Mike Vickers' Blog

March 17, 2019

Derry Girls, Bloody Sunday, Brexit and the Border

Filed under: Brexit, Ireland — derryvickers @ 10:39 pm

You may enjoy the Derry Girls on Channel Four and there’s a good article in the Guardian at:

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/mar/17/saoirse-monica-jackson-derry-girls-interview-series-two

But there are two sides to Derry and Londonderry, which are the same place.

Ireland North and South are at the centre of the Brexit ‘debate’ and the border which currently separates them. Of course, this was always going to be so and how Cameron ignored it (or apparently ignored it) when choosing to hold the Brexit Referendum only he can answer. The ‘Troubles’ were with us for thirty years only ending with The Good Friday Agreement. Since then the North and the South have started to work together and the physical border between them has largely been removed; but there remains simmering at the community level; a journey across the North would reveal Union Jacks fluttering on the lampposts in the North.

So Brexit, even though there was a majority vote in Northern Ireland to remain, was going to be ‘a cause of concern’ .  Wolud the border be reesatblished and what would the effect beon the separation North and South; would te catholicts in the North want to be united with the South. Only last week the Bloody Sunday enquiry recommended that only on solder be prosecuted for the shooting in Londonderry in 1972.

For a good exposition on the collision between Brexit and Ireland read Patrick Cockburn in this week’s Independent.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-bloody-sunday-boris-johnson-dup-theresa-may-northern-ireland-a8825286.html#comments

Cockburn is scathing of the interference by such fools as Boris Johnson leading to the possibility of further Bloody Sunday’s in the future.

The casual reader may thing this is a ‘local’ matter within the UK and possibly Southern Ireland (Eire) but the Bloody Sunday report this week has been taken up by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

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March 13, 2019

No Deal – well let’s hope so

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Politics, Theresa may — derryvickers @ 11:23 pm

This evenings vote on ‘No Deal’ is too close for comfort and getting closer.
There is much manoeuvring in the Tory / DUP ranks.

Martin Kettle in the Guardian is also sanguine on the situation: he believes May is not dead yet. If no delay and now no No Deal then a third time May may succeed.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/13/theresa-may-deal-vote-mps-brexit

He considers that Hammond did a Bismarck this evening

“Nevertheless, Hammond seized his chance, giving a foretaste of the power shift inside the government that was to come in the evening votes. Chancellors get only two moments in the limelight during the year. Hammond knows he may not still be in the job by the autumn. So, he was not going to let this one slip. Brexit dominated the beginning, middle and end of his statement. Just before he sat down, Hammond summoned up his inner Bismarck. It was time, he said, “to start to map out a way forward towards building a consensus across this house for a deal we collectively support to exit the EU in an orderly way”.

“This may not sound ringing stuff. Yet in terms of the conventions of cabinet collective responsibility on central issues of policy, it was practically a call to storm the Winter Palace.”

We shall see what the vote is tomorrow.
There is also a touch of the New Testament in Kettle’s article:

‘Before the cock crow thou shall deny me thrice.’

Brother can you spare a dime

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Immigration, Italian, Politics, Theresa may — derryvickers @ 4:49 pm

Marina Hyde earlier today in the Guardian: 13 March 2019

“Fairly sure the world has got the message by now. They are “up to speed” and “across the detail” of the sort of country the UK is. The question of whether Brexit represented a midlife crisis or the descent into senility appears to have been answered. The land that likes to picture itself as a David Niven world war two movie is in fact a look-away episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show. On close inspection, the “beacon of democracy” turns out to be a bin fire.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/13/theresa-may-deal-europe-eu-mps

I used to find it reassuring that the MPs in Westminster were coming around to my view. But I find Marina Hyde’s article now infinitely depressing.
“Once we had an Empire, now it’s gone, brother can you spare a dime”.

March 10, 2019

Continental Drift with the Scottish Ensemble

Filed under: 'Moot' Local Decision Making, Brexit, Europe, Music, Scottish Ensemble, Uncategorized — derryvickers @ 9:57 pm

An Across Continents Concert this afternoon.

The Scottish Ensemble joined forces with three Europeans playing instruments new to us: a santoor from India, a stringed percussion instrument; a zarb, a kind of drum from Persia; a baglama, a stringed instrument from Turkey; a lyra, a very small cello from Greece and frame drums.

Santoor

Baglama

Zarb

Lyra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The European music spanned from Hildegard von Bingen in the 12th century through Purcell to Bartok in the 20th but the programme included music from the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey and India. The players playing the frame drums used just their fingers to achieve a remarkable sustained rhythm.

Frame Drum

 

 

 

All the players joined in to all pieces. An exciting sound experience

 

 

 

 

The concert was entitled Continental Drift and we could see why. I can only hope that these European players with their novel instruments will still be allowed into Scotland post Brexit.

March 8, 2019

This Day – 8 March 2019

Filed under: Brexit, economics, Europe, Ireland, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 9:07 pm

I have just watched a programme  on BBC 4 on Hadrian’s Wall and its ultimate Failure to protect England at the End of Empire.

The Roman Empire imploded and England with it, for 750 years.

Is there an analogy here on 8 March 2019 to England imploding on itself following Brexit?

From the Guardian Website.  Very little to celebrate.

 

 

Political Ineptitude at its worst

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Italian, Politics, Theresa may — derryvickers @ 7:20 pm

One may laugh at The Derry Girls

But I despair of the politicians elevated to Northern Ireland Secretary.

Karen Bradleys must qualify as the worst so far:

“Every clanger from a British politician – Karen Bradley’s offensive and ignorant statement exonerating British soldiers for their crimes in Northern Ireland; the border mess, exacerbated by the Conservative government’s tactical alliance with the DUP; the clueless remarks emanating from the House of Commons – has not just confirmed, but elevated our suspicions that English (and Brexit was always about Englishness, not Britishness, nor the oxymoron that is now the “United” Kingdom) apathy, ignorance and entitlement towards Ireland is as dominant as ever. The tactic of trying to undermine Ireland in a game of chicken with the European Union has also led to an existential fear that the EU will sell Ireland out, and a fury about the corner we are being put in.”

Read the full article in the The Irish Times by in today’s Guardian.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/08/england-ireland-brexit-political-ignorance?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0Jlc3RPZkd1YXJkaWFuT3BpbmlvblVLLTE5MDMwOA%3D%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=BestOfGuardianOpinionUK&CMP=opinionuk_email

Wiki: “”The fewer than 10% [of killings] that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes, they were people acting under orders and fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way.”[ A Nuremburg Defence.

One might have thought that all politicians who have had at least One Month’s training on Irish History but apparently not so of Karen Bradlay.

See also The UK and Scotland post Brexit  – Gus O’Donnald on his concern of the impact of Brexit on Ireland.

March 7, 2019

Red Note at the RCS

Filed under: Brexit, Immigration, Music, Red Note, Royal Scottish Conservatoire — derryvickers @ 11:57 pm

Red Note performs the established classics of contemporary music, commissions new music, develops the work of new and emerging composers and performers from Scotland and around the world and finds new spaces and new ways of performing contemporary music to attract new audiences”. So says the blurb on the programme for tonight’s concert at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire, Glasgow (RCS).

They did all of that tonight, working with MusicLab; “MusicLab is the RCS’s student ensemble dedicated to performing music of the twentieth and twenty first centuries”; also, from the blurb.

Six RCS student pieces: Coachman Chronos, Snapdragon, Daethletics, Nikuda, Turbulences and Die Stucke der Windrose.

The pieces were played by a combination of Red Notes and MusicLab players. We know, Robert Irvine, cello, the principal player of Red Note having met him at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel; he fished while we walked. But this was the first time, from our view point, that Maximiliano Martin, clarinet, from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra joined the group.

The music was great, and I can only hope that the composers will go far, as will the MusicLab players. RCS takes students from across the world and I hope that this is not affected by Brexit. To me, one of the best ways for Scotland to be in the forefront of the world, is by attracting students to Scotland; they will go home knowing one other good country as well as their own.

March 6, 2019

Every day at least to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Music, Personal, Writing — derryvickers @ 3:32 pm

Goethe

In these trying times of Brexit and Austerity, worth a thought each day.

What can I do about it.

Goethe had the right idea

 

March 5, 2019

Frank Field – Independent Labour MP for Birkenhead

Filed under: Birkenhead, Brexit, Frank Field, Left Politics, Personal, War — derryvickers @ 9:04 pm

I was born in Birkenhead, well the posh part to the south, Bebington, not that that was that posh as it was just half a mile from Port Sunlight, the soap factory of Lever Brothers where just before going to Liverpool University I did a vac job for 2 months.

But back to Birkenhead, Field was after my time; after graduating I headed south wanting to go to Singapore with the IGY. No such luck, I joined the Scientific Civil Service near Windsor and moved into computing and spent my working life in many aspects of the subject. I am not complaining, computing was new and exciting in those days.

But again, back to Birkenhead, I can still remember cycling around Birkenhead Docks; there were docks in Birkenhead then for cargo ships that overflowed from Liverpool on the opposite side of the Mersey. The docks were exciting places to cycle around with ships from all over the world. But many’s the time I got my front tyre stuck in the embedded dockside railway lines and fell off.

It also built ships at Cammell Laird’s; I watched the launch of the aircraft carrier Ark Royal

You can get an overview of Birkenhead at wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkenhead.

Everyone worked in Liverpool, a ferry boat away, or you could risk your life cycling through the Mersey Tunnel; fine going down to the middle but hell cycling up the other side with lorries trying to inch past you; I did it for a year but after that got the ferry and the tram. I did well predate the Beetles

All that’s by the way, although I have seldom been back I still feel an attachment to Birkenhead and I am proud of Frank Field and independent Labour soul who chairs the the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

He is quoted “In December 2017, during a debate on Universal Credit, Field described the impact that Universal Credit changes had had on his constituents. His observations moved Work and Pensions Select Committee member Heidi Allen to tears”.

He is an avid supporter of Climate Protection and features the protection of rain forests; all excellent, but I cannot agree with his attitude to Brexit even though I can see where he is coming from.

But you might like a piece in today’s “I” on “Ending benefits freeze to ease poverty”.

You may admire a new sculpture in Birkenhead Part of the exhausted solder in remembrance of WW1.

March 3, 2019

Gina Miller to the Rescue

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Gina Miller, Personal, Politics — derryvickers @ 9:31 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/03/gina-miller-eu-delay-brexit-no-deal

Matthew d’Ancona thinks it less likely but it does look like a way forward out of the swamp of the Brexit mess.
And as Ancona says Gina Miller has already proved she can bring about the Unexpected and she has the determination to do so.

So here he goes:

Armed with a legal opinion written by Kieron Beal QC and three other senior lawyers, the co-founder of the pro-remain campaign Lead Not Leave will argue that the EU council of ministers could itself, unilaterally, extend the article 50 deadline.

Why should it even contemplate doing so? First, because – as Miller’s legal paper points out – “the wording of article 50(3) presupposes that the European council take the decisive lead with the consent of the withdrawing member state”. Second, because the EU has a legal duty to all its member states to ensure that any such withdrawal is not damaging to what article 13(1) of the treaty on European Union calls the “consistency, effectiveness and continuity of its policies and actions”, or to the principle spelled out in article 13(2): “Pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation the EU and the member states shall, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out the tasks which flow from the treaties.”

Miller’s point, of course, is highly political as well as specifically jurisprudential. By circulating this opinion at the European parliament and in Brussels, she hopes to remind the EU that the legal, practical and moral obligation to prevent a catastrophic no-deal outcome is not confined to Westminster. Her message is addressed to figures such as Donald Tusk, the president of the council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, his counterpart at the European commission, but also to the EU body politic as a whole.”

“But she is reminding the 27 other member states that they cannot, as a matter of law as well as of supranational ethics, play Pilate and wash their hands of this mess. We are, to coin a phrase, all in this together

If she makes the case and the EU acts, then Gina Miller deserves a statue in Parliament Square alongside Churchill.

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