No Connexion To The Poultry Industry

For the record, I would like to clarify that I have no connexion to the “poultry industry”. I am an occasional visitor to KFC.

Thank you.

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Claire Bailey MLA…Strong Silent Type

I first met Claire Bailey in 2006 when she successfully canvassed me to vote for her as Mature Students Officer at Queens University.

I never had her down as the “strong SILENT type” so I am surprised that she has taken a vow of silence since entering the Assembly as Green Party MLA for South Belfast.image

While it is perfectly possible for a MLA to be highly capable without actually speaking in the Assembly chamber, it is surely inadvisable to spend eight months in the Assembly without actually speaking.

Still nice that she got to say something out loud once…even if it was only on the day that Stormont actually collapsed.

Whether the Greens consider endorsing her for the upcoming election (or replacing her with John Barry who is always talking about something) I cant say…but it is rather obvious that rival parties will bring The Silent Green up on the doorsteps.

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The Roast Of Donald Trump

It is funny how I can sit on the couch at midnight, with the TV remote in my hand….and flick thru channels, 101, 102, 103….all the way to QVC at 650 and find nothing to watch. Hundreds of channels. Why do I even have SKY? And last night, I found the “Roast of Donald Trump”.

It is hard to explain a “Roast”. It is a bit like your brother’s “best man” speech at your wedding, being handed over to eight or ten professional 21st century comedians…all of whom are exceptionally rude and unpleasant.

The evolution of Comedy is a strange thing to watch. TV in the 1960s was dominated by ex Music-Hall veterans. In the 1970s, it was racist and sexist dinosaurs from working mens clubs. In the 1980s, it was graduates from universities …alternative comedians who dominated. But really since then, it has been a race to the bottom. An Internet generation has brought us back to vulgarity. Sexism, Racism, Homophobia dressed up as post-modern irony.

Donald Trump’s Roast…. seemingly the Roasters  and the celebrities in the audience pay a lot of dollars (to charity) to insult and/or poke fun and/or laugh at the Roastee, who is deemed to be a “good sport”. So Donald Trump was the Roastee in 2011. His wife Melania and daughter, Ivanka are in the celeb audience…well to be honest, the only other celeb  I recognised was Ice T.

The Roasters …only some were known to me. Seth McFarlane, the unfunny man behind “Family Guy”, Larry King, Snoopy Snoopy Dog Doggy, Marlee Matlin (the deaf actress who won an Oscar) and Whitney Cummings.

A lot of the “roasting” was mutual…each Roaster was himself/herself roasted for a perceived character flaw. Among them….McFarlane was told by Snoopy Dog Man that “Nxxxxxx dont  like the Cleveland Show”. Larry King was roasted for his age and divorces (eight!!!!), the audience was told that it was a diverse panel which included “a murderer, a drug addict, a thief…and some white people”, Marlee Matlin was called the “C” word …the alleged joke being that she could not hear it. And Whitney Cummings “I have known her since she was a gleam in the eye of the man who raped her mother” has given so much to the world of Entertainment “but mostly herpes”.

Now I find this humour to be deeply offensive but the Roasters demonstrated that they had no dignity or (in their terms) were “good sports” by laughing excessively at every alleged joke made about them.

Of the others who I didnt know, an Italian-American actress-comedian was roasted for seemingly being sexually permissive with both men and women and every conceivable combination. Some other comedian was the subject of a running gag that he was ugly. And some reality star from “Jersey Shore” was ridiculed for having no talent whatsoever.

To be fair, there were some genuine funny moments….someone said the first caller to a Larry King Show was Alexander Graham Bell. It was noted that “Jersey Shore” was being filmed on location in Italy which was a sneaky way of deporting the cast. Looking at his watch, one Roaster noted that the star of “Jersey Shore” was just about to start his fifteenth minute of fame.

So in among the alphabet soup of N, C, F and P words, there was some actual funny lines.

The Guest of Honour was Donald Trump …2011 version…a man who had announced he would be a candidate for US President. The Roasters did not seem to take it very seriously. I am not entirely sure that Trump did.

So….Trump sat there as the Roasters made little speeches, which ridiculed him as much as fellow Roasters. Jokes about Eastern European hookers, people on stage being higher than any building Trump had built, how when reaching orgasm both Trump and Melania scream “Donald!!!!!!”, sexual potency “get your wrinkled old penis off me!”, evicting black people from houses to construct a hotel, “Donald Trump wants to be President….I look forward to that assassin…..oh I mean inaugeration”……and one Roaster noted that he had a lot in common with Trump “we both fantasise about your daughter”.

And much more in the same vein.

Yet Donald Trump…reality star, billionaire….sat thru it all with a fixed grin. A “good sport”. At the end,Seth  McFarlanesaid that whatever about being President he would always be “King of New York City”.

The thing that struck me most was that whatever the politics of Donald Trump in 2011 and whatever the politics of the 21st century comedians….the real point was that Donald Trump was one of them and these entertainers were at one with Donald Trump. Hooray for Hollywood.

Yet this show has been in the public domain since 2011. Almost six years. And Trump surrounded by and revelling in the company of foul mouthed comedians was hardly the kinda thing that would have endeared him to Republican Christian evangelicals. Nothing seemed off limits…not even references to his wife and daughter…or broad hints at sexual misbehaviour.

And this begs the question why a leaked “hot mic” video of Trump was seized on by Clinton supporters before the election and why Trump is unhappy about Internet references to Melania and Ivanka.

And it further begs the question as to why Trump tweets ill-tempered comments about the untalented Hollywood elite.

I do not know whether Trump’s great friends, Seth McFarlane, Snoopy Snoopy Doggy Dog, Larry King, Marlee Matlin, Whitney Cummings and the rest are going to the Trump Inaugeration. Maybe they are not invited. Maybe they are boycotting it. Attending it, would certainly give the “Jersey Shore” Guy another few minutes of Fame.

Of course I dont know if these celebs and the celeb audience giving Donald Trump a standing ovation actually voted for Trump or Clinton . But he was getting the ovation for the lifestyle excesses that Hollywood and Democrats now condemn.

A bizarre exercise in mutual hypocrisy.

 

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So Farewell Then Tristram Hunt

You are probably as devastated as I am to learn that Tristram Hunt, Labour MP for Stoke Central has resigned to become Curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Apparently the appointment had to be rubber-stamped by Theresa May which means the Leader of the Tory Party knew that there would be a by-election in Stoke before the Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party.

So basically Tristram Hunt is not really a team player.

If Labour has a “north of England” problem, it might be something to do with the likes of Hunt, Yvette Cooper , various Milibands, not to mention Mandelson and Tony B Liar being gifted safe northern seats.

Hunt, a Remainer on EU represented Stoke Central which was pro-Brexit. He tells us that he never sees a Corbyn supporter in Waitrose….although I am told there is not actually a branch of Waitrose in Stoke.

The problem with Tony B Liar is that he inspired Blairism and Blairite MPs are only now in their prime. Take Caroline Flint MP for Don Valley in Yorkshire. You can take the Girl out of Twickenham Girls School but can you take Twickenham Girls School out of the Girl?

So Hunt’s parting shot to his Party is a by-election they dont need. And Jamie Reed, former MP for Copeland has resigned to work at Sellafield. Another by election Labour doesnt need.

Yet the thought of Blairite MPs resigning to get jobs more suited to their many talents is an interesting one. If anyone reading this wants to give a job to Jess Phillips, I will happily give her a reference.

Will we ever hear of Tristram Hunt again? Probably not …unless one of those Cockneys on “Eastenders” refers to him….or am I thinking of a “Jeremy”?

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Celebrity Politicians?

One of the most interesting things about English elections is the celebrity endorsements.

Much loved Ken Barlow from Weatherfield (Coronation Street) is of course a Labour man. He even spent a week in jail in the 1960s for a protest against nuclear weapons. And yet William Roache from Cheshire (Ken’s alter ego) is a Tory.

Notably “Sir” Alex Ferguson is a Labour supporter.

“Sir” Sean Connery, Brian Cox and Alan Cumming are among the prominent Scots who support Scottish independence.

We do not have the same celebrity involvement in Norn Iron. Politics is still too divisive. Businessmen dont want to get involved. Neither do publicly known figures.

Retired TV journalists like Fearghal McKinney and Mike Nesbitt are exceptions to the rule.

In the archive of this Blog, you will find facetious references to our local celebrities and how they might vote in elections. When a local GAA star is interviewed, do you ever wonder if he votes for Gregory Campbell? Or when you see a local Rugby star interviewed, do you ever wonder if he votes for Máirtín Ó Muilleoir? And our weather presenters? Academics? Newsreaders?

I would not assumme that the UTV and BBC newsrooms are representative. Do sixty per cent vote? Does it break down as 50% unionist, 40% nationalist and 10% LetsGetAlongerist? I would guess that nationalists are under-represented and LetsGetAlongerists over-represented in those newsrooms.

BBC and ITN and even SKY people might not be Brexiteers. Are they representative of Britain? Likewise the people at NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN might be unrepresentative of the American electorate.

But is it any different in Havelock House and Ormeau Avenue?

Of course, over the past few years, I have heard whispers that “he is one of us” or “she isnt one of us”. But generally speaking, our celebs have been tight-lipped about political affiliation.

But does it really matter that our mainstream media is out of touch with public opinion…in USA, Britain and Norn Iron.

Of course not every political party can recruit an all-Ireland winner (Justin McNulty SDLP) but its important to say that he is an excellent MLA.

But “celebrity” is as much local or localised. UUP have done well to recruit Doug Beattie who has medals from the English army. Probably not a household name but he has the right profile.

Celebrity is as much about the local top man in the Orange Order, the Chairman of the local St Vincent de Paul….as it is about playing GAA at the highest level or reading the news in Ormeau Avenue.

The local celeb route is more valid than anonymous back-room people with a degree in politics and media studies.Fea

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Joint Authority Or Direct Rule?

It is strange that any upcoming election will focus on two rival Plan Bs rather than the alleged purpose…electing a power-sharing Executive for Norn Iron.

The Good Friday Agreement is a failure. Whether it deserves to fail…thats a different question.

By common consent, about 95% of nationalists voted for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998…not very different from the vote in the Republic of Ireland. And by common consent about 55% of unionists voted for the Agreement.

This is significant. Nationalists had more faith in the Agreement. The failure therefore hits nationalists harder. Nationalists analysed the Agreement as stepping stones to a United Ireland. Those Unionists who voted YES saw it as a series of obstacles to a United Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement was sold to the two tribes. For the best of reasons…Peace…it was sold as a Lie…maybe two lies. A Great Big Lie. And I bought it.

A third way to look at the Agreement is that it was neither. It was about letting the pieces fall…but doing nothing and the DUP ensured no progress meant a status quo was embedded …a unionist status quo.

Since 1998….SDLP (initially) and Sinn Féin (latterly) have snatched Defeat from the jaws of Victory.

I always thought that the definition of Hubris was Seamus Mallon proclaiming that the Good Friday Agreement was “Sunningdale for slow learners”. Sometime in the next two decades some nationalist politician will claim that the newest Agreement is “Sunningdale and the Good Friday Agreement for VERY VERY slow learners”.

So….an Election. But SF are publicly doubting they can work with DUP. And SDLP seem to prefer NOrn Iron to be ruled jointly by London and Dublin. In the context of Brexit, it actually makes sense.

The Public might well be disgusted at DUP-SF but their hatred of each other actually ensures they will be the biggest unionist and nationalist parties. The Opposition parties can not cobble together a credible electoral pact (the UUP are simply too mired in sectarianism), a credible platform…SDLP-UUP division is a weakness but DUP-SF division is a strength.

The Public Anger will manifest itself as abstention and a boycott of the election will work against the Good Guys (in this context, SDLP, UUP and Alliance) more than it will work against DUP-Sinn Féin.

Readers of this Blog will know that I have wanted Stormont to fail for some years. It is a constant reminder of how badly I miscalculated….and how badly all nationalists miscalculated in 1998. SDLP blaming the British and Irish governments is not totally convincing. But it is marginally better than Sinn Féin trying to blame everyone else for their constant humiliation at the hands of DUP …thats laughable.

You may think SDLP is the Stoop Down Low Party. I may think Sinn Féin is Stoop Further.

This is an election about Plan B….SDLP and even Sinn Féin would be delighted with Joint Authority. DUP and even UUP would be delighted with Direct Rule from London.

James Brokenshire is unlikely to prevent an election but the NIO will note the turn-out. An a second election is likely to show even lower turn-out.

Brexit DOES throw a spanner in the works but certainly I can see that NIO will facilitate a Dublin dimension BUT still control things….and appoint that ultimate Quango….the Quisling Quango of academics, business people, civic society, lobbyists who have been waiting on this opportunity for years.

 

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Martin McGuinness Resigns

It is clear from his appearance on TV today that Martin McGuinness is not a well man. And the first human reaction has to be one of sympathy.

How this sympathy manifests in any upcoming election is hard to judge. The related point is that Sinn Féin keyboard warriors have been pushing the line that Sinn Féin has a strategy and actually knows what it is doing…yet will go into any election pushing the exact opposite.

The nationalist electorate will be asked to support Sinn Féin on the basis that Sinn Féin’s list of humiliations that it has suffered at the hands of the DUP is actually humiliation for the entire nationalist community…and the only way for nationalists is to deal with the humiliation is to ….er re-elect the people who facilitated the humiliation in the first place.

Sinn Féin are a political party who wanted Arlene Foster to stand aside for an inquiry. They did not demand her resignation and a full public inquiry. They failed…even with a proposal designed to get DUP and SF off the hook.

In the crazy world of Norn Iron politics, it might just work.

And while the entire crisis is down to DUP arrogance (and SF failure to address it), going into an election as the Party that humiliated Sinn Féin will not damage DUP too much.

The most likely outcome of any election is that DUP and SF will remain the biggest parties, taking some damage. There will be a campaign to boycott the election and turn out will be low. The boycott will more likely damage the good guys (in this context SDLP and UUP) than the bad guys (DUP and Sinn Féin).

Whether the NIO and its invisible and anonymous Secretary of State sanctions an election is one thing. How James Brokenshire reacts to (say) a turn-out of 45% is another thing.

Direct Rule…..or do we just go to an appointed Commission to run Norn Iron. The ultimate Quango….the Quisling Quango.

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