The Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows no sign of resolution. There used to be regular attempts, by the United States in particular, to bring the parties together. The authority of the USA was damaged by the Iraq war. In place of hope for a two state solution, we have bouts of violence, evermore right wing Israeli governments and the continuing inability of the Palestinians to diminish the influence of Hamas terrorists.
Will Ukraine go the same way? That is less likely as Russia, the United States and NATO have high stakes in the game. My admiration for the courage and stamina of the Ukrainian people is wholehearted but you have to ask yourself two questions. Firstly, do you believe the Ukrainians can liberate the whole of the territory occupied by Russia? If not, do you believe the USA and NATO will pour billions into the Ukrainian war effort on an open ended basis.
It is important that Ukraine is not seen to have been defeated. There are signs of a massive global realignment with the democratic west facing Russia and China, much of Africa and a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. That said it is almost inevitable that pressure will grow for a settlement, probably backed by NATO guarantees, to end this ghastly conflict.
Which brings me to Northern Ireland, where a seemingly endless conflict was brought to an end by great leadership by PM Tony Blair, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the Northern Ireland political parties and the armed men on both sides.
However there has been a little too much euphoria for my liking this week. President Biden was right to snub an invitation to speak at Stormont. The elected representatives should be speaking and governing there. As I have said before the main reason the Democratic Unionists won’t go back is that they can’t bear to serve under a Sinn Fein First Minister. They should be bypassed by a coalition of willing parties. We might be surprised that instead of a resurgence of violence, most of the people of Northern Ireland have an appetite to end the sectarian stuff and look to a future benefitting from their unique status, half in and half out of the EU.
I agree with Downtown’s Managing Director Frank McKenna that negative campaigning works, but I do find Labour’s claim that the Prime Minister didn’t think adults convicted of child sex assaults should go to prison, offensive and ineffective.
Offensive because we have reached a new low if we are weaponizing the issue of child sexual assault. Ineffective because it is absurd to suggest that Rishi Sunak believes anything of the sort.
Sunak is presenting Labour with a problem. He has stabilised the Tory Party and is running ahead of it in popularity. Starmer has plenty of things to attack him with, but not this.
The justification given is that we are all talking about it. But are people saying they are now convinced Labour is tougher on crime than the Tories or concluding that Starmer’s advisers have told him he is dull and needs to engage in stunts like this?
Come on Keir, you’re better than that.