Attention please, class. Eyes this way. That’s better. Now. Why is that fine and cultured man, Mr Nelson McCausland, upset this morning with Alliance Party activist Gary Spedding? Anyone? Well I’ll tell you, then. Two reasons.
The first is that this young man called Gary Spedding was photographed at a celebration in Newcastle upon Tyne earlier this year and he was ( if you’re under five now’s the time to cover your ears) – he was holding an Irish tricolour! Can you credit that? Naturally Mr McCausland, being a man concerned for the public welfare, took the image and posted it on his blog, with the comment that Gary Spedding “prefers to fly the flag of Irish nationalism”. Clearly this was something Mr McCausland felt called on to do. You can’t have people who touch an Irish tricolour getting away with that kind of thing…What’s that, Virginia? well yes, if it’s on its way to the top of a bonfire that’s different. You have to touch it then. But in normal circumstances, a man with a civic conscience like Mr Nelson simply must speak out against all those who fondle the Irish flag.
Unfortunately – and this is something Mr McCausland couldn’t possibly have foreseen – the image of Gary Spedding with the tricolour was then reposted on loyalist Facebook pages and drew a number of suggestions, none of them complimentary. In fact there was some threat of violence: one of them suggested Mr Spedding should be shot in the back of the head. Isn’t that awful, class? Naturally Mr McCausland was appalled. “No one should have to deal with threats of violence, but public life requires a thick skin to absorb legitimate criticism.”
Indeed. Or as we say, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the sauna. Which brings me to the second reason why Mr McCausland is upset with Gary Spedding. That’s because Mr Spedding is an Alliance Party activist. And hands up, class: what did the Alliance Party do a year and a half ago? That’s right. They tore down our flag from Belfast City Hall. Mr McCausland’s party quickly issued 40,000 leaflets telling people what had happened, in case they hadn’t noticed, and putting the blame where it obviously belonged: on the Alliance Party. The fact that this led to days and weeks of vicious attacks on the police was something that Mr McCausland’s party and I’m sure Mr McCausland himself deeply regretted and condemned. How could they possibly have foreseen such a violent and unhappy eruption?
But back to Mr Spedding. He’s an Alliance Party activist, and the picture of him with the Irish tricolour showed that he must be in sympathy with the idea of a united Ireland. Of course Mr Spedding has denied this and says he thinks Northern Ireland is better off as part of the UK. But what does the old saying tell us, class? Anyone? That’s right. There’s no smoke …without fire! And in this case, thanks to Mr McCausland’s speed of thought, unionist voters have been alerted to that fire within the ranks of the Alliance Party. First that Anna Lo thing about a colony and now this. They’ll deny it, of course they will, but we all now know, don’t we, class – nationalist dry rot has set in within the ranks of the Alliance Party. And there’s only one way to stop the spread of nationalist dry rot and that is…? Right, class. Very good. VOTE DUP. That’s the correct answer. Especially when that seat in East Belfast next comes up.
OK class, I’d now like you to take out your best exercise book – quietly please, no talking – and pick a nice clean page with no dog-ears or doodles on it. All done that? Now I want each of you to write a nice letter to Mr McCausland expressing our gratitude for what he has done. Yes, Virginia, I know it’s hard to think of a first sentence. So why don’t we all start with ‘Dear Mr McCausland, I’m writing this letter to thank you for your courage in defending our national flag against all subversive forces”. Subversive – that means people who don’t agree with us. I’ll put it on the board. Now, go on from there. And remember to end up with ‘Yours in awe’. Mr McCausland will be pleased.