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