The Futility Monster

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

Posts Tagged ‘Northern Ireland’

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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Brown On The Run. Again.

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 27, 2010 @ 09:58

Says it all...

The toys-out-of-pram throwing in Northern Ireland has been deemed sufficiently serious by Gordon Brown to miss yet another Prime Minister’s Questions.

I don’t wish to belittle the seriousness of the situation in Norn Iron, but let’s face it, we’re hardly on the brink of a sudden return to paramilitary warfare. Naturally, a little of that is still going on anyway, but should the talks break up today anyway without agreement, then Brown not only looks a fool, but all that will happen is that Stormont goes into neutral and the world keeps turning.

The big problem with the NI situation is that no one wants to face their electorates. The parties are actually all desperate to see an agreement come together, because they know if they don’t the most likely course of action is that Martin McGuinness will resign, forcing an election. And that could be catastrophic for the DUP while they are currently under pressure from hardliners…

For one reason or another, everyone is afraid of democracy and being held to account.

That sounds awfully familiar to me…

Today, it means that we once more have to put up with Harriet Harman as Brown’s stand-in. Which probably means a little Wiliam Hague and some Vince Cable too. It’s not a bad line-up of deputies really, but the trouble is that it happens all too often. It’s remarkable how Brown finds reasons to disappear on Wednesdays, and if I had nothing better to do I’d be going through all the Hansards since his elevation to power to prove my point!

Fact is – and we’ve all said this before at some point – that Brown just isn’t cut out for the demands on the modern politician. Cameras. Questions. Interrogations. Press conferences. Sounding good. Looking good. Charisma. Slick presentation. He can’t do any of them well, and his excuse is to slope off, trying to look important on the world stage instead.

Somehow, I think I might just make sure I’m busy at 12 noon today. I’m sure I won’t miss anything…

UPDATE (12 noon): apparently Brown is now leaving NI before a deal has been reached (if a deal can be reached at all). So the point was…

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