Maybe we shouldn’t expect it. I’ve seen Laurence Olivier, a demi-god when he had a Shakespeare script to deliver, reduced to a silly windbag when he delivered his own thoughts and words. And John Lennon was a pretty good lyricist but he talked tripe when he was interviewed about politics. So no, we shouldn’t have been surprised when Fearghal McKinney appeared on the BBC’s ‘Politics Show’ on Sunday and showed himself to be next to tongue-tied on most of the questions asked of him. Even if he had been able to field them, his opponent, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly, was at his side to slice him – verbally – into very small pieces. You might want to encourage Fearghal by pointing out that he’s only starting off in politics and that Gerry Kelly initially was just about as tongue-tied as Fearghal is today. True, true. Unfortunately, as Kelly pointed out, Fearghal isn’t really making a career switch from the media to politics: he has as much chance of winning in Fermanagh/South Tyrone as Gerry Kelly has of becoming president of the US of A. Here today, gone in a couple of weeks.
And now, as if that hadn’t shrunk the SDLP chances in Fermanagh/South Tyrone enough, there’s this evening’s news that Alex Maskey has withdrawn from the South Belfast race – AND that the news was delivered in Fermanagh/South Tyrone. Ouch, ouch and yarooh, you cads, that hurts! Having made the verbal offer of a nationalist voting pact and been rebuffed, Sinn Fein have now gone in for a spot of unilateral disarmament. If Maggie Ritchie’s rebuff of the Adams overture looked churlish and anti-nationalist a few days back, there must be another word for what it looks like, now that Alex Maskey has given the good Doctor MacDonnell a clear run…Ah yes, now I remember. Self-harming. That’s the word. Really really really self-harming. Well done, Maggie and Fearghal.