What irony! Just a few days before the Queen’s speech, which focused on the “opportunities afforded by Brexit”, a republican, pro-EU party, Sinn Fein, won Northern Ireland’s Assembly election, precisely because of an entirely unintended (!) “Brexit opportunity”.
So an anti-monarchy party, built on the fight against Britain’s domination of its oldest colony, has been elected to lead the NI Assembly for the first time ever. Except that, also because of Johnson’s oh-so-clever Brexit, which came up with the NI Protocol, this historic occasion is, for the time being, totally obstructed!
Predictably, the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is now blackmailing Johnson by refusing to appoint a deputy first minister (who would - also for the first time - have to play 2nd fiddle to Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill), unless Johnson gets rid of the customs post in the sea between Britain and NI. And that means the Assembly remains suspended in mid-air, as it has five times before this and for 8 years out of the 23 years of its existence!
Divided state, divided class
Yes, and all because of conditions written into the much-vaunted 1998 Peace Agreement, precisely to appease unionism. This deal may have ended 30 years of “Troubles”, but it built into its constitution the same sectarian divide represented today by the so-called “peace walls” in working class neighbourhoods which separate nationalist from unionist and Catholic from Protestant. It stipulates that the executive has to have 2 first ministers, one nationalist and one unionist, with equal powers. Otherwise, no devolved NI government!
Of course, as all politicians sanctimoniously remind everyone, the agreement also stipulates that the border between the independent southern Irish Republic, inside the EU, and the North, must remain invisible. Which is why the EU/UK customs post is sitting in the only place it can be - the middle of the Irish sea - and why NI remains inside the EU customs union.
The real reason for the DUP’s obstruction against the Assembly has, of course, nothing to do with customs checks. It’s all about defending the unionists’ special status in this 6-county statelet which, after 101 years, is coming to a natural, demographic, end.
As for the Protocol, since the majority (just under 60%) in the North preferred to remain in the EU, the border which needs be got rid of today, is not only the one in the sea, but the one on the land, between North and South! In fact a referendum on re-uniting Ireland is meant to take place across the whole of Ireland over this issue at some point soon.
In the meantime, Johnson’s Foreign Secretary, the ignorant reactionary Liz Truss, has now been given the job of breaking the Brexit Agreement with the EU to appease the fossilised unionist reactionaries - and save Brexit. However, that may not work. The NI population is unlikely to accept yet another cocked-up “British solution”.
Preparing to turn the screw on us
As for the Queen’s speech, read by Charles (another first), it was totally devoid of any measures to alleviate the cost of living crisis. But that’s hardly surprising. It’s capitalism’s troubles and not workers’ troubles which are the concern of the government. Its job is to help the bosses maintain their wealth by increasing as much as possible what the working class contributes, while finding ways to ensure that workers swallow everything without resisting.
So Raab’s Bill of Rights was announced: mainly a bill to derecognise the legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights, which has always been a last resort when “British Justice” fails, as it does, more often than not! Other existing rights are also to go. The Public Order bill will curtail freedom of speech, the right to certain kinds of protest and weirdly, the right to stage boycotts!
The euphemistically named “Brexit Freedoms Bill” will cancel any remaining rights workers got from the EU - “removing red tape”! A Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, will provide the “growth”, so no need to cut energy bills further, increase benefits, nor cut taxes! Private cronies will be get more public contracts, out of which they’ll squeeze profits from ever-fewer workers, while they ruin public services.
And of course, these are “challenging times” so the government “will defend democracy and freedom... in Ukraine”, but not Rwanda, where a de facto military dictatorship which murders its critics will be upheld: the perfect host, given a down-payment of £120m to imprison refugees without papers, who Patel criminalizes and then deports.
Yes, the reality deliberately hidden behind this jewel-encrusted ceremonial, is an ugly class society, which it is designed to prop up. It’s a good reminder of what needs to be chucked out, from the monarchy and the Lords, to the Commons’ democratic smokescreen, which all hide the capitalists’ dictatorship over the working classes, here and throughout the so-called “Commonwealth”. It’s also a reminder that if they need to go to all that trouble, it’s because they fear our resistance, and know full well that their class depends entirely on ours.