The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

But What Will The People Think?

Posted by The Futility Monster on February 5, 2010 @ 10:44

A picture like this 30, 20 or even 10 years ago would be unthinkable...

Northern Ireland’s political deal this morning is very good news for that part of the world, largely because as long as the parties are working together, even if they don’t really produce anything new, there is much less risk of a dangerous development seriously undermining the fragile political setup there.

Northern Ireland is the demonstration of what politics is all about. The political process has brought peace to the Province, or the North of Ireland, depending on your political persuasion. It is a perfect example of how politics is both a means and an end, and that without it nothing else is possible.

The only problem is that most Northern Ireland deals are concluded in rather grand locations. St Andrews. Hillsborough. And, of course, Stormont. Only one of them was ever put to the test by a democratic vote of whether the people were in agreement.

You might argue that democracy has its other outlets; naturally, we see these in the Assembly elections. But the curious aspect of this round of negotiations was the subtle agreement by all the parties that they have no other choice but to talk, because the alternative – failure – would mean letting the people have their say in a fresh wave of elections.

I’ve just watched the press conference between the First and deputy First minister (note correct capitalisation!), flanked by the beasts of Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen. There was much talk about how the agreement must command community consensus, and how they were going to go back and make the case for it amongst their respective supporters.

But the key thing was missing – a real democratic outlet for them to do so.

It’s still another 15 months before the people of Norn Iron get another chance to reinforce existing prejudices though. Or maybe it’ll all be different next time? It’s quite amusing how each NI election generally brings the same result as the previous one, except maybe some parties have swapped positions.

But this time will be different. This time all four main parties (plus the Alliance) are backing power-sharing. Instead, there is a new splinter Unionist party (TUV) who are going to attempt to wreck everything. Their intervention in the recent European Elections resulted in the Shinners topping the poll; a result which, if replicated at the Assembly, would put Martin McGuinness as the First Minister. Whoops!

If, and it’s a big if, the TUV are soundly rejected, it will be a definitive sign that The Troubles really are over, and that politics is here to stay.

Maybe then they can actually start doing the “normal” politics that everyone else cares about. And then, once everyone is happy in their complacent little me-worlds of liberal democracy, they can all just forget about it and not bother voting, just like the rest of the apathetic so-called citizens of democracies worldwide!

Oh my, that was a cynical ending.


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