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The oppressed of the north and midlands of England are the new Irish

I normally read Fintan O'Toole's articles, but when I saw the title of his latest piece "For the first time since 1171, Ireland is more powerful than Britain," I decided to give it a miss. Fintan going over the top again, I thought. But then in an idle moment I chanced upon the article again and got drawn in. It turns out to be some of Fintan's best work.

In considering his writing we must remember he is as much an art and drama critic as a political analyst, and while his political analysis can be a bit off the deep end - as when he suggested all Sinn Fein MPs should resign and allow themselves to be replaced by nationalist candidates not bound by an abstentionist policy - his colour writing on the subtle shifts and nuances of Anglo-Irish relations is second to none.

And far from the triumphalist Irish nationalist piece of guff I was expecting with a title like that, it is actually a very perceptive piece on how Brexit has changed the whole dynamic of Anglo-Irish relations. Essentially he is arguing that the polarity of the dominant-submissive mode of the post colonial British Irish relationship has been reversed: Partially in terms of Irish government policy and presentation, but more particularly in the mind set of Brexiteers.

Crazy as it may seem, they imagine themselves to be engaged in a post-colonial struggle for liberation against an oppressive evil empire (the EU) and cannot understand how Ireland would not be an automatic and natural ally in that struggle - but instead has taken on the role of cheerleader and chief antagonist for the evil empire.

Thankfully he notes that "There is far too much at stake to take any pleasure in this bizarre political reversal." The last thing we need to do is to replace an obsequious deference to our lords and masters with an obnoxious sense of superiority.

What Fintan may be missing is how this narrative of oppression by the EU is an essential part of the internal English Brexiteer rhetoric. Perhaps it isn't really intended to be taken all that seriously in Ireland at all (who cares?) but is intended to convey a sense that (the overwhelmingly metropolitan) Brexiteers are on the side of the oppressed in the north and midlands of England who have been neglected by their betters, and to redirect their fury from the English ruling classes to "unelected bureaucrats in Brussels".

"Taking back control" was always about the Eton Oxbridge elite taking back control from meddling foreigners, but if a bit of bowdlerized Irish history can be used in support of a bogus internal UK argument, shure what's the harm?



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Sep 15th, 2019 at 02:26:00 PM EST

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