Ten random thoughts to kick off a lovely sunny day in Belfast.
The first is how nice it is to be here for a book festival, rather than arriving with the feeling of slight dread that often accompanied visits to Northern Ireland during the Blair years.
The second is how sad it is that the institutions the Good Friday Agreement helped bring about are currently in abeyance, and in my view at risk of permanent damage because of Brexit.
The third is my inability to fathom why the DUP, despite a majority here having voted Remain, are so determined to hold Theresa May to a hard Brexit which risks the return of a hard border everyone says they do not want, and most assume will put the peace process in peril.
The fourth is that after the Irish voted to liberalise abortion laws, the North risks projecting an image of itself to the world that is as damaging as it is backward looking.
The fifth is that if I find the DUP hard to fathom on Brexit, I find Labour even harder. Keir Starmer assures me if Labour’s six tests are not met, they will vote against the final deal. But virtually every time Jeremy Corbyn is brought into a debate he normally tries to avoid, all the signals point in the direction of Labour being the handmaiden of Brexit, not the official Opposition of a hopeless government.
The sixth is that the limited vestiges of Boris Johnson’s credibility are surely gone now that Heathrow has been added to the long list of issues on which he has been exposed as nothing but a blowhard more concerned about the soundbite of the day than the big issues for tomorrow. So get down in front of the bulldozers, Johnson, or leave the stage.
The seventh is that despite her being so weak, I think she could get rid of Johnson and be strengthened not weakened as a result.
The eighth is that as long as I live I shall never fully work out how some things make news and others don’t. My phone has finally stopped going with media bids, from as far afield as Australia and Argentina, asking me to talk about my daughter Grace calling into my LBC phone in on Sunday to challenge my feminist credentials. She was even ‘most viewed’ on the BBC website at one point yesterday for posting this the day after As for her bold claim that one day I will be seen as ‘Grace Campbell’s father,’ … on verra, ma princesse
The ninth is that if you check my instagram or Twitter feed you will see that I finally managed to make a cup of coffee in my hotel room. But the machine in the room is way simpler than the one we have at home.
Finally, here is a link to a piece I have done for GQ on the first anniversary of one of the weirdest elections I can remember. And here is my latest GQ interview with David Lammy.
Oh let’s make it twelve random thoughts.
Make sure you get the New European out tomorrow. I have set out what the editor has called an ‘epic sweep’ covering the two years since the referendum.
And finally, or twelfthly if such a word exists, if you want to help save the country, make sure you sign up to this.
Surely the DUP have gone cold on the Good Friday agreement and Stormont because they are panicked by the inevitable drift toward a united Ireland predicated by the demographic changes evolving in the nationalist/ unionist mandate. The agreement and power sharing no longer support a longterm future for NI in the UK. Of course, the DUP are politically failing to acknowledge that the EU’s offer of special status for NI is probably the most reliable trouble free mechanism for ensuring that NI remains in the British Union in the medium to long term.
Hi Alastair, I’m a Southerner living in Yorkshire. My views on many matters are aligned with yours. I have had similar life difficulties as yourself, my first episode of what manifested as schizophrenia occurred in 1994 and cut short my career. I am 85 pages into ‘The Lemmings Of Brexit’ (which has 2 subtitles, ‘The Observations Of A Humble Troll’ and ‘An Experiment In Online Interaction’. I started it as a book but I’m not sure it is one, I actually am open and keen to establish the best way to get it ‘out there’ – so knowing we have some things in common (politically, personally, and from a selfish point of view you might well know the ‘right people’ to help). My local MEPs are aware of it, and I will be in touch with the New European and some writers of similar content, I have messaged The Canary, etc. It will be finished before the end of June, I have deliberately kept it succinct to keep it topical and relevant. I was prompted to write it (according to the 2 subtitles) after seeing the most awful and ignorant online communities spreading the worst gutter Right-Wing filth you could imagine, towards Muslims, towards other EU citizens, the EU itself, sexism (males towards females of course) and homophobia. The work is centred on Brexit itself, but also in the context of, and examining, what I saw online, as it quickly showed me patterns and trends (I studied Chemistry at Oxford) and there were all the other unacceptable narratives surrounding our useless and spineless government that I also couldn’t stay silent about. It is so far in 15 short parts: The Ballot Paper, The Campaigns, The Referendum & The Result, The Mechanics Of Implementation, The European Union: Friends Or Foes?, The Online Interaction Patterns, The Game Of Blame, Democracy, Free Speech, Ireland, Security, Trade: The Macrocosm & The Microcosm, The ‘Architects Of Brexit”, Xenophobia, and Experts. I would be extremely interested in any advice. The text is still under edits and there is a little way to go to finish the body of the thing, obviously just making contact at this point. Thanks.
I don’t understand the people’s vote thing. If you think, (as I believe most Remainers like myself do) that it was a mistake to have a referendum in the first place – what is the logic of going double or quits!? Especially when the polls show that no-one has changed their mind.
Instead of this – we should be doing everything we can to get as soft a Brexit as possible, which preserves our option of rejoining smoothly in future and limits the economic damage as far as possible.
If we lose a second referendum (and I think we have to accept we start as underdogs), I fear we will get hard Brexit.
Just seen you on the Daily Politics: what a despicable loudmouthed bully you are, and you probably don’t even realise.