Posts Tagged ‘IRA’

Labour should unite around the possibilities offered by a Corbyn government

11/06/2017, 08:00:30 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Jeremy Corbyn has changed politics. Many – not least at Uncut – doubted whether he could. But he has. And it would be churlish to pretend otherwise.

Corbyn has illuminated a pathway to a transformative Labour government and the salvaging of the UK’s relationship with our European neighbours.

This is a future that everyone in Labour should fight for. Chuka Umunna should be congratulated for making himself available to serve on our frontbench, while the unwillingness of Chris Leslie is disappointing.

Much increased turnout among younger voters has produced a general election result broadly in line with those polls that took people at their word on their intention to vote. The youngsters said they would vote, they did, and Corbyn was key to this. If younger people continue to vote in these numbers, future elections will be different contests from previously.

As encouraging as this change is, the big vote among younger people for Labour was not sufficient to prevent a Tory government. At least for now.

Where coalition with the Liberal Democrats helped modernise the Tory brand, and provided a solid parliamentary majority, working with the DUP – pre-modern in their attitude to women and climate change – deepens the re-toxification of the already UKIP-esque Tories, in exchange for a puny majority.

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Corbyn’s comments on the IRA are being scandalously overplayed – but he needs to get this behind him

22/05/2017, 10:19:40 PM

by Kevin Meagher

What on earth does Jeremy Corbyn think he’s doing? Claiming Sinn Fein showed ‘courage in abundance’ and that Martin McGuinness made an ‘essential and historic contribution’ to peace in Northern Ireland? Does he not understand how that goes down with voters?

Of course Corbyn paid neither compliment. Tony Blair made the first remark and Theresa May the second. The very same people Corbyn is vilified for speaking to when it was unfashionable to do so are exactly the same people lauded by statesman today. C’est la vie.

Corbyn’s interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News on Sunday, in which she repeatedly asked him to condemn the IRA’s bombing campaign, was glib and tried to create a hierarchy of victims. Were those killed by loyalists less important? Or those killed by British Forces? By singling out the IRA’s killings,Sky News appears to think so.

As the New Statesman’s Jonn Elledge has already pointed out, Corbyn did answered Ridge’s question perfectly reasonably (‘I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA’).

Indeed, it was all the more remiss to raise it as last week saw the 43rd anniversary of bombings inDublin and Monaghan which killed 33 people in the Irish Republic – the troubles’ single biggest loss of life. Loyalists admitted the attacks, but the suspicion remains that British state assets colluded with them.

All of which is to say this is complex stuff. Yet given Ridge has just a quarter of the audience of ITV’sPeston on Sunday show, a degree of media hyperbole on these issues is probably inevitable. (Especially when ‘event moments’ from an otherwise run-of-the-mill interview play well on catch-up media).

Of course, it’s fairly disastrous retail politics for the Labour leader to become embroiled in semantic rows about whether his disavowal of the IRA was fulsome enough midway through a general election campaign.

Yet it’s clear this attack line was always coming. The busy bees in the Conservative Research Department and their friends in the right-wing media were always going to see to that.

However, there’s a sense that the public has already priced-in what it thinks of Corbyn and his associations with radical politics and I’d be surprised if this latest hullabaloo has a significant effect on the polls.

With their big personality attack on Corbyn launched we await to see if it has the desired effect. If not, what else have the Tories got left to throw at Jezza?

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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Corbyn and McDonnell are finding out why most politicians are all things to all people

25/09/2015, 04:07:32 PM

by Kevin Meagher

John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn are a pair of Philips screwdrivers. That’s not meant as a derogatory analogy (‘a pair of spanners’ etc) but merely to point out that, hitherto, during their long years as Members of Parliament, they have performed a single, unique function.

As “campaigning backbench MPs” of a type that Labour has a long tradition of indulging, they champion causes that are outside ‘safe’ political confines. This is not to everyone’s taste, clearly, and from time to time they will say something, or be photographed or share a platform with someone that gets them into trouble with the political mainstream.

But that’s fine; political parties need to be broad churches under first-past-the-post and reach out to as many people as possible. So, every once in a while, an issue that’s deemed to be beyond the pale today graduates into everyone’s favourite cause tomorrow. In this context, MPs of the kind Corbyn and McDonnell were can have a legitimate and sometimes useful role as a conduit to bring those outside in from the cold. (That said, whether they are visionaries, or merely contrarians, is moot).

I say were because a problem arises when you try to use a Philips screwdriver on the more familiar slot-headed screw. It’s an awkward fit. Actually, it doesn’t fit at all.  Like when you take “campaigning backbench MPs” and put them into the top two positions in the Labour party. All their previous views and associations are pored over and thrown back at them. Such is the price for rebels turned statesmen.

The issue has crystallised around John McDonnell’s explanation about why he spoke to a gathering of Irish republicans back in 2003, making the case that it was the IRA’s “bombs and bullets and sacrifice” that brought the British state to the negotiating table. Speaking on last week’s Question Time, he apologised for any offence caused by his remarks, arguing it was a genuine attempt to engage wary republicans and deter them from drifting away from the peace process at a critical time.

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The idea that Jeremy Corbyn laid the foundations for peace in Northern Ireland is total fantasy

07/08/2015, 05:32:36 PM

by Anthony Breach

The other day I was informed that, along with every other person from Northern Ireland, I was wrong about the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Irish peace process. Rather than being the product of improbable, bewildering, and exhausting negotiations between at least five different parties, it was actually Jeremy Corbyn who “set up peace in Northern Ireland”. This was though I’d never heard any other Northern Irish person before last month utter Corbyn’s name in gratitude, anger, or even at all.

I was directed to an interview with Corbyn (relevant clip) where, along with mentioning his commendable work on the Birmingham Six and some dubious comments on Irish history generally, Corbyn says:

“During the 1980s… we built up regular contacts with Sinn Fein, we were condemned by our own Party Leadership for so doing… and we were proven to be right. In the end, even Margaret Thatcher recognised that there had to be some kind of political settlement in Ireland, that militarily it wasn’t going to be possible, and eventually this became the Good Friday Agreement after the 1997 election.”

How this became “Corbyn set up peace in Northern Ireland” in his supporter’s understanding remains unclear. He is however not the only one to believe this – surprisingly many people are under the impression that Corbyn’s involvement in Northern Irish politics has been not only significant but beneficial.

Corbyn himself makes a politically magical leap from Thatcher’s change in policy and the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, but he does at least avoid claiming outright that his talks were the basis for the Agreement, unlike Owen Jones and other Corbyn supporters.

This was however all before a frankly bizarre interview Corbyn conducted with BBC Radio Ulster where, as the leading candidate for the Labour leadership and our potential offer of Prime Minister to the British people, Corbyn five times refused to explicitly condemn the IRA and equated the British army with a non-state terrorist organisation that murdered British civilians as a matter of policy.

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Finucane should shock and appall us – and compel us to act

14/10/2011, 05:24:15 PM

by Kevin Meagher

A family sits down to dinner on a dark Sunday evening. They hear the sound of breaking glass from the front hall. The parents jump up to see what has happened. They find a man dressed in black standing in the hallway. The father slams closed the glass kitchen door in a bid to keep the intruder away from his family. A bullet smashes the glass and the father – shot – falls to the floor.

The intruder enters the kitchen and stands over the wounded man. His terrified wife and three young children look on. The gunmen calmly takes aim and opens fire, pumping round after round into the man’s broken and bloodied body. He is shot 14 times in all; with five bullets entering his head. A ricocheted bullet strikes his wife in the ankle.

Screams and smoke fill the air. The gunman, composed throughout, leaves. Job done. (more…)

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