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Get your retaliation in first,” is a cynical old saying in Northern Irish politics that means you hit your opponent whenever you can without waiting for a provocation. It neatly captures the violent traditions of the province and explains why the political temperature there is always close to boiling over. Imagine then the pleasure of... Read More
Predictions of the break-up of the UK may be reaching a crescendo, but they are scarcely new. In 1707, Jonathan Swift wrote a poem deriding the Act of Union between England and Scotland, which had just been passed, for seeking to combine two incompatible peoples in one state: “As if a man in making posies/... Read More
The view from the top of the Western Heights, the great fortified hill overlooking Dover, has the advantage of taking in many of the key features shaping life in Britain in the age of Brexit and Covid-19. The most important of these is the proximity of the French coast, glittering on the horizon 22 miles... Read More
Will Hungary and Poland be bribed into submission?
The year 2020 has seen signification changes and further centralization of power in the European Union. There appear to be three major causes for this: British withdrawal from the EU which occurred on February 1, 2020. The coronavirus crisis, whose lockdowns have inflicted tremendous damage on the European economy, particularly in southern Europe, annihilating in... Read More
The departure of Britain from the European Union should be the moment when the country would at last be free to determine its own future and start to transform itself for the better. The damaging rupture with the world’s largest trading bloc – and the political traumas within the UK – can only be justified... Read More
I met pleased and gloomy people in the first half of last year when I travelled around the UK writing about the potential impact of Brexit. But by far the happiest of those I interviewed were veteran Irish republicans in Belfast, mostly present or past members of Sinn Fein, who had devoted their lives to... Read More
A recently concluded British Parliamentary inquiry has determined that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum, which resulted in the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. But, ironically, it also concluded that Russia might not have interfered given the fact that the British government never bothered to try to find... Read More
My favourite slogan about Brexit over the past three years is written in large white letters on a red gable wall in the Tigers Bay district of Belfast. It was painted before the referendum of 2016 and, below a union flag, reads: “Vote Leave EU. Rev 18:4.” The biblical reference is to a verse in... Read More
Earlier: Rule Britannia, by Derb, A Personal Note On Brexit, by Peter Brimelow, and "I Won’t Lie, I Did Cry." A Briton Rejoices At BREXIT's Triumph, by Adam Young, all from June, 2016, when the vote was held. Across the Pond in the Mother Country, today—Friday the 31st—is Brexit Day. The U.K. officially leaves the... Read More
Nationalism in different shapes and forms is powerfully transforming the politics of the British Isles, a development that gathered pace over the last five years and culminated in the general election this month. National identities and the relationship between England, Scotland and Ireland are changing more radically than at any time over the last century.... Read More
I live in Canterbury, where the Labour MP Rosie Duffield increased her slim majority tenfold in the general election. Given Labour’s defeat in almost all of the rest of the UK, it’s worth considering why this happened,. A prime reason Duffield retained her seat is that that Labour had the support of a rickety but... Read More
Fresh from his triumphal "Get Brexit Done!" campaign, Prime Minister Boris Johnson anticipates a swift secession from the European Union. But if Britain secedes from the EU, warns Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland will secede from the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland, which voted in 2016 to remain in the EU, could follow Scotland out... Read More
Future historians may well pick 2019 as a decisive year in the decline of the US and UK as world powers. Of course, the UK started at a much lower level in the international pecking order than the US, but the direction of travel in both cases is the same. This geopolitical shift comes exactly... Read More
Britain is becoming more and more like Northern Ireland. This should be a comfort to Arlene Foster and the DUP as they rue their betrayal by Boris Johnson over the Irish border. Northern Irish politics have always been dominated by the competing agendas of the Catholic/Irish nationalists and the Protestant/Unionist communities. In practice, both the... Read More
brexit2flag
One of my all-time favourite fictional stories about the nature of political belief is Flannery O’Connor’s The Barber, published in 1948. This remarkable short story, written when O’Connor was just 20 years old, follows a number of interactions in the life of George Rayber, a college professor who decides to visit a new barber just... Read More
When the British people voted to exit the European Union I said in many interviews, and I suppose also in written columns, that I doubted it would ever happen. It has been three years, and it has not. Some hosts wondered why I doubted the British government’s willingness to comply with a majority vote, but... Read More
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If there is an upside to Brexit, it is this: it has made it increasingly hard to present Jeremy Corbyn, contrary to everything the corporate media has been telling us for the past four years, as anything but a political moderate. In truth, he is one of the few moderates left in British – or... Read More
Robert Mugabe was one of the many leaders who came to power as a national liberator between the 1950s and 1980s, only to establish violent, corrupt and incompetent autocracies. The decades of misrule they inflicted on their countries did much to discredit nationalism as a progressive ideology that could better people’s lives. Bad though Mugabe... Read More
derb-brexitbattle
The big news this week was Brexit—one manifestation of a trend now visible all over the Western world including the U.S.: cosmopolitans vs. communitarians. The story so far: Three years and two months ago the British people voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, the EU. The vote was 52 percent Leave to... Read More
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Bulldogs are notorious for their tenacity or “cool persistency of purpose”, as Honest Abe said of General Grant, "He has the grip of a bulldog; when he once gets his teeth in, nothing can shake him off." The EU master class could give the doggies a lockjaw master-class. Many European states have tried to free... Read More
A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communitarianism. Of what? "Communitarianism" is the name being used in academic political-science circles for one side of the Great Divide that has opened up among voters in the West this past few years. For the other side of the divide, the poli-sci eggheads favor "cosmopolitanism." My own designators,... Read More
Britain is experiencing a slow-moving coup d’etat in which a right-wing government progressively closes down or marginalises effective opposition to its rule. It concentrates power in its own hands by stifling parliament, denouncing its opponents as traitors to the nation, displacing critics in its own ranks, and purging non-partisan civil servants. Some describe this as... Read More
Facing a Parliamentary majority opposed to a hard Brexit -- a crashing out of the EU if Britain is not offered a deal she can live with -- Boris Johnson took matters into his own hands. He went to the Queen at Balmoral and got Parliament "prorogued," suspended, from Sept. 12 to Oct. 14. That's... Read More
Fifty years ago, the Battle of the Bogside in Derry between Catholics and police, combined with the attacks on Catholic areas of Belfast by Protestants, led to two crucial developments that were to define the political landscape for decades: the arrival of the British army and the creation of the Provisional IRA. An eruption in... Read More
On 8 May 1987 a Provisional IRA unit of eight men attacked a police station in the village of Loughgall in county Armagh 15 miles from the Irish border. One man drove a digger with a bomb in its bucket towards the building, half of which was destroyed in the explosion. But British forces had... Read More
Britain’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, is being called by many ‘the British Trump.’ It’s an easy comparison, given their quirky, confrontational styles, prominent blond hair, tribal politics and xenophobic policies. But they are not alike. Johnson is a literate, witty product of Britain’s finest educational institutions, Eton and Oxford, who down-plays his erudition and... Read More
I felt frustrated over the past three years at what appeared to me to be the shallow and Westminster-obsessed coverage of the Brexit saga by the media. Here was a crisis like no other in recent British history that was shaking the bedrock of society and government alike, but the reporting and commentary on it... Read More
Bluff was a central feature of British power even when the British empire covered a large part of the globe. A story illustrating this tells of a royal navy captain who was sent with a small ship to the far east to force a defiant local ruler to obey some orders issued by the British... Read More
What on Earth were the British politicians and officials thinking who gave the go-ahead for the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar on 4 July? Did they truly believe that the Iranians would not retaliate for what they see as a serious escalation in America’s economic war against them? The British... Read More
Pictures of Daniel Ezzedine show him to be a fresh faced 17-year-old with a warm cheerful smile. His parents are Lebanese but he was brought up in Germany where he had just left school. His teachers brought him to celebrate his graduation on a trip to Canterbury where he was assaulted and beaten half to... Read More
shutterstock_640204081
Every time you think the corporatocracy’s manufactured anti-Semitism hysteria cannot possibly get more absurd, they somehow manage to outdo themselves. OK, stay with me now, because this is a weird one. Apparently, American Hitler and his cronies are conspiring with some secret group of “Jewish leaders” to stop British Hitler from becoming prime minister and... Read More
jbibigilad
Britain is in a state of political turmoil. The government and the main opposition party have both lost their way and, together, they have completely lost the trust of the people. In the last few weeks we have witnessed a landslide exodus from both the Tory and Labour parties to the slightly more rational, principled... Read More
There is a story about an enthusiastic American who took a phlegmatic English friend to see the Niagara Falls. “Isn’t that amazing?” exclaimed the American. “Look at that vast mass of water dashing over that enormous cliff!” “But what,” asked the Englishman, “is to stop it?” My father, Claud Cockburn, used to tell this fable... Read More
corbynlosefaragewins
Nigel Farage, Britain’s Donald Trump character, is by far the most significant man in British politics. In just a few weeks he has gathered huge political momentum. In tomorrow’s European Parliament elections he appears likely to score more votes than Labour and the Conservatives combined. Farage stood up against the entire political establishment, including the... Read More
A week from today, Europeans may be able to gauge how high the tide of populism and nationalism has risen within their countries and on their continent. For all the returns will be in from three days of elections in the 28 nations represented in the European Parliament. Expectation: Nationalists and populists will turn in... Read More
When it seemed as if the British had lost their survival instinct as a society, the European Parliament election came along. The message delivered by every poll is undeniable: unlike their treacherous political class, the Brits are still amongst the most sophisticated people around, they are performing a landslide exodus from their rotten leading parties:... Read More
Birmingham is one of the youngest cities in Europe, with almost 40 per cent of its population under the age of 25. As in the rest of Britain, the younger generation believe they are facing greater problems and anxieties than their parents and grandparents. “I think there is a slight resentment of older people in... Read More
Birmingham, once the manufacturing heart of Britain when it was the workshop of the world, rejuvenated itself after the implosion of its industrial base in the 1980s. That collapse, unimpeded by Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative government, was devastating even by the standards of the time because of Birmingham’s over-dependence on the automobile industry. “This... Read More
Future historians will look back at Britain in the age of Brexit and seek to explain why its people reduced their power and influence in the world in the belief that they were doing the exact opposite. But historians will have to move quickly if they are to have a say because the most important... Read More
It is time to stop believing these infantile narratives the British political and media establishments have crafted for us. Like the one in which they tell us they care deeply about the state of political life, and that they lie awake at night worrying about the threat posed by populism to our democratic institutions. How... Read More
A German general once explained that he divided officers looking for promotion into four categories: the clever and lazy, the clever and industrious, the stupid and lazy and the stupid and industrious. He said that the clever and lazy should be appointed to senior leadership positions because they could take important decisions without trying to... Read More
At the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s I used to visit Crossmaglen, a village in South Armagh close to the border with the Irish Republic and notorious as an Irish Republican stronghold. I would go there with my friend Ben Caraher, a teacher in Belfast who came from the... Read More
The prosecution of a single paratrooper for allegedly murdering two out of the 13 innocent civil rights marchers in Derry in 1972 has provoked inevitable criticism from knee-jerk defenders of the British army. They stubbornly refuse to admit that the greatest recruiting sergeant for the Provisional IRA during the Troubles were the killings carried out... Read More
The families of the 13 innocent people shot dead by the Parachute Regiment when they took part in a civil rights march against internment without trial in Londonderry in 1972 will learn in the coming week if soldiers, who are alleged to have carried out the killings, will be prosecuted. There is no doubt about... Read More
A return to violence is not a worst-case scenario but an inevitability if a hard border returns, as it will if there is...
I was sitting in a cafe on the Falls Road in heavily nationalist West Belfast when a local radio reporter came in looking for residents to interview about the effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland. She said that the impact was already massive, adding: “Stupid, stupid English for getting us into this pickle. We were... Read More
Introduction by GA: The following is a translation of the last segment of an article in Ynet yesterday on Brexit. The article explains that: the Jewish State has located itself as post Brexit Britain’s gateway to the world: “Once out of the EU, Britain will have to sign separate trade agreements with each state, and... Read More
How should Brexit be seen against the broad backdrop of British history? Analogies multiply, with the crudest coming from prominent Brexiteer MP Mark Francois who denounced the head of Airbus for writing a letter stressing the negative economic impact for Britain of leaving the EU. Francois claimed that this was yet one more example of... Read More
Bernard-Henri Levy
A group of 30 respected intellectuals, writers and historians has published a manifesto bewailing the imminent collapse of Europe and its supposed Enlightenment values of liberalism and rationalism. The idea of Europe, they warn, “is falling apart before our eyes”, as Britain prepares for Brexit and “populist and nationalist” parties look poised to make sweeping... Read More
In the Arab Spring of 2011 much of the foreign media covering the protests in Egypt gathered in or around Tahrir Square in Cairo to report the daily confrontations between demonstrators demanding the overthrow of the regime and security forces seeking to preserve it. The scene in Tahrir was the backdrop to countless television interviews... Read More
Government, parliament and parts of the media are obsessed by Brexit, almost to the exclusion of all else. The last few weeks have produced a cascade of apocalyptic warnings about the calamity facing Britain if it fails to depart the EU, or does so with or without a deal. These forebodings may or may not... Read More
Category Classics
How America was neoconned into World War IV
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
The JFK Assassination and the 9/11 Attacks?
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...