‘…simply seeking peace is offensive to anyone who’s worn the uniform’ – Ruth Davidson

If anyone was in any doubt about whether Ruth Davidson was a dangerous opportunist representing a party high on militarist rhetoric, her statements about Jeremy Corbyn will have put paid to any such confusion. Her inability to fathom that you might fight a battle to win the peace, or that the peace settlement in Northern Ireland is a precious victory for all communities that needs nurtured and protected, is further evidence that she might be a lot less bright than her media acolytes project. She is looking increasingly like what her colleague IDS called as “low value person”.

Amidst the accusation that Labour was taking us ‘back to the 70s’ Tank Girl has now evoked the Irish Troubles confirming her intent to mobilise the loyalist community and weaponise British Nationalism and sectarianism. Colonel Davidson has long attempted to court the military vote, despite the fact that the most danger she’s been in is from falling off a tank during a photo-op.

Her intervention has been roundly mocked by ex-servicemen with one stating simply: “Gutter jingoism is cheap. Peace takes courage.”

If Ruth and her party want to parade pictures of people standing next to Gerry Adams anyone can play at that game, re-circulating photos of her own leader next to Pinochet, Assad, Gaddafi, Arab leaders and countless other bloodthirsty despots ‘alive and kicking’ not, as Adams does, taking part in a democratic and peaceful process.

It is as petty and a puerile as digging up quotes of her Conservative colleagues demanding that we ‘Hang Mandela’.
[Ed – though these are available on request]

Good Friday

What’s particularly galling, and may come back to bite her on the bum, is the harsh reality that the person who has done to most to accelerate a United Ireland, is the Prime Minister and the botched farce of her Brexit plans, which threaten the peace of the Good Friday Agreement.

It’s not just that the EU has – embarrassingly – made it quite clear that they would recognise a united Ireland, in a declaration that would pave the way for the north to swiftly rejoin the European Union.

As Dr Christopher Kissane, an Irish historian at the London School of Economics said last week:

“The British government’s intention to leave the customs union and the single market, and their emphasis on strict immigration control, means that the Border may again become a scar. To say Northern Ireland barely registers in British public discourse would be a generous understatement: interest mostly hovers between ignorance and neglect, with occasional bursts of irritation or panic. Even during the current political crisis, British prime minister Theresa May could not seem less interested, while the best one can say about James Brokenshire’s leadership of the recent Stormont talks is that his surname seems darkly appropriate.”

“British oversight in Northern Ireland has a rather sorry history, and a post-Brexit UK has little to offer the region.”

British knowledge and history of Anglo-Irish relations is reduced to a sort of wailing jingoism, as displayed by Alex Massie here.

Massie, who’s reading seems to have missed much of the coverage of Brexit, Northern Ireland and the border, outwith the Spectator cries in glorious ignorance:

“Today, nearly a quarter of a century after the Downing Street Declaration, a united Ireland seems as far away as ever.”

Looking Forward

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Conservatives and the Brexit Legion are engaged in ferocious hyper-nostalgia, evoking Gibraltar, the Falklands, Britannia and Northern Ireland, as touchtones of some dim heraldic past of Greatness. But they can’t really do this while remaining blind to the crisis their own actions have created.

Brian Walker, writing in Slugger O Toole  (‘The Irish are creating a benign vision of a United Ireland. Do the British want to match it?’), put it in some context:

“The time  has also arrived  for the British government  to  find more positive  reasons beyond the consent principle – if such exist. – for Northern  Ireland  to remain within the UK.   By itself and necessary though it is, the bland moderating role  between  quarrelling  factions with its  colonial manner of moral superiority from a transient English middle ranker is the one thing that unites them, particularly when it was the UK government that created  current problems. A vision of desired outcomes for Northern Ireland’s internal affairs will soon be needed.  On the wider issue of the Union, the best  they’ve come up with so far is  the generic case for the integrity of the Union facing the challenge of Brexit. It is  not enough.  Does May’s elemental defence of the Union  include  Northern Ireland only for the sake of form and completeness?  Scotland today, Northern Ireland tomorrow or vice versa, leaving rUK with a severed head on the map? Somewhere I can hear a loud chorus of ” Yes.”

 “Can you dog whistle and bang the drum at the same time? It seems you can.”

Peace

Aiming for peaceful settlement to international disputes is not, as the media portray, some terrible weakness, some terrible Marxist affliction which the likes of Corbyn display. Nor do the foreign interventions of Britain in the last thirty years stand up to a single moments scrutiny as an efficient purposeful way to resolve conflict. They have instead led to carnage and instability on a massive scale.

To ridicule Corbyn for not having a hung-ho attitude to first-strike use of our WMD is just signs of dangerously psychotic national obsession.

All of this done whilst blithely ignoring the fact that Trident has completely failed numerous firing-tests over several years and may be functionally useless, or the fact that, even if it works, its is completely obsolete in the modern era,a s this weeks cyber-attack on the NHS and other bodies clear showed..

The British Role in Ireland

But this is not just about a slightly desperate and cynical Tory politician vying for votes by flaunting her militarism, it’s about a complete inability of Anglo-Britain to see itself as part of a constellation of nations, whether that be within wider Europe or among the ‘home nations’ (sic).

As Patrick Coburn has written (‘Brexit unleashed an English nationalism that has damaged the union with Scotland for good‘):

“It is worth recalling the degree to which British politics was divided and poisoned by fierce disputes over Irish independence for the whole of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, right up to the moment that Ireland achieved self-determination in 1921. What used to be called “the Irish Question” has now been reborn as an all-consuming issue by “the Scottish Question” and, whatever the timing and outcome of a second Scottish referendum, it is not going to go away. Supposing that Theresa May really believes, as her patronising rejection of another poll in Scotland might suggest, that “the Scottish Question” can be indefinitely delayed, then she will be joining a long dismal list of British leaders down the centuries who made the same mistake about Ireland.”

Davidson’s outburst can be put in the contact of the increasingly shrill language being used by the Tories at this General Election, as a sort of proxy for policy or purpose. Can you dog whistle and bang the drum at the same time? It seems you can.

Peter Geoghegan has noted that some of the language used by Theresa May is indistinguishable by that used by Turkey’s leader (‘May’s demagogic streak and the hypocrisy of the media‘). He invites us:

“Let’s play a game. Who said it, Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Theresa May?” before continuing:

“May is tapping into a rising time of nationalism, particularly in the wake of the Brexit vote. The British electorate is far from satisfied – as Brexit attested – but there is a yearning for a government that will realise the promises made last summer. May, effectively, is presenting herself as the only politician who can make Britain great again.”

Davidson is increasingly looking like a politician completely out of control, a loose cannon careering about the Holodeck of Scottish politics, seeking power with no higher purpose and playing with forces she has no real experience of.

She blurts about ‘divisiveness’ whilst digging at old wounds and her only vision for Scotland is as a marginalised ‘peripheral nation’ – a repository for nuclear weapons and useful reciting ground for their next war.

‘Simply seeking peace is offensive to anyone who’s worn the uniform’ is a hauntingly stupid phrase. It’s a backwards delusion deliberately reminiscent of that other former journalist, George Orwell, who wrote that: War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength.