Sunday, 6 April 2014


 [Written by Gordon Johnston for Issue 13 of The Ulster Folk]


“We must do something”. “Something has to be done”. People have become dangerously unaware of how politics works. There is a dangerous disconnect between the electorate and the political establishment in Northern Ireland. Perhaps this is due to direct rule from Westminster where decisions were made far away from Northern Ireland and further compounded by consecutive Stormont administrations that do painfully little by way of legislating.


The people of Northern Ireland generally are unaware of the political choices open to them and instead follow the herd towards voting for the donkey with the correct colour of ribbon. Voting remains an act of tribal defiance against the other community with the electorate voting for candidates that wouldn’t reach the ballot paper in Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland.


The media are complicit in this political malnourishment. They focus their stories on sensationalist headlines writing thousands of words on why we need change and how things will be better with that change. They miss one vital aspect. We don’t care about politics. Beside the breaking news story of tragedy around the world the media will have a glossy story about the tragedy of Britney Spears dress malfunction or something similar. The media have herded people into a bubblegum world of faux celebrity whereby they care more about the sexually explicit dancing of Miley Cyrus or the media circus surrounding Justin Beiber than war, health and education.


The electorate do not appreciate the link between services and taxation having long been seduced by the hollow promises of politicians promising more but never revealing where that more is coming from. The media have failed to explain that bigger, better and more expensive services cost more and taxes will have to be raised to fund them.


The media also enable the myth that politicians have any power at all. The political establishment is a snowball rolling down a mountain. The bureaucrats behind the scenes play the tune that the Minister must dance to. Ministers sometimes get to change the direction of the snowball slightly but it is still rolling down the mountain.


The electorate mostly doesn’t care about issues until they directly impact upon their lives. We are all guilty of this and until these issues impact upon us we carry on with our lives just trying to live as best we can. We behave like free range slaves with the illusion of freedom when our lives are anything but free.


The flag protests caused universal horror amongst the media and political elite with fear that some of the slaves had broken their chains. The mob could no longer be controlled with hollow promises and when that violence turned to activism the fear grew. If these protestors dared to think for themselves and challenge the establishment then who would be next to challenge authority?


Every effort was made to demonise the protestors and the leaders of the flag protests as this group represented that which the elite could no longer control or explain. This is a danger to their continued hegemony that could not be allowed lest the elite lost their privileged positions.


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