One is that democracy is over, Gove will be installed as Dictator for Life by Murdoch, and the war on Europe will commence.

The other is that Murdoch is losing it, and he wants to see some changes before he goes. Gove would do, but not for any good strategic reason. Just because.

Another is that Brexit Loyalist Raab is being lined up as front man, and Gove/Cummings will be running things from behind the scenes.

The various Lords who make these decisions were mad enough to push Brexit through. They want someone who is a committed loyalist, not just a narcissistic opportunist like Johnson. Someone fresh would (checks notes..) "restore some gravitas to the role of PM", and would make Brexit seem more like an adult project than a toddler tantrum.

Or so the theory goes. It's not obvious if the plan will work. But either way I would be hugely surprised if Johnson survives the year, never mind makes it to the next GE.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 01:17:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The various Lords who make these decisions were mad enough to push Brexit through. They want someone who is a committed loyalist, not just a narcissistic opportunist like Johnson. Someone fresh would (checks notes..) "restore some gravitas to the role of PM", and would make Brexit seem more like an adult project than a toddler tantrum.
Sounds like Jacob Rees-Mogg is their man.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 06:29:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JRM would love the job, but he would be too easy a target. He's neither appealing nor particularly bright - just undertaker posh, condescending, and sneery, which wouldn't go down well with the proles.

TBH he probably thinks it's beneath him. I expect he believes he's destined for greater things.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 07:01:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's also an antisemite (or is that OK if you're a Tory?)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 07:05:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
of course it's okay to be AS if you're a tory. During all the allegations of AS against Corbyn in the run up to 2019, those paying attention were able to discern a pattern of AS behaviour from the tories that was completely blatant.
It was the press willingness to ignore this that convinced me that the attacks on Corbyn were never about Labour  AS (which has been subsequently shown to be either fictional or nothing to do with Corbyn)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 3rd, 2021 at 11:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the great propaganda coups of recent years has been to equate anti-zionism with anti-Semitism. The irony being, of course, that the Palestinians are a Semitic people as well which makes Zionists the greatest anti-Semites of the modern age. Racism and Apartheid are ok so long as its done by Zionists.  It was good to see Biden pay his respects to Carter recently, the only major US figure to call Zionists out on this and who had been ostracised by Democrats for his troubles.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 3rd, 2021 at 12:12:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The various Lords who make these decisions were mad enough to push Brexit through. They want someone who is a committed loyalist, not just a narcissistic opportunist like Johnson. Someone fresh would (checks notes..) "restore some gravitas to the role of PM", and would make Brexit seem more like an adult project than a toddler tantrum.

Considering the perpetual reluctance to dig down and work at Brexit, is this the same attitude, just a step higher? They want gravitas etc, so just fire the current front man and get someone who can do the job. Who would do it and how they would make Brexit appear an adult project, that is for the little people to work out. Maybe they could do some technical solution at the Irish border? The powers that be are more idea people.

by fjallstrom on Sat May 1st, 2021 at 10:28:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently there are plenty of methods for getting the poor people to pay the rich peoples' bills. So a nice old gentleman with a top hat and a sash and a huntin' and fishin' estate in the Cotswolds would be about right. Rule Britannia and all that. Sounds pretty adultish.
by asdf on Sun May 2nd, 2021 at 03:22:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some, in the Sunday Times think he'll get away:

Offered without comment, since I'm not familiar with the current political mood in England.

by Bernard on Sun May 2nd, 2021 at 08:00:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's a good piece. For some, especially on the left and far right, politics is a morality play, and the good guy wins. But most people are losers and have no chance of winning if they play by the rules. So they admire someone with the chutzpah to try and wing it breaking all the rules. It's what they would do if they had the chance. For them, politics is also an entertainment not to be taken too seriously. Someone who can be entertaining is to be preferred to the wonk (aka Gove) who may be hard working and mostly right, but is also as boring as hell and no fun to be with. Many people can imagine enjoying a pint with Boris. Starmer or Gove? Not so much.

Of course there will be a price to pay for electing the entertainer. But most people don't make the connection between food banks and Boris' antics. When the UK economy implodes it will always be somebody else's fault. The remoaners, probably, or a vindictive EU. Those Scottish backstabbers or the terrible Irish. Most people don't take full responsibility for their actions. Boris represents them perfectly. Unless its you queueing up at the food bank.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 2nd, 2021 at 10:41:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They're both right and wrong.

Billionaires are the pipers, the Tory party in Westminster, let alone the voting public, are merely the functionary monkeys who dance to the tune played.

So the viewpoint of the hearty yeomanry of Doncaster is entirely irrelevant. This is a war in the air between the billionaire supporters of TWBJ (the Barclay bros, tax exile owners of the Telegraph) and the billionaire supporters of Gove (Rupert Murcoch, Dark Lord of the rest of the media).

The stories in the press are not about affecting electoral performance, that's irrelevant cos that's just a popularity contest with the paups. They're about determining whether the billionaires will persevere with TWBJ as damaged goods, or move to Gove as a clean-ish pair of hands.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 3rd, 2021 at 11:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Foster to leave DUP after standing down as party leader - reports
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster is to leave the Democratic Unionist Party when she stands down as party leader, according to reports.

After five years at the helm, Ms Foster announced on Wednesday she would resign from the role on May 28th and as the First Minister at the end of June.

It followed a heave against her from a significant majority of her party's Assembly members and MPs, who signed a letter of no confidence in her leadership.

On Friday, BBC NI reported Ms Foster will also leave the party, to which she defected from the Ulster Unionist Party in 2004.

It is reported that Ms Foster no longer believes the DUP is the party she joined and that it is moving in a different direction. It is understood the Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA informed her constituency association on Thursday.

There is speculation she may join the House of Lords.

The North's minister of agriculture Edwin Poots has announced he is to stand for the leadership of the DUP.

Arlene joined the DUP from the UUP at the height of Paisley's domination. If the creationist Edwin Poots is elected leader it will go back to its Paisleyite fundamentalist biblical roots. I doubt her claim that the DUP has changed much since, but it may be that she has changed. In any case a seat in the Lords may be an apt sinecure, as she has said she won't live in a united Ireland in any case.

However her election as Leader marked a broadening of the DUP from its purely fundamentalist Presbyterian roots, and made it more acceptable to Anglican unionist  voters. If she leaves the party entirely, where will those voters go? Back to a moribund UUP (Ulster Unionist Party), or the more pragmatic, centrist and conciliatory Alliance Party? Opinion polls indicate the later. Her leaving could thus signal the end of the DUP as the dominant party of unionism, to be replaced most probably by the Alliance party which supported Remain and is prepared to try to make the Protocol work.

If so, it could be the beginning of a new dawn for N. Ireland, with a more pragmatic and conciliatory approach from the unionist community. Whether the more moderate nationalist SDLP will experience a similar renaissance at the expense of Sinn Féin is less likely. Nationalists are unlikely to pass up an opportunity to dominate N. Ireland politics with the largest party and first ministership.

This could undoubtedly result in some bitterness amongst unionist Alliance Party voters that their moderation isn't being matched on the nationalist side. But they can hardly expect nationalists to give up their place in the sun after nearly 100 years of subjugation. In any case, Sinn Féin have shown they can be accommodating if they have to be, and will face a growing threat from the SDLP if they aren't.

We may be witnessing the beginnings of a political way forward for N. Ireland if the Alliance Party become the dominant party within unionism.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 12:22:29 PM EST
Excuse me.
Has anyone seen the Bastid Queen's boarding pass?
Arlene Foster insists she would 'move away' in event of united Ireland
by Cat on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 01:49:11 PM EST
The salient feature of her tenure, lest we forget, was the cash for ash affair, which she (mis)conceived before becoming First Minister -- no doubt just shonky pork-barrel politics rather than corruption on her part, but her refusal to assume any responsability enabled Sinn Fein to take the high moral ground and close down the devolved government for three years.

Thus demonstrating that she was a midget among midgets. I have no idea what difference it might have made if Stormont and the executive had been operational during that time -- an extra layer of chaos, most likely, but just possibly some real constructive debate about Ulster's future at such a vital time?  

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 02:43:30 PM EST
This is the best bit in a litany of examples of the jaw-dropping backwardness of the DUP:
Jeffrey Donaldson, current leader of DUP MPs in Westminster, is probably the most able potential successor. He is chiefly known for his early work with Enoch Powell of "Rivers of Blood" fame, and opposition to the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. He may be too pragmatic for some DUP members' tastes, however, and there is no shortage of troglodytes within the party.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 06:01:10 PM EST
Poll shows Irish support unification but don't want to pay for it
DUBLIN - Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will happily take Northern Ireland off Britain's hands - but only if they don't have to pay the bill, a new poll reveals.  

After a century of partition, two-thirds of people in the Republic support unification of their island, according to the poll published Saturday in the Irish Independent.

[...]

However, Saturday's results show 44 percent of people in Northern Ireland want to stay in the U.K., compared to 35 percent who want to leave.  

In the south, support for unification is conditioned by who pays. Fifty-four percent of Irish Republic voters would reject unity if it hikes their tax bills, according to the survey, which was conducted by the polling firm Kantar.

Only one in eight would vote for unity if the handover required the Republic to take on Britain's full costs of subsidizing Northern Ireland.  

by Bernard on Sun May 2nd, 2021 at 03:01:48 PM EST
What if the taxes in the Republic aren't affected, but the standard of living is?
by asdf on Sun May 2nd, 2021 at 03:23:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would anyone in the south(other than extreme nationalists, idealists, and dreamers) vote for a united Ireland if it was to cost the island a net €10-15 Billion p.a.?

The notion that a united Ireland might be coming into view is predicated on:

  1. The UK disintegrating with a vote for Scottish Independence

  2. The post Brexit UK economy declining and with the UK government no longer able or prepared to sub-vent either Scotland or N. Ireland.

  3. A continuing demographic shift both North and South. (Younger voters are much more supportive of a united Ireland).

All three are likely to increase in probability the longer referenda are delayed. Sinn Féin posturing about a referendum now is just that - posturing. The wiser counsel is to play the long game. Also if either Scotland or N. Ireland are to leave the UK, the longer they wait, the better the deal they could negotiate with Westminster.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 2nd, 2021 at 04:57:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Although the exact extent of the liabilities that a united Ireland would create for Ireland is being increasingly questioned and I have questioned it myself here.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 3rd, 2021 at 12:22:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I wrote before,  subsidizing the sectarian lifestyle doesn't come cheap. And I understand it's not only the oversized security apparatus, but an extra number of civil services jobs and also additional subsidies for businesses who open an office in Belfast rather than, say, Birmingham. Take these incentives away and the economy will degrade rapidly: war is particularly expensive if you have to pay for it with your own money.
by Bernard on Mon May 3rd, 2021 at 03:56:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have commented on the article linked to above - in reply to another commentator - as follows:

I wrote my thesis, predicting the imminent end of Apartheid for economic reasons in 1988, before Mandela's release, and while PM De Klerk was still viewed as an irredentist pro-apartheid hardliner. The costs of Apartheid had simply begun to outweigh the benefits, even for a majority of the White community.

Where I predicted violent resistance was from the military, farming and civil service sectors, as their livelihoods were, in large measure, still dependent on the maintenance of Apartheid (which required a huge military/bureaucratic apparatus to keep in place). I argued that a UN or US peace keeping force might be required for a transitionary period to prevent violent slaughter.

What I didn't adequately predict was the degree to which Mandela - still then seen by whites as a terrorist - would develop into an outstanding statesman who gained the trust and respect of all of SA's racial communities. As a direct consequence the transition was largely peaceful, and no external peace keeping force was required.

The SA economy grew again, and a large black middle class developed adding to the stability of the new dispensation. Sadly much of that progress has been dissipated since by corruption, crime and poor leadership once Mandela left the stage. But my point is that with good leadership, violence is not inevitable, even when a radical transformation of a state and society is taking place.

I would suggest to you that that is the route Ireland should plan to take - reconciliation, inclusion,and societal transformation north and south. Nobody wants a repeat of the bloody suppression which characterised much of NI history. The question is whether people of Mandela or Hume's stature will emerge to lead the transition process.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 3rd, 2021 at 09:00:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're even more of an incurable optimist than I am. 😊

In the election of 1994, the ANC got a clear mandate with 62.6% of the vote and 252 seats in a 400 seat parliament.

The NI situation is a religious conflict centuries old. As I understand it, the division is carried over from father to son. There is no peace but a truce. I haven't seen much of a reconciliation and the two camps were quite ready to and capable of confrontation recently. Same location as history dictates. First feat would be to "tear down that wall" and symbol of division. That would be a start for reconciliations and conversation between parties. Downing Street with Tory leadership won't be much of any help. Perhaps under leadership of an Irish-American? A long process that will take years.

by Oui on Mon May 3rd, 2021 at 09:53:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All I'm saying is that widespread violence is not inevitable or unavoidable, but that that requires a quality of leadership not yet in evidence, to put it mildly...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 4th, 2021 at 09:09:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but highly likely.  

The same ethnic culture of Protestant Northern Ireland produces the Ku Klux Klan here in the US.  And like the Klan the UVF, etc., are intolerant bigots who will resort to violence when their world is challenged.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue May 4th, 2021 at 05:23:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush tells GOP it can't win anything with appeal to 'White Anglo-Saxon Protestantism'

Because the U.S. is a two-party system its form of democracy functions - though barely - due to their Constitutions of 1787. The Brits should be quite jealous with their one-party system of governing the Empire. Go BoJo go!

The catalyst for Magna Carta was the tyrannical rule of King John and, in particular, his imposition of arbitrary taxes upon the barons.

In 800 years not much has changed ... somewhere around 1773 King George lost a promising colony due to taxes and the revolt of the Boston Tea Party. The ghost of the Tea Party still roams the countryside and a revolt is always imminent as the militia are well armed.

by Oui on Tue May 4th, 2021 at 06:31:19 PM EST
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You could have (and still can) say the same about Afrikaaner Calvinists -  (with whom some unionists closely identify) - many threatened widespread violence, but in the event it didn't amount to much, and ended up being less than the routine violence that Apartheid visited upon blacks.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 4th, 2021 at 10:25:39 PM EST
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by Oui on Wed May 5th, 2021 at 09:38:11 AM EST
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DUP, Paul Givan and creationism

by Oui on Sun May 2nd, 2021 at 05:31:08 PM EST
While visiting London, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (on behalf of Joe "I'm Irish" Biden):

US has `no closer ally' than Britain but must protect Good Friday Agreement, says Blinken - Independent

But in between warm talk of a special relationship, there was a warning that the 1998 peace deal covering terms of the border between the UK and Ireland must be upheld despite the problems faced since Brexit.

"The United States remains a steadfast supporter of a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland, in which all communities have a voice and can enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace," Blinken said.

"Like several US presidents before him, President Biden has been unequivocal in his support for the Good Friday Agreement which was a historic achievement and one that we should protect."

by Bernard on Tue May 4th, 2021 at 06:36:54 PM EST
Maybe Uncle Joe can find the $10B a year to replace the British subsidy... now he's learned how to shake the magic money tree

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed May 5th, 2021 at 02:40:03 PM EST
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Are you suggesting the US buys Northern Ireland? Less ambitious then buying Greenland, but bold move none the less.
by fjallstrom on Thu May 6th, 2021 at 02:17:55 PM EST
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Um let's see. How many years' worth of annual subsidy, capitalised, would Boris sell it for?

He'd probably accept $US50 billion. He'll be gone in five years.

I will make NO COMMENT as to the intrinsic value of Northern Ireland, home of my patrilineal ancestors.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri May 7th, 2021 at 01:15:26 PM EST
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"US has `no closer ally' than Britain but..."
by asdf on Thu May 6th, 2021 at 06:14:02 PM EST
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