December 22, 2014

Matt and drawing Northern Ireland politics

cartoon by Matt cartoons following the OTR letter scandal
He shared a funny anecdote on Northern Ireland:
"I do remember doing a cartoon about a republican jail break some years ago, and in it they were tunnelling out dressed as a snake. I can’t remember why. But anyway, The Telegraph’s legal team is famously ferocious about copyright. They usually let nothing drop. But when they got wind that the cartoon had been reprinted without permission in An Phoblacht, they thought, ‘actually, we’ll let this one go on this occasion’."

December 20, 2014

George Bernard Shaw on his Irishness, Edward Carson and Home Rule

George Bernard Shaw by Alick P.F. Ritchie
George Bernard Shaw is the venerated and revered Irish man of letters, and a protestant Irishman to the very narrow" of his bones at that. Like all Irish he proclaimed his Irishness but unlike the Irish, he also proclaimed his unIrish roots:
"I am a traditional Irishman, my family came from Yorkshire."
In sharing this Wildean aphorism, Shaw touches on a truth that many on the island can relate to, even if it's uncomfortable in doing so. Shaw also proclaimed his unionism as a protestant Irishman. In a letter to The Irish Statesman, January 10 1920, George Bernard Shaw said:

December 19, 2014

Unionism won

Cartoon by Ian Knox (@ianknoxcartoon), see more here.
Peter Taylor said:
"Who really did win the war? Viewed through the prism of the present, it’s clear that the British and the unionists won, because the Union is secure and the IRA is no more… I wouldn’t be surprised if at some stage in the long years ahead a United Ireland did emerge."

December 18, 2014

Sinn Fein's logophobia of "Northern Ireland"

Cartoon by Ian Knox
Martin McGuinness might be a chief administrator of a devolved province of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, but he can't seem to say the name of the place which he governs, opting instead for the term, "the North". Holywood man Paddy McEvoy wrote a letter to the Irish News about the increasing use of "the North":
"The term “North of Ireland”... has crept into common parlance in recent years. This now seems to be a generally accepted code for those who think they are staying on-side, striking a blow for freedom by refusing to say Northern Ireland, just as some on the non-conformist wing of politics refuse to say the “Republic of Ireland”, they prefer “Free State”, “26 counties” or “the South”."

December 17, 2014

Matt and how he works

Matt Pritchett explaining how he produced his first front page cartoon
Matt is a pocket cartoonist. Son of Oliver and grandson of V.S. Pritchett. Celebrated for his inimitable wit and bite delivered daily, without fail, in illustrated form. As a pocket cartoonist he is one among a "diminishing species" according to Andy Davey. Matt’s big break came on Thursday February 23 1988, the date he first appeared on the front cover of the Telegraph, as above. He explained it like this: 
"I did a cartoon of two people and the line ‘I hope I have a better Thursday than I did yesterday’, which sort of went with the general mood of crisis of the readers."

December 16, 2014

Stormont is a quango spending a budget

Cartoon by Ian Knox, see full gallery from this Hearts and Minds segment here.
[UPDATE - I've read and written that Stormont is a giant ATM, with no link between what is spent and accountability by the devolved regions for that spend]

Our pocket money parliament has no tax-raising powers. It's hasn't even the fiscal maturity of a county council which do have powers to levy and lift taxes. It's all spend and no tax. It's given a budget and then spends or allocates those monies. A parliament that can spend but cannot tax is not a parliament. Stormont is a giant quango. It's the inverted legislative reality of no-taxation with representation.

Northern Ireland is like a fiscal theme park where basic factual and legal realities are suspended. It has fiscal freedom and no responsibility. But without the power to tax it's hard to govern. Newton Emerson said
"Stormont is often mocked as a glorified country council but even councils raise most of their income through the rates, all the rates Stormont collects comes to just 5% of its income. So it's really more of a quango spending a budget."

December 12, 2014

Sinn Fein and the English Language

Cartoon by Ian Knox
When symmetry of scandal is met with an asymmetry of outrage, something is not right, and you have to say something. When an allegation is pointed at the church or an arm of the state, indignation is universally heaped on those named; yet when an allegation is pointed at the party, there is silence - indignation is selective and sectarian, falling along ideological lines.

With no sense or awareness of inconsistency, people can simultaneously support scrutiny of others and stridently oppose scrutiny of oneself; people can simultaneously credit allegations made against another but outright discredit allegations made against oneself. Mary Lou McDonald said in 2009:

December 11, 2014

An American Democrat is a British Conservative

Via The Dish
Andrew Sullivan wrote in November 2014 that 'A British Tory Is An American Democrat':
"Here’s an indication of just how far to the right the American political discourse is, compared with Britain – the developed country most in tune with American neo-liberalism (above). That’s why David Cameron and Barack Obama have long had such an easy relationship. Either one could fit easily into the other’s cabinet. And maybe it does help explain why I still consider myself a conservative. I am, as a Brit."

December 06, 2014

Irish Americans looked and sounded like Orangemen

Cartoon of Bernadette Devlin by Aislin (Terry Mosher)
The words in title are the words of Bernadette Devlin, the youngest person ever to be elected to Westminster, and the figure in the cartoon. You can read her Maiden Speech in the Commons, April 22 1969, here. On her rise to the London parliament and prolific profile her face was seen around the world and she travelled widely, including to America. She was the figurehead of Ireland's discriminated-against and the disposed and had the sympathies of Irish-Americans. A hearing from Irish-America was as natural so as to breath, since animosity based on "England's historic wrongs" were closely and long held. As the Spectator wrote in 1882:
"The hatred of England is cultivated by the American branch of the Irish race “as a sort of religion,” we can well believe. The history of the last two or three years shows it to be so."

December 05, 2014

Five years post-Irisgate

Cartoon of Iris and Peter Robinson by Ian Knox
Five years after the Iris Robinson scandal it is worth looking back on what the Irish-descended, English born, American blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote about the scandal: 
"The fusion of religion and politics and the use of Biblical authority to strip other people of civil rights is not, of course, unique to America. In Northern Ireland, for example, sectarian conflict was accompanied by incredibly repressive attitudes toward sexual minorities and women. When I went on Ulster television for "Virtually Normal" in 1995, it was the first ever broadcast across Northern Ireland dealing specifically with the homosexual question. They invited ten openly gay people to be in the studio audience, and only three had the balls to show up. And so it is not that surprising that a leading politician in Ulster would respond to a brutal gay-bashing by criticizing the attack but adding that she nonetheless believed that homosexuality was an "abomination" and made her feel "sick" and "nauseous". She believed that sexual orientation could be cured by psychiatry. She argued that:
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