Vince Cable, the former leader of the centre-left Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom and a senior minister in the country’s previous Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government, has written a short article for the New Statesman magazine favouring tighter immigration controls for the UK, inside or outside the European Union. However in the piece he also touches upon the issue of the British presence in Ireland, implying like many other ex-politicians in Britain that Irish reunification is both inevitable and desirable.
“I do not see much upside in Brexit, but one is the opportunity for a more rational immigration policy. First, it will involve legitimising the position of EU nationals already here. It must involve a more sensible way of dealing with overseas students, who are not immigrants and benefit the UK. The permeability of the Irish border must lead to a united Ireland in Europe. And, not least, there can be a narrative in which control on labour movements is matched by control on capital…”
It’s quite likely that Vince Cable would not speak so freely about the end of Britain’s legacy colony on the island of Ireland if he was still a contender for ministerial office in the United Kingdom. Which makes one wonder, aside from committed socialists and liberals like Jeremy Corbyn, the current head of the Labour Party, why do politicians in the UK require the security of retirement before they can reveal their true opinions on Irish-British affairs? Take this statement from Paddy Ashdown, another former Liberal Democrat leader, expressing his views on the French Resistance during World War II and opposition to foreign occupation in general:
“If I had been a Catholic, discriminated against in the way they were in Northern Ireland, would I have been a member of Sinn Fein or the IRA? Given my hot nature and my slightly romantic view of life, it’s quite difficult to say that you can completely discount the fact.
…you are the child of your circumstances… If you were brought up in a community that has been discriminated against and has had their human rights denied, what are you going to do?
I imagine at the very least I would have been a political activist on behalf of Sinn Fein. Whether you tip that over into something else, I can’t tell you – but I ask myself the question.”
A question on the Irish Republican Army and its armed struggle that would have formerly brought down on Ashdown’s head the same opprobrium from the right-wing and ultra-nationalist press in Britain that is currently being rained down on Jeremy Corbyn and his immediate colleagues in Labour.
As others have pointed out, when it comes to Ireland and the Irish, Brits be crazy.