Tag Archives: DUP

Michael Gove, Historical Revisionism And Wilful Ignorance

This morning, I’d noticed that Michael Gove had tweeted an article – presumably while intoxicated – from The S*n which reheats an old anti-Corbyn accusation. The article, which I won’t link to here, claims that Corbyn “aided campaign to free IRA assassin who served 20 years for trying to kill a cop”. There is no depth to which Gove will not plunge.

Let’s go back nearly 20 years when Gove wasn’t an MP (happy days), but was writing for the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times. The right-wing press in this country have continued with the notion that the war in Northern Ireland is ongoing and have used the conflict as a means to smear Corbyn for his efforts in finding a peaceful solution. I found this article written by Roy Greenslade in The Guardian in 2000, in which he says:

The rightwing papers’ coverage of the bloody loyalist feud in Northern Ireland has been slanted to fit the old myth that republicans are the root of all evil

Greenslade is referring here to the Loyalist feud that followed the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. Remember that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has close links to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), which is an alternative name for the UVF, and the Red Hand Commando (RHC). The last two Tory governments, were supported by the DUP in a confidence and supply arrangement, which seemingly elided the party’s connections to Loyalist paramilitaries for the sake of expedience. In any case, it was a relationship doomed to failure from the outset, because the DUP does what the DUP wants when it wants.

Greenslade observes that British newspapers don’t give readers the full story, and Tories like Gove rely on voters’ ignorance of past events, which then begs the question: if people have no knowledge of British post-war history and the low intensity conflict in Northern Ireland, known euphemistically as ‘The Troubles’, then why take time and trouble to smear a man like Corbyn as an ‘IRA sympathiser’, especially when Thatcher government’s support for Loyalist death squads is well-documented? The only answer that I can come up with is hubris.

Giving readers a historical perspective takes up space and draws heavily on the time – and, of course, the expertise – of the journalist. It is therefore costly and, given the cult of youth that pervades so many papers nowadays, there are often too few people around editorial floors with a working knowledge of post-war modern history.

Greenslade continues:

Perhaps the most pernicious reason for our ahistorical press is its political agenda. When events call into question a policy line avidly pursued by a paper, throwing into doubt the trenchant “advice” offered to readers down the years, then it proves convenient to ignore history altogether.

Since coming to power in 2010, the Tories and their allies in the media and elsewhere have been trying to rewrite history to suit their false narratives.

A combination of these factors, with the last undoubtedly the most prevalent, occurred in the coverage of loyalist gang warfare in Northern Ireland last week. Right-wing papers suddenly found themselves in a tricky situation because the story did not fit neatly into the previous 30-year pattern of events.

In that paradigm, all the troubles in the “province” stemmed from malevolent republicans. In recent years, with the IRA ceasefire and Sinn Fein’s incorporation into elected office, these papers have opened a second front by pouring scorn on the concept and the practice of the peace process.

Yet the vast majority of republicans have remained stubbornly faithful to the ballot box, making it difficult for the hostile Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Times and Sun to continue with their anti-peace process propaganda war.

Unlike those Loyalists, eh? Remember, the DUP didn’t accept the Good Friday Agreement and have pretended ever since that the low intensity war is still happening. Greenslade again:

Then along comes Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair and an opportunity of sorts is gratefully accepted. The usual suspects – Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Michael Gove, Bruce Anderson – were wheeled out along with their unnamed leader-writing sympathisers to hammer the government.

The outbreak of internecine strife on the Shankill was, according to Anderson in the Mail, due to politicians having created “a moral vacuum in which such madness can fester”.

And there, of course, is the return to the central agenda: it’s all the uppity republicans’ fault after all. The Daily Mail nodded in agreement, referring to “the government’s endless concessions to republicans”.

Not willing to accept that the fault for Loyalist internecine violence rested with the paramilitaries themselves, leader writers like Gove et al instead blamed Republicans. Greenslade again (my italics):

Gove in the Times blamed John Major and Tony Blair for appeasement. The Telegraph referred to the Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Mandelson, as living in an “Alice in Wonderland world” and claimed that Adair “ruled the roost because of the Belfast agreement”. So far, so bad. Even on this single point, no historical context was allowed to peep through. No mention, for instance, of the people of Ireland having voted overwhelmingly for the agreement, which stated categorically that prisoners would be released.

The Times, unlike the Telegraph, did at least praise Mandelson for Adair’s arrest. But its columnist Gove led the way in offering a scandalous justification for the Protestant paramilitaries’ gangsterism. Their hostility towards the peace process, he dared to claim, is fuelled by the fact that Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness is in government.

Gove, like many in his party, see nothing wrong with reviving the cycle of violence that so marred civil and political life in the Six Counties for nearly 40 years. For them, it’s a price worth paying, just so long as they get the Brexit they crave.

Gove’s efforts and those of his colleagues rely on the average Brit’s total ignorance, not just of their own history, but that of Ireland. This was brought into sharp relief a year ago when Priti Patel said that the government should use the threat of food shortages to force the Irish government to drop its demand for the so-called ‘backstop’ in the Brexit negotiations. Aside from the residual imperialism expressed in this statement, Patel and Gove’s cavalier approach to history and memory is dangerous.

But the Tories don’t care. For them, history only matters inasmuch as it’s just another narrative than can be endlessly rewritten to suit their political objectives. This 2016 article from the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the government provided UDA-linked groups with funds from what it calls ‘ the controversial Social Investment Fund’.

Among those with huge influence over how the £80 million SIF budget is allocated is notorious Bangor UDA criminal Dee Stitt, who last week posed for photos with DUP First Minister Arlene Foster.

Other key players include the UDA’s former leader in the Maze Prison and Lisburn commander Adrian Bird, and convicted UDA gunman turned failed DUP council candidate Sam ‘Chalky’ White. All three paramilitaries were appointed to SIF steering panels, which recommend how cash is handed out, with DUP and Sinn Fein approval.

During the past two years Stitt, Bird and White have successfully lobbied for more than £5 million of taxpayers’ cash being spent on UDA-linked projects that pay their wages in Belfast, Lisburn and Bangor.

The Tories, Michael Gove in particular, have some explaining to do.

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Election Round-up: Farage Out, Gove’s Drunken Tweets

Nigel ‘Fag Ash’ Farage has announced that he won’t be standing as a candidate for the Brexit Corporation Party in the upcoming general election. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll be absent from our telly screens. Quite the opposite, in fact. Farage has appeared on BBC Question Time more than any other politician (33 times), despite not having a seat in the Westminster Parliament. We’re told that it’s because he’s the CEO Leader of a ‘major’ political party.

Farage, like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, is a media creation. They’ve elevated him to a position far above his role as MEP. I mean, how many other MEPs get as much attention as he does? Not even Dan Hannan gets his mug on the box as much.

Some pundits claim the reason why Farage isn’t standing is because he’s failed to get elected eight times. Fag Ash claims:

“Do I find a seat and try to get myself into parliament or do I serve the cause better traversing the length and breadth of the United Kingdom supporting 600 candidates, and I’ve decided the latter course is the right one.”

It’s been suggested that Farage’s vanity project party could split the right-wing vote and allow Labour in. Good. The company party intends to stand in Boris Johnson’s constituency of Uxbridge and Ruislip. Johnson has a 5000 majority.

In other news, it was revealed that Tory candidate for Gower, Francesca O’Brien, made some unsavoury and socially Darwinistic comments on Facebook about Channel 4’s poverty porn show Benefits Street. The tweet, which has now been taken down is reported to have said:

“Benefit Street..anyone else watching this?? Wow, these people are unreal!!!” “My blood is boiling, these people need putting down.”

However, the Tories have refused to deselect her. According to Adam Bienkov of Business Insider.

Asked whether O’Brien would be removed as the candidate, the Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey MP told the BBC on Monday that while O’Brien’s comment were “clearly wrong,” it was now a “matter for the people of Gower.”

“I recognise these comments are not ones that I would associate myself with in any way, but I think that will be a decision for the people of Gower to make a choice on who they want to be their member of parliament,” she said.

Pushed again, she replied: “I think that is a matter for the people of Gower on whether they want her to be their next MP and they will have that choice next mont

Yet, last night and in the early hours of the morning, an apparently drunken and possibly coked-up Michael Gove sent out a series of defamatory tweets, each one a variation on the “Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser and an anti-Semite” theme.

The ‘Dom’ mentioned here is the eugenics advocate and all round arsehole, Dominic Cummings. For the record, Gove opposed the Good Friday Agreement, echoing the familiar ‘No Surrender!’ of Loyalist paramilitaries and DUP politicians whom he greatly admires. If you think I’m exaggerating, think again. Gove even sings the Loyalist standard ‘The Sash My Father Wore’ according to the Irish News.

So while Gove is happy to smear Jeremy Corbyn and the likes of the BBC refuse to correct him when he spouts this slanderous nonsense, they say nothing about his admiration for Loyalist thuggery. The DUP, which supported the May government has close ties to Loyalist paramilitaries the UVF, UFF and Red Hand Commando, but there isn’t any mention of this on any of the broadcast news media. I wonder why?

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It’s the same old Unionist story…

The Unionist/Loyalist response to the findings of the Saville Report have so far been characteristic. “It’s one-eyed”, one claimed. Another demanded, “What about the rest of the Troubles”? Jeffrey Donaldson was typical,

“The difficulty is that we have the truth on one side, but not the truth on the other.

“We don’t know the truth about what Martin McGuinness and the IRA were doing on that day.

“While we regret every death… we must not lose sight of the need for balance.”

Balance? What of it?

Has-been Reg Empey of the tired UUP had this to say

“In the days before Bloody Sunday, two RUC officers – Peter Gilgunn and David Montgomery – were shot dead in the Creggan area of the city. Their families have not received justice.”

Yes but these people were killed by agents of the State, not by armed guerillas. There’s a big, big difference.

Trimble twists,

It would be perverse if the events of Bloody Sunday were used to justify those unjustifiable events that PIRA launched in the 1970s.

Again, these were state-sponsored killings. By the way, what about all the names of supposed Republicans that were passed to Loyalist paramilitaries by the RUC?

Unionist splitter McAllister, on the other hand, paints a selectivised picture of history,

Thus today’s jamboree over the Saville report throws into very sharp relief the unacceptable and perverse hierarchy of victims which the preferential treatment of ‘Bloody Sunday’ has created.

Yes but what about civil rights? Weren’t the Catholic community entitled to these? What about the rampant gerrymandering that was typical of Unionist controlled municipal councils?

My question to all of these people would be “How many Unionists and Loyalists were shot to death by the British Army for simply protesting”? I’m willing to bet that I get no reply. Furthermore, why did the Army send in the Parachute Regiment, wasn’t that a little heavy-handed?

One-sided? It seems the Unionists don’t know the meaning of the word.

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Filed under Ireland