I said earlier this morning that I was lost for words. I’m not quite, though I can’t guarantee their civility.
Apart from North Down, held by the principled independent Sylvia Hermon, Northern Ireland’s parliamentary constituencies are now divided, in the crudest way possible, between those in the north east, held exclusively by a DUP whose shabby deal to prop up a minority Tory government will impact brutally upon us all, and those along the borders, together with West Belfast, ‘represented’ by Sinn Fein, whose much vaunted concern for ‘the most vulnerable in our society’ will not extend to taking their seats in support of a progressive coalition.
The hearts and dreams of thousands of young (and less young) people across the UK, who voted, often for the very first time, for hope and change have been broken by Northern Ireland’s myopic constitutional obsessions. No one will suffer for it more than our own children here.
And no constituency illustrates the impasse more starkly than my own.
As I wrote on Wednesday evening,
“Every vote is precious, because every one is a real endorsement of what we stand for, and the hope we will never abandon.
But I’d give up every single one of those votes for a progressive government in Westminster from Friday morning. We stand at a crossroads, and what happens in the UK tomorrow will send ripples across the world. Be brave, wherever you are, and vote for what you know is right.”
For a few brief hours last night, we thought that progressive government was on its way. But instead we have something potentially much worse than we had before. I would once again beg the newly elected Sinn Fein MPs to put present human need before historic ideology. And I’d suggest to those socially liberal, tolerant, scientifically aware and basically decent Tory MPs celebrating this morning (and there must be at least a handful) that they look very closely at their new bedfellows before snuggling under the duvet.