One of the most chilling moments in post-ceasefire Ulster came at a moment when Sinn Féin-IRA Terrorist leader Gerry Adams was doing his ballot-box/Armalite routine with a crowd which was unhappy at some sinuous snakelike gyration he had just executed in his pas-de-deux with the Unionists. Looking to reassure his audience but at the same time threaten the Unionists with a return to the sort of murder and barbarity for which he had become a byword if they did not shift their position, he said, in that quiet but menacing way that he has: “They haven’t gone away, you know!”

Fortunately we do our politics on this side of the Irish Sea rather differently. The Conservative party does not have six hundred desperadoes armed with best Holland & Holland sidelock 12 bores to cajole recalcitrant floating voters into line, nor the Liberal ‘Democrats’ a platoon of eco-friendly bio-degradable catapult-wielding Europhiles ready to chivvy the undecided into their camp, though I do recall Scargill’s NUM ‘boot boys’ doing Labour’s dirty work for them at the Saltley Coke Depot in Birmingham in 1972.

I am provoked into the thought of Adams’ bon mots by the Sun’s truly wonderful picture of Gordon Brown as Churchill giving the electorate the Agincourt Wave (for more on which see EU Referendum’s piece here) . If, perchance, and I remain to be convinced, Gordon Brown cuts and runs this Autumn ahead of storms to come, one motive he will have for so doing is the desire to submerge the call for an EU Referendum, which so large a proportion of the Nation wants, beneath a tidal wave of noise about health, education, the economy and ‘didn’t we do well!’

In those circumstances The Sun’s campaign is timeous, enabling those of us who have the temerity to ask Gordon Brown to honour his party’s promise to us to hold such a plebisicite to stand up and say after that election, in a wholly unmenacing but quite firm way: “We haven’t gone away, you know!”

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