Writing in the Scotsman, Brian Wilson claimed a vote winner for the ‘Better Together’ campaign. It hinged on the incredible fact, that when one had to post a letter to Ireland – it was more expensive then posting a letter to somewhere in the UK.
It’s an unworthy and frivolous point I agree, but it reminded me that it’s not the first time that a union fundamentalist has brought Ireland into the debate recently.
I had to do a fair bit of research on Ireland in the early days of “The Troubles” for the book “Torn Edges” and the more I hear from the Labour Party the more I’m struck by the similarity of the argument to opposition to Home Rule in Ireland in 1912 -22.
It’s hard to believe now, but the first Labour Conference was held in Belfast in 1907. I mention this because one of the main organiser of the conference was the Belfast Trade Council whose secretary was one William Walker, a man that set the tone for Labour, and a man who maintained the curious socialist view that in the long run…
“the interests of Labour must be subservient to the interests of the Union.”
It seems his wise old words have maintained a certain resonance with the present Labour mafiosi. Political opposition to Irish home rule, even then, was couched in the now recognisable ‘Better Together’ language. Three examples from each:
From the Tories and their allies:
Ireland would lose its British market.
Defence jobs would disappear.
They would lose the strength and solidity of the British Empire.
From the Labour Party:
Home Rule, Labour party, argued “would make (these) countries dependant on their own resources.”
They “could not sustain services at the current national standard let alone at a higher level.”
It would lead to the “construction of separate Labour (and possibly contradictory) organisations”
All sounds depressing familiar doesn’t it.
The last Labour point has interest. The one time member and activist in the original Scottish Party Scotland, James Connelly, and the Trade Union leader Jim Larkin left Labour to form the Irish Labour Party in 1912 as a result of Labour’s attitude to Ireland. He said that “he had made Labour his cause in Ireland and that Labour should make Ireland their cause” They didn’t, and Ireland paid dearly.
Connelly was one of the leaders of the Easter rebellion in 1916. The day after he was captured the Scottish leadership of the Labour party condemned him for being “a hot headed romantic nationalist”
He was executed by a firing squad on the 12th May 1916.
“I can see now why Connelly and Pearse attacked the G.P.O. building … It was the price of the stamps”
A witty observation
…Just about sums up Wilson’s thoughtless and pointless comment.