“pawns in a Government-organised blame-game”

Considering taking the government’s advice on stock-piling fuel? Consider this: “This is our Thatcher moment. In order to defeat the coming miners’ strike, she stockpiled coal. When the strike came, she weathered it, and the Labour Party, tarred by the strike, was humiliated. In order to defeat the coming fuel drivers’ strike, we want supplies of petrol stockpiled. Then, if the strike comes, we will weather it, and Labour, in hock to the Unite union, will be blamed.” Tory Charles … Read more

Nesbitt’s task is to discover a real purpose for the UUP. But will they let him?

Even the scale of Mike Nesbitt’s victory surprised some of his supporters. Slugger understands they were already confident of a 60-40 margin, but 81-19 was a resounding victory. He should not have any of the problems of his predecessor. Indeed, the major theme his acceptance speech was that party loyalty is a two way affair. He avoided the cock up of Alasdair McDonnell’s SDLP leadership, though in that regard Tom Elliott’s hasty exit meant there was no big media occasion … Read more

UUP Leadership – Mike Nesbitt’s pitch (and an interview) plus what John McCallister said

UUP AGM ballot boxes

81% of the UUP members gathered at the Ramada Hotel this morning voted for Mike Nesbitt to be leader. 19% voted for John McCallister. The result can be interpreted in a number of ways. It’s certainly a clear endorsement for Mike Nesbitt as leader, and the party didn’t shy away from a “fast track” leader. It can also be seen as a clear rejection of going into opposition immediately, though some members go further and say it’s a rejection of … Read more

Mike Nesbitt takes 81% of UUP vote

Pretty impressive… So what will a Nesbitt leadership look like? Mike Nesbitt 536 votes John McCallister 129 votes Spoilt 3 votes listen to ‘John McCallister’s runner up speech’ on Audioboo listen to ‘Mike Nesbitt’s leadership acceptance speech’ on Audioboo Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Big News. Innovation from the Executive

Good to see Northern Ireland featuring on the UK national news agenda with a report on the “Tesco tax.,” (Today programme 7.25, Sammy and retail consortium rep interview). Despite the national coverage, inexplicably I can’t find  news of  the 1st April vesting date for the business charge on the local BBC News website. Old news locally perhaps? But at least the story’s appearance is  a case of a good sell to the networks which more and more these days unilaterally exclude … Read more

Social media is about social agency, not ‘just’ gossip, entertainment or power…

If you didn’t hear it, it is still very much worth listening to this week’s moral maze programme on BBC Radio Four… The whole thing is worth listening to (even Michael Buerk’s introduction, which almost visibly drips with contempt)… Padraig Reidy from Index On Censorship, probably came as close as any of the respondents to getting close to the nub of the problem with the often glib comparisions made between traditional media and the new platforms which seem to be … Read more

“This is part of the culture of Ireland”

Even though a group of 4 gold torcs were discovered near Stirling in 2009, they’re not that common.  According to the BBC report, Dr Greer Ramsey from Armagh County Museum told Belfast coroner, John Leckey, that “10 torcs have been discovered in Ireland and 38 in Britain”. ANYhoo… the coroner has ruled that a [IIRC] 47 37 inch long flange-twisted gold torc, found in a bog in County Fermanagh, is an item of treasure.  And, as we know, “strange things happen in the bog“. From the BBC report It … Read more

And into the last bend of the UUP leadership race: Who will win?

Someone, in their infinite wisdom, at the BBC has decided not to make this week’s Hearts and Minds video available on the iPlayer (which is odd)… So all we have of Mike Nesbitt’s interview is this fragment clipped and satirised and played over and over… (you’d almost think someone didn’t want him to win tomorrow)… The only thing I’ll be betting on tomorrow night is that Eamon Mallie will have news of the winner before anyone else… But over at … Read more

I Hereby Invoke …

Most of us regular contributors are well aware of “Godwin’s Law”,  which states “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”  therefore invoking Godwin’s Law has become the standard method of countering reductio ad hitlerum, with the argument being lost by default.  Such has been its success recent invocations have been extremely rare. Unfortunately, in this opening year of centenaries, another horrific event in our history has become overused in political and social analogy, … Read more

The Peace Process in an Age of Uncertainty

The latest issue of The Political Quarterly includes articles from a recent symposium on ‘Northern Ireland: The Peace Process in an Age of Uncertainty’. It is freely available online until the end of April. The Political Quarterly “is dedicated to political and social reform and has long acted as a conduit between policy-makers, commentators and academics” (as they put it themselves). The articles address a range of themes including the role of media, loyalism, dissident republicanism, unionism, the peace process … Read more

Addie Morrow RIP

A real gentleman with a hearty laugh and a giant in the Alliance party, Addie Morrow served as Alliance’s Deputy Leader, was a Castlereagh councillor between 1973 and 1989, and was also elected in 1982 to represent East Belfast in the Assembly. Addie had a strong vision for peace-building and reconciliation, lived out both through his politics and his long time involvement in the Corrymeela Community. Living up in the East Belfast hills, he was a church elder in his … Read more

SDLP first to refuse MLA salary increase and rationalise consitutuency operations

As Liam Clarke rightly notes, the decision by the SDLP leader not to take the pay rise [ahem, you mean the one he originally called for – Ed] offered by the Assembly commission will ask some serious questions of other parties, not least Sinn Fein who have previously noted their disapproval of the proposed rise, but who’s considerable party infrastructure also depends to a large extent on ‘taxing’ the salaries of their own MLAs… “Our MLAs have agreed to decline … Read more

“The intention is to appoint a single commissioner…”

Apparently the Northern Ireland Executive OFMDFM are advertising for a single Victims Commissioner to replace the four three current encumbents.  According to the UTV report The decision to reduce the number of commissioners is understood to have been prompted by the accomplishments of the previously appointed three. Bertha McDougall, Patricia MacBride and Brendan McAllister – who leave the £65,000 posts in May – are believed to have accomplished so much in establishing initial contact with victims that their workload can … Read more

Lacking in policy, distinctiveness, professionalism … and votes

unionist vote share

When former UUP deputy leader and now crossbench peer Lord Kilclooney spoke to the BBC’s Gareth Gordon he said: I think in recent years the Ulster Unionist Party has failed to show what it stands for … First of all, I can’t think of any policies it really has promoted strongly in the last five years or so; secondly it has failed to show a clear distinction from other parties and thirdly (it has failed) to stop rowing within themselves. … Read more

On the advantages of a ‘social investment welfare state’…

Here’s a nicely topical post from Niamh Hardiman who is spending a semester in North Carolina at the moment… In it she talks about the the idea of the ‘social investment welfare state’, which may have implications for Ireland as it struggles not simply with a debt problem, but a widening gap in income levels and a potential deadening of social mobility levels we’ve seen in the UK: New books (1) by Nathalie Morel, Bruno Palier, and Joakim Palme and by Anton Hemerijck … Read more

Bradford West voters show their respect for Labour’s safe seat and vote in George Galloway as MP

This morning’s news headlines called it a “surprise landslide victory”. That’s shorthand for commentators being caught off guard and not accurately capturing the mood of the “safe Labour” Bradford West electorate who turned out in force (turnout just over 50%) to return George Galloway to Parliament in the by-election. Results via the BBC: Candidate (Party), vote (vote share, change since 2010) George Galloway (Respect) 18,341 (55.89%, +52.83%) Imran Hussain (Lab) 8,201 (24.99%, -20.36%) Jackie Whiteley (C) 2,746 (8.37%, -22.78%) Jeanette … Read more

#HouseholdCharge: Payment levels reach 1/3…

Thanks to Paul T for the heads up, but it seems that with just 48 hours to go a third of the eligible Irish population has now stumped up for the Household Charge… Meanwhile judging by the reaction of one senior civil servant on Morning Ireland, the government are expecting a last minute rush of payments by post (over a million paper forms have been sent out, and only a fraction have yet been returned), intimating (though not saying it) … Read more

Robinson: “Only those who can adapt to changing circumstances remain standing”

The following is the body of a speech given this evening in Dublin by Northern Ireland’s First Minister and leader of the DUP, Peter Robinson… The Edward Carson Lecture, “Reflections on Irish Unionism” in Iveagh House in Dublin… Though a statue of Lord Carson takes pride of place in front of Parliament Buildings at Stormont, a Northern Ireland Parliament was an institution he had not sought. Though he did so much for unionism and Northern Ireland, he regarded the failure … Read more

Kenny: Ireland rejects Tibetan independence

Controversial – but Kenny could not have been clearer. During yesterday’s visit to Beijing, Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny laid bare his government’s support for China’s position on quashing Tibetan independence in stark terms: “Ireland has always fully followed a one-China policy”. For those not familiar with China’s “one-China” policy, this is the frame used by the CCP to justify it’s repression of independence movements. As comments like Kenny’s indicate, this framing technique is in many respects much more effective than … Read more

Back to the eighties when *some* of us had another kind of dance fever…

You start this off thinking the introduction goes on too long, and then you spend the rest of it thinking it didn’t go on long enough… They say that if you remember the sixties you weren’t there… Well, hand on heart, I was there in the 80s, and I really, really don’t remember this… But YOU may know differently… H/T John, and Popbitch… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet … Read more