Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted prior to the attack on British democracy yesterday. Labour Vision took the decision to suspend posting further articles for the remainder of the day, following the murder of British citizens at the heart of our democracy.
Normally I am a large believer in the idea that we should enter an age of kinder, gentler politics, and that we should make our belief in a better world shine through in our narrative but there are times when this shouldn’t be the case, and the passing of Martin McGuiness is one of those.
I’m not one to celebrate anyone’s passing and every time it happens it is a terrible day for those close to that person who have shared in their life, but that doesn’t mean that when such a high-profile person passes we should be afraid of reminding people of their past.
Whilst I don’t disagree that McGuiness played a huge role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland, he was not the only one, with others such as Mo Mowlam and Tony Blair playing a huge role as well. What I am struggling with is the notion that whilst we still as a party consistently talk about Iraq and rarely about Blair’s role in peace in Northern Ireland we will not mention McGuiness role in murder and terrorism on British shores and instead point out that he was a great family man. It seems a confused message.
What is equally confusing to me is the same side of the party who consistently admonished Corbyn over his reaction to Fidel Castro passing away have remained largely silent or at least not seemed to attack our statements as much as back then. Perhaps I’m foolish and Castro was no saint but do we really think the public will be more concerned about us being seen to suggest Castro wasn’t automatically evil than not mentioning McGuiness’s past?
It’s clearly important for our narrative and traditions to highlight that people can change and we all benefit when those who once channelled their believes in such a destructive fashion change to a position of engagement and an attempt to bring about peace, but it’s equally as important to highlight we are not in league with terrorism of any sorts and if anything due to the negative connotations people currently see, unfairly it must be said, from our party currently over past remarks, we should be more aware of this need than any other party.
Ultimately, I believe in peace. I believe in the peace process. I understand words must be chosen carefully at such delicate times, but to lose our perspective of the past and to appear to be forgetful is not in keeping with our great past and traditions.