SOMETIMES being reasonable seems too big an ask. Tony Blair felt that way a while back, when talking about anti-vaxxers: “If you’re not vaccinated and you’re eligible... you’re not just irresponsible, you’re an idiot.”
Most of us have sometimes felt the same way about the same group of people. But the fact is, they’re not just a small cluster of clunkheads. Did you know, for example, that 30 per cent of eligible people in Liverpool haven’t had a first jab? In parts of London the figure is nearer 40 per cent. So are they all idiots? Unlikely.
What you find is that there appears to be a  link between social class and receiving or rejecting the vaccine. Take Manchester: the figure for vaccine-refusal-though-eligible is 30 per cent; but in more affluent parts of the city the jab is refused by just 20 per cent, while in the in poorer parts of the city, around 50 per cent keep their sleeve rolled down.
So why this higher refusal figure among poorer people? Because (generalisation alert) they don’t trust the state. Austerity policies by the British Government have hammered these people. If you’ve been getting nothing but neglect from the government most of your life, you’re less likely to rock up to a vaccination clinic, even if the authorities tell you it’s for your own good. In Britain, those who identify themselves as English or Scottish or Welsh or British are, in 80 per cent of cases, going to take up the offer of vaccination. But if you’ve got a Caribbean background, just 52 per cent will take up the vaccine offer. And among people classified as Gypsy or Irish Traveller in Britain, only 28 per cent of those eligible take up the vaccination offer.
This is a state of affairs most of us would like altered, because the non-vaccinated are a threat to us all. But if you’re going to change people’s minds, you’ve first got to accept that they have their reasons for holding the views they do.
Which takes us to unionism (no, Virginia, not really a giant leap: ears open, mouth closed).

The fact is, many although not all northern unionists want to have as little as possible to do with the South. Even when it is clearly in their interests, as in the case of the much-derided protocol, a sizeable number of unionists are completely opposed to it.
Why is that? Well, like the poor in Britain, their past experiences with those in favour of Irish reunification haven’t been great. In fact – let’s not gloss over it – their past experiences, over the period of the Troubles, have been bad. As they see it, the IRA tried to shoot and bomb them into a united Ireland, so of course they’ll view anything like the Protocol as the start of a slippery slope toward an abolition of the border in Ireland.
So what should those of us who believe in a reunited Ireland do in the face of this recalcitrance by some unionists? Well, we’d do well not to dismiss them as idiots who don’t know what’s good for them (even Tony Blair later apologised for his ‘idiot’ remark about vaccine- rejecters). Our first step has to be an acknowledgement of the reasonableness of their case – they see themselves as British, they feel proud to identify as part of a world power, albeit a waning world power. In many instances they see the South as priest-ridden and backward, even though that hasn’t been the case for something approaching fifty years.

Only when we accept that die-in-a-ditch unionists have a credible case for thinking as they do will there be any chance that they might open themselves to looking at the Irish reunification alternative.
Even if you’re deeply suspicious of officialdom, getting vaccinated is good for you. And even if you’re hostile to those who favour a reunited Ireland, Irish reunification would be, will be, good for you. And me. And all of us.
It’s time to sit down and see things from each other’s perspective. Then and only then will we make progress.