Hearts and Minds: Martin and Peter discuss the future

Hearts and Minds tonight is a must watch. Martin and Peter (let’s face it, they’ve neither of them had too much of a look-in recently. According to the programme: “we sift through the smouldering ashes of this weeks deal, and invite Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness to imagine how a new agreement phoenix might arise from them”. Mmm, does anyone think there’s a serious chance of a credible timetable?

  • peteb

    A ‘must’ watch, Mick? The blame game’s only beginning. Those two are NOT going to stray from their parties’ scripts at this point.

  • Davros

    Let’s see what Noel can do pete.That’s why I’ll be watching- to see Thompson in action. He won’t find it as easy as he did the other night with Conor Murphy, that’s for sure.

  • Davros

    Robinson did well, McGuinness was shaky, Malachi O’D was a geg and an excellent piece on James Kelly.

  • Will

    Not a bad programme at all. First half decent expansive interview that i’ve seen since the deal broke down.

    Made quite clear that the DUP wernt out to humiliate the IRA with pictures in an election campaign – not so often we hear the quote from Ian Paisley when he was outside Downing St saying that the pictures issue was nothing to do with humiliation. – as we suspected, the IRA have been looking for a hook to hang their get-out strategy on and they happen to have chosen that one.

    Also, we cant hear any talk about the DUP saying no now. Not only have they accepted the proposals on the table (a fair and workable compromise according to Tony Blair) but they have said that they are still willing to listen to ideas as to resolve the visibility issue.

    Its up to those who rejected the compromise position on visibility now to put forward some proposals for their alternative. If they really are about ‘maximising public confidence’ then its time to start proving it.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Noel should remember that the job of the interviewer is to interview, ask a question and await a reply. By constantly cutting across the interviewee he may be attempting to generate a Paxman type reputation, but it isn’t really necessary. Personally I find it annoying when people are talking all at the same time.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Glad to see that Mc Guinness has now moved to make unionist weapons a central tenet of the negotiations. The weapons of the DUP formed Ulster Resistance are now being brought into the equation. The information requested by De Chastelain from the British on the weapons involved will make interesting reading and should be publicised forthwith.

    For too long the weapons of unionist sponsored murderers have been brushed under the carpet by a compliant media. The reaction of Thompson was almost exactly the same as Nesbitt on UTV when Adams mentioned the DUP weapons. Funny how the mask of some people slip under a bit of pressure.

  • Will

    Ulster Resistance – the last refuge for the defeated Sinn Fein interviewee.

  • jonty

    can any of the DUPes tell us where in the GFA mk II as negotiated by the DUP it states when the IRA are going to diband, and if it doesnt why they have abandoned another of their pledges not to go into power with SF before all terrorist infrastruture was removed. (I take it that covers the IRA itself)

  • Davros

    Pat- If Martin had answered the questions honestly Noel wouldn’t have had to interrupt so often. The Interviewer’s job is to get the person being interviewed to answer specific questions and to keep that person from wandering off-topic to avoid giving answers. Otherwise why have one ? Martin could have come on and read a speech. Fact of the matter is that Robinson was far less evasive than McGuinness.

  • John East Belfast

    Will

    “Made quite clear that the DUP wernt out to humiliate the IRA with pictures in an election campaign – not so often we hear the quote from Ian Paisley when he was outside Downing St saying that the pictures issue was nothing to do with humiliation.”

    What are you talking about

    Pailsey said

    “If the IRA-Sinn Fein are honest and face up to their responsibilities they have to take the humility and the humiliation.”

    and

    “If you sin publicly you have to repent publicly,”

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Davros,

    Are you suggesting that Mc Guinness was being dishonest? Could you give an example of this dishonesty while being interviewed by Thompson?

  • Henry94

    Pat McLarnon

    By constantly cutting across the interviewee he may be attempting to generate a Paxman type reputation, but it isn’t really necessary.

    Absolutely. Politicians of all stripes come on to a program to say what they want to say on a particular subject. It wastes time for an interviewer to fancy that what he has to say or ask is more important.

    If a politician waffles prevaricates or lies then the audience are sophisticated enough to see that. It is the audience that is ultimately condescended to by Thompson’s “style”

    It works for Paxman because he is clever enough to know when to use it. Thompson, sadly, is not.

    For a program that otherwise specialises in giving unelected an marginal figures a free ride with their opinions it is an extraordinary tactic.

    If you ask me? Who asked you. Post on slugger like the rest of us.

    And so offence to the taxi-driver slot at the end but it’s old at this stage.

  • Michael Shilliday

    “Made quite clear that the DUP wernt out to humiliate the IRA”

    You really do need to get your leader to read Peters policy brief in future!

  • peteb

    Pat

    Martin McGuinness being ‘dishonest’?.. ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe.. say it ain’t so!’

    Henry

    Sheesh!

  • cg

    I thought Martin spoke well, I especially enjoyed the mention of Paisley “lusting after photographs” to be very amusing given his fundamental religious views.
    I hope it was pictures of guns he was lusting after. ; )

  • peteb

    Well you would, cg, wouldn’t you?

  • Will

    Michael/JEB
    Maybe if you listened to it you would have heard that Peter Robinson was quoting Ian Paisley at the time!

    Also, we all know now that republicans were ruling out photographs 2 weeks before any speech was made in Kells (Mitchell McLoughlin kindly told us that last night). So that either means that republicans have Mystic Meg on the books and were able to predict things or they were already bottling out on the agreement and were preparing their exit strategy.

    Always interesting to see Ulster Unionists siding with Sinn Fein/IRA – so much for putting republicans under pressure.

    Pat
    I am tempted to agree with you about some of the wanna-be Paxmans in the Northern Ireland media, however Noel Thompson is actually one of the better interviewers around locally. But no party gets it any more than another and plenty of DUP, UUP and SDLP reps have got the Thompson treatment at one time or another.

    Any politican can get a hard time in an interview. However if your position is solid enough then they’ll be able to battle their way through it – Ulster Resistance is always the point when you know they are starting to stumble a la Dermot Nesbitt or Conor Murphy usually.

  • cg

    Absolutely

  • Will

    Henry94
    I agree completly with your comments about both the “if you ask me” slot and the taxi driver ending.

    The taxi driver stopped being funny around the same time that Give my Head Peace did – about three weeks after the first time we seen it.

  • Davros

    Are you suggesting that Mc Guinness was being dishonest?

    Come now Pat, you been long enough in politics to know that avoidance of honesty is different from dishonesty 🙂

  • Mick Fealty

    Pat has raised a really important point. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen Noel Thompson express the same sneering contempt for politician that Paxman has, but the general point is worth pursuing.

    Henry goes a little too far for me here:

    “Politicians of all stripes come on to a program to say what they want to say on a particular subject. It wastes time for an interviewer to fancy that what he has to say or ask is more important”.

    The implication here is that it’s the press’s job simply to report what politicians have to say without further inquiry. In other words, journalists should be the mere stenographers of politicians. If you illiminate the most important tool in a journalist’s stock in trade (the asking of questions), they cease to be journalists.

    Whilst I agree there has been a tendency for some star journalists to believe their opinion is in competition with and even superior to the politicians they interview, the day a politician walks into a tv studio without butterflies in his or her stomach, is the day the rest of us politico junkies switch off and turn to the improvised samizdat instead – where the politician gets no say at all!

    If you think journalists lecturing politicians is a big turn off, you want to see how dire it gets when a politician ‘pistol whips’ a television journalist who has no power or freedom to answer back, never mind ask questions. I’m thinking Africa here.

  • Henry94

    Mick

    The implication here is that it’s the press’s job simply to report what politicians have to say without further inquiry.

    That was not the point I was trying to make. Of course journalism should hold politicans to account. But in broadcast journalism I think it is done better when political opponents are allowed to debate the issues. The interviewer should facilitate that not impose his own agenda.

  • Moderate Unionist

    I think that Noel Thompson does a pretty good job.

    All politicians would prefer to avoid the hard questions, but these are exactly the questions that the public want answered.

    In the modern age, where the voting system reinforces the status quo in all but a few situations, the media often provides the true opposition party. This is an important part of the democratic process.

    Hard questions need to be asked in a direct but non partisan way.

  • unionist_observer

    “I think that Noel Thompson does a pretty good job.

    All politicians would prefer to avoid the hard questions, but these are exactly the questions that the public want answered.”

    Yes, the likes of Noel Thompson and Mark Carruthers may be no Jeremy Paxman, but I thoroughly enjoy their programs. They intervene just enough to put their interviewees on the spot, it’d be really boring if he didn’t ask questions, then you would just have two politicians spewing out the usual party line, they need to be put under pressure to see how they react and what they let slip.

    Besides Paxman is dealing with a slightly higher calibre of politician so he does need to be better to deal with them.

  • willowfield

    Thompson was good with McGuinness but less so with Robinson. He didn’t press Robinson enough on the point about the DUP signing up to the GFA.

    “Politicians of all stripes come on to a program to say what they want to say on a particular subject. It wastes time for an interviewer to fancy that what he has to say or ask is more important”.
    The implication here is that it’s the press’s job simply to report what politicians have to say without further inquiry. In other words, journalists should be the mere stenographers of politicians. If you illiminate the most important tool in a journalist’s stock in trade (the asking of questions), they cease to be journalists.

    I totally agree with Mick here. I don’t want to listen to politicians’ unchallenged soundbites. I want to see them challenged. Thompson generally does an excellent job: he is the best.

  • Will

    “Thompson was good with McGuinness but less so with Robinson. He didn’t press Robinson enough on the point about the DUP signing up to the GFA.”

    This sums up a lot of what people see as ‘wrong’ in interviews, i.e. if the interviewer doesnt ask exactly the questions you want them to ask you blame it as a bad interview or if a politician you dont like happens to perform well then you blame the interviewer as poor.

  • Mick Fealty

    Paxman is a poor example of good TV journalism. He’s a great entertainer, but has long since past his sell by date as journalist. Who can take his recent opening gambit with Michael Howard as an example that Thompson, or any serious journalist, should be asked to follow: “How much is it that the British public do not like you?”

    Great fun from a satirist, maybe. But what’s he inviting from the politician that’s a) important, or b) we would not otherwise get to know?

  • groucho

    Henry – Are you suggesting only elected people should get a platform on If You Ask Me?

    I think it’s meant to be the equivalent of a newspaper column – and hey, the cartoons are great!

  • Congal Claen

    If Martin is so against humiliating anyone how come he made reference to the “Sammy Wilson in the Buff Photos” in his amaiden speech to the assembly.

    Funny it was, but DEFINITELY humiliating for auld Sammy…

  • willowfield

    This sums up a lot of what people see as ‘wrong’ in interviews, i.e. if the interviewer doesnt ask exactly the questions you want them to ask you blame it as a bad interview or if a politician you dont like happens to perform well then you blame the interviewer as poor.

    Not in my case. I will acknowledge when a politician I don’t like performs well.

  • willowfield

    It was funny to hear McGuinness state clearly that it was not possible for Ian Paisley to humiliate him or the nationalist community … while arguing that photographs of decommissioning would be humiliating!!

    Thompson should have pressed that too.

  • Davros

    I Liked the part where Martin tried to claim 100% support of the nationalist community for his stance.
    Also revealing was his invocation of Irish-America –
    it certainly would upset their $-donors.

  • George

    having shelled out for a free view satellite dish in recent weeks I finally receive foreign tv and was able to see this Hearts and Minds.

    Found it strange when Mr. Thompson said to Martin that everyone in the world agreed with the DUP position.

  • Davros

    George : Try “Little Britain” tonight at 9:30 PM BBC1 NI 🙂

  • Will

    “Found it strange when Mr. Thompson said to Martin that everyone in the world agreed with the DUP position.”

    Strange maybe, but true.

  • George

    Will,
    I don’t think so. Just read the media.

    Irish Echo:
    “But the sad reality is that history gave the man (Paisley) a whopping chance and he chose to balk. The man needs to stop fretting about snapshots and boldly embrace the bigger picture.”

    Guardian:
    “A pretty discouraging conclusion this, given that humiliation seems precisely what Ian Paisley has in mind if he gets his hands on those decommissioning snaps. No wonder the talks broke down.”

    Boston Globe:
    “It is counterproductive to force the IRA to make superfluous concessions… Paisley seems unwilling to put away the beast he helped create”

    The Herald:
    “Dr. Paisley’s discovery of a last-minute hitch and his public reference to sackcloth and ashes give the impression he may not be prepared to sign any final settlement for Ulster.”

    Irish Independent:
    “Sinn Fein and the IRA did not want pictures of decommissioning used to humiliate them. But Mr Paisley said he did want humiliation, repentance, “sackcloth and ashes”.”

    The Times:
    “All this requires more moderate language in the months ahead. It did not help when the DUP leader insisted yesterday that the IRA had never intended to dispose of arms.”

  • Will

    George,
    The Government tells us that the position on arms & pictures in the paper presented to the parties is a “fair and workable compromise”. The DUP are able to accept that.

    The paper is supported by the British Government, the Irish Government, American Government, SDLP and even the Catholic Church (Sean Brady’s statement).

    There are two unshakable facts about the last week.
    1)The DUP was able to support the ‘fair and workable compromise’ on arms.

    2)Sinn Fein/IRA rejected the ‘fair and workable compromise’.

    Its not up to those who are saying no to bring forward new ideas as to how to how the problem of visibility in decommissioning can be solved. The DUP have said they are willing to listen to ideas. Its over to the shinners now….

  • peteb

    George

    Your use of highly selective quotes is at risk of being seen as disingenuous.

    The Guardian editorial you chose to take that particular quote from, for example, is actually entitled Arts of Peace – a riff on a previous article by Henry McDonald in the Observer – and suggests that murals might be used instead of photographs or, by making use of objets trouvé, it asks “Would an Armalite welded to a ballot box not be a compelling act of completion”.

    By all means use quotes you find from various sources.. but, in the interests of clarity, and to avoid misrepresentation, please include a full link to the source.

  • George

    Will,
    “The paper is supported by the British Government, the Irish Government, American Government, SDLP and even the Catholic Church (Sean Brady’s statement).”

    I take it you also support the paper and naturally then also accept photographs being only published when the Assembly is up and running because that was the offered deal in the paper.

    Are you perhaps telling me that the DUP have moved position and will now sign up to that deal, which is a fair compromise?

    If so, then I feel the DUP should make this public now because I reckon we’d have decommissioning finished by the end of the month if they did. When will Big Ian be calling the press conference?

    Peteb,
    I was merely quickly showing Will that Noel Thompson was indulging in hyperbole when he stated the world agreed with the DUP’s position. I fully accept that the quotes I gave are also not the world view.

  • peteb

    The problem is, George, that not only are the quotes you selected not representative of the world view, they are not representative of the articles you selected them from.

  • JD

    “representative of the articles you selected them from.”

    I really don’t know what to make of this comment: it seems fatuous to me. Surely this is the case with anything that’s written?

    It seems that someone is straining to erase the points of view in the articles under the guise of “objectivity.”

  • peteb

    No, JD, just trying to maintain a standard practice of linking to articles being quoted.

  • George

    Will,
    Any chance of an answer on whether the DUP accepts the paper or not? Would you be willing for the DUP to compromise and accept the photographs when the Assembly is up and running or does the DUP reject the governments’ paper?

    Peteb,
    I’d be here all day if I did that and, in this case, standard practise isn’t best practise. I personally don’t think this small point is worth that much effort.

    I repeat I was merely pointing out that to say the whole world agrees with the DUP position, as Noel Thompson did and as Will agreed with, is not only hyperbole but is wrong.

    I got them all from editorials available on the irreplaceable http://www.nuzhound.com. I don’t believe they were taken out of context in any way and I certainly wasn’t being disingenuous.

  • peteb

    George

    Whether you were being disingenuous is neither here nor there – it is both common practice and best practice to provide a link when possible and, in this case, you should have provided the links.

  • Henry94

    groucho

    Henry – Are you suggesting only elected people should get a platform on If You Ask Me?

    Not at all. We’d all miss David Vance. But the elected people should at least be allowed develop their points in a resonable manner. I don’t want to pick on Hearts & Minds in particular. It’s the modern style. Morning Ireland is worse. It’s easy to do it but hard to do it well. When I listen to an interview I want to know what the interviewee has to say.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Will,

    There wasn’t a fair or workable compromise on arms, because you and the DUP refuse to define what the photographs should contain.