There are two worried men on these islands this morning. Over in Britain, Gordon Brown is fretting about a big matter: the future of the United Kingdom. You’ll remember it was Brown (of all people) who grabbed the Better Together campaign by the scruff of the neck in the final days before the referendum and persuaded Scotland to vote No. If he hadn’t intervened, the lacklustre performance of Alastair Darling and others could well have found Scotland today busily setting itself up as an independent member of the EU.
But Gordon doesn’t see the job as done – far from it. He’s publicly concerned about what David Cameron is intent on doing in Westminster: Brown thinks Cameron could inflict fatal damage on the UK. And he’s told Cameron he’s made a fatal mistake by declaring he’s going to stop Scottish MPs at Westminster from voting on income tax and other such matters that have been devolved to the Scottish parliament. Brown draws a historical parallel between Cameron and Lord North, who was Britain’s prime minister in the eighteenth century. “Prime Minister Lord North is remembered for only one thing – losing America. Will history remember David Cameron for just one thing too – that on the morning of 19 September 2014 he lit the fuse that eventually blew the union apart?”
Apocalyptic phrasing. And Brown hasn’t even factored in the many elements at work in Ireland working to hasten the end the union – not least the attitude of unionist politicians here.
On a smaller scale but in its way no less important, Séan Barrett, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dail, is finding his authority weakening under fire. You probably remember Mary Lou McDonald doing a one-woman sit-in in the Dail, in protest over the Ceann Comhairle not allowing her to ask or the Tanaiste to answer some important questions. More recently there was that walk-out by the combined forces of Sinn Féin and Fianna Fail, because the Ceann Comhairle wouldn’t let them debate the commission of investigation into allegations of Garda malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan area. The reason for this was that former Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, wants references about him removed from the inquiry. Knowing what a fierce enemy Shatter can be, Barrett backed off and refused Dail debate of the matter. One way or another, Barrett’s tenure in office may soon be up. You can only make so many enemies and Barrett has made a lot.
So in Britain Cameron is struggling to protect the integrity of the United Kingdom, now that Scotland in the form of the Scottish National Party has changed everything. The British PM is hoping history will be kind to him, even though he’s making plans that could wreck his much-loved United Kingdom. Séan Barrett is struggling to keep the lid on any debate that might cast an unkind eye on the doings of former Justice Minister Shatter, especially since Shatter is widely seen as a man whom it’s unhealthy to annoy.
“Sometimes I get nervous when I see an open door” The Killers sang. The door to the future is scaring the hell out of Fine Gael’s Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett and ex-Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
157,000 reasons for an apology
The toadying culture in Westminster with its obsessive and anachronistic use of titles is trying to keep up appearances while it masks actual standards of living. Crime in Dublin has been taken off the streets and moved into the banks while politicians engage in sham fights. Seán Barrett’s apology distracts attention away from the Guerin Report concerning An Garda Síochána. There has been little debate in relation to the separation of powers concerning Dáil Éireann and the Judiciary.
Unemployment, debt and economic instability continue to fuel protests in Greece, Spain and Ireland. There is frustration among workers and the new poor among sections of the middle class as a result of stealth taxes, negative equity and bankruptcy. The electorate will determine the fate of the present incumbents in Westminster and Dáil Éireann in due course.
Perhaps the ghost of Pearse is standing at the open door, about to stalk the corridors of power?
Since the wise men have not spoken, I speak that am only a fool;/ A fool that hath loved his folly,/Yea, more than the wise men their books or their counting houses…or their fame in men’s mouths;/…A fool that is unrepentant, and that soon at the end of all/Shall laugh in his lonely heart as the ripe ears fall to the reaping hooks/And the poor are filled that were empty,/Tho’ he go hungry.
There is something serendipitous, surely, about the choice of the pair of pols who take the poll positions in today’s blog.
Both share certain characteristics, or as the contemporary parlance has it, ‘occupy a common space’: both are colourful (Brown of name in the case of one, and red of face in the other) while both are never less than shirty.
Gordon would not appear to be stepping too gaily as he goes these days, despite his recent victorious exertions over hill-way up and down myrtle green and bracken (gulp) brown, past the sheeling through the town as the CEO of Better Together Wedding Planners PLC.
Though reported at the time in such distinguished political organs as Tatler and Better Home and Garden as being ‘an unqualified success’ the latest rumours emanating from Thisledonia are to the dour effect that the marriage might not have been made in Threadneedle Street after all. If the sound of shotguns on the Glorious Twelfth are anything to mull over. The scent of marital discord and superannuated haggis weigh heavily upon the Caldenonian air, both in the lands High and and in the lands Low.
Fulfilling a Gordon Brown-style role in the Free Southern Stateen at the moment is the urbane and ubiquitous Hugo McNeill. Hardly a day goes by of late than Hugo’s there, up and under-ing like billy-o in the public eye.
In a polished letter this week to The Unionist Times the hugely influential Hugo lends his kudos and his hey-presto prestige to the campaign to make the IRFU team song the de facto theme song of Ireland:’Ireland’s Caul’. A campaign which is remorselessly going through the phases and the letter pages of TUT.
Observe this sonata of Ulster moving in march time towards the sumo-sized objective:
‘Rugby has always played an invaluable role in bringing people from all places of the island together when other forces were tearing them apart’.
Could almost be culled from the cutting floor of the Better Together HQ. Incidentally, the urbane and ubiquitous Hugo is also the head honcho of (gulp) Goldman Sachs in Ireland, when he’s not settling his tailored torso into the chair of the Ireland Funds (plural).. More Wall Street, perchance, than Falls Road in the wee sax?
Yes, the same Goldman Sachs which has been described in the pages of The Rolling Stone as ‘a great vampire squid sucking money rather than blood’. One mentions this quote as in Romanian folklore it is held that any child born with a caul is destined to die a…..vampire.
Perkie’s inner googling know-all will not belabour the relevance of Romania to Ringsend and Ranelagh.
Ar aghaidh leat,Hugo: ‘Nigel Carr had his career ended when he got caught up in a bomb on his way to a training session. Trevor, Keith and I were in the car behind’.
No doubt space considerations prevented Hugo, the virtual hero, from mentioning a line-out of other incidents where footballers who played with a different shaped ball and who didn’t happen to be in the wrong place at the w. t. but were actually the intended target.
Perkie’s inner die-hard is sorely tempted, boy, to mention a stickfighing man called Joe McKelvey but will graciously desist as there would be too much of a coup de grace about the mench bark. Besides it would merely serve to spear-tackle Hugo’s upbeat final salvo:’
‘So congratalations to the IRFU for maintaining their position and I look forward to singing Ireland’s Caul (in addition to Amhran na bhFiann) on Saturday week, together with Trevor, Keith and Nigel (who are coming to stay for the weekend) in the stands and can only regret we could sing together when we were on the pitch together’.
Lest .loyal reader fear a mattress on the hallway job, fear not: Hugo writes from Killiney, the Irish answer to the Bay of Naples.
Incidentally, doesn’t one just adore the sheer unadulterated slootheriness of those Burberry brakcets ! Seems like a temporary reprieve (at least) has been granted to Connie who will get to be shoved around the Green for the nonce.
In the meanwhile one trusts that no mention will be made of ‘Roman Catholics’ in the paper of record, The Unionist Times, in the build up to this Saturday’s game against the ovoid azzurri of Italia. Just ‘Catholic’. After all onedoesn’t want the dort-accented goys conflicted, does one? ‘Roman Catholics’, btw, is the religious equiv of ‘Sinn Fein/ IRA’ when it comes to coupling on the Dort line,TUT style.
To conclude: it is easy to be destructive rather than constructive, as a cursory glance at the modus operandi of Mr. Builder’s Cleavage in the cab of the Wrecking Ball Machine, will attest. Most especially if that same ball happens to be spherical rather than ovoid in shape.
Thus, Perkie’s inner positive thinker would like to opt for the note optimistc. By suggesting an alternative to the ‘Ireland’s Caul’ pall of gloom.
An anthem indeed, which ticks most if not all the corporate boxes mentioned in Hugo’s genuflecting and shoulder-tap inviting epistle.
1. It mentions Killiney: ‘swimming around Killiney bay, one sunny day’
2. It hints at the caul: ‘ ‘Standing up on a rock, and looking out at sea
Sleeping like a baby long before he’s born’
3. It – crucially – was first made famous by a balladeer who hails from the very same border area as where the bomb which oh, so nearly missed Hugo:
4. Seasaigi, le bhur dtoil, d’Amhran Nua Naisiunta na hEireann:
‘Holy moly, me father loves Nikita Krushchev
Holy moly, he loves Nikita Krushchev
Holy moly me’.
PS Sadly, but justifiably, Perkie’s measured observations on Sean ‘Stick or Carrot’ Barrett have been ruled out of order.
Dem’s the rules of democracy.
Perkie – my ageing frame is rattling with laughter even as I cut and paste the immortal words:
“‘Holy moly, me father loves Nikita Krushchev
Holy moly, he loves Nikita Krushchev
Holy moly me’.
Oh you giving gift you, Perkie…
Beneath the veneer of ribald laughter, Esteemed Blogmeister, a serious point about Uniting Ireland under the common name of a game-changing National Tantrum is actually in the process of being manufactured here.
Consider the historical factoid that Comrade N. Krushchev was the one character of sufficient stature to unite all Irishmen on the Emerald Aisle under the common name of Anti-Commies.
Especially as he happened to be the baldy heir to Uncle Joe, They stood, shoulder to shoulder, back in the early Sixties. In their enmity of the shared foe.
If his literary equivalent, Citizen Cusack, wielded a shillelagh, then infamously, Citizen Cossack wielded a brogue in the podium of the UN., both his hammer and sickle having been confiscated by Security.
As distinguished historian, Professor Frazer, succinctly put it,this was the momentous occasion when President John F. Kenny held his breath. Or, maybe it was the left breast of Marilyn Brando..