News - May 2000


Gerry Adams
18th May 2000

Today's decision by the UUP leader David Trimble to recommend his party's return to government is welcome news. This decision should have been taken two weeks ago. The IRA initiative was universally recognised as courageous and imaginative. It provided the opportunity to move forward.

It is now time for the pro-Agreement majority in the UUP to enthusiastically embrace this opportunity, face down the rejectionists and join with the other pro-Agreement parties in implementing the Good Friday Agreement.

The two governments also have to convince nationalists and republicans that they have not departed from the commitments made in their Joint statement, Joint letter and in the Good Friday Agreement.

So once again the peace process has come to a defining point. But by now we have learnt, or we should have learned, that this will not be the last defining point. It appears to be the character of a process such as this. This time the defining moment is for the Ulster Unionists.

But they are not on their own. In order to advance the process to where it is now Republicans had to make hard choices. The magnitude of these should not be underestimated or undervalued.

Thirty years of war was the consequence of all that passed since Ireland was partitioned. Those who waged the conflict have a special responsibility but as we have all acknowledged by now those who acquiesced to, or sustained, tolerated or ignored the political conditions in which conflict endured, cannot absolve themselves of responsibility

The absence of peace is caused by the presence of injustice, inequality, and a lack of democracy. Conflict arises when people feel they have no alternative way to influence the situation.

That is what the peace process is about. The Good Friday Agreement is a product of that process. That is what it is about also. It is about the management of change. Our future depends on how that change is managed. So far the management of the process has been totally unsatisfactory.

In all of this the policy and the strategy and the attitude of the British government is crucial. Of all the players its role is the central one. The objective reality at this time is that it is the government which has jurisdiction over this part of the island. Republicans and unionists cannot make progress unless the British government is prepared to change the political conditions in which we live.

The best way to manage change is through an inclusive process, based on equality, in which the participants agree on what has to be done and then act collectively in partnership to achieve this.

This would not be easy even in an enterprise where the participants have common objectives. It is enormously more difficult when the participants have opposite and conflicting objectives. So compromise is required. But compromise after 30 years of conflict can be the biggest challenge of all. Unless self-interest takes over. It is or it should be patently obvious to all political leaders that the self-interest of all sections of the people of this island are served by the creation and the maintenance of a new dispensation which can guarantee a peaceful future. In other words peace is in the best interests of everyone. And therein lies the worm at the heart of the peace process.

What price peace? Rejectionist unionism, sections of the British establishment, the Tories and the securocrats, don't want peace. A conflict resolution process leading to a negotiated settlement causes great problems for them. They prefer a more simple definition of conflict resolution. That is one side -- their side -- wins. But in a successful conflict resolution the only winners are the vast bulk of the citizens not any of the combatant groups.

So a conflict resolution process is hugely threatening to these elements. For them a peace process is war by another means. And in the throes of all the propaganda, fears, rumours, and the hurt inflicted on all sides during 30 years of armed conflict, those who are committed enough to their political objectives to join political parties or armed groups are faced with real challenges and difficult choices.

No longer is it as straightforward as it used to be when the war was the reason or the excuse to avoid such decisions. Everyone has to come to terms with that. The British government, the Irish government, all the political parties and all the people of this island. Things are never going to be the same again. That is what unionism has to recognise. In fairness some already have. But they have yet to cross the Rubicon.

Will they do so on Saturday week? No one knows. Two weeks ago in an atmosphere of despondency and very low expectations a joint statement and joint letter from the two governments triggered an unprecedented IRA statement. Together these were universally welcomed has having the potential to break the deadlock in the process.

This was rejected by all the usual suspects. But the response from the UUP was one of cautious welcome, with some of its leaders, in particular John Taylor, going much further than that. After this initial welcome however the UUP went on to raise other issues, to seek more concessions and to open up other negotiations. They were encouraged in this, despite Sinn Fein protests and representations, by the attitude of the British government.

The hard reality is that the UUP leadership has never fully embraced the Good Friday Agreement. Despite protestations to the contrary the UUP strategy has been based upon an effort to hollow out the Agreement, and to reshape the effect of its implementation so that these reflect the unionist view.

This has been the basis of every move forward by the UUP. At every juncture they have moved on their own terms and in a conditional way based on those terms. While the rest of us may have to live with some of this the fact is that the process cannot survive if there is a change in the context represented by the Good Friday Agreement, or indeed by the recent joint position of the two governments.

Mr. Trimble and his colleagues will have to take this on board as they approach their defining moment. But so too must Mr. Blair and Peter Mandelson. They should not misjudge how their response to unionist hardboiling has effected republican attitudes this week.

Equality has been a fundamental tenet of Irish republicanism since it was founded over 200 years ago, and has been the campaigning focus of Sinn Fein for decades. In itself this a problem for some unionists -- if we are for it they believe they have to be against it.

In many ways Sinn Fein has been the engine for change. Sinn Fein's resounding success in two recent by-elections in the north indicates that this is appreciated by the electorate. However gratifying that is for our party it presents difficulties for other parties and anyway a nationalist or republican driven process was never likely to be very attractive to most unionists anyway. So none of us should underestimate how challenging all of this is for the Ulster Unionist Party.

Despite this, equality also has to be a central tenet of this process. It has to be its outcome. But some unionists feel threatened even by the concept, or the idea of equality. This is one of the gaps that has to be bridged because when unionist leaders realise that equality is in unionist interests also, then this process will click. Because then a partnership and a basis for trust, based upon this common self-interest will have been established.

Will they embrace this concept? Yes, in my view, eventually. But only after more difficult, agonising, and frustrating ups and downs, false dawns and convoluted perambulations and only, as I have told Tony Blair many times, when a British government makes it clear by deed instead of semantics, that there is no other option.

That is why republicans have to be long-headed and strategic in our approach. We are the ones who want the maximum change. Sinn Fein is the one party that wants to see a total transformation of the situation, so we have to be patient, resolute, and magnanimous. But we must be assertive in how we create the conditions to achieve this.

There will be much frustration that yet another week has to pass before the UUP makes up its mind to do what it agreed to do over two years ago. There is also widespread suspicion that the governments, particularly the British government, has moved towards the UUP position. I am told that this is not the case.

When Sinn Fein negotiated the package which created the present opportunity we did so having learned from the Mitchell Review and from the period leading up to the British government's suspension of the institutions. That is how and why Mr. Trimble has a deal to put to the UUP but that deal has to be the one agreed at Hillsborough on May 5th. I reminded both governments of that again last night.

Reproduced from
Irish Republican News and Information

7th May 2000

The BNP vote in London on May 4th amounted to 47,679 (2.8% of the turnout), growing to 78,906 with the inclusion of votes cast for BNP mayoral candidate Mike Newland. In the east end of London approximately 12% of white voters voted BNP. Meanwhile, the left's last ditch abandonment of auto-Labourism, under the guise of the London Socialist Alliance (LSA) attracted 27,073 votes, 1.6% of the vote. In fact the entire left votes combined still fell 2.2% short of the 5% minimum required to secure an assembly seat.

Creative accounting...

The statistical gerrymanders of the British left have never let the truth get in the way of a good hoodwinking deception though. A recent hilarious, though slightly macabre example was the funeral of Socialist Workers Party (SWP) leader Tony Cliff a couple of weeks ago, attended, according to the Weekly Worker, by around a thousand mourners. With a comical disregard for all that is supposedly sacrosanct and unable to resist bumping up the figures, before they'd had time to lower the coffin the SWP were claiming in excess of 3,000 mourners. Cliff would've been proud of this continuation of a fine SWP tradition.
On Radio Five Live, on May 7th, the LSA's Croydon candidate Mark Steel, himself an SWP member went overboard in a bizzare attempt to rewrite very recent history. The ink on the ballot papers was hardly dry when he claimed that the LSA would've at least got supremo Paul Foot elected onto the assembly, had it not been for Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party. He blatantly lied again, in the same breath, falsely claiming a total of 46,000 votes for the LSA, when the reality is that the LSA vote only amounted to 27,000. A reflection that the left would still rather take comfort from exageration and outright fiction than take stock of political reality.
The LSA of course didn't put forward it's own mayoral candidate, missing out on the free distribution of some five million election leaflets. Instead the LSA chose to back Ken Livingstone, despite his lack of a socialist agenda, and the deliberate distance and denial he put between himself and the LSA.

The BNP on the other hand will be quietly confidant with the steady gains being made in the capital. The London vote for the BNP at the general election was 35,000, with a further 18,000 votes gained across London in last year's Euro elections. The Assembly vote for the BNP will unarguably lend weight to their efforts to become a perceivably more accepted facet of the political mainstream.

In local council elections elsewhere the BNP also saw an overall rise in electoral support;


TIPTON GREEN 23.7% (UP 36% ON 1999)
FENTON GREEN (STOKE) 9.3% (UP 86% ON 1999)


Red Action are more than aware of the implications of these results, indeed Red Action were the first to distinguish and identify the vacuum to the left of Labour, at a time when the remnants of the British left were still either advocating futile 'entryism' or calling on people to'vote Labour without illusions'.
The efforts of the likes of Red Action and Anti Fascist Action have, up to now, meant that Britain is the only country in Europe without a significant fascist presence at either a local or national level. However, as the vacuum increases the failings of the left become more and more apparent, in a country where asylum seekers have been brought to the fore, and race rather than class has again become an overwhelming political pivot. The class in question is that of the working class and not that of the middle class orientated 'New Labour' or the predominantly middle class 'radical' left.
Red Action remains unique in it's pro-working class analysis of the current and pending political situations in Britain.


Taken from the current April/ May edition of the Red Action bulletin.
Hard on the heels of the off the cuff comments on immigration on Radio Five Live came the Sun / Daily Mail blitzkrieg. Of the Hearn outburst one critic noted: "It is only because the rest of us let the rest of them get away with it" that people like him see them as "self evident truths supported by the vast majority". Nimbly jumping on the passing bandwagon, a Guardian columnist that Brixton had become a beggars' Mecca, with it's heady combination of cheap crack and the infallible kindness of the indegenous church going population and middle-class lefties". Otherwise 'liberal' Alison Pearson too felt compelled to record that 'their' children "looked drugged, or maybe just numgb, a state to which their mothers - if mothers they be - appear sullenly indifferent. And they are dirty..." Her spleen vented, "the worst thing about this story", she reflected "is that it puts a smile on the face of every thin-lipped fascist who thinks 'refugee' is just another word for sponger."

For all the Straw/Widdiecombe bombast one politcal leader was at least pleased to see them. Ulike "the church going West Indians and the humble ex-Raj Asians", writes BNP supremo Nick Griffin, whose arrival the latest batch, "Albanians, Afghans and Somalis", come from "traditionally violent bandit cultures". Adding with a smack of the lips that the new arrivals will "cause trouble, not in twenty years time, but virtually immediately!

In head to head confrontation with the British National Party in the London Assembly elections on May 4th will be the London Socialist Alliance (LSA). In tune with the Euro-Nationalist dictum 'of putting power before principles', the BNP no longer call for 'immediate repatriation'. Putting principles before all else is, it appears, the approach favoured by the LSA. A call for an end to 'racist' immigration controls would be normal enough, but a demand for the 'scrapping of all immigration controls', outside of a distant aspiration, is unusual, even in the most flamboyant of sects. Perhaps the LSA genuinely believe 'refugees welcome here' is a simple statement of fact. Perhaps they believe that 'the war is won and we won it' as LSA candidate and ANL activist Weyman Bennett informed an AFA audience back in October. Perhaps it is they, rather than Barry Hearn, who are speaking 'self evident truths'. Maybe politics, like religion should be a matter of 'morality', irrespective of consequences anyway

So when a journalist in a mixed race marriage warns in the Observer that "middle class whites" like them "have got to realise that there are not a few bad apples out their in society" ruining their 'multi-cultural dream', "the bad apples are in the majority and the so-called multi-cultural dream is actually a nightmare" has the LSA taken into account what he or anybody else thinks? Who knows? But one thing is certain. That policy on immigration will put a smile on every fascist mug, thin-lipped or otherwise, who is convinced that 'socialist' is now just another word for 'loser'.