Tuesday, 13 June 2017

DUP =/= Sinn Fein

The election is over. Confounding all expectations, Jeremy Corbyn won 30 seats for the Labour Party, wiping out the Tories' narrow majority and putting us firmly in Hung Parliament territory. With the Lib Dems and the nationalist parties ruling out any kind of support for the Conservatives and throwing their weight behind Labour, the Tories have opened discussions with the DUP with the aim of negotiating a confidence-and-supply arrangement.

This has thrown a light on politics in Northern Ireland, and caused consternation to those on the Left. The various accusations are that:
  • The DUP are uncivilised because of their socially conservative views on gay marriage and abortion;
  • Any agreement between the Tories and the DUP would contravene the Good Friday Agreement, which requires the UK Government to be neutral re: Northern Ireland;
  • That the DUP are morally equivalent to Sinn Fein, and it is therefore hypocritical of the Tories to seek an alliance with them.

Firstly, the DUP are not fundamentally uncivilised. They have consistently opposed the legalisation of gay marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland; however, this is consistent with their Christian Democrat outlook. Virtually every political party in Northern Ireland shares the same views, including Sinn Fein and the SDLP, Labour's sister party in the province. Clearly, those views are not beyond the pale when the people holding them are casting votes in Labour's favour.

It is also worth noting that the very point of coalition politics is that you have to work with people with whom you do not necessarily agree. The Tories and Lib Dems did not make for natural bedfellows in the 2010-15 Parliament, yet they formed a functioning coalition. The DUP and Sinn Fein fundamentally disagree on virtually everything, yet they have shared power in Northern Ireland for years. Forming an alliance with another party does not automatically mean you agree with everything they stand for.

Secondly, an agreement between the DUP and the Tories does not necessarily compromise the Good Friday Agreement. The GFA requires the UK Government to be impartial in terms of brokering power-sharing between the Unionist and Republican parties in Northern Ireland. Obviously, if the DUP were to enter a formal coalition with the Tories, forming part of the UK Government, then this would be a clear conflict of interest. However, a formal coalition is not what is being proposed. The DUP are proposing a confidence-and-supply arrangement, where they would support the Government on confidence votes to keep them in office, but on a vote-by-vote basis thereafter. The Tories would, in exchange, adopt or co-operate with some DUP policies.

Therefore, whether or not the deal breaches the GFA depends entirely on what the DUP want in return. If, for example, the Tories offered support to the DUP in power-sharing negotiations, tried to pass more permissive laws regarding Orange Order parades or Unionist symbolism, or became hostile to the way Republican parties are funded, then they would be on dodgy ground. However, if the Tories simply increased infrastructure spending in Northern Ireland, then it's hard to see how this would be a problem.

Finally, the idea that the DUP are morally equivalent to Sinn Fein is wrong. The US, UK and Irish Governments have all alleged that Sinn Fein had direct links to the IRA, even going as far as to say that senior members of Sinn Fein served on the IRA Army Council. Members of Sinn Fein have been convicted and been imprisoned for terror offences. Despite a wealth of intelligence from reputable sources that closely link Sinn Fein with the IRA, they have continuously refused to acknowledge these links, and even now, their formal severance from such groups is murky.

The DUP have had similar links to loyalist paramilitary groups, which is distasteful to say the least, and unjustifiable. However, there are some mitigating factors, namely that the loyalist groups were formed in response to IRA terrorism, and thus arose from provocation. They offered to work with the police and military to end the IRA's campaign, which although misguided, was well-meaning. Finally, the DUP have been honest all the way along about their connections with loyalism, and have also been open about their severance of ties.

The DUP have had some murky dealings with violence during a troubled period in Northern Ireland's history, but attain some part of the moral high ground compared to Sinn Fein by at least being open, honest and transparent. Finally, it is worthy of note that loyalist violence arose as a consequence of republican terrorism. Whilst this is not a justification, it is a mitigating factor.

Furthermore, such criticism is rank hypocrisy coming from the Left, who have piled support behind Jeremy Corbyn, a man who has personal ties to Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein's leader. He has also given outspoken historical support for the IRA's goals, taken inflammatory action by inviting former IRA members to Parliament weeks after a terrorist attack on the Brighton Hotel in an assassination attempt of the British Prime Minister, and famously described members of the proscribed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as his 'friends'. Quite simply, Corbyn and his ilk are in no position to criticise any relationship with the DUP.

Does this mean that any deal with the DUP is acceptable to the Tories? No. They do need to tread carefully - firm and staunch repudiation of political violence should be a centrepiece of any deal, as too should a reaffirmation of the UK Government's impartiality regarding Northern Ireland power-sharing. It is essential that the republican community in Northern Ireland do not regard the deal as breaching either the letter or spirit of the peace process. And it is also essential that the wider UK population do not see any deal as an excuse for the DUP to foist some of their more controversial opinions onto the country as a whole.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Berlin

A terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin has left a dozen people dead, and many more seriously injured. A 'Pakistani migrant' who arrived in Germany 10 months ago murdered a lorry driver and then deliberately drove the vehicle into a crowd. ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack and the radicalisation of the young man in question.

The typical response to this has been, 'but he's a refugee! Why would you attack the very people who have offered you refuge? I just don't understand!'

Allow me to explain.

He wasn't a refugee. He was not fleeing persecution or war. He did not need refuge. He was a criminal - a terrorist, a murderer, a psychopath, waiting for his chance to strike. He coldly manipulated Western sentimentality about 'helping the poor refugees' to bypass border controls and get into Germany. He emotionally blackmailed us into letting him in. He then committed an atrocity that has resulted in the deaths of nearly a dozen people.

These people DO NOT CARE about your compassion, or your sentimentality, or your virtue-signalling. They don't want your help, or your tolerance, or your diversity. They want to KILL YOU. And the only way we can sensibly filter these bastards out is by scrupulously checking EVERY SINGLE PERSON who tries to claim asylum in Europe.

That means that many of them will be turned away. Some of them may die. It's a hard choice to make. But people are dying now. People get shot in theatres, ran over in markets, and blown up on buses and trains. Your Facebook filters and hashtags and candles and vigils aren't going to stop it. Islamism is hell-bent on our utter destruction. They are at war with us, and if we're going to win, then we need to start FIGHTING BACK.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The State of the Left

Fidel Castro, the brutal, repressive, psychopathic, murderous Communist dictator of Cuba, is dead. His death has, like the deaths of other public figures, thrown the Left into sharp and sudden light, in the typical response arising from them, which can be pretty much summed up as, 'those human rights abuses were a bit nasty, but Cuba's got a great healthcare system!'

I would invite anyone thinking along those lines to stop and think very carefully about what you're doing. By making such blithe statements, you are effectively saying that the oppression, torture and murder of nearly 100,000 people is justified because the end result is a State-owned healthcare system. Which, according to the World Health Organisation, isn't even all that great.

This attitude typifies the present state of Left-wing politics, and neatly explains why they are on the run. A Tory majority in the UK. Brexit. Right-wing, even far-right parties on the rise across Europe. Donald Trump. A cultural fightback against Social Justice Warriors and Generation Snowflake. All of this points to an ideological movement which is totally disconnected from the inbuilt sense of morality that most people feel.

The Left in Britain, at the moment, can be grouped into several tribes:
  • Cultural Totalitarians - these are the radical feminists, the Social Justice Warriors and the Perpetually Offended Brigade. They claim to be culturally liberal, but they are actually precisely the opposite. Their hierarchy is organised by a structure of grievance based on how much discrimination they each receive from the Patriarchy (tm), an imagined international conspiracy of white men who seek to control them. They organise themselves based on skin colour, gender (of which they have invented approximately 23), sexual orientation (behold the multitudes which overlap with gender) and disability. They are very diverse in appearance, but are fundamentally intolerant of diversity in the only way that it actually matters - diversity of thought. Their entire ideology stems from the assumptions that all men, particularly white men, are evil, and that society is controlled by men for the benefit of men, and they absolutely despise having those assumptions challenged. They are enthusiastic about immigration because they see it as a method of diluting the authority of the White Man (tm);
  • Hard Left - these are the likes of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. They're usually quite privileged in terms of background, well-educated and reasonably wealthy, and see themselves as champions of 'the poor'. Their entire worldview is focused by the lens through which they view it - and that lens is a pure, unqualified hatred of capitalism, Western foreign policy and in particular, the United States. They are, in effect, socialists and communists - they detest the idea of markets, and prefer State command economies. They despise Western foreign interventions, claiming it to be imperialism or quasi-fascism, but won't shirk from lending their support to actual fascists, as long as they are anti-West. They'll support Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Vladimir Putin's Russia, the IRA, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea, as long as they are anti-America and anti-West;
  • Nationalist Left - these are working class voters, living mainly in the North of England, who have historically voted Labour but are now increasingly moving across to UKIP. They are culturally conservative, being either disapproving or ambivalent about things like immigration, gay marriage and international institutions. They believe in a redistributive State, and think that punitive taxation is appropriate for high earners. They think that the State should have a role in organising industry, and lament de-industrialisation and globalisation, which have robbed them of their livelihoods. They tend to be passionate about nationalism, be it either British (they may obsess about wearing poppies, 'supporting our troops' etc.) or potentially Scottish. The only thing that has historically caused them to vote Labour is an ingrained hatred of the Tories, a toxic legacy left over from the closure of coal mines and other economically non-viable industries. In Scotland, one of the greatest insults that can be deployed by them is 'Red Tory';
  • Bleeding-Heart Liberals - a better name might be 'soft left', these are a cross between the Hard Left and the Pragmatic Left. They usually arise from the same social class, i.e. reasonably well-off, maybe privately educated, tend to work in the public sector and think with their hearts, rather than their heads. They're not necessarily opposed to military action if it's for a good cause, and generally oppose benefits cuts, because they like the idea of a system that sets out to help the poor. Note that they're not usually concerned with the detail of whether it actually helps the poor or not, but they like the idea. They are the hand-wringers, the 'think-of-the-children'-ers, the petitioners, the people who demand that 'something must be done', which usually means they think that the Government ought to do something about it. They're more likely to be vegan, spiritualist but not religious (whatever that means), and like peace, harmony and the avoidance of most nastiness;
  • Pragmatic Left - a centrist group of moderates that generally believe in things like free trade, cultural liberalism, international institutions like the UN and the EU, and fiscal pragmatism. They're not averse to borrowing money to invest, but are also reasonably aware of the need for states to balance the books once in a while. National borders are irrelevant to them, and they find nationalist sentiment is distasteful. They tend to be quite individualist, probably went to university, and don't live anywhere near their parents. In Britain, they could easily be at home in David Cameron's Conservatives, or Tony Blair's Labour. They're probably atheist, and don't like football. They are unconcerned about immigration.
Up until Tony Blair's resignation in 2007, the British Left were pretty much governed by the Pragmatists, but they only held high office because they could put together a big enough coalition of voters, i.e. most of the above, plus a few Centre-Rights who held their noses. The problem the Left has is that, over the last 10 years, they have allowed their centre of gravity to drift further up this spectrum, to the extent that it is now an alliance of Cultural Totalitarians and Hard Left fruitcakes who are in charge. This mix proves utterly toxic to the general public.

To be fair, some of the Pragmatists and Liberals are confronting this, but with very little success. The attempted coup against Corbyn was a disaster - he was re-elected with a greater share of the Labour membership's vote than before. The Nationalist Left have drifted across to UKIP or the SNP. The remaining Leftists have tolerated (and continue to tolerate) the vacuous blatherings of these extreme nutcases. And therein lies the problem.

Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the Right were the authoritarians. They were the ones who were telling people what music they couldn't listen to, what films they shouldn't watch, what opinions they ought to hold, what books they shouldn't read. The response was a counter-cultural revolution, with its roots in Left-wing activism and a rejection of Establishment authority. The Left won the culture war. Except they didn't. Libertarianism, in the cultural sense, won it. The Left were simply hanging onto its coat-tails.

Now, the Left is the Establishment. It is the Left telling people what they shouldn't say, or read, or watch, or listen to, for fear of it being 'offensive', or 'problematic', or any other such bollocks. They are the ones demanding books be banned from university campuses. They are the ones silencing dissent online. And Libertarianism is on the march, again. Only this time, it is the Right which is having it's own counter-cultural insurgency.

The problem with Leftism at the moment is that it has a tendency to shout people down and try to dictate what opinions they ought to have, branding people racists, sexists, homophobes, misogynists and every other -ist or -phobe they can think of. They'll insult people to close them down, rather than confronting their ideas, because they are afraid that in a fair debate, they'll lose. Deep down, they know that their ideology is on it's arse. But their magic insults have lost their power. The Right are pushing back. The response to the shrieking, 'I'm offended!' is now biscuits and laughter.

The other problem that they face is moral blindness. They allow their ideology in terms of how resources should be distributed or how society should be organised, to blind them to obvious and universal evils. They support Fidel Castro, because he adopted their preferred school of economic thought. Never mind the fact that he murdered thousands. They suggest that Mao 'did more good than bad', even though he was responsible for the deaths of millions. They support the IRA, because they wanted to bring down the British State, even though their modus operandi is the terrorising of innocent civilians. They support Hamas and Hezbollah, because they oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine, even though they use human shields and try to blow up Jewish schools.

Put simply, the Left are currently on the side of people who condone murder, terrorism, censorship, stifling debate and elevating certain groups through special privileges. And that's why they're losing. And they will never gain power again, until they accept that they have lost those arguments.

Friday, 25 November 2016

There Isn't a Case for a 2nd Brexit Referendum

Both Tony Blair and Sir John Major have said that there is a case for a second referendum on whether we should leave the EU. Their reasons are:
  • We are sovereign people, and so we could change our mind;
  • We only voted on the principle, and not on the detail;
  • Government should not be organised on the tyranny of the majority;
  • There's no difference between a 'Soft Brexit' and staying in anyway.

This has been wildly leapt upon by Remoaners who are desperate to keep us in the EU at any cost as sure-fire reasons for a second vote. Here's my reasons why we shouldn't.

1. The EU and its supporters have past form on making countries hold referenda until they come to the right decision. Refusing to acknowledge the decision of the people is profoundly undemocratic. We could 'change our minds', but to be honest, it'd take a pretty seismic shift in public opinion to justify holding a second referendum. Anything else would look like naked political opportunism, which of course, it would be.

2. Many EU supporters claimed that we shouldn't be having a referendum in the first place, because it was too complicated an issue to be decided by ordinary people (translation: the plebs are too thick to vote the right way). So if a referendum on a general statement of direction (i.e. whether to stay in a quasi-federal union or not) is too complex, how on earth are us plebs going to cope with making a decision on a complex international treaty, which is the likely form that the Brexit deal will take? This position holds no logic whatsoever.

Referenda are useful democratic tools for providing direction, i.e. should Scotland stay in the UK, should the UK stay in the EU, should we change the voting system etc. What they are not very good for is working out fine details. That is better left to elected representatives. We had a referendum on the direction, and the direction was given. It is now up to Government and Parliament to work out the details. That's what we pay them for.

3. True, Government should not be based on the tyranny of the majority. However, neither should it be based on the tyranny of the minority, which is decidedly worse. However, the Government's approach is not majoritarian tyranny - it is actually attempting to build in the views of those who voted to Remain, by setting out its intention to either remain a member of, or retain access to, the single market. Concessions are being offered in the light of the fact that, although the Leave campaign won, it was a narrow victory. Similar efforts were made after the Scottish independence referendum. The No campaign won, but a sizeable portion of the Scottish electorate voted Yes. The consolation was a significant extension of devolutionary powers to the Scottish Parliament.

We aren't running the Government on majoritarian tyranny - if anything, the Government is trying to accommodate the views everyone. If anyone is being intransigent, it is the hard core Remoaners.

4. Whether there is a difference between 'Soft Brexit' and staying in the EU, is very much open for debate. It depends entirely on the detail, and there is not a simple binary option between 'hard' and 'soft' as many seem to play it. It depends on the outcomes of the negotiations, which are in the hands of our elected representatives.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

SNP Going for Independence... Again

Nicola Sturgeon has once more demonstrated that her petty, nationalistic separatist party is nothing more than that, by declaring her intention to consult on a second referendum on Scottish independence. The implied threat is that, if the UK leaves the single market, the SNP will press ahead with Referendum 2: The Revenge. The media are duly spinning this as a choice between 'Hard Brexit' and 'preserving the Union'.

This is a false premise, for several reasons:
  • Neither the Scottish Government, nor the Scottish Parliament, has sufficient power to authorise a referendum. Only the Westminster Parliament can grant one. If the SNP do try to hold one, it will be unlawful and can be ignored;
  • The Westminster Parliament has no political or moral reason to authorise such a referendum. The SNP do not hold a majority in the Scottish Parliament, the referendum was not in their manifesto, and the recency of the last plebiscite are all good reasons to deny one;
  • Most opinion polls in Scotland indicate that the Scots don't want another referendum, which is unsurprising, given that the last one on this subject was held only 2 years ago, and was the most divisive event in Scottish political history;
  • Most opinion polls in Scotland indicate that the majority of Scots would vote to remain in the UK, which is unsurprising, given that an independent Scotland post-Brexit still wouldn't be in the EU, would have a higher public deficit & cut off from its largest trading partner (England);
  • It's highly likely that the Brexit negotiations will result in, if not continued membership of the single market, preferential access to it. EU ministers are making noises about it, but at the end of the day, there will be concessions on both sides and a deal will be done.

In other words, the premise for the referendum is on shaky ground, it's outside the SNP's authority to call a referendum, there's no advantage to Westminster in permitting one, and even if they did, the SNP would probably lose.