Just 1 week to go to the most consequential U.K. election of modern times… and a major #TheSNP win

This piece first appeared on Broadsheet.ie on Monday April 26th and looks at the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections and argues that this election will be one of the most consequential U.K. elections of modern times for the politics and future of these two islands.  

10-days from now (Mon, April 26th) people across Scotland will vote in what will probably be the most consequential election yet for both the people of Scotland and the of these two islands. I say “yet” as the second Scottish independence referendum that will inevitably follow, will be the most consequential.

With its bold and direct slogan: Scotland’s future is Scotland’s choice. And nobody else’s the SNP has left Scottish voters in no doubt as to what this election is about. It is not just about deciding about who sits in the Scottish Parliament and who forms the next Scottish Government, it is also about preparing for a second independence referendum.

That is why what happens on May 6th will be hugely consequential for us on this island because it will set the course for the final steps in the move to Scottish independence and the breakup of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

With 10 days to go, things are looking good for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP. But… a lot can happen in 10 days, and while the SNP’s dominance is in no doubt, the issue is now whether it can win a majority of seats (more than 65). Continue reading “Just 1 week to go to the most consequential U.K. election of modern times… and a major #TheSNP win”

Johnson’s Duplicity Will Not End With #Brexit

This column was written just before the UK and EU agreed a post Brexit deal. It first appeared on Broadsheet.ie on December 14th, 2020. In this column I argue strongly that the lesson we must take from how the British government conducted itself during those talks with the EU is that nobody on these islands, in Europe, or even further afield, can trust the Westminster government. The duplicity and mendacity demonstrated in talks could well succeed Johnson himself for as long as there is a Tory component to any future British government.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hold a Bilateral Meeting in Hillsborough Castle,Hillsborough Northern Ireland. Photograph: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY / RollingNews.ie

Considering that I have fairly quick to criticise Micheál Martin over the past few months, it is only fair that I be just as swift in acknowledging when he gets it right. That is precisely what the Taoiseach did on yesterday morning’s Andrew Marr Show (BBC1).

The Taoiseach came across as calm, authoritative and knowledgeable. He made it clear that Ireland wanted to see a deal agreed, but that the EU27 were solidly behind Michel Barnier and Ursula von der Leyen. Whatever happens between now and December 2022, Micheál Martin can look back at his Marr Show interview as one of the finer moments of his brief stint as Taoiseach. Continue reading “Johnson’s Duplicity Will Not End With #Brexit”

After this crisis, the familiar ones will still be there

Screenshot (52)As you will see from the opening paragraph below I wrote this column, which appeared on Broadsheet.ie on June 8th, assuming that the three parties would have produced some form of Programme for Government (PfG) – even if it was not one to which all the negotiators (i.e. not all the Green party ones) felt they could sign up..

As we see today (Friday 12th) yet another deadline has slipped in a process that full of missed deadlines and makes Bismarck’s sausage factory look like a place of beauty and efficiency. We also see today via a Michael Gove Tweet that the UK does not want a sensible transition extension and so the Tories are determined to have a hard UK Brexit crash out at year’s end.

Tempting though it is to present you today with yet another analysis piece about the government formation process, I will resist.

My reasons are twofold:

  1. There is a 50/50 chance the process will still be ongoing this time next week
  2. We are in such a state of flux with events moving faster than ever, there is every chance that the facts underpinning any analysis could change while I write it up.

OK, reason one is a bit flippant. I would be extremely surprised if an agreed document, though not necessarily one agreed by everyone, has not emerged by week’s end.

The second reason remains rock solid.

The one thing I can say with any certainty today is that there are so many moving parts and shifting gears that no one outcome, or series of outcomes, is certain.

Continue reading “After this crisis, the familiar ones will still be there”