To clarify the honourable member's stance: he is committed to ambiguous aspirations

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I apologise in advance for the level of ignorance in this column. I wish I could explain the relationship between the UPRG, the UDA and UFF; clarify the distinction between "proscribing" a political group and "specifying" it; and describe what "military inactivity" means in Northern Ireland.

I apologise in advance for the level of ignorance in this column. I wish I could explain the relationship between the UPRG, the UDA and UFF; clarify the distinction between "proscribing" a political group and "specifying" it; and describe what "military inactivity" means in Northern Ireland.

But just to summarise: an inclusive future and enduring political settlement envisioned by the UPRG has required the despecification of the UDA/UFF by HMG following the indefinite extension of the Gregg initiative recommendations and 12 months of military inactivity. Which condition, according to David Liddington, includes an impressive level of military activity (shooting people mainly, with drug dealing, assault and racketeering on the side). Is there any ambiguity there? Earlier in the day, Caroline Flint had said of the police's forensic services: "This is not about privatisation this is about a public service privately delivered." Ambiguity is the essence of all political process in this country.

Minister Paul Murphy informed the House that the UDA's strategy will now focus on "community development, job creation, social inclusion and community politics". We shouldn't laugh. But it was very hard not to when we were reassured that these undertakings were "commitments, not aspirations". Lembit Opik mentioned that the UDA had celebrated this historic commitment to peace by parading through their estates in black masks firing small arms into the air. Community development? Check. Social inclusion? Check. Community politics? Double check. Job creation? Query. Someone has to sweep up the shell casings? Check.

The minister reassured us that the UDA had recognised its enemies are "poverty, social deprivation, drugs, crime". And the Pope. Surely. Or is that more ignorance on my part?

On a lighter note: we enjoyed the earlier afternoon with the Home Office ministers. The principle behind the ministerial team mix is the need to make the team leader look good. When the leader is doleful David Blunkett the team has to come from well below the bung in the barrel of talent.

We're talking of junior ministers who have sunk to the top. They are very special people. If you stand in front of Hazel Blears with your mouth open, all your fillings fall out. She even sits bossily. All her little homilies end in the same way. Thus: "...which is exactly what the public want us to do." Or, "that's precisely what this Government is interested in doing." And: "Getting the right people in the right place, doing the right job is absolutely what we're determined to do."

Personally, listening to Ms Blears gives me the urge to join a specified organisation. Perhaps a statistician could plot the rising course of her career against the incidence of international terrorist outrages. She may have been more influential than anyone has dared to think.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

Comments