Seeking Peace

‘…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.”


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.

Comments (25)

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  1. Edward Andrews says:

    As one who has worn the Queen’s Uniform I find what Davidson has said offensive. Had Davidson listened to lectures at Sandhurst she woul know that idea of Clausewitzthat the military merely hold the ring while ultimately the politicians sort things out. On the interest of fairness Davidson should make public full details of her military career.

  2. Natalie Solent says:

    Davidson’s full quote was:

    “Corbyn’s spokesman saying Jeremy wasn’t on the side of the IRA, but simply seeking peace is offensive to anyone who’s worn the uniform”

    Link to original tweet:

    She needs to learn to punctuate better, but for you to extract and selectively quote the words ‘Simply seeking peace is offensive to anyone who’s worn the uniform’ is seriously misleading.

    Obviously she meant that the claim made by Corbyn’s spokesman – i.e. that Corbyn wasn’t on the side of the IRA but simply seeking peace – was offensive, because she believes that it is a false claim. As do I, but that’s not the point I’m making in this comment. I just want to say that the headline claim on your post is misleading. She does *not* think that simply seeking peace is offensive.

    I note you changed the ‘s’ at the beginning of ‘simply’ from a small letter to a capital letter, so that it is not obvious that the quote is partial. It is usual to put the altered letter in square brackets to make that clear. I also note that your post has several links but no direct link to Davidson’s original tweet.

    1. Ian says:

      Natalie – your post makes some fine grammatical distinctions. But even when I read RDs comment in the light of your generous interpretation of her real intent – I still think it is a dangerous thing to stoke the fire of this ancient and brutal dispute. I can cope with her poor grammar, but for very obvious reasons I am less happy about someone using NI as a political football in a UK general election campaign. By saying what she said, I think RD was either being stupid or nasty – take your pick.

    2. John Nisbet says:

      It is rather sad that all Bella has left to offer is conspiracy theories and wilful misrepresentation of opponents. Perhaps it would have been for the best for it to close down rather than getting to the stage where it is a running-joke that can be used against those of us who support independence.

      1. Thanks John, lovely sentiment

      2. Jamie says:

        What conspiracy theories exactly?

    3. John S Warren says:

      Nice try, an elegant use of sophistry but it rather misses the point; for I seem to recall that Ruth Davidson was a professional journalist? There are standards to be measured here that I would expect from someone who is both a political “leader” and a journalist.

      To use Twitter in such a careless way; that the whole meaning of a statement in a critical, highly contentious, volatile and very sensitive issue of policy, in the middle of a GE, is allowed to rest on the ambiguity of meaning rendered by a single comma, is prima facie irresponsible. It will not do to tackle such issues in 140 characters. There is no excuse. The tweet will be read by people with an axe to grind over this issue, and who cannot be expected carefully to parse the sentence: but Davidson should have thought it through, and eschewed the gratuitously easy attack (to which she too frequently resorts in what seems to me her standard tabloid, rough-house style of politicking). It is certainly beyond careless.

      Indeed using Twitter for such purposes in delicate policy areas is, as a matter of election method, at best unfortunate, if not cynical. Frankly I read this as part of the clumsy, but sweeping deployment of a very low-grade, opportunist kind of propagandist electioneering (in which the upsides from the ‘fall-out’ from the heavy use of the technique across the board, are deemed to outweigh the ‘downsides’); but I have sadly come to expect this from the current, rather vulgar Scottish Conservative Party.

      1. John O'Dowd says:

        “To use Twitter in such a careless way; that the whole meaning of a statement in a critical, highly contentious, volatile and very sensitive issue of policy, in the middle of a GE, is allowed to rest on the ambiguity of meaning rendered by a single comma, is prima facie irresponsible. It will not do to tackle such issues in 140 characters. There is no excuse. The tweet will be read by people with an axe to grind over this issue, and who cannot be expected carefully to parse the sentence:”

        Very true. But I fear it is carefully and deliberately targeted at these very people – many of whom can barely read, let alone, parse a sentence – as Ms Davidson well knows, since she mixes with them and choses to be photographed with them.

        Ruthy Tank Commander, I fear, is playing a very cynical – and seriously dangerous game.

    4. Bruce Black says:

      Natalie you’re right. Dieselmooth Davidson’s tweet was bad enough without any need to deliberately misrepresent it. Anyone who thinks it’s ok to do so has simply stooped to Davidson’s level.

      1. John S Warren says:

        While the distinction Natalie Solent suggested was well made, I would not assume that a reader’s misinterpretation of it necessarily implies misrepresentation. The statement was “bad enough” in your phrase, and it is quite possible that many readers, hastily reading the tweet, would misunderstand or misinterpret it. The best that can be said for the tweet is that it is carelessly or badly written; and the responsibility for that is entirely the writer’s; where it should remain. At the same time, and with all due respect to your censorious stance, I am not sure that using the term “Dieselmooth Davidson” can be said to set the standard of debate at an appropriate level either.

        1. Bruce Black says:

          That has to be the most po-faced response I have seen in months.

        2. Bruce Black says:

          What’s more: seeking to characterise the partial quoting of a *tweet* as mere misinterpretation is pushing the limits of plausibility.

      2. This is clearly nonsense.

        Ive very happily embedded Ruth Davidson’s full tweet here at the head of the article for anyone who – inexplicably – had missed the wall-to-wall coverage.

        It makes absolutely no difference to the sense or understanding of her ridiculous comments or the focus of the article.

        Perhaps those defending her would like to engage in the actual arguments of the piece, namely 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?

        * I had no idea that Ruth Davidson was going to make an embarrassment of her self at the Orwell Prize last night

        1. Jamie says:


    5. Jamie says:

      Maybe Ruth should be more careful on Twitter, I do not think it is clear at all that she meant any different. How can anyone think Ruth wants peace? Her main aim seems to be to spread misery. Every policy she proposes seems to be something to do with kicking the little people or workers when their backs are turned, but many now are too brain dead to feel it.

  3. John says:

    Someone needs to shut this idiot up , she spouts off nonsense at any given opportunity then runs for cover (this must be a requisite for being a Tory leader ) . I honestly think she is so deluded and naïve she does not know the harm she could actually do to communities and individuals that are trying hard to get over the divisions of the past .

  4. Mach1 says:

    Ruth, as a media person, is well aware of the negative tenor of her remarks, linking Corbyn to the IRA, rather than both to the peace process. The willingness of some to attempt to redraw the lines of Northern Irish politics on the divisions of the past is clearly part of a strategy to enlist the most uninformed and right-wing elements of Scottish society to the Davidson, er, sorry Scottish Unionist cause.
    Unfortunately for Ruth, more sophisticated consumers of the mass media are capable of tacking together her apparently random interventions as she tries to mobilise the most anti-progressive voters to her banner.
    The fact is that the map of the UK is being redrawn by the vote in England and Wales for Brexit, in a UK where few people would vote on the basis of their religious affiliation or support for a republic or monarchy. The real issue is the huge economic and social disadvantages of breaking with the EU. This has seen figures such as Ian Paisley Junior urge voters in NI to seek dual Irish citizenship.
    Again, the reality is that many people are already seeking ways to retain their rights as EU citizens, while others from other EU states working in the UK are planning for a future which might necessitate their departure from these shores.
    This means that the political changes caused by Brexit, and the Tory party’s new-found rejection of the single market and customs union, are already fuelling the break-up of the UK which the Tories claim they want to prevent.

  5. J Ga says:

    Davidson is a despicable opportunist. Ex cue prompt reader from Radio Shortbread elevated to leader of the branch office. Her career is a stark warning to the corrupt media we are burdened with in this country: let a mad dog run off its leash then everyone is at risk to its rabid bite.

    She has exhibited her sociopathic nature so often that it has amazed me that her chums in the media haven’t pulled themselves up and questioned their collusion with this runaway tank. Her latest attempts to stir up ancient hatreds in order to capitalise on her career is a sad indictment of the lack of any kind of journalistic integrity in our oppressed wee colony.

    She must be halted in her tracks by someone in authority.The question is who? And thereby hangs the whole issue. For there is no recognised arbiter of moral responsibility in the whole rotten edifice of public life. NS and the SNP plus the Greens try their best. But are relegated to soundbites that are portrayed as tit for tat. The’ tat ‘is presented as credible narrative when it is in fact rancorous hatred. Until the paid manipulators of the media accept that they are driving a dangerous road that will end in lives lost, we can only watch with trepidation this souless clown mime her catastrophic pantomine on our screens.

  6. MBC says:

    The shine is coming off. Today I met some Scottish Tory voters who couldn’t stand Davidson. Or her boss, May.

  7. Graeme Purves says:

    I seem to remember reading that Professor Adam Tomkins is now Ruth Davidson’s brain. Perhaps the transplant hasn’t fully bedded in yet? These things can be tricky.

  8. Malcolm Pate says:

    I am Scottish and live in Cape Town and follow the Scottish politics as much as possible. The Snp are up against it not only having to fight against the other political parties but a very hostile media. The Unionists have got the money behind them to buy off any political oposition and my feeling is the Snp have to get some strong mouthpiece in the public domain to shout out their case for them.

    1. John says:

      I agree with you Malcolm , the trouble is will MSM in Britain ever allow that voice to be heard , I doubt it . I also would not want it to be a Ruth Davidson type voice who only spews hate and lies , we are above that .

  9. David Sillars says:

    In light of the latest Labour manifesto, how many independence movements has Jeremy Corby supported? Why not ours?

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