Monday, April 26, 2010


It’s as good as time as any to update the crossroads metaphor. Who now stands at the crossroads?

The parties

Well not the UUP. They’re going round in circles having tied themselves to the Tories, the same Tories who, if elected, will slash and burn after the election. Odd given that NI plc is the biggest government job creation scheme in W. Europe. And in return, at best, a seat at the cabinet table for Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting). What’s more, they’ve being going round in circles since Sir Reg took over; is one leg shorter than the other?

Verdict: Ulster Unionists on the roundabout with the wheels coming off.

Well not the DUP. Peter ”Much ado about nothing” Robinson has made his mind up. “They’re all liars”. Meanwhile an election has been called and there’s another temporary hold up on the very long and extremely winding road to Damascus. But wait what’s that coming over the hill? Is it the TUV? Will Ian Paisley and Jim Shannon, held up at the barriers, get across the line first?

Verdict: DUP on the level crossing looking over their shoulders.

Well not SF. Crossroads have connotations of crises, of doubt and uncertainty, of decisions right or wrong to be made. Best be avoided then just like Westminster. SF are above all that. At the last count there is a SF policy on everything, no doubt there. To be fair however SF categorically refute that political leadership and doctrinal authority have been fused in an elite.

Verdict: SF on the fly over [ no the bridge, not the helicopter].

And what of the SDLP? As is customary in the recent past bringing up the rear. Margaret Ritchie made the right decisions in not pulling Fearghal McKinney and in not making pacts with SF or FF. Let’s hope for the future of SDLP, the future of democracy, and the future of N. Ireland the decisions were made on principle.

Verdict: SDLP successfully negotiating the crossroads

Many  will never vote for either the DUP or Sinn Fein, and in the past many have voted for both SDLP and UUP, and in the future can see themselves voting also for the Greens and the Alliance should the opportunity for a useful vote arise. I suspect that there are quite a few  who vote tactically.

In the day to day business of politics outside of the elections I would hope that the UUP and SDLP in time see some common centre ground where they can usefully build structures founded on mutual trust. SDLP must therefore be a party with whom the UUP can do business, and vice versa. That requires morality, personal integrity and party ethics.

Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting) has chosen to attach himself to the Conservative bandwagon thus temporarily taking a roundabout detour but in time his successor will return to the crossroads and will be faced with the crucial decision.

For all sorts of reasons the DUP and SF have reached their zenith and they are now in long term decline though the occasional event might indicate otherwise. The UUP and SDLP have to be ready when the DUP and SF implode.

What is your constituency called?

And can you sum it up in a few words? Visitors to the USA will be familiar with the American car registration plates which show both the registration number and the state of origin together with a pithy phrase which sums up the state e.g. Florida The Sunshine State, or Alabama The Heart of Dixie. Can you do the same for your constituency. Here are some examples.

                  Upper Bann                         Strangford
                 XYZ 1234                   XYZ 1234
   There’s a roundabout here for you!    Don’t worry she’s gone.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


World exclusive by Articles

Articles can exclusively reveal that world famous actor Ben Kingsley has said YES to re-creating his role of Mahatma Gandhi and YES to leading a peace march down the Garvaghy Road, Portadown. This latest initiative to end the long running Drumcree dispute is the brainchild of Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey who hopes to score a knockout blow in his titanic make or break election battle with the DUP’s Reverend Willie McCrea for the constituency of South Antrim

Articles can exclusively divulge that the idea came to light in a document mistakenly left on a Stormont photocopier. An embarrassed spokesman for Sir Reg initially denied its existence but later called back to confirm its authenticity. Sir Reg Empey himself refused to comment immediately but invited Articles to a press conference to be held Monday of next week.

Sir Reg Empey sets out his proposals in a memorandum addressed to fellow unionist Harry Hamilton, the Freddie Mercury impersonator, who is standing for election in Upper Bann, the constituency in which Drumcree near Portadown is located. Empey speculates as to the possible reaction of key players, emphasises the need to massage public opinion in advance and ends with this appeal to Mr Hamilton “If we want to end this impasse, we cannot be impassive, we have to be imaginative, we have to be creative, we have to break free.”

In detail, the proposal envisages Sir Ben Kingsley dressed as Gandhi hand in hand with Sir Reg Empey and Harry Hamilton together with the Grand Master of the Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge leading a small procession of Orangemen down the Garvaghy Road singing a peace song the chorus of which runs:

“We’re going Gandhi
Down the Garvaghy
With Sir Reg Empey
And Freddie Mercury
Everything’s raji
It’s a kinda of magi….c”

The vision continues… “The massed Garvaghy Road residents will part allowing the Orangemen to walk through and then fall in beside them singing from the same sheet. The whole drama to unfold in the absence of any security forces in the anticipation - carefully choreographed beforehand - that all parties merely wish to bring the present dispute to an end and start afresh and that there are to be no winners and no losers.”

Reaction on the ground was immediate and mixed. A spokesman for Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge said “Gandhi you say - which Gandhi is that then, where’s he from ..Delhi? ah LondonDelhi you mean. But seriously if you’re asking me whether our reaction would be positive then the answer is yes. We are determined to walk the Garvaghy Road, if Empey can fix it and this fellow Gandhi wants to come along too, then we’re right behind them”

Breandan Mac Cionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Resident’s Coalition was more guarded and recalled memories of David Trimble and the Reverend Ian Paisley dancing a jig. “We’ve been through too much to let them (the Orange Order) through just like that. I’d have to be convinced of their sincerity. Perhaps if the Orangemen forgot their suits and sashes for the day and dressed up like Gandhi - OK they could keep their bowler hats and their umbrellas - just so that the symbolism is clear to all, well we could possibly run with that.”

Meanwhile Mr Hamilton refused to take my call. A spokesman claimed not to know of the document’s existence raising the possibility that the Freddie Mercury impersonator has disassociated himself already from what is the latest in a long line of political initiatives from the ever creative Ulster Unionist leader and strategist.

Sir Reg Empey’s opponent in South Antrim, the Reverend Willie McCrea, was less reticent “He can’t sing, he can’t dance and he can’t find a seat. It doesn’t matter where this fellow runs for election; East Belfast, Upper Bann in the future or South Antrim this time around, the good unionist people of Ulster will not vote him in.”

Last night, the final word fell to Mr. Kingsley who speaking from his London home said “I am willing to do anything I can to help bring peace to a troubled community.”


And for those readers puzzled by the word “raji” the Ulster Scots Agency confirms that it is Ullans for great news.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


“With seasonally adjusted temperatures we could eliminate winter…”


What this blog is about.

Surveys, including those biggest surveys of all, General Elections, increasingly show that a growing number of people are turned off by politics. Thus a great many people will consciously and sub-consciously ignore the forthcoming General Election. But I believe that politics can be fun, funny, sometimes very funny and occasionally funny peculiar. And from time to time so funny if it wasn’t so sad.

This blog therefore aims to tool you up with essential facts, disarm you with some genuinely interesting trivia and finally to arm you once again by poking fun at the body politic, politics and politicians. Along the way you’ll be given things to do .

How this blog will help you.

When you really cannot take any more of Election 2010 ! Then, with any luck, you will be able turn to or recall at least something herein which casts an amusing light on that which has irritated you. And having read and absorbed all of the information in this blog you will be qualified for any or all of the following:

• Ambushing Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting) on a doorstep far from home;
• Ringing Wendy Austin and addressing the nutters on an equal footing;
• Heckling a soap box orator “Wee Jeffrey, we still canna see you!”;
• Redefining Einstein for the 21st century with CaitrĂ­ona Ruane [E3=MC];*
• Writing erudite pompous prose in the local rag - stand aside Lord Trimble

But first a health warning….

This site will equip you for a political career and, unless you become a proficient practitioner, this will cause drowsiness in others. On no account let them operate machinery.

…..and a personal message from the Prime Minister

Dear voter

Hi, (flex jaw throughout)

I thought it important that you, as an individual voter, should know why I (toothy smile) as Prime Minister) want you to vote at the next General Election. Now please note that I didn’t ask you to vote for me (disarming grin); all I said was vote, you can’t vote for me in Northern Ireland anyway, heh heh. This is not a party political broadcast (hand on breast) rather these are my personal thoughts for you in the comfort of your own home (quizzical raised eyebrow) narrowcast I believe is the contemporary word.

I want to share one incredibly important fact with you (elbows on lectern hands outstretched, palms open). Quite simply the principle of one person one vote is the basis of our democracy (palms close and interlock fingers). If you, like I, believe passionately (hand on breast again) in democracy then please cast your vote on election day.

At the moment, I have the privilege (pause) of being on watch (pause)on the bridge in this great ship of state (pause)we call Brittannia. I want you to know (rhythmic reading), that following parliament’s dissolution, and during the period of the campaign, and whatever way the campaign unfolds (pause and raise chin) I will still be keeping a weather eye open.

Thank you.

Yours ever

Gordon Brown

Prime Minister


Write to the Prime Minster pointing out that there is no obligation to hold elections on a Thursday. The use of Thursdays is a result of custom and practice only but not electoral law and the Prime Minister could choose otherwise. There are precedents. A General Election was held on a Tuesday on 27 October 1931, on a Wednesday on 15 Nov 1922 and 29 October 1924, and on a Saturday on 14 December 1918.

Explain that the election date of 5 May 2010 clashes with your six monthly dental appointment, or other such significant event and demand another date for the election.

File the bog standard no 10 response together with a copy of the original and in the event, always possible, of acid rain and volcanic ash and the Prime Minister co-incidentally switching the date you have in your possession an exclusive for the Belfast Telegraph.

Election Stunner. Tele reader pulls Gordon’s poll.

* E3=MC, Equality, Equality, Equality = Mixed Comprehensives


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


This is my first ever blog and to mark the occasion I want to give something to the world. Ladies and gentlemen .........

Present Without Listening  verse aka  PWOL Poetry

Some years ago in the Seagoe Hotel, Portadown  I found myself listening to advice on how to avoid heart attacks, strokes and stress.  Mid way through  I attempted to answer the obvious question “Why am I still sitting alongside carriers of said heart attacks, strokes and stress at the company health day.” After admitting truthfully to myself that the answer was money, but consoling myself with the knowledge that I too was a carrier I allowed my mind to wander. And so was born PWOL verse.
My enforced attendance gave me my first line of thought, “I could have been”. The prospect of a weekend away gave me my second and third lines “in Bordeaux”, and “in a chateau”. Another  awful rhyme of “sipping Pernod“ sadly could not be resisted but I fought back with a vengeance using irony “But I want to be here “ and “in the Seagoe”.

Yes, seriously bad poetry complete with seriously bad irony  but nonetheless a new verse form [ABBBCB]was born. And how quickly the day passed.

I now proudly present  PWOL verse to the world.  This new verse form  deliberately careless with metre and stress leaves you free to concentrate on the rhyme should you find yourself
  • in the wrong place,
  • at the wrong time
  • for the wrong reason
  • and you wish to be PWOL – Present Without Listening.
Quite simply a rhyme scheme with the rhyming words determined by the name of the location, in this case the Seagoe Hotel.

eg 1
I could have been
Robinson Crusoe
dipping my big toe
in the eau
but I want to be here
in the Seagoe

eg 2
I could have been
a baseball pro
making big dough
“say it ain’t so Joe”
but I want to be here
in the Seagoe.

eg 3
I could have been
dancing toe to toe
saying hello
to Marilyn Monroe
but I want to be here
in the Seagoe
Just remember not to stay at The Ritz.
PS especially useful when listening to speeches made by Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting)