Who’s up and who’s down in 2012: Micheál Martin, Rory McIlroy, Nigel Farage…

Always a dodgey thing to do, but I thought it might lend a little perspective at what is a pretty frenetic end of year. I know not everyone will agree, but rather than calling me on my bias or agenda, why not get your back by offering your own sets of winners and losers?

Okay, first up in British politics it is almost impossible to work out who is up and who is down. Labour are riding high in the polls, but Ed Milliband still struggles at the dispatch box. Even Andrew Mitchell is getting his own back, over what still looks like some pretty priggish behaviour.

So for me, only Nigel Farage is up. Coming in ahead of the LibDems in the national polls does not mean they’ll get seats. But Farage has meant the party is liked quite a lot in a probably too many places to count. It’s also likely that voters may think twice when they look at the harsh medicine his party would like to administer the British patient.

Coming across the Irish Sea, I’d mark out the leader of the Irish Labour Party as a man with some serious headaches. Eamon Gilmore’s gale is now blowing full scale in the wrong direction. The damage is plain for all to see with a growing band of unwhipped Labour TDs and Senators beginning to look like the core of an alternative Labour party. The Labour leader is clearly down on the year.

Picking winners in Northern Ireland means ignoring local politics, where the result of nearly twenty years of the worlds most successful Peace Peace process is the almost complete abandonment of any serious business. So step up a double gold medal winning runner friom Gelngormley whose modesty, dedication and courage was an inspiration at a time when there’s been little to find. Michael McKillop is up.

Parades Commission is down for imposing punitive conditions on a small group of Orangemen returning from the field to north Belfast, despite the fact that since 2009 none of the rioting in Ardoyne was started by them. To be fair though, the PC should have been wound up by now and the decisions moved on to the police of even OFMdFM. For that reason I am tagging OFMdFM as downmovers too.

Up, there is only one Irish politician I think has had a good year. So Micheál Martin of Fianna Fail is definitely up. He’s still largely ignored by the Dublin media for the sins of the last FF regime of which he was a senior member. But from the launch pad of a well attended Ard Fheis, he and a very youthful front bench have had a good second half of the year.

Badly down is Conor Murphy. Effectively sacked from the Assembly (alongside former Executive colleague Michelle Gildernew), Murphy was (according to his own account) branded both sectarian and liar by the Equality Commission. In his wake both he and his successor Danny Kennedy have spent a cool £8 £million on legal fees and compensation (more than enough to pay for a year of the cervical vaccination programme in the Republic).

Rory McElroy is most definitely up. A young Holywood lad with the backing and confidence of his parents and barely a red cent of public subsidy powered himself to an eight point victory in the US Open. He had a bit of a wobble in the middle of the golf season when he made public noises to the effect he might choose Team GB rather than Team Ireland, but he rode the storm with a modicum of good grace under intense fire.

Back to the Republic, the minister who ought to have claimed some to success (FF sat on proposals for a primary healthcare network for ten years), has instead opened a world of unnecessarily political pain by seeing to it that two of centres would be built in his own, north Dublin constituency. There are 43 constituencies in the state, and money for just 35. Minister Reilly is down.

And finally, up is the people of Northern Ireland. No doubt it is in spite (rather than because) of the poor tribal politicking and empty posturing of the last political year, as Pete noted on leap day this year, they remain the happiest regional band in the whole United Kingdom.

A special note for Matt Baggott, who like the Grand Old Duke of York, is neither up nor down, but can be said to have achieved something just by still being there. Somewhat like Chris Patten over the appointment of Entwistle, everyone wants to criticise him for doing the very job the Policing Board asked him to do, but not to take the responsibility for making the appointment in the first place.


  • Additions:
    Mike Nesbitt….Down.
    Naomi Long…..Up
    Nelson McCausland….Up

  • Mick Fealty

    And one supplementary from me, and a singular exception from politics, though he’s more one to watch than an A lister:

    Gareth Gavin Robinson, Lord Mayor of Belfast

  • Newman

    Gavin..I think Mick

  • Bishops Finger

    Mick Fealty for being a facilitator for sectarianism.

  • I’d mark Mick down on just two of his ex-cathedra statements.

    First, I’d doubt both elements of Labour are riding high in the polls, but Ed Milliband still struggles at the dispatch box.

    42% (which seems around the going rate) is hardly “high”, nor is it comfortable for this stage of a parliament. By any standards, the Tories on around 29-30% are doing ‘as well as can be expected’. On the other hand, Miliband is doing quite nicely, thank you. As Simon Hoggart writes today:

    Most improved performance

    Ed Miliband has started to deploy his lightness and wit at prime minister’s questions, and now looks as if he might actually be enjoying the session.

    The other point with which I’d take issue is only Nigel Farage is up.

    What about that ever-impending Spoonerism, Jeremy Hunt? He walks away from the great BSkyB imbroglio, puts in his thumb, and pulls out the plum of post-Lansley Health. Now, what can possibly go wrong?

    Meanwhile the one certainty is that the sheer flake-quotient of UKIP will continue to dump on long-term chances. Note how Geoffrey “compulsory abortions for Down’s syndrome” Clark blew a real chance in Gravesham and Kent County Council yesterday. Should he be introduced to Todd “legitimate rape” Akin?

  • It’s hard to take exception to your list, Mick.
    Just one addition. Down, both figuratively and literally, must be Deputy Adams who has exposed once again his inability to grasp anything about economics, maybe even “real” politics.

  • Mick Fealty

    I did consider Labour (British), but nixed it because I still Milli E is struggling to match his party’s high ratings. As for M. Hunt, I think you are futuring somewhat.

    That Nigel and Micheal are the only stand out successes over the year for me, is indicative of what a tough year it’s been for political creatures of all stripes.

  • Mick Fealty

    Disagree Joe. Losing a few exchanges in the Dail is neither here nor there. To a degree all he has to do there is keep the boat afloat and cash in at the general election. I think there are some DUPers who’d rather he would leave NIPOLITICS to Martin though!

  • sbelfastunionist

    Two additions Mick

    1. The Queen is up. The Jubilee and the Olympics were an incredible success for her.

    2. Boris Johnson. His re-election and the Olympics solidified his popularity.

    How about a thread on moments of the year in the next few days – Boris dangling on the high wire would be there for me!

  • David Crookes

    Harold Camping and a multitude of apocalyptical Mayanologists: down. But of course they’ll all be back.

    The British Conservative Party: down. Not looking exactly as if in a couple of years’ time it’ll be able to free itself with one bound from its relationship with the Lib Dems, defeat Labour, and form a majority government. Doesn’t really believe much any more, but will follow a Daily Express line on Europe if it feels it must do so.

    The sensible British European project: down.

    Our only Green Party MLA: up. Mr Agnew’s response to recent events has demonstrated him to be an intelligent and articulate politician. I don’t know why he gets less attention from the press than our only TUV MLA.

    Diane Dodds: up. Much more confident. Full marks for her great diligence. Now in a position to start making real friends for NI on the left, on the right, and in the centre. How good she is as an MEP from now on will depend to some extent on how adventurous she is prepared to be. Resolve to make a short speech in French some time.

    Jim Nicholson: steady as she goes, and certainly not down.

    Peter Hitchens: down. Should have stayed well clear of the #flegs business.

    Katie Taylor: up. If she goes into politics, I’ll vote for her.

    Gerry Adams: down. Beware. It is fatal to become a bore.

    The RoI presidency: not down, but lower-profile.

    The USA: down.

    Ruth Patterson: down. Reached rock bottom and then started drilling.

    Boris Johnson: up. A man of zero gravity who has become Santa Claus.

    Sammy Wilson: up. Next leader of the DUP? An intelligent realist who has no time for the world of expensively dressed boneheads.

    The Alliance Party: up.

    Mike Nesbitt: up in my estimation since he warned that there may be no victory for the #flegs brigade. That took courage.

    Lord Bannside: up. Has maintained a statesmanlike silence.

    Free-thinking democracy: up. It’s still a pretty free country when a man can leave the Alliance Party and join the DUP. Fair play to the boy.

  • Mc Slaggart

    David Crookes
    “The RoI presidency: not down, but lower-profile.”

    Not in the USA :

  • After three weeks between NYC and Memphis TN, I’d go against David Crookes and say the USA is definitely up!

    Growth up. Employment up. Housing starts up. None of which we seem capable of doing.

    Ironically, Hurricane Sandy will provide a massive boost to the Atlantic littoral.

    The electorate piled in for Obama: a decent man in a nasty profession, and ignored the siren calls of Murdoch’s FoxNews and WSJ. After Newtown, there’s a definite (and, let’s hope, unstoppable) move towards gun-control — nice timing for the NRA to have their presser just as another four are gunned down. The tea-party has grit in its sandwiches, and there are rustlings among the saner, shrewder GOP-types.

    As for BoJo, it’s telling that the (in-)famous Boris Bus still hasn’t an official name. WrightBus need to trim at least half-a-ton off the gross weight for it to carry a full complement of passengers. Across the city, bus schedules have been rejigged to cut down on provision and save money. The Boris bike scheme is about to hit the financial buffers, while we learn how well Barclays fleeced Londoners. Meanwhile BoJo’s two deputy mayors are daggers-drawn, one reporting the other for gropings in the lifts. Transport for London have run out of eye-catching prestige projects, while the Underground renewal grinds on, closing lines at weekends, and fares soar 13% upwards on 2nd January. As for the fantasy airport … phooee! All told, Boris went reputationally bust over the summer. Oh, and who has a policing committee instrumental in appointing Bernard Hogan-Howe?

  • David Crookes

    Mc Slaggart and Malcolm Redfellow, thanks for your corrections!

    I meant no disrespect to the present President of the RoI. A different style, not a lesser person. I had worried that the weemen were going to make the Irish presidency a permanent part of their empire. Good to see that they haven’t.

    Let’s hope that the absurdly powerful NRA gets faced down.

    The world has only twenty-five minutes left if it’s serious about closing down on time.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I’d have to disagree on Ed M. A year into the job he was struggling and the papers were full of speculation that he was on the way out. He then picked up the hacking issue and ran with it, his performances gradually improved and the speculation went away. He continues as you say to run behind his party, but I can’t see how it can be seriously argued that he has not been on an upward curve for the last 18 months.

  • DC

    Ed Miliband seems to me to be a dud when imagining him in the role of PM, he’s not going to cut it. If he’s lucky he might pop up via a coalition arrangement. But he bugs me and i would be supportive of labour over the liberals and tories.

  • forthman


    Mary lou macdonald…up
    Pearse Doherty……….up
    Peadar Tóibín………….up

    According to Ireland’s foremost political talk-show the Vincent Browne show. Mary lou voted the best opposition spokesperson!
    Voted by a panel of un-reconstructed anti republicans.
    Absolutely amazed that this has not spurred you and others into a predictable rabble onslaught on table topping Gerry Adams!

    Alliance party…..up
    Basil MaCrea….. up
    Self -appointed unionist mob leaders, ” they’re trying to take our British/protestant culture away from us”
    Is there a category lower than the floor???

  • Eire32

    Down: The Union flag? 🙂 Sorry, twas the obvious joke.

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks forthman! A few more specific downs?

  • vanhelsing

    Willie Frazer up [apparently he’s exceeded the max number of friends in Facebook]

    The above means that rationality and common sense are down.

    Alex Atwood – Up – first person in SDLP to speak against McCreesh Park [that took balls]

    Sammy Wilson – Up – generally regarded as the most competent of all the Ministers

  • David Crookes

    Forthman on self-appointed unionist mob leaders: “Is there a category lower than the floor?” Yes, there is.


  • latcheeco

    UP- N
    Down-Prod majority
    Down- online strategists who predicted no demographic change or no effects from demographic change
    Down- reasons for ni

  • latcheeco

    UP-No surrender woman

  • Jimmy Sands

    Is there a category lower than the floor???

    There is now.

  • forthman

    I would have Nigel Farage down. When people on this island’s faith in the EU is at an all time low, due to us bailing them out, and their resultant contempt shown for our efforts. There is an opportunity for even closer links, both political and economic, between our islands. Mr Farage’s performance recently on question time, were he subtely put a few digs into Ireland, reinforced many peoples impression of him as a ‘little englander’. A missed opportunity by the boul’ Nigel.
    Secondly, the Irish phone voters who voted Donegal as ‘team of the year’ last night. A massive..down! The Irish Paralympic team should have won hands down. In fact, it should not have even been challenged.

  • Mc Slaggart


    As a Tyrone supporter I must give it to Donegal. They was a great team more importantly as a team they are much better than the sum of their parts (not taking anything away from there individual players) .

    The Irish Paralympic team are great but they are not really a “team”. Yet again not taking anything away form some of them being great sports people .

  • Mick Fealty


    Except that as was pointed out here by Pete, an Olympic or Paralympic team is not really a team. Jim McGuinness did something really special this year and I for one am glad that RTE did not get dragged down that route like the Beeb did.

    Re Farage, that’s fair enough from your own political pov, but it’s hard to deny that in any objective sense Farage is taken MUCH more seriously than he was a year ago.

  • Mick Fealty

    I also think tough that the relative success of the Irish paralympic team says something abidingly decent about the way both the Irish and the British treat all their citizens. As opposed to the US, for instance.

  • forthman


    Fair points.

    Merry Xmas and a happy new year to ye all at ‘slugger’!!

  • Zig70

    Banks are up, taxpayers down.
    Directors pay up, everyone elses down or static.
    Manufacturing in NI down, software geeks up
    Construction is down but oddly good builders still booked up.
    Toys down, tablets up.
    Fracking up
    The noise from the internet up, especially twitter.
    For me Farange is only up because nationalism is up everywhere. The only politician to impress me has been McDevitt, the SDLP leader (whois?) has been v quiet. SF static or down, in the south they fell on the economy and you could argue the same in the north. They haven’t impressed in the executive, though all the executive appear like middle management out of their depth. For me all the unionist parties are down, Mike seems to have split the party though Basil’s not away yet, and Robbo’s unicorns makes him look ignorant of us lot. Though I’m not the target audience. Mary lou is up, Gerry’s missed out and Martin has filled in the blanks. Labour(south) are down and out. Enda’s performed well considering the state of the country, still can’t warm to him. Boris is up and can’t understand how his clowning hasn’t sunk him, can’t abide Cameron or Osbourne. Labour has been okay and Ed comes across well but for the common man he is still a bit goofy.

  • wee buns

    Down – Ireland’s Transparency rating (by 11 places)
    Down – Enda Kenny (for his ongoing refusal to engage with the public via interviews)
    Up- Mary Lou and Clare Daley (for robust opposition)
    Down – The Labour Party (for breaking electoral promises)
    Down – the Catholic Church
    Up – revival of ‘Celtic’ spirituality
    Down – Support for the Euro (by 12 %)
    Down – Shop bought plastic imports
    Up – hand crafted /home grown produce
    Up – The Rubber Bandits
    Up – emigration.
    Down – sales of young men’s shoes (due to emigration).
    Up – Men’s Sheds (a practical solution to mass unemployment)
    Up – Vincent Browne (for his challenge to the ECB’s Klaus Masuch on the bailout)
    Up – Iceland (for jailing bankers and economic recovery)
    Up – Irish citizens legal challenges to the government (against fluoridation of public water supply; against GM potato trials; against the ratification of the ESM; against McKenna principles of unbiased information pending a referendum; against the results of the children’s referendum; against the payment of promissory notes to Anglo; against the household charge.)

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    On Ed M – I think he’s UP on the surface of it, but holed below the water line and thus a down-waiting-to-happen come 2015. I speak as a Labour supporter over here. The events of this year have played into his hands – Leveson, double-dip economy etc – and his managed it OK. But his potential to kick on and become regarded as prime minister in waiting is, I think, limited. Looking like Kinnock in the run up to 92.