Following on from his contribution on this website, Dr John Kyle spoke on BBC The View last night (Thursday 25 November) with a contribution that was so absurd it bordered on sheer stupidity.
These contributions are cloaked in some vague concept of “three dimensional” thinking (whatever that is), and an urging for unionists to “debate better” (another vague concept with no meaning). This pseudo-intellectual, peace processor speak is little more than intellectual flatulence.
In the first instance, it was hopelessly divorced from the excellent constitutional statement issued by PUP leader Billy Hutchinson. The position of Dr Kyle can not be reconciled with that party position. It is not a matter of semantics, but fundamental matters of principle.
Dr Kyle seems to be making some kind of an argument for a ‘best of both worlds’ benefit from the Union-dismantling Protocol. Yet he appears to entirely misunderstand what precisely he is arguing for.
The Union, as a legal construct, is the Acts of Union. Article VI of the Acts of Union has two limbs, firstly that the entire United Kingdom be on an equal footing in matters of trade, and secondly that in the making of treaties, all parts of the United Kingdom also be on an equal footing.
The Article VI provision in the fundamental constitutional statute is the core of the United Kingdom internal market.
Therefore, by logical extension Dr Kyle fails to appreciate (or maybe, even worse, he doesn’t) that by arguing for the ‘best of both worlds’- which means Northern Ireland having a hybrid UK-EU economic status (within an economic United Ireland)- he is arguing for a fundamental fracturing of the underpinning construct of the Union.
The case is that either Dr Kyle simply has no idea what he is actually talking about (in which case one wonders why he is making such ill-informed interventions in the first place), or he knows full well exactly what he is arguing for, which would be the most extraordinary position ever adopted by any unionist representative in Northern Ireland’s 100 years.
We are told by Dr Kyle that some “proud loyalists” agree with this sentiment. I would like to see such apparent supporters come forward and set out their arguments as to why they believe that a fundamental altering of the foundation of the Union is a good thing.
This is buttressed by recourse to further apparent endorsement from “civic unionism”. This, again, is simply further peace process speak for a cohort of academics and self-appointed peaceniks, more commonly known as career peace processors, who spend their days sipping lattes at the latest conference or residential, whereby they all do their best Ghandi impression in return for more funding to pretend they are doing something useful.
At no point in Dr Kyle’s contribution did he address the issue (superbly attacked by PUP leader Billy Hutchinson in his constitutional statement) as to the exposure of section 1 (1) of the 1998 Act as a deceptive snare which protects the mere symbolism rather than the substance of the Union.
Dr Kyle appears to go one better than nationalism’s strategic use of the process (and the deception of section 1 (1) of the 1998 Act), which designed to by stealth change everything but the last thing, until such times as the last thing is worthless because everything has already been changed by the time we arrive at that final handing over of the deeds.
Instead of acknowledging this trap, Dr Kyle rather encourages Unionism to hurry this process along by throwing the core fundamentals of the Union on the constitutional bonfire he is presently stacking.
Thankfully, it seems it is a one-man bonfire as (at the time of writing) I haven’t heard a single elected Unionist express their desire to hurry along to this carnival of constitutional destruction.
Notable was the lack of proper scrutiny placed on Dr Kyle’s incoherent contribution by Mark Carruthers (a normally forensic interviewer) on The View. It was almost as if the BBC couldn’t believe their luck in finding a unionist that would express such anti-Union views.
As if the contribution wasn’t already bad enough, we then had a conclusion of an unbending commitment to the institutions. In short, no matter what damage is inflicted upon the Union, we must nevertheless continue to operate the institutions that is the inflictor of such constitutional harm. It requires Stockholm syndrome on an epic scale to actually arrive at such a position.
In short, Dr Kyle should answer some very simple questions:
(1) Given you support Northern Ireland having the ‘best of both worlds’, clearly you therefore support Northern Ireland having a hybrid UK-EU economic status?
(2) A hybrid UK-EU economic status therefore must mean Northern Ireland diverges from the rest of the United Kingdom and reorientates towards an all-Ireland economy. So, you support an economic United Ireland?
(3) Given you support an economic United Ireland, you by logical extension oppose Article VI of the Acts of Union?
(4) The Acts of Union is the Union as a legal construct, so you oppose the Union in its constitutional form?
(5) If you support the dismantling of a core provision of the Union, how are you a Unionist?
The first four of those five simple questions are easily answered. If we simply apply Dr Kyle’s contribution the inescapable answers are (1) yes; (2) yes; (3) yes: and (4) yes. If the answer to any of those first four questions is no, then Dr Kyle is already abandoning the core tenents of his intervention.
As to question five, I have no idea what the answer to that could possibly be. Perhaps some bizarre theory about ‘dismantling the Union to save the Union’, which in effect works from the premise that Unionism must accede to the incremental dismantling of the Union, in exchange for its eventual demise being gradual rather than imminent. That theory is that which in fact is the logic deployed (often unwittingly) by unionist supports of the ‘process’.
Let’s Talk Loyalism carried Dr Kyle’s initial article, and has very kindly published this response. I would propose that the group should host a public discussion on these two competing positions (that put forward by Dr Kyle and me) in order to test the strength of the arguments in the fires of scrutiny.