Muddled Arlene Foster has no answer to The Border question

Posted By: November 30, 2017


Distributed by Irish National Caucus

“The virulent anti-Irish racism is already spewing from what Alistair Campbell calls ‘the Brextremist Lie Machine cartel of the Mail, Telegraph, Sun, and Express.’ ”  

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, November 29,  2017 

Wolfgang Pauli was a brilliant Nobel prize -winning physicist. He was famous for being able to go to the heart of a problem but also for taking apart half-assed, ill-thought out theories which could not be evaluated or tested. He exposed them as ganz falsch – “completely wrong.”

However, for him, there was one category even worse than ganz falsch. These were theories which were beyond the pale because they were so unscientific and untestable they couldn’t be proved wrong. Pauli famously declared after reading one such paper: ‘It’s not even wrong.’ What he meant was that the logic was so sloppy and speculative that you couldn’t discuss it in scientific terms.

That admirably sums up the DUP position on Brexit and indeed Arlene Foster’s dreadful vacuous speech at the weekend. Though in Arlene’s case, her speech also demonstrated another category. As a so-called party leader, she’s not even mediocre. Trite, platitudinous, flatly delivered, read woodenly off the teleprompter, there wasn’t a single idea, let alone a new idea in it: rigid, stuck in the mud, poverty of imagination, lack of vision, plodding. Oh yes, she got the obligatory leader’s standing ovation at the end but even during her lengthy passage on Brexit no applause. The only spontaneous clapping came after she yelled: ‘Northern Ireland is Bratash [British].’ Forward-looking she was not.

However, with Brexit, she did fit into one of Pauli’s categories. Pauli hated muddled thinking from people who could not express their thoughts clearly. He once told Lev Landau, another outstanding physicist: ‘What you said was so confused one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not.’ That happens every time Foster talks about Brexit. The best recent example, apart from her speech, was her car crash interview on the Today programme with Mishal Husain who quickly exposed in a way local interviewers haven’t managed that poor Foster is literally at sea on borders. ‘What do you propose?’, Hussein kept asking. The answer came there none.

Of course poor Foster has no answer to The Border question. She can’t have because the British government hasn’t come up with one,  and she doesn’t know what to say until there’s a British government answer to parrot no matter how stupid or contradictory. So parrot the British government position about the big bad Irish government interfering. Play to the gallery, the thickos, the bigots. That’s an easy burst of clapping. Isn’t it outrageous when you consider Foster speaks only for a minority in The North and is careless of the certain damage her reckless espousal of Brexit will do?

Meanwhile, in the real world, neither Arlene nor any local interviewer will raise the question of the 60,000 cans of Guinness an hour produced in east Belfast every day and sent back across The Border. Never mind the millions of liters of milk being made into yogurt every year and similarly sent back and forth. From outside the customs union, there’s a duty of €124 a kilo. Or a duty of €1671 a ton of Cheddar cheese from outside the union. What’s her answer about the 142 sectors of north-south cooperation identified by British and EU negotiators? She hasn’t one.

At present Dublin’s ultimate answer is to veto any movement towards trade talks until there is an answer. It’s high risk but the Brextremists in the British cabinet don’t care whether they destroy the Republic’s economy or not. The next couple of weeks are the time of maximum leverage for Dublin after which they won’t have such a direct veto power. At present, the balance of power is in Ireland’s favor because of the other EU26 back Dublin. It’s a rare moment when the Republic has greater weight in negotiations than the UK.

On the other hand what will be the effect on Anglo-Irish relations some way down the road? The virulent anti-Irish racism is already spewing from what Alistair Campbell calls ‘the Brextremist Lie Machine cartel of the Mail, Telegraph, Sun, and Express’. Have the DUP forgotten when it was turned against them in June? Years of work will be undone so using the veto is a big call but with silence from London, there may be no alternative.

The Irish question is back.