Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Glasgow Herald: Then as Now

Thanks to the kindness of a friend, I have been able to retrieve many notes locked in old floppy disks. I shall publish some of them as I manage to render them into a readable form.

The (Glasgow) Herald of November 25, 1998, devoted a whole page to the Good Friday Agreement, but succeeded only in leaving their readers none the wiser. I noted at the time (though, of course, The Herald did not publish my observations) that one of their contributors, Russell Edmunds, purported to examine the decommissioning issue, but failed to explain why the IRA had so far insisted that abandoning its weapons was most definitely not an option at that time. I rather feared that the reason he did not do so was because it would have meant exposing the conduct of the RUC and the security forces to close and embarrassing public scrutiny.

Graham Walker claimed to analyse the contributions of various British Prime Ministers to the “Irish problem”, but in the event only managed to raise questions as to what was the nature of the history he as Reader of History at Queen’s College, Belfast, was supposed to be teaching since there was scant evidence that it could possibly be Irish: modern or recent.

Security may have been the pretext for the legislative union, but greed was the subtext. Peel may very well in normal circumstances have been a devout adherent of laissez-faire economics, but in relation to Ireland and the possibility of famine he was a wise and prudent interventionist. It was Lord John Russell’s slavish adherence to laissez-faire economics which doomed Ireland’s Catholic peasantry. That peasantry were already at the very edge of the abyss before Russell succeeded Peel and it is therefore nonsense for Walker to suggest that the famine suddenly occurred, scuppering Russell’s Irish policy. Potato blight was first reported in Ireland on September 9, 1845; repeal of the Corn Laws was enacted on June 26, 1846. The blight in the new potato crop was first reported in Freeman’s Journal on June 27, 1846, the day of Parnell’s birth; Peel was replaced by Russell on June 30, 1846.

However, my main criticism of this coverage revolved around Graham Walker’s bland assertion that “…when the north erupted, the then Labour Government under Harold Wilson was bewildered about what to do.” Seemingly it had never occurred to Graham Walker that Harold Wilson was the one person who could have, if he had so wished, faced up to the looming crisis in 1966 and thus averted the thirty two years of madness, badness, mayhem and murder which ensued.

At the General Election in 1966, Gerry (later Lord, such was the degree of his apostasy) Fitt was returned from Belfast West to Westminster. He rose to make his maiden speech at 7pm on Monday, April 25, 1966. Early in his speech he said “I believe… I will be able to appeal to every reasonable Member of this Chamber, and, through them, to every reasonable member of the British public.”

Harold Wilson conspired with the Speaker to ensure that that was never allowed to happen. Even as late in the day as July 11, 1968, at Prime Minister’s Questions, Fitt tried to bring matters up on the floor of the House which if dealt with then and there by Her Majesty’s Government and Parliament under their rights of sovereignty as enshrined in the Government of Ireland Act (1920), Section 75, would in all probability have avoided that madness, badness, mayhem and murder.

Wilson claimed to have problems with the West Lothian Question, long before Enoch Powell gave it a name and Tam Dalyell (falsely) claimed it for his own.

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