Bogged down in the sectarian mire of British politics…

I long ago scrubbed BBC’s Question Time off my regular viewing schedule, but last night I switched it on about half way through whilst waiting patiently for the late edition of Hearts and Minds (thanks once again that lone assassin who put an end to our YouTubing of NI’s flagship current affairs programme)… But it turned out to be surprisingly good… Two things from an NI point of view… One was Vincent Cable on Afghanistan when he suggested that since we have the Provisional IRA running Northern Ireland [Ed – I didn’t think anyone was running Northern Ireland], it was absurd for the government to pretend that at some stage they would not be talking to the Taliban… And the other was from a young Northern Irish woman in the audience… who noted that whilst 8% of the UK population may go to private school, yet 50% who get in to Oxbridge are private school educated. She also noted that opportunities to move on in these hard pressed times require people to work as interns, which in turn means you need rich parents to keep you going. Clipped, but absolutely to the point.

Despite a credible performance against the rather bumbling but ubiquitous Tory working-class-Northerner-done-good Eric Pickles on the Today Programme this morning, John Prescott and Labour’s ‘back to the future’ return to Class War can’t obscure the fact that in all the time they’ve been in power Labour barely dented the problem of falling social mobility…

A little bit of attention on the actual problem (and how it might be ‘nudged’ the other way) rather than a lame resort to tribal politics (yep, we’re not the only ones wearing the congenitally sectarian blinkers) would be good… But don’t hold your breath…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty