Henry Hill is a British Conservative and Unionist activist and writer. Follow Henry on Twitter. He is also editor of the non-party website Open Unionism, which can be followed on Twitter here.

‘Impartial’ Scottish youth vote mobiliser revealed to be hard-line separatist

You might have heard of Bite the Ballot, the national campaign that aims to sign up hundreds of thousands of young people to the electoral role and get them properly engaged in the democratic process. It’s a fine cause which I fully support.

Unfortunately, there is always a risk when getting involved with youth politics – as a campaign aimed at youth voters probably must – that you’ll turn up some of the passionate, immature extremism that is its hallmark, and it seems that BtB have done so.

According to the Daily Mail, their Scottish organiser Liam O’Hare is far from impartial: he has labelled Britain a ‘degenerate’ state with a ‘bloodstained’ flag. In addition to his Bite the Ballot role, O’Hare has recently been given a part-time job by Glasgow Council to oversee the registration of young voters, and has presented himself as “impartial” on the BBC.

He’s also intensely antipathetic towards both the Conservatives and UKIP, and played a major role in the protests that forced Nigel Farage out of Edinburgh last year.

That latter act in particular raise questions about his fitness to be the impartial recruiter of young people of all political persuasions, because part of the Bite the Ballot process in schools is to get pupils to debate political issues and even draw up – and then cut – a budget. So O’Hare would have ample opportunity to find out their views before signing them up to vote.

Unfortunately the Scottish Daily Mail isn’t online, but their political editor has tweeted an image story page here and the accompanying editorial here.

Fresh allegations against Martin McGuinness from ex-‘supergrass’

A former Special Branch officer who went undercover in the IRA is to claim in a new book that McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, must have “given the nod” to the 1981 murder of Joanne Mathers, a census worker. She was shot in Londonderry whilst collecting census forms.

At the time the IRA was urging republicans not to partake in the census to support the hunger strikers.

Raymond Gilmore, a former ‘supergrass’ who went undercover in the IRA’s Derry branch, also says he’ll name the masked shooter. Friends say he is willing to risk his safety by coming to Northern Ireland to talk to the Historical Enquiries Team, which is currently examining Mrs Mathers’ death, and that he wants to get secrets ‘off his chest’.

Amongst these is the identity of the IRA unit that murdered Lord Mountbatten, along with a string of allegations against McGuinness including involvement in the murder of two members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Manchester rejects adverts for Welsh trade zone

The Welsh government has criticised “Conservative-led” Trafford Council for blocking an advert for the new Deeside enterprise zone. This follows a similar decision by Manchester airport.

Each zone set up by the Welsh government is aimed at boosting a particular industry, in the case of the Deeside zone ‘advanced manufacture’.

In both instances, the decision was based on the fact that they wanted to encourage businesses to set up in Greater Manchester, rather than elsewhere. A supporter of the zone called the decision “naïve”, and claimed that what was good for Deeside was by extension good for Manchester.

Whilst that’s certainly true, it still seems hard to imagine it being better for Manchester to see jobs that might have gone to the city go to Wales instead. If they really believe that, perhaps the Welsh government should send someone to make their case to Trafford council.

(Contrary to popular perception, ‘Tory-free Manchester’ only applies to one of Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs: the Tories control one (Trafford), recently controlled another (Bury), and are represented on nine out of ten – albeit clinging on by a single councillor in Wigan. Always a bugbear of mine when I was studying there.)

Sinn Fein conference hijacked by victims on Twitter

Victims of IRA violence made sure that Sinn Fein would not be able to stray too far from its past during its annual conference.

The event, held in Wexford in the Republic of Ireland, had a special twitter hashtag. But official tweets were greatly outnumbered by those of IRA victims and their relatives, who used it to tweet and retweet the names of those murdered by the IRA during its decades-long insurrection against the UK.

One relative, the son of a victim of the Enniskillen bombing, accused Sinn Fein of ‘re-traumatising’ victims and claimed that the party’s refusal to unreservedly condemn the armed Republican campaign was preventing the province from moving on.

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