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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 2

The Way of Life - An Irish Christian Liberal Democracy within the United Kingdom and the National Government of Ireland Act.

Next in a series of articles submitted to the Blanket

Michael Gillespie • July 2006

Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady of Right Wing Union Jack Unionism has made the famous statement that Belfast is 'as British as Finchley'. It is something of a mystery as to what that statement can possible mean.

To get to grips with it, one must first of all understand the use of hurrah and boo words and statements by politicians - these are such:

Grammar schools - Hurrah words for the right and boos words for the left.

Comprehensive - Hurrah words for the left and boo words for the right.

Selection at eleven - Hurrah words for the Right Wing Union Jack Unionism and boo words for late Sinn Fein.

A United Ireland - Hurrah words for late Sinn Fein and boo words for Right Wing Union Jack Unionism.

The Peace Process - Hurrah words for the late Sinn Fein and now a boo word for the DUP.

Democracy - a hurrah word for President Bush and a boo word for the Chinese Government.

Equality - a hurrah word for feminist, a boo word for male chauvinist.

Liberty - a hurrah word in America and a boo word in Cuba.

Education, Education, Education - Hurrah words for Tony Blair and boo words for the thousands that are expelled from schools or who play truant.

In this way politics is littered with hurrah and boo words and statements, and Mrs Thatcher's statement that Ulster is 'as British as Finchley' is simply a hurrah statement from Right Wing Union Jack unionists and a boo statement for the late Sinn Fein and doesn't amount to anything more than that.

Some time ago I heard Jeffery Donaldson say on television that he wished to maintain a British way of life in Northern Ireland; again this is a hurrah statement for Right Wing Union Jack Unionism and a boo statement for late Sinn Fein. There are those in Northern Ireland who believe that a way of life is about Religion, the holding of parades, the flaunting of flags and banners, the paintings of murals on a gable wall and the singing of an anthem. All of these are far from the truth. These things listed have to do with the nature of the State in which one lives and have nothing to do with a way of life. The way of life is determined by the economy of the State in which one lives.

Some years ago a man from Texas came to my home in Belfast; this was his first time ever out of Texas. When he got to know my home he was astounded to find we had electricity, hot and cold water on tap, central heating, two televisions, a dish washer, a washing machine and a fridge freezer, carpets, a hoover and a car. The Texan exclaimed to me, "Your way of life is just the same as our way of life in Texas". The Texan had got it right. What he found in our home was a way of life and that way of life was determined by the economy.

The image which the Texan must have brought with him was that he was coming to a hovel with a pig in the parlour, that I drove a donkey and cart, and that my wife and daughter walked behind wearing shawls and long dresses and were bare footed and that the family lived on a diet of salt potatoes and buttermilk. Such may have been the image of the way of life in Ireland a long time ago, due to the disastrous nature of the Irish economy, and this image may still infect the minds of Right Wing Union Jack Unionism.

The way of the life depends solely on the nature and performance of the economy in which one lives. Where the economy is strong, with a high level of employment and a high level of growth and abundance of money, with low interest rates and prices — in such an economy there should be a high Household income, where the Household can afford essentials, consumer durables and luxuries with a nutritional diet. In that case the way of life is one of high quality.

Where the economy is weak and in recession and the level of unemployment in rising, Household incomes are falling and there is a scarcity of money with rising interest rates and prices, then if the Household has difficulty in making ends meet, can't afford essentials, consumer durables and luxuries and cannot afford a nutritional diet then the way of life is one of poor quality.

If one looks at Africa or Eastern Europe where the economies are weak then the way of life in these countries is one of very poor quality indeed.

In the sixties in Northern Ireland the economy was flat, sluggish and recessive. Under the old Stormont there was some investment in new industry but this was sited in Protestant districts; apart from that there were levels of objectionable poverty in both communities, with high immigration levels to England, America and Australia. This was happening despite a high level of subsidisation of Northern Ireland by the British exchequer, which led me to doubt the Keynesian doctrine that a Government should spend its way out of a recession. This doctrine didn't seem to hold for Northern Ireland. As for the economy of the Republic of Ireland, it was a piece of deadwood with widespread objectionable levels of unemployment and massive emigration and poverty.

I have relatives who live in Donegal, Leitrim and Mullingar, and in the United States. I find nowadays that their way of life is no different from my own. So to look back at Mrs Thatcher's statement then, if Belfast is as British as Finchley, then my relatives that live in Donegal, Leitrim, Mullingar and the USA are as British as Finchley, since the ways of life are nowadays much the same, and if Belfast is as British as Finchley so is Dublin, since the way of life in Belfast and Dublin is now quite similar.

So Margaret Thatcher's statement may well be a piece of English snobbery going back to the days of the Empire when the economy in Britain was very powerful, being plundered from the wealth of the world, and had a way of life of very high quality. In that case the English saw it as their duty to bring a superior way of life to the undeserving natives of India, Africa and Ireland.

In the twenty first century ways of life in the developed countries are very much the same.

So the way of life in an Irish Christian Liberal Democracy within the United Kingdom would have nothing to do with the trappings of State, Religion or what one calls oneself. The way of life would depend solely on the nature of the economy in the State. Where the economy is strong then the way of life will be one of high quality. Where the economy is weak and in recession, then the way of life will be one of poor quality with the Irish having to tighten their belts. It's as simple as that.


Next week, The Crown Irish and Rights, Freedoms.

See Also:
Article 1: Democracy
Article 2: The Way of Life
Article 3: The Crown Irish
Article 4: Rights, Freedoms
Article 5: The Legal Profession
Article 6: Government Politics
Article 7: Religion
Article 8: Policing
Article 9: The Army, the Navy and the Air Force
Article 10: The Orange Order

Dual Presidency More Realistic
A Dual Presidency: An Improbable Solution to the Irish Problem


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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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