Political Jedwards – ‘My kids didn’t buy it’

Trying to explain politics and democracy to young children is tough and I often fall back on comparisons they understand like the X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing. Like politics to my children I’m aware such things exist while not paying them much heed but they do provide a reference point to help explain electoralism – the most talented or their favourite isn’t assured of winning and sometimes won’t make it to the final stage.

They now kind of get to grips with the idea that in politics the most deserving candidate may not win, often won’t have a chance and sometimes doesn’t appear at the vote.

Explaining spoiling a vote is more difficult; you have to explain how the vote is fixed, the show isn’t worth watching and everyone should demand a better programme.

As I brought my children with me to the polling station on Thursday and their interest was mildly raised by the process I couldn’t explain that engaging in a democratic process and rejecting both that process and those presenting themselves was a sensible idea.

They were both convinced if I wasn’t interested I should have just stayed at home, as I do with X-Factor etc., take my leave and let those interested get on with something they care about.

I’d never consider trying to place a protest/spoiled vote in a Simon Cowell competition so understand them questioning me.

But just like I was drawn to protest many people supported ‘Jedward’ in a recent X-factor and/or put Rage Against the Machine at No.1. So I tried to explain a protest/spoiled vote is just a tiny step further – you don’t like the X-Factor so you vote for someone they don’t like to win in the hope it annoys them, Jedward. If Jedward aren’t in the running you ignore the competition and buy ‘Rage against the Machine’

My kids didn’t buy it.

(For a number years, before I realised I should never have been in SF, I suggested to friends/comrades that a true demonstration of ‘republican’ confidence would be dropping abstentionism and actually abstaining fully from the whole Westminster process. Maybe that would be the active abstentionism Gerry Adams was talking about recently?)

However, I still find myself drawn towards the polling booth to actively show my disengagement and lack of interest in the system, not just the candidates. I have no interest in a tactical vote that puts a crap Unionist in ahead of a shite one, or a vote that endorses constitutional nationalism over slightly angry constitutional nationalism. There was no protest option when I turned up last Thursday and no choice to make on the not worst of a bad bunch.

I arrived, made a mark and left having made no point other than one that gave a slight feeling of smug self-satisfaction for 20 seconds.

No alternative to vote for, not even a RSF ‘Jedward’. A ‘vote’ that would never count because nobody ever put themselves forward to ask for it. If it was politcal X-Factor, my option didn’t even turn up to be laughed off the stage but at least it wasn’t 50p plus my normal call charge and the bill payers permission.

*(title change to amuse me)


  • Gerry Lvs castro

    It IS tough trying to explain the electoral system to kids. Mine understandably asked the other day, due to the tasteful portraits of our dear candidates adorning various lamp posts and railings.

    So let’s just quickly run through this again:

    SF are a party who fight hard for votes but don’t take their seats. They promise a UI but have signed up to partition.

    SDLP are kind of like SF but nicer unless Mrs Ritchie gets cross about electoral pacts.

    DUP are ultra British but are actually Ulster Nationalists. When they win a seat they sing hymns badly and binge on tea and buns.

    UCUNF have a slightly rude name and no seats. Or policies. And their leader is very sad.

    The TUV man is scary and cross and lives in 1974.

    Alliance are people who aren’t any of the above. And after 40 years they have an MP even though nobody knows what they stand for.

    And that nice lady Hermon does things on her own. Best not to ask really.

    I’m glad we cleared that up. Anyone fancy an ice cream?

  • Michaelhenry

    there is a bad split in R.S.F now, or a good split depending on your point of view, the traitors speech seems to have caught on, the continunity has called the REAL, traitors now, and this has not gone down well with R.S.F membership, rats leaving the sinking ship springs to mind.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Out of cuiousity, why did you leave SF, Mark?

  • Mark McGregor

    They expelled me for being a paedophile

  • Keithbelfast

    Was talking to someone today who when they got into the polling both in East Antrim realised they hadn’t read anything about any of the parties running. didn’t really know any of the names, their affiliations or their policies. Looked around the polling station hoping there would be a breakdown of the different parties political stances (possibly on the wall), and when she couldn’t find that she just voted for Sammy Wilson because she’d seen him on the news…

  • Michaelhenry

    thats going to cause a reaction from those who do not know that you are telling porkies.

  • redhugh78

    Well at least we have confirmation that you’re an RSF supporter now and not just a spurned shinner.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    If you can’t give me a straight answer, don’t bother replying.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Face-recognition politics wins the world over …

  • Keithbelfast

    They expelled you for something so trivial?

  • al

    I don’t understand people who like xfactor and they don’t understand me. Maybe I should use Mark’s teaching methods on my 20 something housemates to help them grasp politics. A mind corrupted by politics is better than a mind corrupted by tv.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    the best way to explain it your kids (or anybody’s kids) is

    “I was so annoyed that the people I would have liked to vote for were so shit that they were not able to take part so I decided to try and diss the whole competition”

  • J Kelly

    Mark maybe you should consider putting your thoughts, ideas, principles and rantings in front of the people…

  • slug

    It happened at the same time as SF signed up to policing.

  • Michaelhenry

    the same police who no longer patrol with the armed british army on IRISH streets, this happened when SINN FEIN agreed to policing, it was no coincidence either, we are not being bluffed when we are told to look at the big picture.

  • Jimmy McGurk

    Mark, that response made me laugh out loud.

  • halfer

    I promised myself not to comment on michaelhenrys posts again but……….

    michael, the last british foot patrol in the north was quite a few years before the PSF decision to fully support the British PSNI.

  • Michaelhenry

    no halfer, wrong again, the S.D.L.P supported the british army with the P.S.N.I, sinn fein got the circumstances right, aiso new recruits to the P.S.N.I do not take the oath, so how are they the british police, do you not know whats going on in your own country.

  • Maybe ballot papers should also all have a Pot Luck box for a Computer Led Outcome.

    And what a difference a day makes, for Stealth and Stagnant Secrecy abound now in Promises and Negotiations whereas before, requiring Election, were such Sweet Fare Delivered Free to Air Everywhere for Plucking and Fondling.

    It would now perversely appear to be Business as Usual … and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, except that Business as Usual is Rejected in Changed Environments.

  • Now theres a first!

  • Reader

    Mark McGregor: My kids didn’t buy it.
    Tell them that the act that wins will be played as the soundtrack for their every meal for the next five years. And that you would rather demonstrate your objection to all of the acts than place a hopeful vote for the least-worst or even vote tactically
    (Can you guess that I always vote, sometimes tactically?)

  • halfer

    Michaelhenry said

    “the same police who no longer patrol with the armed british army on IRISH streets, this happened when SINN FEIN agreed to policing, it was no coincidence either, we are not being bluffed when we are told to look at the big picture.”

    The last British Army foot patrol took place a LONG time ago and not when PSF decided to support the British PSNI.

    Why is the PSNI British? The Police Service of Northern Ireland is a Police Force of a part of the United Kingdom. The clues is in the name.

    Their budget comes from London and the legislative framework that they operate within comes from London.

    By the way,…. what country are you referring to when you accuse me of not knowing whats going on?

  • Dixie


    3.2 The Minister of Justice is responsible for the process of appointing the Police Ombudsman (“PONI”) and for sponsoring his/her office (although the appointment is made formally by HM The Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister and deputy First Minister). In relation to all devolved matters PONI reports to the Minister of Justice. In relation to reserved or national security matters, PONI reports to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State may issue guidance to PONI on matters relating to national security….

    Just in case you missed it Michael…

    (although the appointment is made formally by HM The Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister and deputy First Minister).

  • Michaelhenry

    none of these swear the oath to the crown at the assembly, read british law and know whats going on.

  • Dixie

    Oh Michael Henry National Security hasn’t gone away. Even the Policing Board are in on it…

    From the Policing Board website……..

    Transfer of National Security to MI5

    ….Since the announcement, the Policing Board has received regular briefings from PSNI and the Security Services….


    Ah to give them their full name…Police Service of Northern Ireland (incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary)

    Not a lot of Shinners know that!!

  • Dixie

    But the Police Ombudsman of ‘Northern Ireland’ is appointed formally by HM The Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister and deputy First Minister…

    How Irish is that?

  • Michaelhenry

    not a lot of dissidents know that there is no oath to the crown any more, or do they know, could they be that low.

  • Dixie

    Name of the police in Northern Ireland .(1)

    The body of constables known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary shall continue in being as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary).


    MichaelHenry you really only know what you’re told to believe.

  • Michaelhenry

    yes, the P,S.N.I took over, whats new here.

  • Dixie

    As long as they have you working for them they’ll continue to fund your party’s community workers and the Brits couldn’t give a monkeys about any oath.

  • Michaelhenry

    seems you do not either, for some reason.

  • Dixie

    Silly michael by British law they’ve still got RUC in their full title….

    incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary

    Did you know the MI5 building in Holywood was part of the Patten recommendations?

    See here…


  • Michaelhenry

    you afraid of the spooks next.

  • Dixie

    No but Marty was in March 2004 when he said…

    Mr McGuinness insisted Sinn Fein would not endorse Northern Ireland’s policing structures until they satisfied the party’s demands.

    “British securocrats still control policing here,”

    But if you look at the P&J Bill it’s got National Security and MI5 running through it like the silver foil on tenners…

    What made him change his mind?

    Theres a clue in tenners or the US equivalent….

    Mitchel Reiss and the fundraising ban on PSF


  • Michaelhenry

    you seem to have an obsession with money old hand, its only paper, and we can not take it with us on our last journey, i could answer questions for another few minutes, but give me one laugh first, who do you support.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    So long as the job is done and done right, who cares who swears to whom?

  • halfer


    Your wasting your time on this dickhead.

    The guy/girl is a complete apolitical cheerleader who trolls this board instead of analysing political realities.

    I’ve decided not to waste another blind second on the prick.

  • Michaelhenry

    political realities, you know nothing about politics or about the reality of the situation.

  • Dixie Elliott

    halfer, rank and file PSF are made up of two groups of people those in community work shafting each other over jobs or trying to shaft others so that they can give the jobs to close relatives….

    And then there’s the Michaelhenrys who just believe whatever they’re told to believe.

  • Michaelhenry

    yes i believe, you know who i support, notice you are still scared to say who you cheer for, unless you are a 1 person band, if i had any pity left i would feel sorry for you old hand. halfer does not want to communicate with me anymore dixie, i think the truth hurt his feelings.

  • Dixie

    Who do I support Michaelhenry? That’s the sort of question some childish Man United fan would ask, ready to rhyme off the number of trophies ‘we’ [ as in his team ] have in the trophy cabinet.

    Why does it matter who I support? I’m a Republican who no longer agrees with Armed Struggle, someone who has been sickened by the hypocrisy of those who wasted lives for something the SDLP were offered decades ago.

    And I couldn’t give a monkey’s how many votes PSF got in this election or the one before that, just as I couldn’t give a monkey’s when Hume and Fitt were turning out the same results.

  • Michaelhenry

    the S.D.L.P were offered the armed british army of our streets, thats a good one, offered no oath in the assemply, its the way you tell them, offered the removel of army instilations, where was this wrote before 1998, offered, no read the agreement yourself like the rest of us had to do.