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The fracturing of British politics…  June 26, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.



We talk a lot about the fracturing of Irish politics, and rightly. The last twenty to thirty years has seen the dominant blocks lose considerable weight under pressure from Independents and smaller parties. Perhaps that situation will rectify itself – or perhaps it won’t. I’m still fascinated by the static nature of the polls here at the moment where votes appear to be moving between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil rather than elsewhere.

But be that as it may, reading this piece by Christopher Kissane in the IT there’s this comment:

Politicians promising everyone the best of all possible worlds has left open the very real risk of a “no deal” Brexit, leaving Britain adrift in international economic waters. British politics has become not just parochial but myopic, its horizons ending at the Channel and the short-term squabbling over the deckchairs while the icebergs get closer.

In many European countries such a moment of national crisis would inspire a broad coalition to build the consensus necessary for a way forward. Yet British democracy actively discourages such co-operation. Designed to produce durable majority governments, the first-past-the-post system instead has produced hung parliaments in 2010 and 2017, while 2015’s slender Conservative majority lasted just two years.

I tend to disagree with analyses that look for some much vaunted but usually invisible centre ground. Yet the point about how the British system has, if not broken down, certainly come under some pressure is well made. The crisis of the late 2000s has impacted there as much as anywhere, but as is almost inevitable it has taken on local characteristics – delivering the SNP to levels of MPs even today after the recent election that they could only have dreamed of a decade or so ago. It has led to Brexit, a rupture albeit a hugely problematic one. It has also arguably led to further contention in NI.

And that simple fact of hung parliaments and slender majorities is fascinating. Not that this is unprecedented. The 1970s where characterised by precisely this sort of instability. And one has to consider the broader picture of that time to see how and why that happened.

None of this is set in stone. It is entirely possible that the fractures will be mitigated. The remarkably robust support for Tories and Labour at the recent election although not translated into seats speaks of a degree of consolidation. Perhaps that will continue.

And on a slight tangent as we’ve noted elsewhere this week, Kissane points to the ineptitude of the British government.

Officials in Brussels have become increasingly alarmed that their British counterparts do not understand basic but crucial elements of the Brexit process. Indeed, the current cabinet is simply not up to the job: the defining issue of the election was May’s arrogance and incompetence, Liam Fox and David Davis seem ignorant of the realities of international trade, while the less said about Johnson the better. Britain is fielding a team far off test-match standard.

This is staggering. These people led a whole state to a decision and, again, whatever the rights and wrongs of that decision, clearly had little or no actual grasp of the issues at stake. And Kissane argues:

Yet there is no clarity as to what will come next. One of the world’s largest economies currently has no economic policy.

We share a land border with this crew.


1. sonofstan - June 26, 2017

And a common travel area and a somewhat anomolous recognition of each others citizenship…but this may change….


Michael Carley - June 26, 2017

Details here:

Our proposals as set out below are without prejudice to Common Travel Area arrangements between the UK and Ireland (and the Crown Dependencies), and the rights of British and Irish citizens in each others’ countries rooted in the Ireland Act 1949. These arrangements reflect the long-standing social and economic ties between the UK and Ireland and pre-date both countries’ membership of the EU. As such, we want to protect the Common Travel Area arrangements, and Irish citizens residing in the UK will not need to apply for settled status to protect their entitlements. We have also been clear that our exit will in no way impact on the terms of the Belfast Agreement. We will continue to uphold in that context the rights of the people of Northern Ireland to be able to identify as British or Irish, or both, and to hold citizenship accordingly.


So we will continue to enjoy the favour of dwelling here without let or hindrance.


2. Joe - June 26, 2017

“So we will continue to enjoy the favour of dwelling here without let or hindrance.”

Which, in all fairness, is a good thing. And I’m confident that we here will confirm that the same will continue to apply to British subjects over here. Which, in all fairness, is also a good thing.

Long may it continue so.


Michael Carley - June 26, 2017

You (we) might not be allowed to: will the EU be prepared to allow UK nationals special rights inside the EU on the basis of an agreement between one member state and the UK?


Joe - June 26, 2017

I think it will. It should. If it doesn’t, presumably the UK would review its position. I thought there was an understanding that the UK/RoI common travel area and pre-existing ‘special’ mutual arrangement would continue. If the EU puts a spanner in the works of that, the RoI would have to review its position too.


makedoanmend - June 27, 2017

“The ROI would have to review its position too.”

And Why? Because we will not provide a potential “back door” of free movement for UK nationals should a UK government demand limitations on free movement of citizens from all EU national members and European negotiators respond in kind?

Ireland is, like it or not, sitting on the other side of the negotiating table along with its other 26 other European partners.

The ROI’s only remit is to look after the interests and rights of the people of the ROI; not as a guarantor of any other country’s policies, including the UK’s.

Our relationship with our European partners is every bit as important, and possibly set to become more so, as with our next store neighbor. Should said neighbor for some reason decide to fence in their land and put up barriers to entrance, the onus does not then rest upon Ireland to change its entire set of relations with the rest of Europe nor provide said neighbor with a means to circumvent EU rules.


3. Jolly Red Giant - June 27, 2017

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