Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Working together...

Lunching with Linda Fabiani today, who entertained me with a couple of stories from a previous evening's meal with the First Minister & Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Having studied the case in great detail during my Masters, I have to say there was an immediate sense of great joy - and amazement - that Ian Paisley & Martin McGuinness had worked out their differences and agreed to work together to improve the lives of the people that they represent.

I've read many different accounts of some of the acts perpetrated - on both sides of the conflict - including some inside information on McGuinness' role in a wonderfully interesting and informative book called The Secret History of the IRA by Ed Maloney.

Which for me, made all the more... awesome some of Linda Fabiani's tales - and indeed some of the stories told by journalists about the unlikely pair. It seems that there is now a mutual respect between them, with McGuinness aiding the older Paisley down steps, repeating journalists questions to him which he had not heard and quietly prompting him when he sidled off on a tangent.

Yes, it seems that two men who have spent the best part of half a century trying
to destroy what the other believed in have now settled those differences and are working together. Two completely opposed ideologies. Two violent backgrounds. Two distinct personalities. Now united with a common goal - to work together for the betterment of the lives of their constituents and make devolution in Northern Ireland a success.

It begs a question: If they can make it work - with all the history and emotional baggage that goes along with it - why is there so much opposition to working across nationalist/ unionist lines in Scotland?

2 comments:

The aedjt 21 February 2008 at 16:34  

I think it may have something to do with the fact that people won't necessarily die if Unionists & Nationalists don't get along here. Which is a shame really, because I'd love it if we worked with Labour and showed up their 'commitment' to social justice...

Malcolm Harvey 22 February 2008 at 14:43  

AEDJT

I think its more likely the fact that they represent different communities in Northern Ireland, and that they are not in direct competition for the same voters - as is the case here. They can take credit for good policies and blame the other for bad ones - and it doesn't really affect their voting levels.

Here, because of the nature of politics, the limited variation from centrist (on a left-right spectrum) politics and the limited fragmentation of the party system, the target voters for the major parties here - with perhaps the exception of the Tories - is the centre-left, which is where the majority of Scots are.

This makes it difficult for co-operation as voting game here is very much a zero-sum game.

But that's just my view...

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