The end of gesture politics…

John O’Farrell has spotted one good thing some of the mainstream seems to have missed: the end of handshake politics. The proof will, no doubt be found in the eating. Not least in the ultimate test: the long hot summer.

There is one politician on Earth that Adams has not been photographed with, and that is someone he has met hundreds of times. Tony Blair is still holding out on the final ‘historic’ snap, of him and Gerry at the door of Number 10. Perhaps Blair remembers the first time he met Adams. It was in the autumn of 1997, up in Stormont, and behind closed doors. At the press stand-up afterwards, Adams confirmed that, yes indeed, he had shaken hands with the Prime Minister.

By that time, the Prime Minister was about to do his ‘balancing’ thing, meeting the DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson at an East Belfast shopping centre to meet and shake some hands of the ‘other’ ‘community’.

Instead, Blair was ambushed by a Paisleyite rent-a-mob screaming ‘wash the blood of yer hands’, and ‘ye shook the hands of a murderer’. Blair’s security beefed him into a windowless manager’s office, whereupon Robinson narrated through a folder of photographs of the remains of IRA bomb victims.

Ten minutes later, Blair ran the gauntlet back to his car. When he reached it, he stopped, brushed away the protecting hand of a handler, and beamed a huge smile and cheery wave. I looked around to see if he had any discreet fans among the mob. He hadn’t, but he had spotted an ITN cameraman, and waved as if it was just another day’s work.

The era of hand-gesture politics is over, thankfully. That’s one good thing to celebrate.


Discover more from Slugger O'Toole

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

We are reader supported. Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger. While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.