No boys and girls you are not still MPs…

Earlier on today I was looking up old fight mates Kerry McCarthy and Nadine Twitter streams for the first time in a while, when I discovered both had changed their accounts from their names followed by MP, to 4MP. Kerry’s old account exists but in abeyance. Ivor has spotted three of our ex MPs still tweeting as though they were still MPs: Conor Murphy, Nigel Dodds and Michelle Gildernew. And beleive it or not that is actually against the law … Read more

“While we are a city of culture there has to be a recognition that we’re not part of the UK.”

Londonderry may have been shortlisted to become the UK’s first City of Culture in 2013, but the Sinn Féin party leader on the council, Maeve McLaughlin, is not happy. Ms McLaughlin said she believed the bid was “very heavily weighted in terms of cementing our relationship with London”. “While we are a city of culture there has to be a recognition that we’re not part of the UK. “We are not opposing the bid, but we are putting down a … Read more

TPA get stung again over inaccurate figures….

Lest Matt or any of the guys over at the Taxpayer’s Alliance think I have some kind of agenda, let me re-assure them I don’t. The topline of their previous ‘research’ that the Government was paying lobbyists to lobby government is, if true, important work. Particularly in Northern Ireland where the public sector employment steals much of the oxygen from the private sector. That’s why it’s important that if you are going to have a punt at bursting that particular … Read more

Why has the British MSM forsaken their vital ‘crap detectors’?

Mark asks why does a ginger group like the Taxpayers Alliance get so much coverage in the UK press. I’m tempted to offer the trite response that it’s simply because the Brits are too thick to tell the difference between sound social science and yet another dodgy dossier. But that would not only be a grave disservice to the intelligence of the great British public, but to the wily coruscation of the Taxpayer’s Alliance: not least because they are smaller, … Read more

Murdochgate: “It is not, as News International claimed, one rotten apple; it is a culture…”

BBC Radio Four’s The Media Show yesterday opened with a bit of a ding dong between John Lloyd of the Reuters Institute at Oxford and Anne McElvoy of the London Evening Standard. Lloyd opened with this: John Lloyd – “Whether it was on a modest scale or an industrial scale what some journalists where doing was using their power and their money and the backing of their news organisation to substantially diminish people’s privacy and their civil and human right … Read more

Murdochgate: Time to stop feeding a desparate and overbearing ferryman..?

The #Murdochgate affair trundles on with big guns coming out on both sides. On Sunday Tim Montgomery one of the most respected figures (on all sides) of the British blogosphere came out with not so much a defence of Mr Coulson (no one who looks closely at his alleged role in a NOTW fishing expeditions can do that) as a spirited attack on the Guardian. Meanwhile Nick Davies at the Committee for Culture, Media and Sport yesterday, has named the … Read more

Phone tapping: No new Guardian facts to dent NoW rebuttal

As Mick has just offered a shrewd review of the political vibes, I’ll go on today’s press stand-off. Certainly, you can never fault the News of the World for lack of chutzpah. The great phone tapping scandal centres on two questions: were the News of the World Goodman and Mulcaire convictions in 2007 for phone tapping the tip of an icebeg of “thousands “ of other cases as the Guardian suggests? And can David Cameron’s PR chief Andy Coulson, the … Read more

If Blair played footsie with the tabloids Cameron has brought them in-house…

The story in Westminster continues, if at a decidedly lower pitch now the Guardian has shot most of the bolts in it possession. For context, the Tory blogosphere until three days ago confident and even bellicose in it’s prosecution of the case against an ageing Labour administration is now unusually silent on any matters of substance. Guido’s list of what’s hot and cooking in the media is normally a highly reliable weather vein towards some of the sharpest comment on … Read more

Murdochgate: A scandal that’s only just beginning…

If you were watching closely enough yesterday you’ll have noticed that there was a buzz all around Westminster and associated media ports over the revelation that two of Rupert Murdoch’s papers have been conducting regular fishing trips against public figures (some political, some not), and that they had settled with three ‘victims’ for £1 million (or ’shut-the-f*ck-up’ payments as Rick puts in this excellent piece on where all of this is really heading). That’s a public interest story, if ever … Read more

Hacking row widens as Yates of the Yard investigates.

The very idea of a gagging out of court settlement in the News of the World hacking case is highly dubious in this age of trumpeted accountability. That a media group should seek such a settlement is typical hypocrisy of a high order. That a court should grant it and that the police and the CPS should take no further action when, as it appears, they knew most of the Guardian’s facts boggles the mind. Without the Guardian’s scoop who … Read more

Still bloggin’ after all these years..?

Before the time for thanks moves on, thanks to Shane Hegarty in the Irish Times for mentioning Slugger as one of Ireland’s must read blogs… He calls us “The granddaddy of Northern Ireland’s politics and culture blogs…” Now I mind the time (as my Uncle Seamus might say) when there was no such partition in the blogoshere… You got your Irish bloggers where you could find them… In my recollection the earliest blog I remember was Sean McCann who started … Read more

“This was the biggest irritant between us and the Northern Ireland Office..”

Just a quick point about The Observer’s extracts from Henry McDonald’s recently published book Gunsmoke and Mirrors – How Sinn Féin dressed up defeat as victory. Mary Alice Clancy’s study of the Bush administration’s Northern Ireland policy between 2001 and 2006 may have been under-reported, but it wasn’t un-reported – as John Ware would confirm [And Paul Bew – Ed]. But it has never been just about those “dreary steeples”. From The Observer article Clancy said that those she spoke … Read more

US politics outpaced by media/blogs combo?

A couple of months ago, I took part in a Spectator even that asked: Is our politics big enough for the net? (write-up here) It looks like we’re getting an early answer from the US. Last week the Republican party pulled a fast one on the US press and got a reaction it may not have been not expecting. Mickey Kaus posits three models in how the media has gone about the business of reporting politics. Local politicians, take serious … Read more

“One wonders whether Powell fully understands how revelatory his account really is…”

Mitchell Reiss comes to Jonathan Powell’s magnum opus on the peace process under the Blair regimine a little later than some others, but given he was a key player in the Bush administration for latter years of the process, he is, as one might expect, a good deal more critical that some the earlier entrants in the debate. Although there are echoes of Mandelson’s: “the Process is the bare minimum of the policy you need…” He doesn’t pull many punches. … Read more

Undercover Diplomat – “addicted to negotiations”

Jonathan Powell’s surprisingly interesting TV version of his diary, the hour long The Undercover Diplomat, is still available on the BBC’s iPlayer – but not for long. But, courtesy of Typhoo, I can post a few clips of interest. The first one is Powell’s record of hearing about the Northern Bank robbery in 2004 whilst on his way to a meeting with Adams and McGuinness – and subsequent events. Pete Baker

When the Chuckles had to stop (Part 1)…

The Watchman is a keen observer of Ulster politics for many years now and one who has written extensively on Unionist politics. Now, in two parts written especially for Slugger, he exams in detail the nature of the party that gave rise to Paisley, and now post Paisleyism.By the Watchman “Then the angel of the LORD went forth and smote in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred four score and five thousand and when they arose early in the … Read more

A united archipelago..

With the number of countries implementing the Schengen agreement now increased to 24, the Irish Times tries, once again, to start a reasoned debate on whether the Republic of Ireland should also join. From Monday’s editorial [subs req] “On the map of the Schengen area Ireland and Britain are conspicuous absentees on the west of the continent, along with the main Balkan states, Turkey, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldova and Russia to the east. New lines are being drawn. Asked recently whether … Read more

So sign up to Schengen…

The most interesting point to emerge from today’s optically orientated 9th meeting of the British Irish Council wasn’t the quibbling about the financial package – it ain’t going to change significantly – it was the mention of gaps in security, which Dermot Ahern stated was referring to the Schengen Agreement.. and Gordon Brown agrees. The Alliance Party have previously made mention of this Agreement but the focus appears to be on different proposals than those presented by that party. [It … Read more

On the importance of melancholy [in political journalism]…

“Cheeky” Piers Morgan’s acerbic interviewing style misses only one of the qualities recommended by Ken Tynan (and lauded in the leader page of the Guardian on Monday). It was light, certainly. Stinging yes. Insolent, without a doubt. But the part he left out of his interrogation of that paper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, was melancholy. I have to admit that when I first read Tynan’s recipe for good review writing (in Monday’s leader, as it happens), it was that word which … Read more