Saturday, August 07, 2004

Unrequited Love

Before the ra-heads come in to swamp the thread, I thought some comments by Frank and Abiola criticising the UK's indifference to Gibraltarians' desire to remain under British administration and drawing parallels to NI deserved a riposte.

Nationality is a little more reciprocal than this line of reasoning assumes. At 28,000 people, Gibraltar could probably elect an MP or two to Westminster. Who are they to decide Britain's foreign policy over the representatives of 60 million people? South Vietnam was in a similar situation vis a vis the USA

What possible national interest does Britain have in antagonising a close NATO ally?

Is Zapatero planning to bring back the auto-da-fe? Deport them all as forced labour to carve a vast mausoleum from the rock of the Madrid hills?

Who are the people a government should serve? Maybe in a colony with recognisably closer blood ties like the Falklands, policy would be more uncompromising, but you have some distance to go to persuade me that Gibraltarians have any more claim to Britishness than Hong Kong Chinese or Zimbabweans.

The Northern Ireland situation has the same dynamic. Very few English people express any affinity to Northern Ireland's Unionists. Most, even the soldiers who've served there, seem to question why a place with such an ugly culture and unappealing people on both sides should drain lives and money.

I think this attitude is completely justified. To borrow a phrase and a crude stereotype from Levi Eshkol, all they seem to do is throw stones and screw like rabbits. What has Ulster ever done for Britain that the south or the Republic hasn't?

The biggest irony is that only the Protestant backlash can make Northern Ireland ungovernable. Gerry Adams must have read Sun Su at some point in the early nineties. The SF strategy of confrontation over the RUC, Drumcree and decommissioning manoevers the Unionists to act against their own interests by cultivating disorder, alienating Nationalists and estranging London.