A century ago the Westminster Parliament was the legislature of a global superpower.
Now it is the venue for a remake of the Muppet Show.
In January 1919 there was a full-blown legitimation crisis for the British state on this island.
A majority of the MPs elected for Irish constituencies in the 1918 general election refused to travel to London to take an oath of allegiance to the British monarch.
Instead, they fulfilled their election promise and met in Dublin.
Dáil Éireann was born.
Of course, a real government controls the armed forces in their national territory.
Max Weber’s observation about a state being the sole claimant to the wielding of legitimate force within a given area comes to mind.
Then the Volunteers at Soloheadbeg fired the first shots in the War of Independence a week after the Dáil convened in the Mansion House in Dublin.
Britain, broken and exhausted after WW1, now had Irish guerrillas to contend with.
The lads had not wasted their time in Frongoch.
They emerged as well-educated revolutionaries.
A century on it is difficult to think of just how powerful Britain was back then when you look at them now.
Last night the British government suffered a humiliating defeat to their Brexit bill.
I’m sticking to the term “slow-moving Suez Crisis”.
The sticking point for many of the MPs who voted against the Withdrawal Agreement bill was “the Irish backstop”.
Once more this island is proving to be a problem for the Grand Old Dame Britannia.
I’m ok with that.
It is clear that the British negotiating team thought that Michel Barnier et al would throw little Ireland under the Brexit bus.
Thankfully our gallant allies in Europe know the importance of solidarity in the face of possible EU disaggregation.
Consequently, it is the British who have fatally miscalculated due to their incurable hubris.
Any polity that has “great” in the title probably has issues.
In 1919 the Sinn Féin MPs fulfilled their electoral mandate holding to the principled position of abstentionism.
If you take part in a legislature then you lend it legitimacy.
That is something that the putative Scottish separatists of the SNP have yet to grasp.
So-called “barnstorming” speeches in the House of Commons change little in the long march of history.
Even in 2014, the people of Scotland were only offered a very anaemic form of separatism and yet they still rejected it.
Even if they had voted yes the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha clan would still have been about the place.
From my vantage point in the Irish Republic that didn’t look very much like independence at all.
Howeve,r this Brexit shambles plays out now there are probably no good outcomes for Britain.
If there is a second referendum and a win for remain then the reputational damage to the UK within the European Union is massive.
Alternatively, if there is a No Deal Brexit then the economic hit to them will be substantial.
Of course, we in Ireland we will be collateral damage if the British economy falls off a cliff edge.
The EU has already plans in place to deeply a post-Brexit Marshall plan for the 26 Counties.
Meanwhile, what we saw last night in Westminster was an ex-Empire becoming the Sevco of Europe.
I watched the live streamed comedy last night with Baby Doctor and the Big Fella.
The three of us couldn’t have been laughing any louder if Miss Piggy was speaking at the dispatch box and Kermit was in the Speaker’s chair.
Himself is off across the Atlantic today with his Irish passport.
That travel document would not exist if people here had not stepped up back then.
It was a hard road and we are not at the final destination yet, but a century on from the first Dáil the tide of history is still flowing…
Beidh ár lá linn.