ColumnistsRichard Sullivan

No answers, no solutions and no hope

Richard SullivanBy Richard Sullivan
No answers, no solutions and no hope

Apparently there was an election last week, you’ll just have to take my word for.

It wasn’t a dream, it really did happen, though you could be fooled into thinking you were imagining it.

The penny hasn’t dropped for  those basking in the glow of a strong showing for unionism, but the smiles will fade when they realise that once again they  fell for the lie that the Union was at risk.

It is narrow, alarmist and utterly misleading  to use a non-existant threat to the Union as the main plank in their electioneering,  to the almost total exclusion of any worthwhile debate on everyday issues.

We know the unionist parties, in particular the DUP, will simply do what the Tories ask of them.  

They have pushed and pushed Cameron’s welfare cuts crusade, far from having the Tories over a barrel they have been cast in the role of Tory lap dogs.

It’s a sad irony their constituents in East and North Belfast will suffer more than most from the £12bn cuts in social and welfare benefits.    

But hey, at least we’re still part of the UK.

We might be out of work, have no housing benefit, had disability allowance taken from us but what could be more important than getting the Union flag back over the City Hall?

Zero hour contracts – love them – gives me the flexibility to able to attend the odd flag dispute and spend a few hours at Camp Twadell.  

Because that’s what’s important.

There were welcome signs that the electorate is growing weary of the single issue approach to electing MPs, the performance of  People Before Profit candidate Gerry Carroll who pulled in an impressive 7,000 votes in west Belfast was particularly eye catching.

Naomi Long was the champion of realpolitik but was shunted out of office by a DUP juggernaut powered by a sectarian deal with the UUP.

Not that Sinn Fein are blameless. Gerry Kelly succeeded in alienating protestant voters in  North Belfast fed up with the bickering over parades and the blatant pandering by elected politicians to the UVF with his assertion that Catholics vote SF and Prods vote DUP.

The outworking of last week’s election means we are left with an unnerving sense of having been here before.  No answers, no solutions and an electorate deprived of meaningful debate and hope.

Even the Secretary of State is the same.

Meanwhile in London and now completely unfettered by the mildly restraining hand of the Liberal Democrats,  Cameron and Osborne have been given the go-ahead to do what they do best 

And they will waste little time in delivering on their draconian agenda.   The abolition of the Human Rights Act, anti-terror laws which will further restrict freedom of speech, and an immigration policy that would make Nigel Farage proud.

Up to 3,000 university places cut,   arts funding slashed,   £80 million taken out of policing.   Cameron’s mantra of balancing the books and reducing the deficit is more suited to an end of year financial report.

He takes no account of the social and human cost of his actions. A country is not a business it is a people, and it’s people here have been sorely let down.

And now Peter Robinson seems set on by-passing Sinn Fein’s lone stance on welfare cuts by handing responsibility back to Westminster – democracy in action? Hardly.

All we can do is sit back and wait for the pain. But hey, at least we’re still part of the UK, that’s the import thing – isn’t it?