The Constitution Once Again

The Constitution Once Again

Worthwhile politics are about change. Barack Obhama came to office on a promise of change and hopefully he will do what he can to effect change in the U.S.A. David Cameron and Nick Clegg both campaigned on a message of change in the recent elections. That is welcome news. We must wait and see the nature of the change that will emerge. Politics can change history. It will be of interest if politics can change the history of voting in the U.K.

To turn to our dismal local politics, is there a politics of change there? I didn’t hear a call for change from that quarter. Sinn Fein want a Socialist Republic for all Ireland but in that we are waiting for a Godot that will never turn up. Politics is the art of the possible so Sinn Fein should stop flogging the dead horse of an impossible Socialist Republic or any Republic. In other words Sinn Fein should change. The D.U.P. are out to maintain the U.K. Constitution at all costs and if change is hinted at the response will be –no surrender and not an inch. In the current election there has been another sectarian referendum on the constitution, as have all elections here been referenda on the constitution since 1921. So there is no change. It’s the constitution once again

The socio-constitutional set up gives a state that has two conflicting heads of state involved, two conflicting national flags been flown, two conflicting national anthems being sung, with two conflicting national passports being recognised as valid. The communities in the cities sulk in ghettoes behind peace walls with the kerbstones painted either red white and blue or green white and orange. But in N. Ireland this set up is accepted as the norm because it is argued— the people are like that. But this attitude typifies the demeaning politics here which says— accept the way things are and can’t be changed so we are stuck with politicians who can’t give a vision of a new and better Ireland as a country as it ought to be. But in the socio- constitutional set–up of the state, N Ireland is unstable and will be prone to violence.

There is now the hype that with the G.F.A. and the S.A.A the constitutional question is settled but the constitution still lies at the heart of all elections here. The change that is needed is constitutional change. I personally see as the only way forward is the change of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Federal Kingdom of the Sovereign of Ireland and Great Britain or vice versa depending upon ones point of view. I have published some work on this but my friends say that in doing that I’m throwing my shoes at the clouds. I see that in the constitution suggested for all Ireland sectarianism will wither away but my friends insist sectarianism is so deep rooted in the Irish Psyche and like invasive Japanese Knotweed, it simply can’t be pulled up but even so I soldier on.

There is the further hype that the only concern of the people is the economy The evidence of election results puts the constitution at the forefront of the people’s minds. In that, I’m not knocking economics. As someone with a formal background in the discipline of economics I would be the first to stress the economy as vital to the well-being and livelihood of the community. But basic economic realities have to be faced by our politicians. The size of the state is a factor in its economic growth performance. Small states tend to be poor states The state of Northern Ireland is small and this could be a factor in its lack of a vibrant private sector and its over reliance on the public sector. If David Cameron makes N. Ireland an enterprise zone that could help.

For a state to enjoy economic growth and prosperity the state should be stable. In N. Ireland the constitution isn’t agreed so the state is unstable. In an unstable state the economy is pushed to the wall.

For a state to grow economically the state should specialise in that aspect of its economy in which it has a relative advantage. Ireland, North and South, has a relative advantage in the production, manufacture and marketing of food and that should be made the country’s specialisation and its economic base. That shouldn’t rule out a know-how driven private sector in engineering pharmaceutics electronics and tourism with a reliable banking system that lubricates the wheels of industry commerce and households.

All of that however is by the by until we get politicians and a politics that promote radical change especially of the constitution because it’s the constitution that divides the people here and partitions the island.

Michael Gillespie

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