Early tallies are often unreliable. But sometimes patterns emerge. I am not at any count. I was out and about all day yesterday….West Belfast in the morning, South Belfast in afternoon and North Belfast in the evening.
Any agency trying to trace my movements by the trail left by my Translink pass will wonder what I was doing. Most of the damage is to my knees and feet…cos most of it was actually actually walking.
The one big regret that I have from recent years is…arthritis. And I deal with it by completely ignoring it. It should not be happening to me. I could walk all day and all night…I ran “cross country races” (never very well but I paid absolutely no physical price). I even ran marathons and half marathons. And I have walked over battlefields. I do not know whether these pains are “in spite of” all this previous activity or whether it is “because” of it. The last time I talked to a doctor about it, he said it was “wear and tear”.
So I guess I am “worn and torn”.
It seems unfair. Less than four years ago, it seemed normal to get a train to Dublin….walk to Ballsbridge, Croke Park or the Military Museum. Now when I go to Dublin, I am restricted to Easons, ILAC centre and McDonalds in O’Connell Street. No point in thinking about Grafton Street.
Actually travelling by bus or train is no picnic. Sometimes my knees lock up. See a doctor? The earliest appointment I can get is mid-June. Medication….I probably wouldnt take. And really its all just that old phrase “wear and tear”. People say things…”it might actually be your hips…you might need a replacement”. Aside from the fact that they have no medical expertise, they are just plain wrong.
I used to think Age was a very transitional thing. But there is no transition from “getting old” to “being old”.
So it seems a bad day politically. For SDLP. For me. It aint over yet of course. But if your analysis was better than mine….Congratulations. But I thank you in advance for not saying I told you so.
Turn-out down. Turn out worse in nationalist areas.
What does it say about the heady days after the Good Friday Agreement? Some said it erected the barriers to a United Ireland and some said it created a bridge to a United Ireland. How does it look today? I was born into the “no mans land” of Norn Iron and there have and will be twists and turns for two more decades but the likelihood is that I will die in “no mans land”. Things have always ebbed and flowed in the national history….Flight of Earls, Drogheda, Williamite Wars, Jacobitism, United Irishmen, Catholic Emancipation, Famine, Parnell, the revival circa 1900, 1916-1922, Partition, Civil Rights, the Troubles, European Union,the Good Friday Agreement….and wherever we are now.
For nationalists, these are bleak days.
The unionists won…the fifth column of LetsGetAlongerists was significant in their victory. Sinn Féin prefer being in office to being in power….and they are a pretty awful bunch of spoofers…watching them in West Belfast yesterday was a reminder of just how awful. It is only at election time that you see Sinn Féin as they really are…..ruthless and efficient. And SDLP are a mirror image…not ruthless enough, no boots on the ground and not very efficient….certainly not at motivating a nationalist electorate which is apathetic and/or defeated.
For those sitting around waiting for the “Demographic Timebomb”….there isnt one. The package has been examined and declared to be a hoax.
Or maybe its a different kinda Demographic Timebomb. It is not about unionists and nationalists and the right and wrong side of History.
It is actually about Old and Young.
Two weeks ago, I was at a Hustings event in South Belfast. I really liked most of the panelists….Claire Hanna, Christopher Stalford, Duncan Morrow, Bob Stoker, Ruth Patterson. Different backgrounds, different politics but at least they seemed to have the interests of all people at heart.
I did not like the audience. Mostly young. Mostly smug. And mostly bad mannered. There was a bad time when questions used to begin “I am a Catholic…” or “I am a Protestant…”. I thought we were now past that stage.
Is it really a sign of progress when questions begin “I am a young woman….” Or “I am a gay man…..”.
Like the vast majority of ageing Catholics, I have no issue with Same Sex Marriage. Like many, I wish I was not conflicted over Abortion. In fact I am NOT conflicted at all. I am a man and it shouldnt affect me. The only thing is that like many men …and women ….who became involved in Politics in the 1970s, we never saw Same Sex Marriage, Gay Blood Bans, Gay Birthday Cakes and Abortion as “political issues”.
This is the new sectarianism. The new divide. And phoney politicians like the Green Party pander to the new sectarianism. It is as manipulative as playing the Orange and Green cards.
So….it looks like a bad day for SDLP. Thats a pity….the campaign deserved better. I suppose it shows that voters are either happy with what we have or apathetic about what we have. At best it is hard to make progress when only fifty per cent of the electorate vote. And doubly difficult for SDLP if the nationalist turn out is lower than unionist total.
The unholy Alliance of DUP-Sinn Féin, supported by the fifth columnists in the Alliance Party will govern for five more years. We get another chance in 2021 but we wont take it. Likewise the Tories are governing Greater England until 2020.
A good result today might have put some spirit back in me. But the next five years look like a very bad time to be old. Windows of Opportunity are slamming shut. I have glimpsed what Norn Iron will look like in 2021. I dont like it. And worse …thanks to that young South Belfast audience, I have seen what Norn Iron will look like in the years beyond 2021. I like it even less.
SDLP will talk about re-grouping. The campaign was great, the results are poor. Time is on their side….maybe. For Politics is always about Optimism. Trying to bring a better world…as you see it.
Nationalism…the cause of Ireland ebbs and flows…..the tide is out and inevitably there will be some kinda nationalist revival….but not in my lifetime. Maybe not in yours. If you were born into “No Mans Land” with the Northern nationalist/Catholic mindset of being stateless…then you might well find your state is in the LetsGetAlongerist model. I wont. I reject it as utterly as I rejected unionism.
Over recent months, it has been my intention to wind up this Blog in August…the fifth anniversary. Thats appropriate as I started it in the aftermath of the 2011 Assembly Election.
When I wrote the first post on “Keeping An Eye on the Czar of Russia” in August 2011, I had no idea that in May 2016, I would be writing post #1,472 and reached hundreds of thousands of views. On the upside, I am happy that the Blog has been pro-SDLP but (mostly) independent enough to be credible. I always sought to see things in historic contexts rather than narrow political contexts. On the downside…and perhaps its a contradiction…I regret that SDLP establishment has not been more supportive beyond (mostly) been patronising about it.
I wonder if my last Will and Testament should include a link to “Keeping An Eye on the Czar of Russia”. As a race we are undocumented …as a family we are undocumented. I suppose my idle ramblings are a legacy of sorts.
This is not the end of this Blog…yet. Probably some loose ends to be tied up between now and August but there has to be an end. Like I say Politics…and my Politics has always been rooted in some kinda belief that the World CAN be a better place. But I cant really do that without some belief that it will be better in my lifetime.