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Seven seats… August 18, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Tom McGurk in the SBP was writing the week before last about Brexit and it was the usual London is terrible but we should really blame the EU stuff. Okay as far as it goes but not hugely convincing. But then he took a different turn…

If Brexit crashes the already perilous state of the the North there will be a day of reckoning for unionist heads buried deep in the sand.


In fact given that Irish sovereignty has been superseded by EU sovereignty the seven SF Westminster seats have, astonishingly become potentially the single most powerful political weapon in the Brexit crisis this country possesses. And what is SF doing, walking away both from this unique opportunity and its huge responsibility?

He argues that the seven votes could ‘not only neutralise the DUP hold on the May government… more importantly it could wipe out any effective parliamentary majority in the critical votes coming up in the Commons that will shape Brexit’.

And so McGurk argues for a ‘soft’ Brexit, albeit an unspoken one.

There’s more – not least his argument that abstention is unfit for purpose in 2017, and it’s all very compelling in a way. But I wonder at all this. What would such an intervention do in relation to the debate in the UK? And what would it do in relation to SF?

Difficult not to see it playing out badly in both respects. What do others think?


1. roddy - August 18, 2017

First of all THE Torys/ DUP would still have a small majority even if SF attended. Secondly a massive backlash would be whipped up about “the IRA interfering in the governance of our country” and the torys could call an election on this issue and fight for a “stable government with no say for terrorists”.SF would have sworn alleigance to a British monarch for a short term “gain” which would be seen to be no gain at all within weeks.

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WorldbyStorm - August 18, 2017

That is my read of it too Roddy. And surely mcgurk knows that too so what is his game?


gendjinn - August 18, 2017

Literally the nanosecond SF adopts this advice the very same people (with hordes from the woodwork) will immediately start working SF over as ineligible for govt in the south as they cannot be in both Irish and English Dáils at once.

The DUP have stated this year they never signed up to the GFA and did not really sign up to the SAA. There is no peace process, there is no Stormont Assembly or executive unless the DUP sign up to those agreements.

Not a lick of pressure on the DUP. Keep the focus on SF.

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Pasionario - August 18, 2017

Maybe it’s an attempt to rebuild a case for the SDLP — or some other grouping — as the only potential Nationalist voice at Westminster (now that there are no Nationalist MPs for the first time since Daniel O’Connell). SF are obviously not going to ditch abstention, and everyone knows that.


WorldbyStorm - August 18, 2017

I was wondering that Pasionario. It’s the only argument that makes sense.

gendjinn – have to agree. The DUP have at best half-signed up. Which isn’t good enough. And yet as you say no pressure on them.


2. FergusD - August 18, 2017

Yep, you can just imagine the headlines if SF turned up to “thwart” Brexit. Of course they would be associated with Corbyn by the media and it would feed the media propaganda about Corbyn being pretty much a “terrorist”.

I suppose you could argue that SF should just stand up to all that, and the BLP, but it would be incredibly difficult.


WorldbyStorm - August 18, 2017

It could be very difficult for the BLP too couldn’t it. It doesn’t seem worth it to me.


3. 6to5against - August 18, 2017

there was good letter in the IT today – linked here, https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/the-british-government-s-plans-for-the-border-1.3189843

The writer points out that the British policy document published this week states that ‘Northern Ireland’s constitutional status is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland alone to determine…’ which seems superficially reasonable, but is in fact a step back from the GFA, which states that the question of NI status is one that should be for ‘the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively”

The difference is in ways small, but also speaks volumes about how the Tories, with their DUP accomplices, are prepared to walk back as many of the changes brought to Ireland over the last decades as they can. From their perspective, I presume, they won the war and should be allowed to decide the terms of the peace.

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WorldbyStorm - August 18, 2017

It’s becoming ever more evident that to the Tories the GFA is at best an optional extra in real terms.


4. irishelectionliterature - August 19, 2017

There was a good bit of this “why won’t SF take their seats” business after the election. Brexit and then the Tory/ DUP lash up used as the excuse.
SF’s abstenionist position has been used a good bit by the SDLP in election material over the years. With the SDLP not going anywhere fast I’m wondering are all these opinion pieces helping to frame a narrative where The Soldiers of Destiny ride in to rescue the Nationalist population by being an All Ireland party that will sit in Westminster. Representing both sides of the border during Brexit being the selling point.


makedoanmend - August 19, 2017

“…where The Soldiers of Destiny ride in to rescue the Nationalist population by being an All Ireland party that will sit in Westminster.”

Very interesting point, but I wonder about the “optics”. Could non-FF republicans paint a picture of a major Irish party, self-proclaiming themselves ardent supporters of Irish independence, sitting in a foreign parliament as really being all that independent? Could it be seen as a major Irish party ready to subjugate its independence to the UK for short term political gain? Or, even more ominously, as an Irish party ready to subjugate Ireland to the UK and be accused of being ready to sever ties with the EU?

I kind of think FF lacks the nativist quality of SF in the six counties. SF, depending on one’s viewpoint, can be seen as the party of protest or anti-establishment to the UK. FF won’t have this facet in relation to its political composition for the six counties.

Maybe it won’t be a problem given the MSM’s desire to push FF to overcome SF, and, as always, push the neoliberal agenda in the short term. They’ll go full tilt to be seen to shake up the status quo in order to maintain the status quo.

Still, politics is a funny/strange game, anything is possible.

[As a generalist aside, imo, this most unsavoury sandwich (Brexit) was made in the Tory kitchen and now the condiments are being supplied by the DUP. SF can neither save the UK from itself, nor should be obliged to do so.]


6to5against - August 19, 2017

That’s a really interesting point IEL. Does anybody know how the path of loyalty actually works? Do MPs have to read a statement, holding a bible in their hand? It could make for some interesting theatre if FF were to go into Westminster…..


Dr. Nightdub - August 19, 2017

I could see FF expanding into the north to absorb a now-moribund SDLP and become an all-Ireland rival to SF. But considering de Valera was elected to Stormont as an abstentionist in 1933, it would be an enormous flip-flop – even by their low standards – for them to take seats in Westminster.

There’s also the question of whether they’d even win any seats at Westminster to take.


Jim Monaghan - August 19, 2017

Principles and FF. I am reminded of Groucho Marx. (the greatest of the Marxs). “If you don’t like my principles, I have another set in my wallet”. FF are basically a collective of Healy-Raes. Indeed such is the attraction of being a Healy-Rae, I think the glue that binds them is getting weaker and weaker.


5. roddy - August 19, 2017

Does anybody seriously think SF voters would switch to a parcel of Gombeen men who “stood idly by” for decades.?


6. EWI - August 19, 2017

Here’s something to throw the cats among the pigeons, forgotten now; de Valera was the ‘MP’ for South Down 1933-38. Obviously didn’t take his seat in Westminster…


Pasionario - August 19, 2017

Not least because he was elected to sit at Stormont not Westminster.


Miguel62 - August 21, 2017

Is there not something to be said for SF dropping its abstentionist policy?

If only that it would annoy the Tory/DUP/Blueshirt tendency. It could also reinforce the idea in the average British voters head that the North is a place apart and not really the same as the rest of the Queen’s Kingdom. Thus bringing a second Irexit from the UK marginally closer.

I would accept on the grounds of political integrity that such a move would need to be declared BEFORE an election and not AFTER it.

And it would offer some delicious opportunity to SF MPs when speaking in the house. Perhaps starting off with a cupla focail as Gaeilge. They could respond to any criticism of their presence or behaviour by saying: yes, we agree, we don’t want to be here either but you guys insist we’re part of your country whether we like it or not – the solution is obvious!

And seriously, who cares about a meaningless oath anyway?


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