Wake up centre parties. Your big break could be coming

Product. Game Up. But not over. The President sounds terse, even hip as he walks –out but not away. But hip as in beat or hip as in arthritis? In a round of comment on the “crisis” as Pete would punctuate it, I like Jim Fitzpatrick’s irreverent take best. Not bad for the Beeb. Is Sinn Fein sulking because the DUP are widening out to the other parties or is that a DUP stalling move? Btw the line in Gerry Adams’s encyclical that most intrigued me was

“But no one should underestimate the determination of unionism, allied to the political system – the so-called permanent government – which is still mainly unionist at its most senior levels – to prevaricate and stall and delay. To oppose change.

What has the civil service done to deserve this? Earlier this week it looked as if they all might be wising up. Now that they haven’t, they owe us explanations – but pigs might fly. Surely somewhere in those ample egos lurks the thought that they’re now looking very silly. The centre parties should be poised to seize the initiative. Fat chance. They look like hanging on to their mini-me roles rather than striking out for a vote-spreading, cross community, non sectarian initiative. Why on earth does it take the SDLP longer than the Labour party to elect a new leader? And shouldn’t we be told straight about the range of Conservative –unionist ambitions? It would be good to say the centre hasn’t gone away you know. If the coalition collapses they should be ready to grasp the chance to say Tiocfaidh ár lá.
But well, are they?

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

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