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“DR NO” SAYS “YES PLEASE MR ADAMS….”

By ATWadmin On March 26th, 2007 at 2:57 pm

paisleyadams203i.jpgHere’s an image that some thought would never happen – DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley sitting down to do business with his new best friend, IRA leader Gerry Adams. I wonder what they discussed – the La Mon House Hotel atrocity perhaps? Utterly revolting and a day of consumate shame for the DUP.  May 8th will mark the day that principled Unionism dies. As part of Paisley’s dirty deal, he has also agreed to regular interim meetings with Martin McGuinness. Maybe Dr Paisley could gain some insight into the bombing of the little village of Claudy, from self-confessed IRA terrorist McGuinness? Honestly, I am SO GLAD I have never voted for the DUP. They can do what they want – but it is NOT in my name. On the radio this morning, I was told that I was "on my own" when it comes to opposing doing deals with terrorists to gain devolution. So be it.

All is revealed!!

By ATWadmin On March 26th, 2007 at 10:46 am

Somehow, I don’t believe I have much of a future as a crossword puzzle writer, or whatever the term may be!

 Okay, The trail began with the Equal Opportunities Commission, as i reckoned this word would be a natural for their vocabulary.

 Trevor Phillips, the over-promoted patron saint of all things politically-correct, should be utilising this word in every other sentence!

Horse-racing, or at least some of it, depends on a system of HANDICAPPING!

‘Truly Silly Words’ radar wasn’t working because it been DISABLED!

 So my own Newest English word is "Ta…Da" (flourish of trumpets)

 DISABLISM

 

The same term is painted on the side of a local bus, in amongst a group of ‘ISM’S which are now categorised as ‘Hate Crimes’, and I believe you can be put in jail for these offences, which all goes to show, well, something or other!

 

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO NORTHERN IRELAND POLITICS; PART THREE: THE ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY

By ATWadmin On March 26th, 2007 at 8:50 am

The Ulster Unionist Party; "The Way of the Lemming"

Over the past ten years, I have acquired the reputation of being a stern critic of the Ulster Unionist Party. (UUP) The ironic thing is that Ulster Unionism should have been my natural political home. After all, at one time I presumed it was a pluralist political party that sought to bring about a decent Northern Ireland for all of the people. Many in the Party still like to imagine this fiction but the truth is much uglier.

Having been born in the Quaker-built village of Bessbrook, an Ulster Unionist political fortress in south Armagh, I rather identified the UUP as the natural party of the Union. In due course I also became of Dr Ian Paisley starting up his alternative party but he was a “maverick” back in those days. Of course the good Doctor has subsequently come to view “mavericks” as a most undesirable political species!

Whilst my family was entirely non-party political, I did pick up on the fact that those public figures who represented the Ulster Unionist Party were a few steps up the social ladder from working class people and this “Big House” dimension to the UUP did not impress me in the least. As I grew older I began to perceive the Ulster Unionists as a group who looked after their own and who were riddled with class snobbery. In many ways the Party had been dipped in political aspic circa 1921 and had never moved on.

In the spirit of balance however I also must say that the UUP had endeavoured to defend the Union to the best of its (limited) ability and indeed it certainly had attracted the unwelcome attention of the IRA for its bother. As a child back in 1972, I can remember the assassination attempt on Ulster Unionist MP John Taylor by Irish republicans in Armagh. It happened near to the swimming pool that I had visited but an hour or so beforehand; fortunately Mr Taylor survived but the IRA lodged five bullets in his head.

When I was living as a student in Belfast in 1981, I recall hearing of the brutal slaying of the Ulster Unionist MP Reverend Robert Bradford, gunned down at a local community centre. I also recall the vicious killing in 1983 of rising Ulster Unionist star Edgar Graham, at Queen’s University in Belfast. Wiping out intelligent Ulster Unionists seemed very much part of the IRA game plan in those dark days and one would have thought that having experienced such horror first-hand, the UUP could be relied upon not to compromise with such bloodthirsty gangsters. How wrong can you be?

Moving forward to the mid-90’s, James Molyneaux was coming to the end of his inept period as leader of the party. There was significant dissent within the ranks at his failure to achieve anything of value and whilst he may have been seen as a “safe pair of hands” by a few, the problem was that he was not waving with them but slowly drowning!

I followed the leadership election meeting to replace him with interest. David Trimble was hardly the establishment figure expected to win and I remember the media speculating that his rival candidates Ken Maginnis or John Taylor would more than likely win the day. But in the final analysis, Trimble came out on top, handsomely beating John Taylor in the run-off. I was pleased about this – since Trimble was also my local MP in Upper Bann. His role in the Drumcree Parade stand off at Portadown in the July of this year undoubtedly had an impact on his fortunes and I suppose one could say that he was seen as a bit of a “right-wing” Unionist. Appearances, of course, can be very deceiving! Trimble became leader on 8th September 1995 and it seemed to me that a new era was dawning. This was indeed the case but how disastrous it would prove for the UUP!

Almost one year after David Trimble became leader, I met with him at the UUP Headquarters in Glengall Street, Belfast. This was when I had become Chairman of the BPPU (Business and Professional People for the Union) and led a delegation of half a dozen or so colleagues to meet Mr Trimble. It proved to be a fiery encounter and we were surprised at how easily Trimble lost his temper. My initial impressions of being ushered into the UUP offices was the deferential tone staff used to “The Leader” I have never liked inappropriate formality and thought the atmosphere strange.

The discussion was all about trying to understand Ulster Unionist strategy with regard to relations with the Irish Government. Trimble was asked would he talk directly to Dublin, he said that he would. This created a hostile response from one of my BPPU colleagues, and Trimble went red in the face and I thought he was going to reach out and throttle the offending questioner! He thumped the table and asked “How dare” we question him on how he would operate “his” policy towards the Irish Government. I think we all felt this was a very over the top reaction and a sour atmosphere pervaded the rest of the meeting. If things had started badly with Mr Trimble they were to go quickly downhill!

One of the best descriptions I ever heard about Trimble came from UK Unionist Leader Robert McCartney who said that Trimble combined the most disastrous aspects of a political personality, a highly developed mind but a weak political personality. Trimble also projected the idea that he knew best. Intelligence without acumen is no benefit in politics!

Suspicions about Trimble’ flawed judgement appeared confirmed in September of the following year, 1997, when he entered a Government controlled political talks process with IRA/Sinn Fein. Equally repellent to unionist such as myself was the link up between the UUP and two very minor parties – the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP). These two parties were political fronts for the terror groups the UVF and the UDA. Both these terror groups had carried out horrendous acts during the previous decades and to see the so-called “Natural Party of Government” as the UUP liked to portray itself parlaying with such scum as the UDA and UVF’s mouthpieces was profoundly revolting.

The following Easter in 1998 Mr Trimble did that which many of us feared and committed his Party to a sordid deal with IRA/Sinn Fein. All along we had to tried to warn Trimble that the outcome of the talks he was involved in was pre-determined. It was all about conflict resolution between the British Government and the IRA. The former wanted to buy off the latter, and the price being asked by the IRA was a process of gradualised Irish unification. The UK Government could not impose this but it needed to ensure that at least some Unionists were stupid enough to participate in faux negotiations to give it the cover required and this is where Trimble’s reckless and misplaced confidence in his own ability to negotiate was to play such a major role.

The Ulster Unionists came out of the negotiations claiming that the Union was secured; that the Irish Government’s ludicrous claims to Northern Ireland in Articles 2&3 had been removed; that the RUC was safe; and that they had got the surety that the IRA would decommission. All pure fantasy!

In fact, the reality was that the 1920 Government of Ireland Act – the Act which created Northern Ireland — was repealed; that the Irish Government had exchanged its worthless territorial claims in Articles 1 &2 for an internationally recognised claim to ALL of the people of Northern Ireland; that the RUC’s demise was ensured; that hundreds of convicted killers were allowed to walk free; that embryonic and unaccountable all Ireland bodies were established; and that the IRA was not tied
down to decommission so much as one bullet.

However such was the unprecedented media spin that even though the Ulster Unionist Party had made a calamitous misjudgement it was nonetheless hailed as a triumph. David Trimble, along with SDLP John Hume, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his “progressiveness.” In a way it was a triumph – but for the skilful strategy of Irish Republicans and the deceitful skills of the UK and Irish mandarins who drafted the detail of what was “agreed”. It was obvious that the Ulster Unionist negotiators lacked the skill requited to get themselves a good deal at a whelk stall, and their boastful claims would be exposed and the Party would go through a self-implosion over the next eighth years.

Its high-water mark was in the immediate aftermath of this deal when it captured 28 seats in the Assembly Election of June 1998, making it the biggest political Party present. At that time, it also had 10 Members of Parliament. The claim to be the “natural party of Government” still seemed vaguely plausible thought that was bout to crash and burn. The reality was that by embracing the Belfast Agreement, the UUP embraced its own demise.

It was towards the end of 1999 that the poor judgement of David Trimble was to be most famously exposed. Having narrowly won one of his interminable “Executive Meetings” (With only the tell tale clink of Zimmer frames giving an indication of the age profile of this “elite executive”), the Upper Bann MP determined he would go back in power with the IRA’s front men. “ We have done our bit. Mr. Adams, it is over to you. We have jumped, you follow."

This was what I call Lemming political acumen. He jumped, but Adams did not follow! After plummeting for three months over the political cliff, Trimble declared that his party could no longer continue in government with Sinn Fein. This led to the suspension of the executive!

By May 2000, Trimble had bounced back in government with Sinn Fein/IRA after a complicated sequence of statements and deals led to him agreeing to return as the IRA allegedly opened up some of its arms dumps for independent inspection. Of course no one knew what was inspected, where it was inspected, or even why it was inspected. Just remember the deal that Trimble had signed up to in 1998 was supposed to have led to the complete decommissioning of the IRA arsenal by June 2001. Not even a bullet had been publicly handed over by that date. His political capital had been devastated by the IRA but the media preferred not to dwell on that detail. They needed their man in place.

My next meeting with David Trimble was after he had assumed the position of First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Bob McCartney and I met with him, the plan being to determine what his thinking was with regard to the developing political situation. David Trimble was accompanied in this meeting by the UUP Chief Whip, Jim Wilson. It was a very strange meeting. Bob was on his best behaviour and Trimble himself was fine, conversational though with an undeniable (and misplaced) sense of his having second-guessed “the Shinners” (Sinn Fein/IRA). But all the way through the meeting, Jim Wilson never spoke, never even looked at us but instead played with a small piece of silver paper he had rolled up in a little ball. He seemed pre-occupied with this game. We got nowhere with Trimble, as expected, but left having at least exchanged pleasantries and shaken hands. On the way along the corridor from Trimble’s office we looked at each other and asked the same question “What on earth was Wilson doing playing with that silver paper ball?” I concluded that perhaps he was trying to insult us by pretending we weren’t even worthy of a glance. Either that or he was just bonkers! It was a weird experience.

From that point on, I had no more patience for the UUP. That said, I remained friendly with a number of the younger and brighter Ulster Unionists such Peter Weir and Simon Hamilton. In the years ahead they, along with other younger talent, would bail out of the crumbling UUP and join the DUP.

In my local area I delighted in attacking them week in, weak out, through the press. The UUP in Upper Bann – Trimble apart – were sheer comedy. There was not one of them who could construct much more than one coherent sentence and I had great fun taunting them.

George Savage was my neighbour and also a prominent figure in the UUP. He had been elected to the Assembly on Trimble’s transfer votes in 1998. Now, even his best friends would accept that George is hardly a silver tongued cavalier. Not so much Oscar, more just wild! He is a farmer, and whilst I have every confidence in his ability to discern the front end from the rear end of a cow, when it comes to constitutional complexities, it’s probably best he goes to make the tea.

I had challenged any of the local Ulster Unionist MLA’s to a public debate, anywhere, anytime. The intrepid George finally was cornered into facing me at a local hall at a meeting hosted by the Loyal Orders. I fully prepared my speech and arrived all set for a verbal battle. I was quite happy for George gave his “speech” first. The thing is that it wasn’t really a speech – more a series of mumbles. He had no start, no middle and I think we weren’t even sure when he had ended. I put my speech away and ad-libbed because I genuinely felt sorry for him. I appreciate he was not First Division material but this was more Fourth Division. I can recall the huge sense of deflation – it was like pummelling a blancmange.

Not that it was just the local UUP I enjoyed having a go at. I was frequently in print in the National press and on-air and repeatedly referred to the UUP as “Vichy Unionists”. This seemed to annoy them and a highlight for me was when David Trimble made sarcastic reference to me in his speech at the UUP Annual Party Conference!

From my own political antennae on the ground, it was obvious that David Trimble’s shameful decision to sit in power with the likes of self-confessed IRA commander Martin McGuinness was received very badly. On the election trail in 2001, I don’t think I have ever encountered such hatred towards a politician as that I heard directed towards Mr Trimble. People came out on several occasions to berate me – thinking I was an Ulster Unionist! I can only imagine what it was like for the Trimble team. That said, he got himself re-elected – but this time with a diminished majority and a number of nationalists and republicans voting for him. But the writing was on the wall as Trimble ignored the anger of the unionist people and continued to preen across the political stage.

But it really was all coming to an end for the Trimble UUP. Between 2003 and 2005, even the media could not stop the constant stories of fractious in-fighting that characterised the Party. Trimble’s Torquemada was Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Jeffrey constantly badgered the Trimble position on power-sharing with terrorists and shows great principle at the time. I recall writing to him encouraging his stance and hoping that his view might prevail. The delicious irony was that but a few years later, Donaldson would have jumped ship, joined the DUP, and would be himself advocating sitting in power with Sinn Fein/IRA. I don’t believe any electorate like to see a divided Party – it certainly did for my old Party the UKUP, and I believe the schisms of these years also spelt the end for the UUP.

For years the MSM portrayed Trimble as a political colossus, who always came up smelling of roses. That bloom vanished in the aftermath of th
e 2005 General Election results. Where the UUP had 10 MP’s, they were now reduced to 1. This was a stunningly bad result – and Trimble lost his own seat! It was of course absolutely inevitable and even preventable but that would have required modesty and a collegiate approach to Party management. The scale of the wipe out was so great it made international news and even the MSM could no longer put a brave face on it for Trimble.

He resigned from the position he had held since 1995 blaming Tony Blair for “indulging Republicans.” This was true in as far as it went but it was not the complete story because Trimble himself had indulged Republicans, constantly thinking he knew better than them. He had become detached from the feelings of the pro-Union electorate, his Party had been turned into an ill-disciplined shambles, and in summary he had gambled away the UUP’s prime position within Unionism and gained nothing. The DUP had eclipsed his Party, a situation which was to continue further following the 2007 Assembly Election results.

He was replaced as Leader by Sir Reg Empey – a close ally during his years in power. Empey had also sat around the Executive table with IRA/Sinn Fein but by this time there was no fight left in the UUP to do anything different. It was to be more of the same and as I quipped in one interview, Sir Reg has proven his critics wrong and achieved the seemingly impossible – by making Trimble seem like an effective Leader! The UUP has become a creature of the Belfast Agreement, content to share political power with the representatives of an organisation that had cruelly murdered its own members. It had become morally hollowed out from within after almost ten years at the heart of the rotten peace process.

So, where now for the UUP? I honestly do not think it has a future. The DUP has successfully salami-sliced it from the political right, the Alliance Party has moved in to feed on the soft left. It is so slavishly pro-Agreement, so enthusiastic to power-share with terrorists, that it seems doomed to further diminution.

The UUP famously ran its disastrous 2005 election campaign on the slogan “Decent people vote Ulster Unionist” Not any more. It has no charismatic personalities, it has no unique political perspective, and in fact there is absolutely nothing about it that appeals. In all honesty, I think a few sensible souls within it must realise the end is nigh. I also suspect some vainly hope that the DUP will mess up in some way and that it can then be returned to power. This won’t be the case as by that time the UUP will be long gone from the political radar. Gone off the cliff one final time – they may jump – but no one cares

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BLUSTER AND REALITY

By ATWadmin On March 26th, 2007 at 7:38 am

Part of the burlesque concerning "political progress" here in Northern Ireland seems to be predicated around whether or not the DUP can get Gordon Brown to agree to a reduced rate of corporation tax here in Northern Ireland and we hear a lot of DUP bluster about what they might be able to "negotiate."

Of course the reality is that Gordon Brown has actually INCREASED the rate of corporation tax that Small to Medium-Sized Business will pay from 20 to 22% in his budget last week. SME’s make up around 65% of our employment base so even as we endure all the political nonsense on the local stage, economic realities on the broader scale are going in exactly the opposite direction.

Let me suggest that the "Peace Dividend Bonanza" idea being touted by all the Parties via he MSM is a chimera, it’s just a big illusion! I appreciate that some would rather talk about corporation tax rates in order to divert attention from the more unseemly aspect of all of this namely power-sharing with the representatives of terrorism but even to take it on its own terms – it’s a big economic NOTHING.

KIDNAPPED BRITISH SAILORS – BRITISH GOVERNMENT “SERIOUS” (NOT KIDDING)

By ATWadmin On March 26th, 2007 at 7:13 am

gulf_map_416x270_4.gifWell, another day goes by and our sailors and marines  remain captive in Iran. Having listened carefully to British dipomatic entreaties, I see that Iran had decided it may bring charges against the Marines/Sailors! So, good progress there. Here’s a few ideas as to how we could solve the problem instead of all the diplomatic pussyfooting about.

1. How about an emergency UN motion – condemning Iran and urging the immediate release of the captured Brits or else Iran loses its UN membership?

2. Yes, I know that going to the UN is a waste of time so how about Britain decides to block movement of all Iranian vessels from Iranian waters? With EU support of course, given how concerned the EU is about the developments. Ahem.

3. How about a quiet phone call from Blair to President Ahmadinejad explaining just what a nuclear attack would do for his redevelopment plans for downtown Tehran?

DV TO DISCUSS DUP PROSTITUTION ON THE BBC…

By ATWadmin On March 26th, 2007 at 7:04 am

Just a quick word for those who can listen (It’s live on the net and also on Listen Again) to say that I will be a guest on the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster this morning, hopefully between 9.10am and 9.30am discussing likely political developments today on "D" DAY – devolution or dissolvement for the local Assembly.

I understand that Dr Ian Paisley will meet with IRA/Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams later this morning to cobble together a deal that ensures salaries continue to be paid and the show keeps rolling until May – at which time the DUP will sit in power with the IRA’s frontmen. Utterly depraved, bad politics, and a betrayal of common decency. I hope to have my say on this.

I will also publish later on this morning the third part in my Unionist Trilogy – and this time it is the Ulster Unionist Party that I want to talk about, hope you will enjoy it. It’s called "The Way of the Lemming" – Bruce Lee fans eat your heart out!

What Rubbish!

By ATWadmin On March 25th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

When you read the following try not to laugh too loudly.  You’ll disturb the neighbours.  If the DUP do not enter government with Provo terrorists tomorrow, the terrorists’ own website says:


‘The Irish government especially must compensate for the absence of local political institutions by providing effective representation in the political institution of the Irish state for citizens living in the north.’


Yep, I know it’s the 21st Century, but Irish republicans still seem to be living in 1916.  Can you imagine the Swedish government giving the Swedish resident on the Aland Islands (part of Finland) ‘effective representation in the political institutions of the Swedish state’?  Or how about the Dutch and the French providing ‘effective representation’ for the Flemish and Wallonians respectively and simply doing away with Belgium?  Maybe the Hungarians in Romanian Transylvania should look to Buda rather than Bucha.  As for the Spratly Islands, let’s not go there.  Those islands are under so many claims and inhabited by so many different tribal nationalities we could see ‘effective representation’ taking place in five Asian countries.


In the real world Belgium will remain; Transylvania will be legislated for by the Romanian parliament; the Aland Islands will retain Finnish sovereignty (as per the treaty with Sweden); and Northern Ireland will be represented in the United Kingdom Parliament and ONLY the United Kingdom Parliament.  If the Provos want an ear for the scum that vote for them, perhaps they should be fulfilling the necessary steps to allow them to sit in the House of Commons.


 

A Belgian Weekend

By ATWadmin On March 25th, 2007 at 1:54 pm

I had a few pounds kicking around the house on Thursday night so I decided to impetuously book a two night P&O cruise to Belgium.  I left Hull for Zeebrugge at 7pm on Friday evening and arrived back home at 11am this morning.  It is years since I visited Belgium (my parents took me for a week to Ostend in 1984).  Brugge, in particular, is famous for its network of canals (it styles itself the ‘Venice of northern Europe’) and has to be one of the most picturesque cities of the Benelux.

For anyone considering a quick break I can heartily recommend P&O.  The ship was clean, comfortable and had food to die for.  The crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge takes a little under 12 hours and the cabins are more than suitable for the purpose.  At Zeebrugge I hired a car (horrible left-hand drives!  Why is it only former British colonies have the good sense to drive on the correct side of the road!!?) and drove first to Ostend.  This resort is exactly as it was 23 years ago.  However, it was the bulk of the day spent in Brugge that really brought my attention to the similarities and differences between this country and its Belgian counterpart.

First, the differences.  I drove from Zeebrugge to Ostend; from Ostend to Brugge; and then back to Zeebrugge.  In this 40km round trip do you know how many speed cameras I spotted?  None!  Not one!  It must be that the Belgian government regards owning a vehicle as a deserved pleasure instead of a means to con hard-working people out of money on spurious grounds of a faux concerns for pedestrians.  As for the streets, well, you could have eaten your dinner on the pavements.  No spit, trodden-in chewing gum, dog excrement, litter or fly-tipped rubbish.  It seems Belgian take a greater pride in their country than we do.  Mind you, we have to contend with an overbearance of those at the top who believe in the abandonment of civic and patriotic duty.  Belgium, at least from what I witnessed, still has plenty.

Now come the similarities.  It is only when you travel to mainland Europe that you realise just how badly every country is cursed by mass immigration.  On the streets of Brugge (a city of only 25,000 people) I saw Orientals, Africans and the odd Muslim.  Indeed, one Muslim mother (readily identifiable) was sat on a bench at the back of the Hospital Museum spreading out a rug for her five children as she barked out instructions in French.  This brood then proceeded to tuck into several packages of what looked like orange gunge.  ‘Nothing wrong with that’ you might think.  Except that this bench was immediately below the most beautifully carved oak crucifix with a breathtaking porcelain figure of Our Lord hanging from it.  I wonder how they would like a gaggle of European kids tucking into a Big Mac and fries outside one of their bloody mosques!!?  The weather – a mixture of mist and low cloud – is also a reminder that Brugge lies on the same latitude as Croydon.  There are still those amongst the British travelling public who think that tropical sunshine lies on the other side of the Channel.

Food in Brugge is superb; the Tintin Shop is a must (spent €200 on a miniature statue of Tintin to adorn my mantelpiece); and the ride through the city on a horse-drawn carriage is an unforgettable experience.  What interested me was the frequency of Belgian national flags on public buildings.  We are all familiar with the existence of Flemish separatists (and there is a party to give expression to their wishes).  However, there was no hiding of the State flag to sooth any annoyances they might have felt.  Brugge is part of the Belgian State and its flag was flying high come-what-may.  How pathetic that we can’t show the same determination with regard to the Union Flag in Northern Ireland.  And that, my dear readers, bring us back to the ‘doe’ of the ‘doe-ray-me’: we in Britain are too overburdened with those who are concerned with the abandonment of patriotic duty, lest it offend those who, whilst living within our borders comfortably and with full rights, hate this country to the point of wanting to do it harm.

On This Day…25.03

By ATWadmin On March 25th, 2007 at 1:49 pm

1306 – Robert Bruce is crowned King of the Scots at Scone.

1609 – English navigator and explorer Henry Hudson (who gave his name to Hudson Bay in Canada) sets off on his third voyage attempting to find the north-west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

1807 – British parliament abolishes the slave trade.

1843 – Official opening of the Rotherhithe Tunnel under the River Thames in London.

1949 – The film Hamlet, starring British actor Laurence Olivier, wins five Oscars – the first British film to win an academy award.

1957 – Six European nations (France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland & Luxembourg) sign the Treaty of Rome to create a mutual trading bloc which becomes known as the Common Market.

how sweet the sound…?

By ATWadmin On March 25th, 2007 at 11:32 am

Upon this 200th of the legal abolition of Great Britain’s involvement in the slave trade, the resounding calls by all the liberal left intellectual rabble-rousers for apologies, either collectively or singly, gain ever louder and harsher tones! The question must be asked; if some person or government says "Sorry", who benefits? Would it be the individuals or groups who have so vociferously called for apologies, and latterly for reparations from the offending Governments, the very inheritors of the wealth seemingly produced by the trade in human beings; or would it be the descendants of those unfortunate people who were crammed into sail ships such as the "Madagascar" immortalised as the source of the smell of death by William Wilberforce. The film "Amazing Grace" is commended by this writer for the powerful portrayal of a decent man’s struggle against possibly insurmountable odds, for the remembrance it gives, and for no other reasons!

Time has passed much by, and the slave trade should be no exception. The deeds and things, done and agreed over two centuries past, have a relevance into the present, but the inheritors of the results of these deeds and beliefs bear no responsibility for those deeds, and should therefore never apologise. We may as well ask the Americans to apologise for the actions within "Wounded Knee", or the Afghanis for the massacre of the British Army column during it’s retreat from Kabul. There is an American aphorism which should suffice as a reply to the calls for apology, and it is "Shit Happens!"

We do not hear of the everyday slavery still practised in most of the Arabic world, with women relegated to a very secondary role in life, denied their freedom to walk unencumbered with clothing dictated by a bunch of old men, denied the vote, denied the right to marry whom they wish and denied the right to a fair trial! If that’s not slavery, what is? We do not hear condemnation of the vast prison factories in Communist China, the "Laogai" where upwards of forty million labour in silence to produce many of the goods which adorn the homes in the West, courtesy of B&Q, Homebase and the many American discount shops! We don’t hear a great deal about the modern slaves of Brazil, whose plight is rarely discussed within polite liberal circles, whilst the tea is carefully laid upon tables made from Brazilian hardwoods.

There was a time for apologies, when the slavers were made bankrupt by the British law, backed up by a British Royal Navy which wasn’t bound by political expediency, but by the simple law of decency. There was a time for apology, when Lincoln’s Emancipation proclamation freed the blacks of the American South, but that time was wasted by both the Confederacy and the Federal forces, entangled as they were in a deadly bitterness of Civil War, and since the Federals never gave the mules, never mind the ‘forty acres’, the freed slaves soon gave up trying! We should blank our ears at the calls for apologies, and think only that most people get the Government which they deserve, and the heritage which they create!