The past few weeks have been hugely entertaining for politics fans, but it has also been exhausting trying to get up with all the twists and turns. You start to envy those boring countries with stable democracies.
Locally Nichola Mallon has said she would not return to politics, and who could blame her? Losing her seat in the last election is a big factor, but sometimes it takes a shock to the system to make you reevaluate your life. I have not talked to her, but I can imagine her thinking. She has three young children, which keep her busy, and once you step out of the political bubble, you start to question if it is worth all the hassle. Under every tweet about her yesterday, some anti-vaxers were tearing into her. Female politicians get endless abuse on social media, and it is hard not to see how all this starts to get to you over time.
Nichola Mallon was a very personable and sensible politician, we will be worse off without her. As I have written before, we have a problem of leadership in Northern Ireland where capable people are put off going near politics. In this year’s Assembly Election, we had only 239 candidates contesting 90 seats. If you are a professional, there are easier ways to earn your crust.
We have had pretty much constant crisis since the Good Friday Agreement. Our politicians love a good crisis, it makes them feel all important when they are rushing to Downing Street or Dublin or getting calls from the US President. In contrast, governing is boring, hard and complicated. Far better to chase the dopamine hit of a good crisis than make hard decisions.
I think the best way forward is for Stormont not to return. Have direct rule. Have anonymous civil servants get on with reforming the health service etc. We also need joint rule, we are a small island and we need the pragmatism of all Ireland Health planning and other issues.
The flaw in my plan is the Civil Service is incredibly risk-averse and will likely not make the tough decisions either. We have seen in the past when they made a decision it was blocked with Judicial reviews. The most sensible option would be to make the health service independent and have a chief executive to manage it but the current Grand Poobahs will not be so keen to give up their power and well-paid jobs.
So to conclude we are completely f*cked either way. If Stormont comes back, they will continue to do nothing. If Stormont does not come back, the Civil Service will do nothing. Meanwhile, health, education etc. will get worse. There will be cutbacks from central government and a recession. The poor will get poorer, drug abuse and crime will rise. It is all a bit bleak.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.