Gordon Brown (British PM, for those of you reading from abroad) has an opinion piece in this morning’s Telegraph. You can read the full article here. It’s all about how great the Union is and how secessionists in Scotland and Wales would, given the chance, tear the Union asunder and burn down our houses (I added that last point…). Anyway, nothing surprising in it at all – Gordon extolls the virtues of the Union and points out that Britain is stronger acting in concert than it would be if England, Scotland and Wales tried to approach things alone. I would expect to hear nothing less from the PM.
However…having read the article twice now, I can find no mention of Northern Ireland. Remember, the official name of the country of which Gordon is the PM is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He lauds the various contributions made by the Scots and English to Britain. No mention of the Northern Irish.
I can think of three possible reasons for this lapse.
One, Gordon wants to keep his argument simple. He wants to avoid all talk of the civil strife endemic in Northern Ireland from the 60′ until very recently. He wants to keep his message positive and omit references to violence, and in any case, general understanding of Northern Ireland – its governance, history and constitutional standing – is pretty poor among those not actually living there.
Or two (and a very long shot at that), could this be the beginning of a government campaign to remove Northern Ireland from the public consciousness with regard to secession, putting it in a different category to Scotland (or Wales) in an attempt to make it less of a wrench if/when Northern Ireland eventually leaves the UK?
Or three, maybe it’s because ideas of nation and national identity represent a minefield in Northern Ireland, one that Gordon is unwilling to traverse. Hmmm….