Welcome to my new politics blog entry, where I basically give my tuppence worth about political news stories or events in NI, UK and the US that have risen above the media dirge and caught my notoriously limited attention span. I hope you will find my ramblings in some way informative, if not mildly entertaining, at least! You do not necessarily have to agree with me or my assertions, of course, and some of you may just simply enjoy being irritated by me on a weekly basis, which is great! Happy reading!
“The danger of the blogosphere is reading only those you agree with.” - Molly Ivins (American Journalist)
They say a week is a long time in Politics, and the last week has been no exception! There has been a lot going on, both in the UK and the US, as well as in little ole Norn Iron! So, where does one start?
Well, there’s no place like home, as they say, so, let’s start right here in Northern Ireland/North of Ireland/Ulster/Occupied 6 Counties...okay, I’m not doing that every week, so let’s just go with Norn Iron or NI, shall we?
N. IRELAND POLITICS
Tweet of the week (or should that be twit?) has to go to SF MLA and ex-MEP, Martina Anderson, for her ill-conceived social media post regarding the proposed pension payments for Troubles victims. In a now deleted tweet, she said the £800m would primarily go to “those involved in Britain’s dirty war in Ireland.” Or, to “..those involved in collusion.”
Given that the proposed payments cover many victims from both Protestant/Unionist and Catholic/Nationalist backgrounds, her assertions simply don’t stack up and are a clear distortion of the reality. The tweet has illicited widespread condemnation from all political quarters, and even had some SF representatives voicing their discomfort. Whatever legitimate reservations they may have about how the victims pensions are to be distributed, this was no way to articulate them! Martina, of course, has a bit of previous for this sort of thing, and is increasingly being regarded as the ‘embarrassingly rude old auntie’ type figure within the Party. Quick, hide the sherry!
Let’s also give a special mention to our NI Education Minister, Peter Weir, for his Herculean efforts to drive all GCSE and A level pupils and their teachers to distraction and beyond via the exams fiasco! He followed that up this week with school visits, where he didn’t observe the Covid-19 health and safety guidance that his own department had issued to schools only days previously! Minimal social distancing was in evidence in the press photos and he clearly didn’t wear a mask or visor at any stage! Oh dear! (Insert face palm mental image!)
And so to wider UK politics. The current Westminster regime never fail to disappoint in the face palm stakes, either, it would appear! PM, Boris Johnson had to cut short his holiday in a remote coastal location in Scotland, after inadvertently revealing the whereabouts of his cottage bolt hole to the press. He also managed to irritate the cottage and land owner by pitching a tent in an adjoining field without their permission. A nearby herd of Aberdeen Angus’ were said to be unmoooved by the whole episode! (Sorry!) However, that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg for Boris, as his problems on the political front continue to mount. The Brexit bus has ground to a halt, with negotiations on a trade deal with the EU going nowhere. It was conceded by the EU negotiators this week that it is increasingly likely that ‘No Deal’ will be the inevitable outcome, given the short timeframe remaining.
Speaking of buses, Boris and his controversial adviser sidekick, Dominic Cummings, have been busy throwing senior civil servants under his famous London Routemaster bus. After beheading the most senior Civil Servant in the Foreign Office and Cabinet Office, he has rid himself of Public Health England and those he regards as to blame for recent exam U-turns, Sally Collier of Ofqual and Jonathan Slater of the Department for Education. They have inexplicably gone to save the skin of the hapless Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson! This purge of Civil Servants is being seen by some as a worrying Whitehall power grab by Number 10, which contravenes the long held but unwritten code of neutrality which the Civil Service proudly maintains.
Meanwhile, the government is still attracting criticism for their continued mishandling of the COVID-19 Pandemic response, with their guidance often appearing vague and contradictory, all while the dreaded R rate creeps ever upwards again! Reports this week also predicted a lengthy recession ahead, with potential unemployment levels not seen since the early Thatcher years of the 1980’s! I’m old enough to remember the 80’s and it was pretty bleak, as well as being the decade that style forgot, too! (Remember the mullet hairstyle? Just think Tiger King and you’ll get the picture!) Furthermore, just to add to Boris’ woes, opinion polls this week show Keir Starmer’s Labour narrowing the gap against the Tories, so that they are virtually neck and neck! Quite the turnaround for a Labour Party that was left in tatters after their crushing General Election defeat! Maybe Boris could pick up the phone and get some advice from his mate, Donald, across the Atlantic?....um? Maybe not!
Mr Trump has plenty of his own problems to deal with, it seems. It seems somewhat appropriate that it is hurricane season stateside, as the Trump administration are being battered on several fronts! With Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, comfortably ahead in the latest option polls, the Donald will have his work cut out to secure that prized second term!
In the last week, in Wisconsin, police shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back. An apparently pro-Trump vigilante then allegedly shot dead two protestors in Kenosha. On Saturday , after Trump supporters clashed with protesters in Portland, a man apparently belonging to night
None of this bodes well for America as we head into the wing organisation was shot dead.-a rightve rhetoric to fire up his voting ratchet up the divisikey election period, where Trump will want to base.
Trump, of course, accepted the official Republican Party nomination this week, in a glitzy, Kardashian-esque, televised event in the immaculately groomed grounds of the White House. Worth noting was the fact that six of the key speakers had the surname Trump. A clear sign that this a real family affair and that there is an obvious intention to build a Trump political dynasty. It’s all starting to look a bit worryingly North Korea, from that perspective!
The Donald will have to fight the election without one of his key advisers, however. In a surprise move, long time aide, Kelly-Anne Conway, quit the White House last week to spend more time with her family, apparently. This is the woman who famously coined the phrase “we use alternative facts” when defending the White House administration’s very loose interpretation of the truth/reality. When she announced her resignation on Twitter, it didn’t go exactly as she would have liked, however, as her own teenage daughter took to social media to pour scorn on her, both for her politics and also for her parenting! Oops! Totes awks, as we say!
We started with an embarrassing tweet, so it seems appropriate to leave on one as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my first weekly round-up? I’ll be keeping my beady eye out on events again this forthcoming week, so stay tuned to stay up to date! Thanks