Position and pain in politics

A politician’s lot is not a happy one. Whether they’re going up or down, they are the target of attack and scorn, and if it wasn’t that the money is so good, few would answer the call.

Take Karen Bradley.  She had her script written out and everything, this’ll please the DUP, yes, yes, I can feel Sammy nodding behind me, our dignified troops, job done. Next she knows, she’s reminded that there are families in Derry with a very different view of said troops.  Karen hurries back to say it had been a slip of the tongue sort of thing, yes it was all written down and everything but still, just a slip. Sorry, Karen – not enough. Oh God – OK, OK, I’ll meet the families, impress them that I’m on their side, oh for God’s sake, what do these people want – my resignation?

That’s just what the Bloody Sunday families appeared to want. But of course while Karen getting the boot might offer some satisfaction, the fact is, sacking her would change nothing. From the days when Reggie Maudling literally got a mauling from Bernadette Devlin, we know that British secretaries of state will say anything they think they can get away with, to maintain the official version of events here, which is white hats for the British military/’security’ forces and midnight black for the cowardly terrorist IRA. Not a good week for Karen.

In contrast, a good week for Mark Durkan. Leo Varadkar called him down and offered him a place on the Fine Gael slate in the European elections.  Happy days for the defeated former leader of the SDLP. A quick chat with Pat Hume and  Mark was hurrying to accept, a grin from ear to ear.

But sometimes what appears good is kind of bitter sweet. Odd that a politician of Mark’s experience wouldn’t have known how Colum Eastwood, the SDLP leader, would have taken this political Houdini act: I’m SDLP through and through, although at the same time I’ll be canvassing votes in Dublin for Fine Gael, and though if I make it  I’ll be living in Derry, I’ll be representing the people of Dublin, no wait a minute, I’ll be representing the people of the North, that’s Leo seeing to it the nationalists in the north are never left behind.

Given the contortions poor Mark has had to go through, you wouldn’t know whether to cheer that he’s got the equivalent of a DUP seat in the House of Lords or that he’s been handed a job in Europe that makes him look like a man who knows no matter what he says, it’s going to contradict some other aspect of this little number Leo has lobbed his way.

As I say, if it wasn’t for the fame and money, few would volunteer to suffer such public embarrassment.

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