Exit Theresa: slan abhaile. Enter James: commiserations

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The voices of those expressing regret at the departure of  Theresa Villiers had barely died down before the chorus of good wishes to new-comer James Brokenshire welled up and began to fill the air. Will the new Secretary of State make much difference?

Hard to say. There are people who grow into jobs and James B may be one of them. His record is varied. He’s Patron of the Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association and an honorary member of Old Dartfordian Rugby Club. For four years he was Security Minister at the Home Office, where he was responsible for domestic national security and counter-terrorism. He likes watching cricket, joggin, listening to music and hill-walking – particularly in the Highlands of Scotland.

Hard to fault any of those, even allowing for the fact that people’s CVs normally accentutate the positive and eliminate the negative. But whether James B will be doing anything – sin sceal eile – that’s another story. British Secretaries of State generally don’t do much beyond murmuring “We agree” to statements from unionist MLAs. They are the visible token of British presence here: the embodiment of the notion that we’re two warring tribes who need grown-up restraint from time to time,  if we’re to learn how to act in civilized ways.

And yet, while I can’t speak for others,  beyond Theresa Villiers  I get vague about  the names of the preceding Secretaries of State here, much less what they achieved. Most of them quickly cotton on to the fact that they should talk about ‘we’ rather than ‘you’ – as in ‘We’re prisoners of a  internecine brawl within the Tory Party and that’s why we will go on paying the price for a dumb BREXIT decision, so we will’.  That might lead you to think, if you were very dumb, that we’re all in this Brexit cock-up together. No we’re not. On the days when he actually is here, James Brokenshire will live in the palatial surroundings at Hillsborough Castle, he’ll be waited on hand and foot, he may not have his toothpaste squeezed but you may be sure he doesn’t polish his own shoes. Of course we’re all  in this BREXIT cock-up together, but some of us will feel the sharp teeth of austerity a bit more than others.

And of course you need to remember that this little tormented corner is just about the last Cabinet posting that any British MP would wish for. It is  place apart, a belligerent corner full of people who get awfully angry awfully easily.  One can never be sure how an individual reacts in private circumstances, but I wouldn’t be too gob-smacked if, after their first visit, many of them take a Reggie Maudling line. Reggie, you’ll remember, once on board the ministerial jet, is reputed  to have sunk into his aircraft seat, sighed and declared “What a bloody awful place. Bring me a tall brown one”.

Don’t be fooled by  James or anyone else: they all see a posting here as demotion.

10 Responses to Exit Theresa: slan abhaile. Enter James: commiserations

  1. BYC July 16, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    Douglas Hurd went from here to the Home Office and that’s where James is from. It’s really not much more than a junior home office post now.

    At least they don’t send us old soldiers any more.

  2. billy July 16, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    some of us will feel the sharp teeth of austerity a bit more than others…….
    stormont will try and use brexit as a smokescreen for the stormont imposed cuts to try the ruling by fooling trick.it wont wash.

  3. Perkin Warbeck July 16, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    As surnames go ‘Brokenshire’ is really a turn up for the e-bookies, Esteemed Blogmeister.

    Any names with ‘Broken’ in it are normally associated with the local Injuns and not at all with a Tenderfoot.

    Thus, such braves as ‘Broken Arrow’ or ‘Broken Promise’ or Broken Nose’ are par for the course. Then, or course, you could have ‘Broken Heart’ but this is normally reserved for a tragic squaw such as Sue the Sioux who spends most of her lugubrious time inside her wigwam, pining among the lonesome Pines. And possibly boning up on the Dworkin Class news in The Unionist Times.

    There is indeed a theory that ‘Broken Heart’ may once have been the ever-loving spouse of all round louse Tonto before his inner upwardly mobile phoney reconsidered his career prospects and promptly defected to the multinational Paleface Inc. But this is a theory which, as of this moment in time, going forward, still remains unsubstantiated.

    In a typical Western movie, the good cowboys get to wear the White Hats while the baddies always wear Black Hats. Brokenshire will have been advised that in the unique Potato Western these millinery colours are replaced by Orange and Green respectively.

    No doubt, Brokenshire’s time spent in the Purgatory that is Ulster (not at all to be confused with St. Patrick’s Purgatory aka Lough Derg/ Red Lake also in Ulster) will require him to undertake a variety of unpalatable tasks. Such as dropping by at, say, the Felons Club for a spot of the old zero-nicotine Pipe of Peace smoking session.

    Which brings one neatly to Cinematic Cliché Number 155:

    -Piano players in Wild West saloons know the face of every bad guy in the province, so that they can immediately stop playing when he enters the bar-room.

    It is imperative that Brokenshire understand that this hiatus in the honky tonk is entirely professional and is not to be construed as being in the least bit personal.

  4. Antaine de Brún July 16, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    18 worthies, from Mr Atkins to Mr Woodward, have been in residence on the hill. Is number 19 a demotion or does it reveal that Ms May has a keen sense of humour bearing in mind that Boris has been let loose on the world stage? How does the land of bonfires actually rate on the list of Mr Brokenshire’s list of priorities? We can expect the ritual clichés about, ‘learning curves’, ‘listening’ and ‘engaging’ as one more incumbent treads carefully on the track of part worn and bald tyres.

  5. paddykool July 16, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    Oh, it’s seen as a demotion, alright, or possibly sometimes as a trial by fire to either toughen the steel or possibly melt it entirely.It is to be side-lined from the cut- and- thrust of “normal” politics and political life and everyday gossip at Westminster and sent to a political Siberian backwater where you old colleagues might expect you never to return from , or damaged in some way at the very least; the equivalence of being locked away in a small cell in a foreign country for years and having the soles of your feet slapped with a wet leather.
    Theresa Villiers did her unremarkable “porridge” here, wobbling like an uncontroversial blancmange who saw no evil , spoke no evil and certainly heard no evil …even when the laws of logic were turned on their head…. and she possibly expected at least a promotion, for her trials. She was offered a little something in the Home Office for her troubles but declined quickly and resigned immediately. I wonder how that conversation with her namesake Theresa Mayday went , eh?
    No …there is a pretence afoot that we are a valuable part of some cuddly union of nations but over here we know the horrible truth of having to share the same oxygen with an assortment of lunatics, while in Westminster they pretend there is nothing amiss and we’re just the same as someone in Essex.

  6. ANOTHER JUDE July 16, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    I am old enough to remember the very first `secretary of state` or proconsul as Brian Feeney callls them. William Whitelaw, friendly looking old man with big buggy eyes, it wasn`t long before Paisley and co. were turning on him, sticking up posters denouncing White wash Whitelaw. The most hated was Roy Mason, horrible little bully of a man. The more of them I saw the more I realised how different the British were, nothing at all like the Irish. Some weren`t too bad, Mo Mowlam for instance but most were pompous asses. Humphrey Atkins, Patrick Mayhew, Douglas Hurd, Tom `cat` King as, guess who, big Ian called him. I look forward to the day they stop arriving here, that day can`t come quickly enough as far as I am concerned.

  7. Ryan July 16, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    “Reggie, you’ll remember, once on board the ministerial jet, is reputed to have sunk into his aircraft seat, sighed and declared “What a bloody awful place. Bring me a tall brown one”

    You can hardly blame him. Republicans don’t call the Northern Ireland statelet a failure for nothing. The British Government would agree but for their own selfish reasons they want to keep the Norn Iron state alive for as long as possible. It is an awful place. A place which is the last bastion of 17th century Protestant fundamentalism in Europe. Where the largest party elected has a grave History of Anti-Catholicism, anti-homosexuality (there’s a difference between opposing homosexual practices on religious grounds and preaching hatred of gay people like Sammy Wilson once did) and just about anti everything else that they don’t agree with.

    Of course then there’s the bomb alerts every few days, the PSNI allowing Unionist paramilitaries to be the police force in places like Bangor, the British Government doing all it can to protect their agents and hinder collusion investigations. I could go on. The Norn Iron state is just a miserable place overall. There’s a reason why over half of all adults here are on anti-depressants, according to GP’s, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brokenshire was on a large dose within the next few weeks. When Pop super star Rihanna used Norn Iron as the video for her 2010 song “We found love in a hopeless place” she could hardly have picked a more suitable location. Of course when Rihanna was actually here she stayed for as short a time as possible before heading straight down to Dublin to enjoy her pass time there. Indeed Winston Churchill was invited to Norn Iron many times by Unionists but, I think, he rejected all invitations but lamented “I would like to visit the South of Ireland, though….” but no invitation came. Even Queen Elizabeth said she always wanted to visit Ireland but she referred specifically to the South……Mountbatten as we know even had a holiday home there.

    So why do English politicians see being NI Secretary as a demotion? Because its an infamous job where you have to go around and around in miles of circles before you take a single political step forward. And for what? a small state that wont ever be a success, which is a doomed failure anyway. Even Richard Haass when he was here voiced his great frustration at a lack of progress due to political Unionism. It was reported just a few weeks ago that US Senator George Mitchell, during the GFA talks, complained and was frustrated at the large amount of talks but very little progress being made and he even felt like going home after a while. Even John Bruton, while Taoiseach, had an outburst on radio and said “I’m sick of hearing about the f**king peace process”. What he really meant was he was sick of Northern Ireland. As is all Irish, British and American politicians and the Nationalist community in the North. Its a failure that cant be fixed.

    So whats to be done? Well Republicans should start spreading the economic/social facts and combat the utter myth of the “benefits” of the NI state for a start, which has deluded and fooled many including some Catholics, so that the misery will end and our country can be reunited again.

  8. ben madigan July 17, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

    here’s a wee video from our new SOS james brokenshire talking about people with EU passports living – or continuing to live – in the UK – which includes NI.

    Unionists need to decide which union they want to belong to

    And there are a few questions Ni and Scotland and indeed the rep of ireland should be asking and demanding answers to.


    • MT July 17, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

      “Query: Does his speech mean Irish citizens in NI may be deported if UK citizens are not a protected species in the EU?”

      Of course not.

  9. MT July 17, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

    “So why do English politicians see being NI Secretary as a demotion?”

    They don’t, generally, because generally it’s not a demotion. Brokenshire comes here on promotion, having previously been a minister of state.