The Union abides. Change is afoot, utterly. Scotland gets more power. England evolves. Wales will do its thing. Change is afoot - Except in Northern Ireland.
In the pork-barrel principality of Northern Ireland unchange is coming. Monism and orthodox, religio-politics abides. Despite our pretensions to modernity we're antique. Like a sectarian museum, it's like going back into Dicken's world of Barnaby Rudge where there are Gordon Riots every summer and at regular intervals. The clock ticks excitedly around the developed world, but is broken in Northern Ireland.
While the three partner nations of this Union will change (with a federalism of some sort as explained by John Redwood MP, David Davis MP and Andrew Rawnsley), the land of hereditary politics, patronage and backwardness will continue to export bad news and evict the sane, reasoned and rational.
Even if they wanted the power of further devolution and federalism, Northern Ireland couldn't handle it.
Politics in Northern Ireland is about paranoia of "the other", not about policy and proper politics. The DUP, the political wing of the Free Presbyterian Church, and Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, will continue to stir up tensions with primitive, poisonous "identity politics". The two blocs will continue to scratch a pathetic legitimacy out of "identity politics" and remain accountable to nobody but the spectre of the bogey-man politics they cynically project.
"[With "identity politics"] people began to stand up at meetings and orate about how they felt, not about what or how they thought, and about who they were rather than what (if anything) they had done or stood for. It became the replication in even less interesting form of the narcissism of the small difference, because each identity group begat its subgroups and "specifities"."
Sinn Fein and the DUP, two boots sitting in a septic sectarian ditch, each the enemy to the other, each a symbiotic effect on the other. Each playing to their clients and special interest "communities".
"You hear the word "community", keep your hand on your wallet... It robs the language of the word."
That's what happens when you ruthlessly and cynically divide a country to where one half go to Catholic schools and learn about the great evil of British colonialism and the other half go to Protestant schools and learn of the great glory of British history. A vivisected land, a kind Isaiah Berlin spoke of. The pre-meditated and conscious incubating of difference.
Writing in the News Statesman, Kevin Meager said that Northern Ireland's unionist politicians are "oddities in our political system." He's right. They are. They're incongruent to modern civic unionism. This place is messed up. Yet I love this place dearly, despite its colossal failings and shortcomings. There is a normal Northern Irelandwithin the carapace of a sectarianised state.
I've said before that Northern Ireland needs London and its cosmopolitan and broad-minded émigrés to address the vulgar acrimonies and antipathies of the sectarian and tribalists. Emer O'Toole said the same thing, writing in the Guardian she said:
"Great Britain is unwilling to meet Northern Ireland's eyes. Which is a shame, because British people could learn a lot by taking a long hard look at it all. 2012 marked the centenary of the Ulster Covenant, a declaration of loyalty to the UK signed by half a million people; Ulster loyalists are still this devoted to their British identity. And, like a nonchalant lover strongly pursued, the UK needs to face up to what that means."
I want change for Northern Ireland, not unchange. That will come only when we utterly rearrange and reform the whole mental furniture of Northern Ireland and rip up the two bloc, sectarianised society.