Editorial from Irish Political Review, January 2009
The Irish electorate voted wrong over Lisbon. The vote was unacceptable to those who are in authority over them. But, instead of punishing the voters, as British authority did when they voted wrong in 1918, the Irish and European authorities have kindly decided to give them another chance to vote right, as they did over Nice.
This new European democracy is a guided democracy, subject to authority. The old form of democracy—which was taken to be the source of authority—was disorderly and will no longer be tolerated. The meaning of the New Democracy is that the people are given the opportunity to agree with what has been decided for them by an authority which they did not elect. Voting wrong is to be treated as a kind of rebellion—just as Britain treated it in 1918-19.
The voters voted wrong because they were misled by an evil influence called Ganley. The European Parliament has investigated Ganley for Un-European Activities with a view to morally intimidating the electorate for its own good. But the operation was spoiled by the Czech President on his visit to Ireland, when he treated Ganley as a person with legitimate views on Europe who publicised those views legitimately.
In the European Parliament the Czech President was harassed on behalf of majority opinion in the Parliament by Rudi Dutschke, the famous dissident of the 1968 happening who cannot tolerate dissidence now. Such is the way of the world, especially with regard to student revolutionaries.
The Czech President—a dissident in a Westward direction today as he was in an Eastward direction way back then—was driven to hint at a similarity of attitude between Rudi Dutschke and President Brezhnev of the Soviet Union. Which is of course of a bit of an exaggeration—so far at least.
Originally the plan was to make the Irish electorate take its medicine neat: to vote on an unamended Treaty. Now there is notional talk of some small changes in Lisbon provisions as far as Ireland is concerned—to be introduced at some distant date—on the condition that the new Referendum is held before the end of 2009. A British General Election is expected soon after that. And Tory leader David Cameron has let it be known that, if the Lisbon Treaty has not completed its ratification process by then, he will grant the British electorate a vote on the Treaty. More democracy. A dreadful prospect.
Ganley, the Un-European demon, is investigating the possibility of forming a European Party to contest the next European election. And the European Parliament sees that as a great menace to Europe.
The European Parliament is a gigantic gravy train with little or no actual power. Politicians of the various parties of the various States are put out to grass in it. Its purpose is what in another context would be called corruption. It helps to elicit consent by dispensing lavish patronage.
Corruption is a slippery concept. It is called something else when it is approved of. But functional liberalism in the modern world had its origin in the massive system of corruption operated by the first British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, for more than 20 years in the first half of the 18th century. Walpole appeased the conflicts of principle, by which England had torn itself apart for a century, with large doses of patronage dispensed on all sides. Principles were bought off, with little pretence that anything else was being done. And the system of corruption that nurtured liberalism was continued for a century after Walpole. The bribery by which Pitt induced the Anglo-Irish Parliament to dissolve itself in 1800 was nothing really exceptional. It was just another instance of principle being undermined by patronage in the development of functional liberalism—in this case, the earnestly-held principle of Protestant Ascendancy which guided the Irish Parliament in keeping Papism at bay.
Money makes the money-world go round. The money-world was created by Walpole and his associates and successors. Swift campaigned as a Jacobite Tory against the Whig war on France on the ground that it was being funded by a massive increase in the National Debt, which was dissolving traditional values and establishing money as the universal value. He lost. Money has increasingly taken the place of all other values ever since. The ideal of the money-state and the money-society settling down into a stable harmony in which there will be no corruption survives as a Utopian fantasy only.
The great objection to the European system, as it has been altered since the 1980s, is not the corruption by which it lubricates itself, but the absence of purposeful statecraft behind it. It has set itself on a drift towards unlimited expansion of which the only outcome that can be extrapolated is war on Russia under the direction of the USA. And it has expanded into Asia through its special relationship with Israel, where it gives actual support to Jewish colonisation while tut-tutting for the sake of conscience.
The European Parliament has been trying desperately to pin a corruption charge on Ganley. But it is obvious that his real offence is that he has not submitted to the EU system of corruption. And that he has the object of making the European Parliament a responsible body, by means of a European party, instead of a gathering of kept men and women.
Meanwhile, at home, Sinn Fein and the DUP have agreed something like a Government again for a while, despite the efforts of the SDLP. This has happened largely because Gordon Brown did not intervene in support of the Unionists, as Tony Blair usually did.
Brian Cowen called off the project of extending Fianna Fail organisation to the North, which Bertie Ahern initiated. Mark Durkan, the leader of the SDLP remnant, insisted that the project be called off, and he got Rory Quinn in the Labour Party to say that the Labour Constituency Council in the North, set up by Pat Rabbitte, would be wound up, so that the North would again be made stew in its own juices as a lost province between two States, as it was for two generations after 1922.
But things are not working out as smoothly as Cowen and Gilmore expected. A Fianna Fail Forum was launched in Crossmaglen during the month, and its first meeting was attended by Fianna Fail VIPs from the Republic, led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. And the anti-North policy of the Labour Party received a check at the Party Conference in November. Gilmore could not bring himself to say that Northern Protestants with a Labour orientation should join the SDLP.
And then David Cameron announced that the Tory Party is resuming a connection with the Ulster Unionist Party and will fight the next election in the North in alliance with it. There were echoes of CEC [Campaign for equal Citizenship] propaganda of the 1980s in his speech to a Unionist conference. But his project is different in kind from that of the CEC, which advocated normalisation of political arrangements in the North within the British party system, and both Catholics and Protestants were active in its campaign.
The Conservative and Unionist Party, which Cameron now wants to restore, was a figment after 1921. Of its leaders at the time, only Lord Londonderry took part in the Northern Ireland Government. Churchill, his cousin, thought he was mad to give up a seat in the real Government to take part in the Belfast sham. And Londonderry soon returned to the Government of the State. (That there ever was a Northern Ireland state is something that only academic historians whose mental processes are lubricated by patronage could believe.)
The Ulster Unionist part of the Conservative Party was never Conservative. It was an all-party alliance of Ulster Protestants, whose ten or twelve MPs at Westminster voted with the Tories for some symbolic reason, but which agreed that at Stormont it should be bound by the outcome at British elections. Around 1947 it voted with the Tories against the Socialist legislation of the Labour Party at Westminster, but re-enacted all of that legislation at Stormont. (This fact escaped the notice of Trinity Professor, David Fitzpatrick, who wrote that a Northern Ireland state obstructed social welfare legislation.)
The Ulster Unionist Party wrecked itself under David Trimble's leadership. The remnant, led by Reg Empey (and in Westminster by Lady Hermon, its only MP there and an admirer of Labour's Gordon Brown) will be committed under this new arrangement to fighting elections on Conservative policies, which should please the DUP and help it remain the major Unionist Party.
It has been revealed that Cameron also has the ambition of linking with Fine Gael, and that a Fine Gael delegation is to go to England to study Toryism. Will this lead to a restoration of the full United Kingdom? Or just make problems about another Fine Gael/Labour Coalition?
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Remembering Tom Barry: Cathal Brugha Oration
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Muriel MacSwiney's Memoir Of War Of Independence. (Concluded)
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Afghanistan (Two Sonnets).
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Notes On Irish Agriculture.
Bobby Sands Remembered (Film Review).
Historians (Part Two).
BICO Is Dead—Long Live BICO.
Ryanair Recognises Trade Unions?
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