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.


  • Rupert

    I think any talk about “the end of handshake politics” is missing the point a little. Meaningless gestures done to con and deceive the public are, well, “meaningless” but that is not the sane as saying that all gestures are meaningless.

    The public is not wrong to look for positives signs and signals to give them some reassurance and hope for the future. Sadly, the only hope on offer was to be gained that these two men were finally able to sit next to each other, (and I believe there were issues even with that!)

    I personally find the euphoric back slapping by Dupper and Shinner alike, a little bit sickening. It has taken far too long, with too many dead for these two hypocrites to do what they should have done forty years ago.

  • lib2016

    The Dupper and Shinners have done what the present and past leaders of the so-called moderates in the UUP have resisted since their days in the paramilitary Vanguard.

    The Orange card has lost it’s value in British politics and the threat of Orange violence has been faced down at last.

    Paisley and the realists in his party realised that both sides needed a deal and men of good will should wish them well.

    It wasn’t either of those parties which organised Bloody Sunday and Internment to start the fire but a foreign government using well tried colonial tactics. It’s not the Shinners and the DUP who will be remembered for their hypocrisy but the ‘great and good’ in Westminster.

  • alan

    Gerry gave his support to people took it on themselves to murder their fellow countrymen; judge, juror and executioner all in one. Calls on them to stop fell on deaf ears. The arrogant gunman knew better. Now Gerry wants to talk peace and want us to listen to him. The man is a hypocrite.

    Ian’s thirty year vitriolic rant against Catholics in general and personally against the Pope, now seems to be dampened with talk of peace. He too is hypocrite. Yet another case of “do as I say and not as I do”.

    Both of these men have contributed to the worst of our past and because, after forty years, they sit down together, we should be grateful? We should hail them as great men?

  • lib2016

    The alternative so-called centre parties had plenty of time to deliver and didn’t succeed. The British seemed more interested in criminalising the loyalist paramilitaries than seeing to the establishment of a credible Assembly.

    Trimble believed British lies about setting ever more onerous conditions into the GFA and the people made their decision about him and his party. If either Sinn Fein or the DUP don’t deliver on their committment to powersharing they will equally be judged by the people and found wanting.

  • Mick Fealty

    All of those ‘onerous conditions’ have been met and, arguably, exceeded in this deal lib.

  • Rupert

    “…centre parties had plenty of time to deliver and didn’t succeed…”

    The electorate had the opportunity to vote for peace, but didn’t. When the moderates held the majority, democracy wasn’t respected by all. Arrogance prevailed and some parties stuck two fingers up to anyone who didn’t agree with them, held firm to their principles. Now those finger pointing parties have won the war of political attrition. Because they have the largest mandate, does everyone else have to respect it? Of course we do. Are we wrong to expect the highest standards from them? I don’t think so. Would positive gestures like handshakes be reassuring? I think so. It’s taken the DUP/SF combo forty years to sit next to each other… roll on 2047 for the handshake!