The price of equality in a new deal

If we stand back and examine it, the concept of equality that Marty is raising again is interesting isn’t it? There’s an ambiguity about equality that’s somewhere near the heart of the problem. Equal value per unit certainly, just like parity of esteem – you can’t argue that the Irishness/Britishness is somehow existentially superior to Britishness/Irishness. Is it essential to practice affirmative action or positive discrimination to redress the balance of the past; or does that create a backlash more severe than the orginal problem? And anyway does positive discrimination actually exist for nationalists, or the poor or anybody in this system; or if it is just a level playing field, is it delivering? Through all the chaff, the special pleading, the coat trailing and the venom, I just don’t know and I don’t see any many objective measurements. And what is equality when it comes to the operation of our qualiified democracy? The joint co-equal FMDFM argues one way, Assembly voting has it both ways, parallel consent and weighted overall majority. Where should equality lie here: DUP 33% SF 26%: All Us 60% , all Nats 40%? Any argument that says that Nats get more weight per unit just for signing up to the system won’t survive. Just as any case for unionist majority winner-takes-most won’t work either. It’s a pedants’ paradise and a recipe for fundament oblivion (sorry, disappearing up your own arse; suggesting that mental colonic exploration produces only limited rewards). But suddenly – is exhaustion taking over and can it be true? Is there a tiny patch of blue in the sky as Pete hints and Eamonn now reports, or is Woodward oiling it again ?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London