“Speaking about the British Parliament, Ken Livingstone once opined that “if voting changed anything they would abolish it.” He wasn’t fully right or wrong, for the past decade has been one misery after another, with crippling austerity and rising suicide rates. Altogether, we have suffered the symptoms of a neo-liberal Tory winter, which exacerbated anti-EU feeling and resulted in Brexit.
Now, I dislike the European Union and voted to leave. Not because I’m a Brexiteer, but because I knew that it would kickstart and energise the agenda to reunify this country. I predicted that once the threat of tariffs and a hard border raised alarm among the business and political class in Dublin and Belfast, they would soon rethink partition – and I was right about that at least. The two Fine Gael candidates for their party leadership both, contrary to popular perception, said they wanted a united Ireland – This, shockingly, from the evolved form of the party that ruthlessly imposed the Treaty on Ireland by force of arms.
If people had all just voted Remain here and in Britain, it would be business as usual and Irish unity would be just a pipe dream. But Brexit offers not just the chance for greater democracy in Britain, but ultimately for long sought democracy in Ireland. People on this island have not voted together on an issue, prior to the Good Friday Agreement, since 1918 – when the overwhelming majority backed Sinn Fein candidates and wanted a sovereign Irish Republic.
Now, in terms of the outcome in the British Parliament, yes I am more inclined economically to see a Labour government elected to relate living standards than a Tory one; but I don’t trust British politicians, especially when it comes to Ireland as they renege on one promise after another – Jeremy Corbyn included (he has said so little about Irish unity since becoming Labour leader despite having been a hardline core supporter of it just prior to his surprise election). Put simply, we need Irish politicians making decisions about Ireland – You must have the fundamental, democratic right and civil liberty to hire and fire the people who govern your lives. Real accountability manifested in your ballot boxes. There are men and women in prison around the world for trying to obtain that right; as was the case here for centuries. We have won the peace and our civil rights but we have yet to win the most important liberty of all – to be an independent, self-governing nation; making our own laws and setting our own priorities.
Should the Tories win, I hope it is with a sufficient majority to do what the British Prime Minister wants regarding here – that is, to literally tell the DUP to f**k off, sideline them and have sensible arrangements with the EU and Irish government. He has managed to outplay and manipulate them so far, only to betray them in the final hour when the stakes were highest, after they declared themselves the King-makers in 2017. The only consistency in British policy here, they have discovered, has been betrayal of the Unionists by successive Westminster governments – Tory and Labour – who will grant key concessions to Nationalists to avoid a return to “guns on the street”, so to speak. The armed campaign cost them too much money over the years and so they want to placate the nationalist community with just enough measures to keep them sweet. Of course that’s not sufficient in the long run, but even DUP MP’s stood up in the British Parliament recently and ranted about how their government was maintaining the narrative of Sinn Fein in its policy agenda, even at a time when it needed Unionist votes to stay afloat. This is something we can be proud of.
What the aforementioned reality reveals is that when the nationalist community come together and exercise leverage both here, in Dublin, in Europe and in Washington, we can bring the British government into line regardless of whatever the Unionist politicians do or say. We are the most powerful ethnic demographic in the western world and, in fact, it was we who literally built the most powerful nation on Earth via sweat and toil. Our diaspora is our weapon, whoever wins this election, and we need to be more ballsy in flexing it to get what we want. Whatever the result, we fight to win!”