I took a bit of a break last month, what with Easter and all that; spent a few days in Cork with the Irish grandchildren, which was lovely. And it seems that, however haltingly, spring has arrived at last.
But now that the welcome Easter hiatus is over, it seems as if it’s back to the same old same old on the political front. Even front page news such as the fire at Notre Dame Catherdal, the shocking killing of the young journalist, Lyra McKee, on Good Friday, and the terrible massacres in Sri Lanka seem to offer only a temporary respite from the interminable debate over how to progress with that most poisoned of poisoned chalices, the great Brexit debacle. An issue that seems to have sucked the oxygen away from all other debates.
Most Members of Parliament in any country say they got into politics to make a difference. That may or may not be true, and I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but to be honest it becomes increasingly difficult to suspend one’s disbelief when you look at the absolute dog’s dinner that is being made of the so-called negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union. The only thing that everyone in our divided country seems to agree upon at the moment is that our politicians are hardly covering themselves in glory as day after day we hear spokespersons from one side or the other endlessly rehearse what have become increasingly tired old arguments.
I regard myself as quite a political animal. I always go out and vote, brought my children up to do the same – “People died to give you the vote, the least you can do is get out there and use it!” I love that feeling that in your own small way, you are participating in the march of history when you stand there in the polling booth and mark the paper with your cross. These days you can keep up with the results on the internet, but in the olden days (!) you had to stay up all night tuned in to the BBC as one or other Dimbleby told you the results as they came in, with Jon Snow in the background analysing what it all meant on his his famous swingometer.
Of course it’s all much more sophisticated nowadays, with computer graphics and animations, and endless polls from social media giving you continuous updates. If I’m honest I do feel a certain nostalgia for those rickety old sets and the ponderous pronouncements of the great and the good. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the way the candidates all have to assemble behind the Returning Office as s/he announces the results of the ballot one by one. Long may that tradition continue – how else could we see the spectacle of Theresa May in the same lineup as Lord Buckethead, Elmo and Mr Fishfinger. That’s democracy for you….
Now, if we could only get over the current obsession with Brexit, perhaps we could go back to the cut and thrust of proper politics. Honest politics where politicians gain support because of their ability to inspire and unite us rather than cause us shame and embarrassment as they muddle around in ever decreasing circles in a mire of their own making.