Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Who to vote for

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

You’ll have noticed there’s an election coming up. Who should we be voting for?

The good news is that today I found the candidate for me – Harry Hamilton. Because he is the only candidate standing for election who is also Northern Ireland’s leading Freddy Mercury impersonator, performing for many years as Flash Harry.

Who else will have policies on the following:

  • Killer Queens
  • Fat bottomed girls
  • Wanting to ride my bicycle
  • Wanting to live forever
  • Finding me somebody to love

I hope no-one stops him now, and that he’ll be the champion (my friend).

There’s something about being conservative and unionist as well, but I’m sure that’s not important.

The only problem is that he’s not standing in my constituency.

Boo! More musical impersonators for parliament.

Abba impersonators for Prime Minister!!

John Pilger at the CQAF

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be Alan in Belfast, and write on a political event at a local arts festival.

It was an interview of crusading journalist John Pilger, by BBC NI’s William Crawley, which was meant to happen a few weeks ago but was delayed because he had a bout of pneumonia. St George’s Parish church was well filled, with a pretty enthusiastic audience. The acoustics weren’t fantastic, but I was near the front, so it wasn’t a problem for me.

Pilger has been writing and making documentaries for a long time (about 50 years), so he has a wealth of experiences from all over the world, and the evening reflected that. His view on Barack Obama was perhaps the most interesting of the evening. To paraphrase, he felt that

Barack Obama is a brand… American foreign policy, like British foreign policy, has continued in a straight line since 1945… Going by the first 250 days, Obama is continuing what Bush had done before…

I thought that was quite interesting. Also interesting, though I guess not surprising, were his views on Israel. He stated that because Israel is a special case in so many elements of international law (nuclear weapons, the continued occupation of Palestine), that resolving that one single issue is a precondition to the resolution of conflicts all over the world, because until justice is seen to be done there, there will be an excuse for it in other places. When challenged on how this could happen, he advocated boycotts, but acknowledged that the UN as it is now wouldn’t do that.

There was also a fascinating question from one member of the audience who asked “How can you, an Australian, sit here in Northern Ireland, and talk about ‘we the British people'”. I don’t think anyone was entirely sure whether he was being funny or provocative.

Pilger is scathing on the modern media, which he believes simply reports whatever is in the best interests of the news corporations and governments which own them. He believes that the kind of journalism that made his name just doesn’t happen in the mainstream media any more.

But he does have hope for the future. Not necessarily in the western governments (especially our MPs with their snouts in the trough), but he sees the people-led movements in South America as being a sign of progress.

It was an interesting evening. He is someone who is very well-informed about the world, and although some of his views are challenging, they can’t be dismissed.

Dear Jim

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Dear Jim,

please could you fix it for Anne Robinson to be the new Speaker for the House of Commons. I think our MPs would benefit greatly from having more put-downs in their lives. The more brutal and barbed, the better. Ideally, she should make one or two cry.


So long, fairwell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

I guess if I’m going to live in Northern Ireland and have a blog, I’d better say something about the announcement last week of Ian Paisley’s resignation from front-line politics.

It’s a big deal for Northern Ireland. For as long as I have lived (and longer) he has been the single constant fact of local politics. Northern Ireland politics without Ian Paisley is almost unthinkable, as he has been such a feature for such a long time. Having continued until now (at the age of 81) I’d started assuming he’d go on until he died.

And I have to admit that I had reckoned for years that we’d never see progress in Northern Ireland until Paisley died, such was his unremitting opposition to anything that he believed threatened the status of Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom.

But I was wrong. Recently Ian did the last thing anyone expected, and changed his mind. He went into government with his political enemies, and has been successfully working with them. I truly never believed that it could happen, and he has earned my respect for doing it. The irony of course is that at the same time he has lost the respect of many of his supporters, but that’s another story.

It’s much too early to say what his legacy will be – after all, he still has a couple of months to go, and anything could happen. But I hope that among everything else, he will be remembered for showing us that the two sides of our divided community really can work together. If Ian Paisley can set aside a long history of enmity and work with former IRA members, then maybe there really is hope for Northern Ireland after all.