Wednesday, January 18, 2006


'What If'? Wednesday - Brown as PM

Is this man a friend of Ireland's? Gordon Brown recently caused a bit of a stir by stating that Britain should have a day to celebrate its national identity and for urging Labour supporters to "embrace the Union flag".

Why that's poppycock old chap! Seems to me like a lacklustre move on Brown's part. Apparently, to paraphrase a very old sectarian slogan, the blue, white and red card is the card to play! When a politician plays the patriotic card it's usually a move out of desperation. Perhaps the new Tory leader David Cameron has Gordon a bit flustered?

"We should assert that the Union flag by definition is a flag for tolerance and inclusion," said Brown.

Not in the north of Ireland sadly! There it's mostly used as a tribal symbol.

Of course Mr Brown's attitude towards Ireland is the only thing I'm concerned about and when it comes to Ireland's north, Mr Brown's views are unclear. His recent patriotic speech did seem to be geared towards Britain rather than the north of Ireland as the Irish News pointed out. In fact the Irish News raised many questions about Mr Brown and what his premiership might mean for events here in Ireland:

"Mr Brown went on to speak approvingly about the practice in the US and some other countries of householders flying their national flag in their gardens

"It would seem that he has never visited Northern Ireland during the summer months when flags of all descriptions appear on houses, traffic signs and telegraph poles in enormous numbers.
"These displays are not intended to promote any sense of togetherness but rather to emphasise sectarian boundaries and to intimidate individuals from different backgrounds.

"Both traditions, unionism and nationalism, are guilty of abusing flags, which are routinely left hanging in the wind and rain until they are reduced to a bunch of tattered rags.

"Mr Brown might well see the potential of developing the UK's answer to the July 4 US Independence Day and the July 14 Bastille Day but he should also take a close look at what happens in Northern Ireland on July 12.

"The Orange Order commemorates the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 in a triumphalist way which implies that one section of the community sees itself as superior to all others.

"It does not involve a particularly large leap of imagination to envisage how some elements might use a festival of Britishness to send out an equally negative message to a range of minority groups.

"In fairness, Mr Brown's speech stressed the need for the Union flag to represent tolerance and inclusiveness in Britain.

"However, although colleagues claimed he was referring to all parts of the UK, at no stage did he indicate how these values might be promoted through the use of British emblems in Northern Ireland.

"Is it possible that Mr Brown, the premier in waiting, effectively regards Britain and Northern Ireland as two different places?

"By accident or design, he has prompted some intriguing speculation about his future intentions."

The Irish News bring up a very valid point about how the sectarian organisation known as the Orange Order have managed to abuse other traditions under the guise of patriotism.

What we here in Ireland really want to know though is what is Mr Brown's view on Ireland's north? That's why the question needs to be asked...

What if Mr Brown becomes British Prime Minister. What will this mean for Anglo-Irish affairs?

What do you think?


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