After the funeral of the age, back to the reality of today
The greatest public obsequies in history are over. The hangover begins now. The death of the Queen allowed millions to think of the nation as a big family which could unite at such a time. Every nation or a distinct component of it needs an identity to survive. For a large majority, the Queen was at the heart of it. Whether the unity survives both for the nation and- come to think of it- even the royal family- are quite different questions.
“Identity politics” has become the pejorative term for excessive nationalism. When the census records a Catholic majority, I can confidently claim that this blog is about to be submerged in its favourite identity obsession, the odds on achieving a united Ireland. Evidence will endlessly vie with speculation.
The theme overshadows what rationalists believe to be a far more urgent and more important question, how to meet the stiff challenge of managing the steep rise in the cost of living and achieve stable growth In the economy. I sense eyes glazing over and minds clamming shut at the sight of those words.
The state of governance in Northern Ireland and many would argue the UK, is in a lamentable state. Others might add that the Republic is little better. The body language and recorded remarks between King and politicians at Hillsborough revealed a buoyantly confident Sinn Fein and a querulous and defensive DUP, a party stuck in a deep hole dug by its own hands with shovels supplied by the British government.
For this wretched state of affairs, no end is in sight.
Discourse about identity is infinitely preferred to getting down to the real responsibility of government because it remains enjoyably speculative
But people can hardly be blamed for cherishing their dreams when the government is indulging in dangerous fantasy.
Boris Johnson was displaced as prime minister for bad behaviour not bad policy. Liz Truss the successor who finally emerged seems committed to enacting a right wing ideology of a dash for growth by cutting taxes and regulation, combined with the diametrical opposite, massive borrowing. She appears to believe that the EU will agree to her terms for GB-NI trading arrangements only when they see the “glint of British steel” As sentinels at the gates of the Northern Ireland Office she has installed the Brexit captains of the ERG, Chris Heaton Harris and Steve Baker, to ensure that no fuzzy compromise will pass.
At the moment, stalling is the name of the game. The EU have agreed to an extension of the grace periods and what they regard as minimum implementation, and the UKG will not trigger Article 16 in exchange Sinn Fein’s floater of an Assembly election next month is a windup at the DUPs expense. Truss may invoke the UK’s alliance with Europe through NATO as the champion of more military aid for Ukraine to argue for settling the Protocol closer to British terms. She may also believe that EU solidarity will be weakened by the rightward drift in Hungary, Italy and even Sweden. I don’t see what else she’s got, apart from a very long shot like this even though it strikes me as hopeless. The EU are bound to reply that this is the very time not to relax treaty terms to the point of cancellation.
Meanwhile we await Friday’s “fiscal event” when politicians will be at each others’ throats. So much for national unity.