Yesterday, the British Government published the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, in the face of opposition from more than half of the Six Counties’ elected officials. Dublin weighed in shortly thereafter.
The EU has said it is a flagrant breach of international law. American lawmakers, from both parties, have said they consider it a deal-breaker for any US-UK trade agreement.
There is even a suggestion that the Tories will not muster enough support on their own backbenches to get it through the Commons. It will be gutted in the select committees and I cannot see how any version of it passes in the House of Lords.
Let’s not forget; the north of Ireland didn’t vote for Brexit. For the majority of its citizens, the current agreement makes sense. The island of Ireland continues to have almost frictionless trade with Europe.
There are no barriers or tariffs. It is Single Market membership for the Six Counties in everything but name. And it has enormous benefits which Scotland and Wales wish that they could similarly enjoy.
So what exactly is the problem here?
The problem is the minority, and that always makes me laugh because since when did our political system give two shits what a minority wants? The Brexit majority which caused us this upheaval was secured with a majority of just 2%. On that basis, 48% of us have been basically told to go and get fucked. No-one gives two hoots about that minority.
Here in the UK, even the majority doesn’t always get what it wants if they find themselves on the loser’s rostrum. First Past The Post is one of the most ridiculous electoral systems on the planet, as the winning party can form a government without getting near to 50% of the vote. The Tories, when they won in 2015, did so with just 36% of all votes cast.
So the losers don’t usually get all this attention, and I’ve never heard of any situation in UK politics which mattered where the so-called minority were given more than a token “thanks for taking part” and brushed aside like crumbs on a sofa cushion.
But this minority is special. They’ve always been special, and they are special because they keep on telling the rest of the world just how special they are. They are, of course, the unionists, or Loyalists, of Ulster and British politics has bent to their whim for decades.
The head of the largest Unionist Party – recipients of a mere 21% of the votes for the Assembly at the recent elections, was in full foot-stamping mode today. Jeffrey Donaldson had this to say.
“Start listening to what unionists are saying, understand the nature of our concerns, take your head out of the sand and recognise that there is a problem here that needs to be resolved, stop running away from the problem – let’s get it sorted.”
The Unionist defeat in the last Assembly elections was stunning because even in a system gerrymandered to give them a majority they couldn’t manage to do it. These Peepul nevertheless keep everyone around them jumping … but on this one I suspect they are going to finally be treated like the unruly children that they are.
All of Europe is arrayed against this temper-tantrum and more and more, people outside of their wee bubble are demanding to know “why in the Hell are we concerning ourselves with what this tiny fragment of the population over there wants?”
But this is what generations of them have grown up to believe; that if they shout loudly and wave their arms in the air enough they will get their way. Even better if they threaten violence, because then all else stops.
Like a kid throwing a tantrum in front of the softest parents on the planet, they know what works having done it all before.
Except it’s just not working anymore, and they’ve found that even their own supporters would be overwhelmingly opposed to any “solution” that involved picking up a weapon. They know that their own communities would recoil at such a move. What’s more, the rest of the world knows it too … and so it’s a bluff that can be very readily called.
As long as the Unionists were only getting stroppy in front of Westminster, there has been a certain tolerance for their bad behaviour. Now, even Sinn Fein knows to sit and watch and let them make raging fools of themselves in front of Europe and the rest of the world, which will be far less inclined to grant them special status when they’ve lost their grip on power.
Scottish football has, for years, had exactly the same problem and it’s no coincidence that it hails from Ibrox, supported by the very goons who are at the heart of the Protocol madness. The Peepul’s sense of being special, of being entitled to things, permeates that club and unfortunately for far too long Scottish football’s governors have played right along.
UEFA brought them to heel over sectarian and racist singing.
The SFA never would have. Europe’s governing body may allow the SFA to characterise them as a continuation of Rangers – UEFA’s own position, as written in the Traverso letter, which directly addresses the point does the opposite – but their casual disdain for Ibrox’s demand for an inquiry into the Seville Toilet Bowl Scandal shows how seriously they take all this Lambeg banging.
They are stamping their feet right now because UEFA won’t authorise an investigation into the Seville Toilet Water Scandal … it shows how little UEFA cares that they haven’t bothered to respond.
They are stamping their feet because Nicola Sturgeon didn’t turn up at their wee birthday bash.
(I’ll be writing more about that tomorrow.)
But why should she, when moonhowling members of their board accuse her and her party of bias?
I wrote the other day about the Survival and Victim Lies, and how once you knock down the Victim Lie the Survival Lie can’t carry its own weight.
At its heart, their whole issue is that their club should have been treated as though it were somehow exceptional and special, and spared all the indignities that it faced. In some ways it really doesn’t matter to them whether they are supporting Rangers 1 or Rangers: The Sequel. They should never have been made to start at the bottom because their club is entitled to better treatment than that … and this exactly the mind-set which propels them.
Earlier in the week, I had an interesting discussion with some of my guys on the CelticBlog Facebook admin team about the slogan Senator Charles Palantine uses in the movie Taxi Driver. One of my mates posted a picture of their campaign poster with We Are The People on it. “Better not point this out to the mob or this will become their favourite film.”
(I pointed out that Palantine first appears in the movie in the back of Travis’ taxi with a prostitute. He’s about as big a hypocrite as they are anyway.)
The moment that I found a YouTube clip for is the bit where one of the campaign team calls the suppliers of some of the material with a complaint. Their slogan is We Are The People … but the supplier has sent them material highlighting the wrong word; We Are The People is what it now says, which he quite correctly interprets as sending the wrong message.
You can watch the clip here, but it nails this issue.
We Are The People has always, to me, been about supremacy and exceptionalism. It’s obvious which of the words they would underline if they were trying to accentuate the point and it wouldn’t be the one which Palantine’s campaign worker wants.
They think they are better than the rest of us, and that translates into everything they do, such as their little strop over the SPFL sponsorship contract. What better proof is there of their sense of exceptionalism, and the way it translates into an appalling selfishness which threatens other clubs and the whole structure on which the game is built?
This is tolerated for reasons passing understanding, and as long as it is we’ll have the same problems that the British political establishment continues to have with the Loyalists. They stamp their feet and think the world must respond.
It should. By treating them as just another constituency that wants things it might not necessarily be able to have, and respecting the rest of us in the process.
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