I have a lot of affection and regard for the Slugger O’Toole site, and its Onlie True Begetter, Mick Fealty. Quite frankly, if you want All Northern Irish Life, that’s as good as any.

With all due respect, then, I was somewhat taken aback that the Man Himself took time out to argue  the significance of Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to UKIP.  Let’s be honest: the only real surprise was the “who”. We knew the wind off the German Ocean was blowing chill for the Tories: witness, for just two obvious examples, the standing-down of Mark Simmonds at Boston and Skegness and Laura Sandys in South Thanet.

Mick Fealty’s argument was:

Carswell defection will bolster UKIP’s bid to become a ‘serious’ Westminster player.

Really! Really?

Did the election, in a full General Election, — not defection — of Caroline Lucas in Brighton, Pavilion, against four Party opposition, and against “Leo Atrides” (I still can’t take that one seriously) make the Green Party a ‘serious’ Westminster player?

Even in the specific Northern Irish context, did Naomi Long in East Belfast or Sylvia Hermon in North Down made either of them‘serious’ Westminster players?

This is the politics of froth.

Even were the Kippers to take (at the top end of every prediction) three seats — not half of one percent of Commons membership — at next May’s General Election, what rights of audience, let alone power, does that give them?

No: the issue is first and foremost that the Tory Party is suffering the political equivalent of a tectonic split. This time the widening divide is over the EU.

Such an event hasn’t been hasn’t been seen among Tories since 27th January 1846. That was when Peel announced he intended the repeal of the Corn Laws. The consequence was the amalgamation of the Peelite Tories and the Whigs to form the “Liberal Party”. It also kept that lot out of government for a decade — and even then, under Disraeli (who could turn his coat as soon as anyone), the traditional Tory presumption of land-owner interest was never restored.

And that, Mr Fealty, is far more important than any War of Carswell’s dubious “Loyalty”.


1 Comment

Filed under History, Slugger O'Toole, Tories., UKIP

One response to “Carswell?

  1. terence patrick hewett

    I shall postulate two propositions: one unpleasant one less so: in the grand abstract terms of the Enlightenment, the legitimacy of government derives from the consent of the governed: the result of two centuries of political struggle for the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens and of governance “of the people, by the people and for the people.” The Anglo-Saxon tradition of liberal democracy, hammered out in the United Kingdom after 1688 and the United States after 1776.

    But in the formative years of the American colonies it was freedoms for only one sort of people: for the blacks and the indigenous in America there was only slavery and genocide: for ironically the US was founded on, and derived its wealth from, slavery, land theft and genocide. The ‘founding freedoms’ were in many respects the freedom to pursue these goals without interference.

    The concept of ‘terra nullius’ was used to justify land theft on a continent-wide scale: those whose land which was stolen didn’t become citizens until 1924. The 1763 Royal Proclamation drew a boundary along the Appalachian Mountains which forbade settlers stealing any more land to the West of the line. This, together with “writs of assistance” was one of the major causes of the War of Independence.

    While slavery was never legal in GB (see the Somerset case 1772), it was the basis of the North Atlantic economy, with New England providing the goods and services for the American tobacco and West Indian sugar plantations: we the British fuelling the whole lot by operating the Golden Triangle which was finally run through companies in London and Liverpool: the Scots dominating the slave plantations of the West Indies but also heavily investing in the Triangle from companies in London.

    The failed 1690’s colonisation scheme of the Isthmus of Panama on the Gulf of Darién which bankrupted Scotland was an attempt by the Kingdom of Scotland to become a world trading nation and was the driver for the 1707 Acts of Union. The Scottish landed aristocracy and mercantile class saw that their best chance of being part of a major trading power would be to share in the growth of the English Empire and that Scotland’s future would lie in Union. Much is made of Scottish influence in the United States Declaration of Independence but the major driver of Scottish involvement was the fact that the English had cut them out of the Golden Triangle slave trade; instead allowing them to control the more onerous West Indian slave plantations: they wanted a bigger slice of the pie.

    Four of the first five presidents owned slaves while in office. Four of the next 5 owned slaves, 2 while in office. Of the next 5 – 2 owned slaves while in office. Of the next 5 – two owned slaves but not while in office. And fully half the delegates at the Constitutional Convention were slave owners. So the US was founded and run by slave owners and even the non-slave owning citizens in the North owed their prosperity to slavery.

    And it was pressure from the despised Christian anti-slavery movement on both sides of the Atlantic that enabled the Royal Navy to finally put a stop to it.

    The terms “American” and “British” were at that time in the process of being formulated. “Writs of Assistance” were another cause of discontent: “the rights of Englishmen” are the perceived traditional rights of English and British subjects. Many of the colonists argued that their traditional rights as Englishmen were being violated. This subsequently became another of the primary justifications for the American Revolution of 1775. The American Revolution is better understood as the Fourth English Civil War and the Virginia born Englishman George Washington, in common with the Connecticut born Englishman Benedict Arnold, served both sides, at one time or another: GW displaying the better judgement in choosing the winning one. Initially, the rebels wished that if they were to be taxed they should have representation in the Westminster Parliament, something that Britain with its recent history of republican civil war could not risk. The old aristocratic society and the army suffered a defeat from which they never fully recovered and power passed to the middle classes; the merchants and industrialists of the emerging Industrial Revolution who went on to create the empire with which Britain will be always be associated.
    After the American Revolution, Horace Walpole stated that a new chapter had been opened in the history of their country; what America would now become it was impossible to say but that a new nation had been born and that the old world by its creation had been changed forever.

    And changed it was: historian Alan Macfarlane argues that England never had a peasantry in the way that other European countries did, or as extensive an established church, or as powerful a monarchy. English society thus had a more individualistic cast than the rest of Europe which was centralised, hierarchical and feudal; and sowed the seeds of our conflict with the EU of today

    It was the most individualistic elements of English society; the most liberal fringe of English political thought, the Whig and Republican theorists such as James Harrington who came to predominate. All of this made America an outlier compared with England, which was an outlier compared with Europe. The US was the offspring of English liberalism and carried it out to its logical conclusion to become the freest and most liberal country ever known to man.

    Of course the conflict did not end at Yorktown. It continued with The War of 1812: a 32-month military conflict between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, together with its North American colonies and its American Indian allies. The outcome resolved many issues which remained from the American War of Independence, but involved no boundary changes. The United States declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions brought about by Britain’s continuing war with France, the impressment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, outrage over perceived insults to US national honour after humiliations on the high seas, and American interest in annexing British North American territory (part of modern-day Canada) which had been denied to them in the settlement ending the American Revolutionary War.
    47 years later in 1861 the American Civil War began: many historians regard Gettysburg as the deciding battle of the English Civil War which began in 1642.

    But if the Confederacy lost the war; it won the peace: the Jim Crow laws began to be enacted in 1876 and only came to an end in 1965.

    What I am saying is, me old Fabian sausage: What now? Because the Status Quo Ante is not really a going concern: What now? Those appalling oiks of UKnow Who; perhaps; might be on to something.

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