An underground adventure with politicians

`Gerry Adams? Where does he come into the elections for the mayor of London?'
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The Independent Culture
SO WE'VE very nearly got an agreement now?

Yes.

After months and years of schism and violence and sectarianism, we've nearly reached peace?

Yes. If we hold our breaths, it may all really happen.

And all it needs is for them to get round a table one last time and see each other's point of view?

Yes. If only Ken Livingstone can be prevailed on to give certain assurances...

Ken Livingstone?

Yes, Ken. Who did you think I meant?

I thought you were talking about Gerry Adams.

Gerry Adams? Where does he come into the elections for mayor of London?

Mayor of London? I thought we were talking about Northern Ireland.

Perhaps we'd better start again.

So we're nearly there now?

Yes.

After years of sectarian warfare, it looks as if Glenda Jackson and Frank Dobson and Ken Livingstone may get round a table and thrash things out?

Yes. On the other hand, there is one big question that remains to be answered, and that is: will Ken Livingstone agree to decommissioning?

Decommissioning?

Yes. For years, Ken Livingstone has been the smiling frontman of an underground organisation that has brought terror to London through random use of dogma, shibboleths and class attitudes. Whole sections of the city have been closed off from the outside world by the terrorist machinations of this underground organisation.

Good Lord. What is it called, this anarchic underground organisation?

The Tube.

Right... The Tube... Perhaps we ought to start again.

Shall I go first this time ?

OK.

Yes, you're right. We're nearly there now. After years of disruption and civil breakdown, it looks as if the place will be united once again.

What place are we talking about...?

Where else could I be talking about? There is only one place in Britain that is so divided that everyone is heartily sick and tired of it. The one place that nobody wants to go to, and never realises that everyone else in the country hates it too.

That could only be one place. London.

Right. Or, of course, Northern Ireland.

Let's start again.

A lasting peace is hard to achieve if the unity of one of the parties to the peace is so fragile.This particular organisation seems united on the outside, but there are huge cracks waiting to open up.

Right. You're talking about...?

I'm talking about the division between those who genuinely want rapprochement and those in whom the old hatreds stir; those will never give up the fight.

And that means...?

The old hardliners versus the new pragmatists.

Right. Which means that we're talking about...?

Sinn Fein.

Not the Labour Party...?

Right. Sinn Fein and the Labour Party. Let's start again.

One thing we have to establish from the start is that there is no room for those who think they can get their way by bombing the enemy into submission.

Right.

So that means keeping Tony Blair out of the Balkans, Iraq and East Timor...

Let's start again.

So we nearly have an agreement now?

Nearly there now.

That's good, isn't it?

No. We've been here before.

Oh. When was that?

It was when Tony Blair helicoptered in, told everyone this was their last chance and helicoptered out again.

And did it work?

No. Everyone went on as before.

So the answer is to stop Tony Blair interfering?

It's certainly worth trying. Otherwise there won't be peace in our lifetime in Northern Ireland.

You mean, in the election for London's mayor?

Yes. Probably.

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