Skip to main content


This section allows you to view all Messages made by this member. Note that you can only see Messages made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - karlmark

The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff
We may be one of the 'major world powers' (after a handful of others) but that is partly due to our EU membership in itself.

It also begs the question as to why we joined in the first place. As a country we were struggling badly and figured out that it would be better for us to join in a large trading bloc. The problem was that after WWII we thought we could simply sit back and reap the victor's rewards and carry on trading to the diminishing Empire/Commonwealth as we had previously done. We were a great trading nation, and always would be. Except, we weren't: Sitting back on their laurels, the bosses of British companies were endlessly complacent and failed to invest and fell far behind other countries in terms of competitiveness.
What has changed since then? I still don't see British companies investing massively in order to gain competitive advantage. But that's ok, because we are a world power. Surprisingly, that isn't enough...
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: What I have learned today
Someone whose weirdly militant ideas deny them tiramisu deserves only my sympathy, not my scorn.

Yuck. If I want to taste coffee, I'll drink coffee. It's too strong a flavour for anything else and doesn't combine well with anything sweet. Coffee is great because not only is it tasty (on its own of course), but it's functional providing a great boost. Now, a good espresso after a meal is fantastic. Then again, I'm not really a pudding person anyway.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: What I have learned today
This isn't  news, surely?  How many times have you found undissolved sugar at the bottom of a cup and wondered why all the stirring didn't completely work?

Never. Only heathens put sugar in coffee. You'll be telling me that you like coffee cake, coffee ice cream and coffee in chocolate next. Coffee should only be drunk black and unadulterated. It should never be used to flavour anything else and should not be flavoured with anything else.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff

 You'd struggle to find a land without poets and writers, although we are currently having a crack at getting rid of most things good. You'd have as much credibility declaring Ireland the land of potato farmers and pissheads. Neither of which are bad things. Or Catholic paedophiles and abusive Christian brothers, which are. As is the medieval attitude to women's rights.

I think that's what @jp‍ was concisely expressing.

The land of religious oppression and institutionalised abuse of women and children, wistfully recounted by pissheads.

Can we agree on that?

Beards. Don't forget beards. And maybe leprechauns. For the sake of balance, I can't sing a note and am terrible at anything creative. I have been known to like a drink or two though.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: What's amusing me today
I'm hoping I wasn't alone in having to google Chelsea Boot. Wasn't sure what sort of website it would return.

I should add that a man of my height doesn't need to wear heels.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff
Unbelievable isn't it. Here's the EU rules Mrs May. Read them. Propose something that abides by them. Then we'll talk. The EU have bigger things to deal with than us.

The point about the Irish border is that it has nothing to do with EU rules. The Irish border as it stands is protected by Law in Ireland and the UK. Changing it would require breaking the Peace agreement and would also require a referendum in the Republic. She's not just facing off to the EU, but also to the laws of her own country. However, this particular piece of paper seems to have the measure of her. Perhaps she should warm up first on an Opal Fruit wrapper?
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff
Your right Karl, I do understand why PIRA got support from the Catholic Community. Your also right the South and North have different views. The South for the most part especially the Rural South have been relatively untouched by the troubles. The South had their share of violence between 1850s and 1920s where whole families died at the side of the roads and eviction and starvation was used alongside bullets to solve the Irish issue as the English called it.

Yes. The history between the two countries is not a particularly glorious one... I also forgot to mention that the provos did not recognise the legitamacy of the Irish government as they felt they had been sold out in the original Anglo Irish agreement.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff
What makes my dream even less is the Tories getting into bed with the DUP to retain power.A weak Government is not good for the country. The Tories have now kept in power by two different parties. I was a staunch Socialist until Blair's second parliament. Now I just protest vote as I don't trust any of the big two.

Yes, I also find this to be a major worry. Even John Major commented on what a bad idea it was. Although he relied on Ulster Unionist votes in the latter years of his government, he refused to strike up a formal arrangement for fear of upsetting the then nascent peace process. Clearly May has either forgotten that there is no way Unionists would risk a Labour government by bringing her down, or she shares the same ignorance of Northern Irish politics as her Northern Ireland secretary and doesn't realise that voting is done on purely sectarian lines over there. Or she simply doesn't care.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: What's amusing me today
There seems to be a proliferation of single shoes being left lying around on footpaths and roads in the area recently. I did initially wonder if perhaps there may be a serial killer on the loose and that they belonged to victims, but they tend to be a mix of men's trainers and ladies shoes and from watching TV and movies I know that serial killers tend to have a type. Perhaps there is a cross-dresser who keeps having to hurriedly change clothes?
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff
I was brought up to believe in a United Ireland. My Dad and my Irish family still want to see a United Ireland. I don't think it will ever happen, well not in my lifetime. I don't support violence to pursue this dream though. My Grandad and other members fought for the land reform movements. Indeed a relative has a statue  in Balla County Mayo and a stand named after him Croke Park. My relatives also fought the Black and Tans. The majority of my family supported Michael Collins belief that to continue fighting wouldn't get the whole of Ireland freedom. Go for the prize of freedom and gain the six counties by consultation. Unfortunately this never happened a new more militant and violent IRA was formed. In my opinion very few in the South supported the modern IRA and saw them as a kind of Mafia alongside their Protestent militia counterparts.

You're right about the "new and more violent IRA" part which many people don't seem to realise. However, you fail to explain why the new and more violent IRA found enough support to become as troublesome as it did. The black and tans were a horrendous stain on Anglo-Irish history. But then we come to one of the litany of mistakes made by the then Northern Irish government and UK government. When the black and tans were disbanded along with the A and C sections of the RUC, they left the B section in place. It was this B section that increasingly committed atrocities in Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland in the 1960s and ultimately led to the rearmament of the IRA; my uncle told me that the IRA was given the nickname "the Irish Ran Away" in the 1960s. The B specials were free to go into nationalist areas and intimidate residents. They were also used to forcibly evict Catholic tenants from council houses so that unionist families could move in. They really started getting out of control in 1968/9 with the result that the IRA started to rearm.

The new and more more violent IRA which you allude to was the provisional IRA who announced that they would defend Catholics from attacks by the Loyalist forces. If it wasn't for the actions of groups like the B Specials, then it is possible that the violence may not have spiraled in the way it did. Don't forget that the official IRA went on ceasefire in 1972 and it was the provos who continued the violence. Even when the government finally abolished the B Specials they allowed ex-members to join the newly formed UDR, many members of which were complicit in some of the most brutal violence in The Troubles and had ties with the UDA.

As for support for violence, you are correct that most did not support it. But, you have to ask yourself, if you had been present at the Ballymurphy massacre and watched a priest being shot dead, or at Bloody Sunday when unarmed civilians were shot dead, how would you respond? We cannot give an honest answer because we do not know. I do know that one of my cousins went on to become involved with the IRA when his father was shot dead by the army in 1972. Like I said, the many seemingly small mistakes all add up to the eventual big f*ck up. If the Loyalists are unhappy enough with any Brexit deal then you would not see a sudden insurgency against the British. You would see attacks on Catholic areas and civilians, perhaps even Sinn Fein politicians in an attempt to provoke a reaction. If you lose someone close to you through an attack then it is natural to feel a need to avenge them. It is a testimony to the skills and efforts of negotiators on all sides of the peace process that they managed to reach an agreement that allowed those so scarred by the violence to live in peace (albeit not necessarily harmony). This is what the likes of Boris Mogg are risking and they don't have half the skills of the likes of Mo Mowlam, Senator Mitchell or even Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness. I have no confidence in any of the ERG affiliates with regards to the Northern Ireland problem, and if you have any inkling of the history over there (which you seemingly do through family, albeit in the South) then neither should you.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff
As I keep saying, Brexit is all about the NI border issue. The rest of it is just piss and wind, that ultimately could be negotiated. (Well, not by this present government).

To keep the Good Friday agreement in place, (an open border) then NI has to permanently operate a different customs regime from the rest of the UK. This means implementing EU tariffs, and therefore Northern Ireland must be exempt from any future UK trade deals, because we would now have a border in the Irish Sea. But there is no way that the DUP (let alone the UK parliament) would ever agree to such a thing.

And therein lies the danger. It comes down to the future of Northern Ireland once again. The only way to resolve the issue is to acknowledge that Northern Ireland has to have a special status and has to be less closely affiliated to the UK than Wales or Scotland. However, as you rightly point out, there would be riots in unionist areas as it would be perceived as taking a step closer to a united Ireland, goes totally against the unionist instincts of the Conservative Party and also strengthens SNP claims for further autonomy for Scotland.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff
Fair enough. I never crossed the NI/Eire border, but we travelled from the UK to Eire every summer when I was growing up and I know it wasn't at all as easy as it is now. I don't recall if it got any better during the period between Maastericht and the Good Friday Agreement. But we know that the reason it was a tough border to cross was that the troubles were ongoing. The border could have been made easier to cross if the sides had so chosen. I'm still not sure what the EU did that the UK and Eire couldn't have done.

They were able to appear as a neutral party which was the key to the whole thing. Furthermore, the Schengen Vision of no borders fitted perfectly with what was required for Northern Ireland at the time. As to why the border became what it was, it's related to your second point below. Suffice to say, for now, that at the height of the troubles in 1972 (when the UK and Ireland joined the then EEC), relations between the UK and Ireland were as low as they had been since partition following Bloody Sunday and the attack on the British Embassy in Dublin. That is what I refer to when I talk about the "beardy drunks singing IRA songs" being a particularly sloppy description and commensurate with Boris Mogg et al.

I'll have you know that I'm related to a lot of those old beards and I have studied the troubles more than most (like.. *literally* at University). I am a webmong being flippant on Talkback and so do not need to hold myself to the standards that our elected officials should. I have never cited BoJo or the other one as persons with anything helpful to say on this, or any other, matter.

I'm glad you have studied The Troubles; most people in this country know very little about it other than what they saw in the news. Of course, it was and never will be taught in school, so most people will remain largely ignorant of the causes and factors (which is no insult to anybody!). I was born there. One of my earliest memories is of a fireworks party we had one year (generally nationalist families didn't go in for Guy Fawkes night for obvious reasons), which may be similar to many others in this country. However, fireworks were banned in Northern Ireland at the time and I remember being completely underwhelmed by the indoor fireworks, and I had to wait until we moved to England to be underwhelmed by real fireworks. It seemed normal to me. Going to Belfast on the bus, it was normal for the bus to stop so that a squad of armed soldiers could search for bombs before allowing it through. It was normal to have to go through a turnstile and have bags searched before entering the shopping centre. It was normal for every town and city to have huge barriers to close the main streets after 6pm at night so that no cars could be left parked with explosives to destroy streets. I was shocked when I first saw a police station in Reading: "Where are the watchtowers?", or a policeman who did not have a rifle slung over his shoulder. Studying it is one thing' being born into it and then returning for holidays several times a year after you have left (when most other kids were going off to Spain or France) is another and it inevitably shapes both how you perceive the underlying causes of The Troubles and prospects going forward.

My point was, as well you know, that Nationalist tendencies in the Republic softened and that affected the support that the Republicans got in the North. Both practically and via the implied political 'approval' of Dublin (imagined or otherwise). Which bit of that do you think I got wrong? How come Tricky doesn't get pulled up for disregarding the complex journey to peace and painting the EU as the undisputed saviors of everything?

When you studied The Troubles the first thing you must have learnt was just how politicised everything really was including the history of The Troubles right up to the present day. Look at the Ballymurphy Massacre, something which many outside of Ireland knew very little about, partly because it was overshadowed by Bloody Sunday, but also because the army implemented a curfew and were able to proceed with reckless abandon without global media watching their every move. I was talking to my mother about Ballymurphy the other day following the recent documentary. According to my mother, even they knew little about it at the time despite living in Cliftonville a few miles away. She says at that time it was becoming common to hear gun battles taking place in Belfast. Although the height of The Troubles (in terms of deaths at least) were a year away, 1971 in Belfast sounds utterly terrifying, with Internment, regular battles between republicans and the RUC/Army/Loyalists, rioting, looting, firebombing etc. My mother says that it felt like civil war was breaking out.

When Ballymurphy happened, the official line was that the British Army had shot armed terrorists (or insurgents - I don't think the terrorist tag really started to be applied until a bit later that year or next) and that is how it was reported in the media across the world and in Northern Ireland. The reality was very different and came to be well known in Northern Ireland especially and served as propaganda for the IRA and Provisional IRA at the time leading to many new recruits.

The upshot is that for as long as the British Army were present in Northern Ireland there was never any prospect of peace. On the other hand, the RUC was seen as being overwhelmingly Unionist (not just seen as, it clearly was) so there was no way the army could withdraw. The result was a stalemate with the RUC/Army on one side and the Nationalists on the other.

Yes, the Republic of Ireland had always laid claim to the rest of Ireland prior to the Peace Process. It was a massive thing for the Irish government to change the constitution and acknowledge that Northern Ireland was part of the territory of the UK. This was the pinnacle of a long a painful process which, at the time of the UK and Ireland's ascension to the EEC, would have seemed utterly impossible. What has this to do with how the border ended up the way it did? Well, if it wasn't for the intransigence of the hardline unionists who for decades refused to acknowledge that suppressing the nationalist population would ultimately lead to trouble, and a litany of mistakes made by the British government in handling the years leading up to The Troubles, then we may not have seen a part of the UK on the brink of Civil War in the 1970s. It is precisely the "beardy drunken republicans singing songs" attitude which worsened the crisis in the first place, and it is that same attitude which, I fear, could well make things take a marked turn for the worse again. As you've studied the issues, I don't need to point out that your admittedly tongue-in-cheek statement is not far from how the IRA were perceived in the late 1960s. However, it didn't take long for it to become an operation that even the British Intelligence Services admitted was highly professional and made every other splinter group and paramilitary organisation (INLA, UVF, UFF et al) look like rank amateurs. If a group of people feel threatened enough then is it far from incredible to fear that a violent movement may emerge; it's not as if there is no history of it, is it?

OK, we are not seeing attacks on Nationalist populations by "reservist" groupings of the police force, or a perfectly legal UDA (not made illegal until the 1990s) forcing people out of their homes with intimidation and firebombings. Neither are we seeing gerrymandering whereby a majority nationalist city like Derry consistently returns unionist politicians thanks to boundary changes and the fact that only those who own property are allowed to vote. Things are very different from how they were both prior to The Troubles and in the period up to 1973. You correctly state that weariness started to erode support a bit later; the Bloody Friday bombings in Belfast and the constant fear of death inevitably led to increasing calls for peace. But, you also have to recognise that throughout The Troubles, the vast majority of the population wanted peace. When I was eighteen months old my mother took me on a peace march in Belfast with a group called "Mothers for Peace" protesting against the violence. Her own mother was dead against her going on the march; not because she didn't want peace, but because she was terrified that violence would erupt and she would be killed. A terrorist organisation needs little support to wage a campaign of terror; who knows what would happen if a new group arose and mounted a campaign? Given the febrile state of politics right now I wouldn't rule-out leaders forgetting about history and totally overreacting leading to a spiral of violence. After all, the likes of Boris Mogg treat the whole issue with flippant disregard, and Theresa May is in debt to the DUP for support (who, we should not forget, were opposed to the Good Friday Agreement).

I know you were being somewhat flippant in your comments, but you have to understand that there is still a lot of fear that things could easily spiral out of control. We've already seen an example where a seemingly common case of corruption by an elected politician has led to the suspension of the Northern Irish government for a long period. Never underestimate the ability of utterly intransigent people to completely f*ck up a delicate situation. Northern Ireland still has divisions: the Peace Walls are higher than ever and most schools are still segregated on religious grounds. There is still a long way to go before elected politicians can even start to think about joking about how bad things used to be. You are not a politician and are rightly not held to the same high standards. The problem is that there are elected politicians who are equally flippant and the media is not picking them up on it. It is not the final big mistake that causes a catastrophe; it is the multitude of small f*cks leading up to it that are the real cause. The Irish border question is undoubtedly the biggest issue for the people of Northern Ireland because it may literally be a case of life or death. I for one do not want c*ntweasels like Boris Mogg mocking it with crude assertions to suicide bombers in order to further their own ambitions.
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: This Europe Stuff
Definitely not direct, and I'm uneasy on the whole premise.

Firstly, the UK and Eire were EU members at the peak of the troubles.

Secondly, whilst free movement is very important to the good Friday agreement, there was free movement between the UK and Eire prior to the EU providing the same. There's not a lot to indicate that the agreement wouldn't have come about had the EU never existed

though here you can get very indirect and ask whether the benefit to Eire of EU membership and investment which absolutely contributed to social and economic development was instrumental in bringing the good folk of Eire to a mind whereby there was no longer any mandate for Dublin's continued support (by whatever means) for the cause in the North. But of course if that is the case, and it most likely partly is, it's irrelevant now because Brexit won't turn 25 counties back into 2nd world bogs full of pissed old beards singing 'Up the RA'

A bit late to this one, but I have to pull you up on it because it's exactly the sort of misremembering of history that has been peddled by Johnson-Mogg and co.
Anybody who crossed the border from Northern Ireland to Eire before 1998 will tell you that there was no such thing as free movement. The vast majority of cross-border roads were closed; the roads that were open funneled through army checkpoints overlooked by watchtowers containing British soldiers with machine guns trained on the border at all times.
Anybody who travelled from Heathrow to Aldergrove prior to 1998 will tell you that not only were you questioned on your reasons for travelling to Northern Ireland, but you also had to go through an army checkpoint on the only road leading to the airport (again, all other roads surrounding the airport being closed). When travelling to Aldergrove, if those soldiers didn't like the look of you then they would tear your car apart and detain you for many hours.
I can recall going to Northern Ireland by ferry from Liverpool in 1989 for my Grandfather's funeral with my father and brother and being questioned by security forces as to our reasons for travelling. That was the reality of the so-called freedom of movement between Northern Ireland and Eire (or even the rest of the UK) prior to the peace process.
To hear a privileged oaf like Johnson using a terrorism analogy for the negotiations over the  border question demonstrates either how little they care, or how stupid they are (probably both). Northern Ireland may appear to at peace from the outside, but sectarian tensions still simmer quite warmly just beneath the surface in many areas and there are plenty of people waiting in the wings to stir up trouble should there be any sign of a border between the two countries.

As for your assertion about the reason for Dublin dropping "support for the cause" in the North, I really think you should read more deeply in the history of the Troubles before using such flippant statements as "pissed up old beards singing Up IRA". The history is incredibly complex and it took a huge amount of effort to reach the position where there is, largely, peace in the region. Comments such as those above show exactly the level of misunderstanding that exacerbated the situation in the first place. Unfortunately, Johnson-Mogg also seem to share that misunderstanding (or don't care of course).
The Daily Cut and Thrust / Re: The All New Apocalyptic Weather Thread
Dead thread alert....
Anyway, just recorded the highest temperature of the year so far on my weather station in the back garden: 32.5oC. It's looking parched out there!
Could be looking at 35oC a bit later. Tomorrow there is the potential to break the highest temperature recorded in the UK; not just in my back garden...
Whatever, it's too hot to be in the office, so I'm glad to be working from home.