If you’re wondering what concern the recent UK general election is to Ireland the answer is a lot.
Bit of a rollercoaster of emotions watching the results of the recent UK general election unfold.
When I went looking for an image for this post on Pixabay I found the photo above and it seemed to perfectly match the way my feelings changed about it all over the course of the last 3 – 4 days.
O.K. so I’m going to lay out my preferences on the UK General Election and on Brexit. If you are very strongly pro-Brexit this ramble is probably not going to be something you’ll enjoy. Perhaps try the vegan soft fruit cookies or one of my lasagnes instead?
I was hoping for a coalition between Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP. I was pro Labour because although they seem to be pro-Brexit Jeremy Corbyn seems to genuinely want to reduce the gap between rich and poor and frankly those kind of policies I’ll always support. I was hopeful the Lib Dems and the SNP would be part of the coalition (and maybe the Greens too) because I wish there could be a second referendum on Brexit but if not I hope that the UK stays in the EEA and I believe these parties could push for this.
Last June, three out of the five territories polled in the Brexit referendum voted to remain in the EU. I think that in itself warrants a second referendum. Would I feel that way if the simple majority, but still only two out of five territories, voted to remain? Probably not if I’m being honest. And yes that’s unfair of me. But how fair is it to have a referendum where voters are blatantly misled? There was the bus, the now infamous bus, with the amount of savings the UK could expect to make if it left the EU. Let’s ignore for a moment how that completely failed to take account of how much being part of the Single Market benefits the UK economy, let’s ignore the whole question of the rebates (the money you get back from the EU), let’s instead ask one simple question – why on earth wasn’t there a bus going around Wales telling people how much they stand to loose in funding if they leave the EU? That really bothers me. It feels like people were deliberately misled and yet it makes no sense that anyone would do that.
I would like if the UK stayed in the EU not simply because I think it’s a bad move for the UK, nor even because it could really badly affect Ireland in many ways – the biggest reason I want the UK to remain in the EU is because I believe that the UK is an important voice within Europe. I think the UK’s non-interventionist tendancies nicely counterbalances the interventionist tendencies of the French and German governments. The contributions of all member states is obviously important but having powerful players with quite differing approaches to societal and economic matters I think makes for a better more progressive union. Don’t leave the EU, stay and work to improve it – for all.
I think I’ve mentioned in other posts about doing a post on Brexit. I was going to – even did up a couple of images for a post – actually I even wrote something but then realised it was ridiculously positive and so I didn’t post it in the end. It seems I find it difficult to be negative. On twimii posts. I’m perfectly capable of being negative elsewhere. The reason why I gave up trying to write a post on Brexit that I’d be happy posting was that I usually write these kind of posts to persuade whoever is reading to consider my point of view – a pretty typical reason – and after watching and reading lots of bits and pieces online about Brexit I felt that there was zero point in posting anything because many people don’t seem to want to face head-on the options available to them. Or so it seems from the coverage I’ve seen – people just want it to be over and done with. And if that’s the case your understanding of what the EU is and what leaving it means is completely different to what I think it is and what it means.
But I want to talk about Ireland and Northern Ireland. I believe that anyone who calls this island their home is Irish. If you’re from Northern Ireland and would rather be called Northern Irish or British then that’s what I’ll call you but I’ll admit to you now that really I consider you Irish. Just to let you know, this is also pretty much the reality of nationality in Ireland. What I mean by that is the whether you are Irish or Northern Irish you have a right to an Irish passport – so EU citizenship. Here’s a link to more information on Irish citizenship through birth.
So I consider all Ireland one nation. But I don’t think it matters who governs people. I believe it matters how much control people have over their political representatives. So I don’t think that it matters that Northern Ireland is part of the UK. I would be delighted if people in the north decided to unite with the Republic – but I wouldn’t be delighted if it was Brexit style result with 52% voting to unite and 48% saying “Nah you’re alright”. I’d want it to be a Gibraltar style result when well over 90% said they wanted to stay with the UK (well over 90% also said they wanted to remain in the EU). I don’t want anyone forced into anything. And really what does it matter because regardless we’re all one nation.
This attitude is disliked by both hardline unionists and nationalists. Hardline unionists think this is soft talk to coax them into joining the Republic and hardline nationalists think this is typical of the couldn’t-really-care-less talk of a Free Stater. I’ve been called a Free Stater. I first took it as a compliment meaning I was a free thinking liberal from a liberal state. Then talking about it to someone later they told me it was a reference to the Free State – still didn’t get it – then they said Saor Stát na hEireann (the constitution of the Irish Free State) – to which I didn’t respond for a bit because I kept thinking “but that’s not even the constitution we use…” and then the person went on to explain, in slightly pained tones, that being called a Free Stater means that you accepted the partition of Ireland and basically didn’t really give a damn about Northern Ireland. That’s not how I feel. I actually feel that the Republic has seriously let down Northern Ireland in past – both nationalists and unionists. It doesn’t matter who governs us but it does matter that we insist on everyone being treated fairly and justly.
Sinn Fein won’t take their seats in Westminster because they refuse to accept the legitimacy of UK rule in Northern Ireland and I think as Republicans they wont swear an oath of allegiance to a monarch. I think that’s their reasoning. I know it’s a complicated situation. I get that if they took their seats in the UK parliament in Westminster it could end up threatening the requirement to resume the powersharing Assembly in Stormont. But if there is a Tory minority government in power, relying on support from the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) negiotiating UK’s exit from the EU then I really want Sinn Fein there ensuring that there is a voice there arguing for the best deal for all Ireland. And you can call me a Free Stater or a hurler from the ditch or whatever you like but if you really want to represent Ireland – all Ireland – in all its many hues and colours – and I think you do – then realise that Brexit is too important to stand on historical principle. Please do not allow all Ireland’s position to go unheard.
You might say my views are too simplistic. Yes it’s a complicated, complex situation and yes I am simplistic. But sometimes the obvious simple answer is the correct one.
To be honest I’m actually hoping that there will be a second election. To be really honest I still haven’t given up hope of a second referendum – even though I know it’s highly unlikely. Unless… Unless Theresa May listened to the concerns members of her own party have about relying on the DUP, and the Lib Dems consult with their base and … go into coalition with the Tories on the proviso that there is a second referendum.
I can feel some people reading this telling me to shut up and go take a long jump – but look Brexit has massive implications for the UK, for all of Ireland, for the EU and even the world potentially. Hopefully it won’t go that badly but if the UK does lose economic power and international influence then the whole dynamics of international relations change. Is it possible that some powers that might like to see this come about did campaign for Brexit? I have no idea. I read this article in the Irish Times on Saturday What connects Brexit, the DUP, dark money and a Saudi prince? Honestly, I don’t know what to make of it.
These days it feels like the news is trolling the audience. Like the way a leaker about Russia’s hacking attempts during the US election of a reality TV star president is called Reality Winner … how is this real?
Seriously how is any of this real? Theresa May campaigned to remain in the EU but for some reason since becoming Prime Minister she is apparently gun-ho determined to leave not just the EU but the single market. Why? Why wasn’t there a huge public discussion in the UK following the referendum result about what exactly voters wanted? Saying you want to leave the EU is not a clear-cut instruction. There are many different versions of leaving the EU. Why trigger Article 50 without getting the details of what people wanted pinned down first? Is it because you’re afraid to have an honest discussion about what are realistic expectations and what are not? And why hold an election after triggering Article 50 when you already had a comfortable majority? None of this makes any sense.
What also makes no sense to me is how Arlene Foster has managed to remain leader of the DUP after the Cash for Ash scandal. A scandal in which a scheme meant to encourage businesses to move to a more energy efficient fuel source actually ended up encouraging businesses to burn more fuel and has cost taxpayers in Northern Ireland hundreds of millions of pounds. There is no way a minister here would manage to keep their office if they had been responsible for such a mismanaged … disaster. Would they get re-elected following such a scandal? Yeah, probably. Provided you look after your constituency most voters don’t seem to care. So we’ve that in common.
So I’m going to close this with a couple of videos. Never thought I’d agree with Michael Heseltine but I agree with him 100% here – even though I sincerely hope we’re both wrong.
Lord Heseltine on Brexit Day: ‘We’ve lost power and influence’ – Newsnight
Alastair Campbell on Election Results – BBC News
But really my focus is on Brexit because I’m not living in the UK. I think if I was my main focus would be making politicians focus on narrowing the gap between rich and poor, making the country work for everyone.
I know that’s what I want from politicians here.
Says the hurler in the ditch… I can’t even play hurling. I’d run from any sliothair I saw coming – about the only thing that would cause me to rise.
Seriously Sinn Fein if this government alliance does go ahead then be our voice – for all our nation – all sides, all types, all of us – in Westminster. Please.
And I’ll try not to go on about this again but I’m just saying UK –
So Sinn Fein are definitely not taking their seats in Westminster. I hope someone in the party sees this poll which at the time of my linking to it shows 58% (or ~16K) in favour of it – yes a straw poll is only a straw poll but still.
I saw this article on independent.co.uk entitled “The DUP aren’t as bad as you think” and I thought I should share it here.
And if you’re in the UK just know that today (June 13th) both the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and the French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking in separate forums, sent clear messages that the door to the EU remains open should you change your minds…
OK I’m done, I promise. Unless you do hold a second referendum or unless it’s some issue which really affects Ireland.