Bill Clinton’s campaign team of 2003 had a famous mantra “Its the Economy Stupid!”. We are faced with a range of societal challenges and weaknesses that are structural in much of our community. From this Unicorn’s perspective, instead of fixating on identity and “who said what” we need a focus on three Es
We still have many good schools and our top exam results are really good, but is this at the cost of a very significant number of kids who are simply failed by our education system and leave with nothing? No qualifications, no expectations and no realistic chance of turning their lives around. And as for segregated education, well are we surprised that so many of our kids turn out so ignorant of the other side?
We have some really bright sparks in the Northern Ireland economy. Some of our tech companies are as good if not better than any in the world, but they are too few. Instead an unsustainable proportion of the local economy is propped up by our public sector and grant culture – a huge subsidy from the rest of the UK. This is incredibly unhealthy. It is like a thirty something who is still expecting handouts from mum and dad so he can pursue his dream of being the great novelist. We need a reality check and we need to start paying our way. That will not be overnight I accept, but we need to start. and yes it does start with education, but it needs something else.
Our young people and particularly our children need to have an expectation that their future can be better than their parents and grandparents endured. A peaceful, shared future where every child has an expectation that they will be equipped for work with a strong education and job opportunities in a vibrant export driven 21st century economy.
Now if any of our political class genuinely subscribe to this I may lend them my vote, but a fixation on flags and the past leaves me with low expectations of too many. In the words of Paul Brady too many are
“Still trying to reach the future through the past,
Still trying to carve tomorrow from a tombstone”
I am off to work this morning determined to play my part to change that.