Mike Nesbitt reaches out. Sort of.


There’s an article headed ‘Alex Kane interviews Mike Nesbitt: Confident UUP leader offers olive branch to nationalism’  in yesterday’s News Letter.  Well now, you say.  An olive branch from Mike? I thought he’d gone all right-wing and big on unionist solidarity, not pacts with the SDLP? Well if you read the article you can judge for yourself.  My own view is that the interview was an exercise in doing the splits, which at Mike’s age could prove both painful and unwise.

For example? Well, at a time when links between the Ku Klux Klan and organisations here are deepening – they do have a fair amount in common, Virginia – Mike points out in one breath that there are 4,000 or maybe 8,000 Muslims in this state. “ Is it too much to say that that number of people should have one appropriate place of worship? I don’t think so’. Immediately afterwards he tells us that he got hate mail claiming “there is going to be a bell and the call to prayer at 5 a m.  But if you go and talk to the Islamic people from Belfast they tell you that that will not happen”. A good strong liberal stand, then –  but with a bit of reassurance to the haters that the Muslims won’t be too obvious in practising their religion.  Left-wing, right-wing.

When Alex asks him what’s the difference between the UUP and the DUP, he replies: “There’s a fundamental, radical, blinkered, it’s-our-way-or-the-highway approach about them [The DUP] which I can’t live with”.  Clearly then, more liberal, to the left. Except that last summer when I did a panel discussion with the young Ulster Unionists, Mike was there and he joined with them in a narrative of our Troubles that put the blame squarely and totally on the IRA, full stop. No give. No reaching out. Most definitely “our-way-or-the-highway”.  Maybe my mere presence brings out the backwoodsman in unionism.

What about the Parades Commission, Mike?  “The Parades Commission is reacting primarily to the threat of violence from those who are against certain parades.” No question of examining the nature of those parades/marches, what they contribute to healing community wounds with their 2000 + marches each year, if the cost of policing those marches should come from the public purse, how those marches deal with the past. The very distant past, the triumph-of-Orangeism-over-its-enemies past, the listen to the drum-thump-thump-thump-THUMP past.

So is Mike a thinker – a man with a vision of the future? Indeed he is. “What I’m also encouraging unionists to think about is what they are going to do when the day comes – and it might be sooner rather than later – when you look at the benches downstairs and there isn’t a single member of Sinn Fein who was in the IRA or had any connection with the IRA. So in a few years it will just be the younger ones, who have no blood on their hands and are only there because they have a mandate.”

Wow. One small paragraph for an interview, one giant leap right-wards by leader Mike. You get the sub-text there. Quite a few of the present Sinn Féin people were in the IRA, have blood on their hands and really have a phoney mandate. When younger Shinners succeed them, then  we’ll have sensible politics. The men of blood will have died off.  Nice one, Mike. Right. Very right.

But having made that leap to the right, Mike promptly leaps back to the left: “I am very sympathetic to the fact that we have a statue of Carson and Craigavon here, but we don’t have any statues that would represent Irish nationalism here, never mind Irish republicanism. And I think that is something which is not fair and should be addressed. We cannot pretend that Irish nationalism and Irish republicanism does not have a past.”  You know, Mike, a man could do a hamstring serious damage, with such sudden leps.

The good thing about Mike is that, in person, he comes across as a civilised, outward-looking human being. But when you look at his policy and political beliefs, they’re all over the place. That ‘understanding’ with the SDLP that’s flagged in the interview title – Mike raises it and then shoves it under the table again, emphasising the plans for unionist unity. One minute he’s liberal and left, next he’s unionist and right.

I sometimes get the feeling that Mike  in his heart would like to ride the unionist horse towards fresh and more productive pastures, but the beast is accustomed to the corral marked “Not An Inch” and instinctively heads there. Mike knows if he isn’t very careful, the creature could throw him into the nearest cactus patch. Remember, Mike was the man who told us the Haass talks were 80% agreed,  then within hours was saying how there was no way unionism was going to buy into this deal. See what I mean? Left, right, left, right. Now, follow that horse.

Here’s the original interview: http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/regional/alex-kane-interviews-mike-nesbitt-confident-uup-leader-offers-olive-branch-to-nationalism-1-6151190



18 Responses to Mike Nesbitt reaches out. Sort of.

  1. paddykool July 2, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Mike and the Muslims . Sounds like a great name for a punk band doesn’t it?
    TV Mike has been trying to ride two horses for some time now .He first came to prominance as a sort of urbane apolitical television presenter, but on entering , what I’ll loosely call Northern Irish politics, he soon found out that he’d have to take a side. My late mother -in -law loved TV Mike . He was a handsome television lad back then.He could have sold her anything, any old soap, even though she was from a nationalist background.
    She was unfortunately gone when TV Mike took to the political road. She’d be aghast at him now .Well the blush is off the rose a bit now anyway. He’s not the young handsome devil he once was.A bit frazzled around the edges. The rage of time and all that. But his politics!! She’d be aghast in the same way she was scoobied when Richard Chamberlain and Rock Hudson came out as gay. It wasn’t that she was homophobic either…she just thought it was such a waste for women generally…Two handsome fantasy men lost to womankind!!!
    There’d be no room for wooly thinking in unionism or nationalism so to appeal to the more rabid extremes of either you’d have to appeal to the most basic principles that have kept either afloat.In TV Mike’s case he’s finding that flip flopping is going to be his only route to still feel like a rational human being in a land full of psychos, tradition transfixed marchers ,bonfire artistes and fleg flutterers.
    A while back I drew some parallels with the KuKlux Klan in relation to our neighbours more overt and extreme beliefs. Lo and behold the old KKK flag has suddenly appeared fluttering in the “Culture” in summer 2014 .At least one lonely loyalist came to the same conclusion even though Iwas pilloried a bit for pointing it out in relation to our tribal difficulties back in the 1960’s. some poor bugger went to the bother of actually finding and buying a KKK fleg. you couldn’t make it up.
    On a lighter note , a few years ago I took the family to Marrakech for a special Christmas one -off North African holiday. My lot are expensive pets to take anywhere , so absolutely a one-off.!!. A very muslim place North Africa. We were out of our comfort zone in some ways …me and my all- female entourage….but enjoyed it thoroughly. Not being either rabid Christian believers or Muslims, the bell and the call to prayer across the rooftops added to thewarmth and atmosphere as we sipped our wine in the open air rooftop bar, watching the herons nesting across the rooftops…
    . What’s not to like?

  2. neill July 2, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    How many glasses of wine this morning PaddyKool?

    As for North Africa fantastic part of the world great countries and people.

    • paddykool July 2, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

      No wine yet Neill….That’s only. exploding brain cells!!! Too early in the day….even though it’s my birthday!!!

      • neill July 2, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

        Have a great birthday a pleasant new Zealand wine wouldn’t go amiss now!

      • Jude Collins July 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

        Breithlá sona duit, PK!

        • paddykool July 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

          Ah….you guys. Xxx

          • ben madigan July 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

            many happy returns paddy

      • Norma wilson July 2, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

        Happy birthday
        Paddy, and have a good one?
        Go easy. on the wine.xxxxx

        • paddykool July 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

          If only the red would go easy on me, Norma!!

          • RJC July 2, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

            Happy Birthday paddykool! I’ll raise a glass to you tonight!

  3. Iolar July 2, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    It is evident that Mr Nesbitt’s political philosophy was and is, “Ulster says neigh.” His reign as Victims’ Commissioner provided more evidence of the illusion of political progress. There were 2,120 marches in 2005 and 4,637 in 2013. The number of marching bands registered in the north of Ireland has risen to 660. The evidence needs to be considered in the context of the growing number of sectarian and racist attacks and the small number of arrests to date. Mr Nesbitt needs to examine the outcome of some recent court cases convened to establish the circumstances of sectarian attacks. Some victims died. Some victims remain in comas. Political unionism looks like a beleaguered garrison but wait, all is not lost, the Ku Klux Klann is galloping towards the sick counties. The last thing we need on this island is more men in long white dresses wearing pointy hats. The Health Service is under serious pressure. There is evidence of educational disadvantage and chronic unemployment. Mr Nesbitt et al choose to cherry pick agreements while the cherry pickers assist with the erection of more flags and the burning of tyres under the watchful eyes of the PSNI. One could not make it up.

    • paddykool July 2, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

      You’ve a bit of catching up there RJC….but thanks!

  4. Maggie May July 2, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Good lord. And there was me thinking Mike and the UUP were the lost tribe of Israel

    • Jude Collins July 2, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

      I think ‘lost’ is the key word there, Maggie…

  5. paddykool July 2, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    Ta Ben…many thanks to you all .

  6. Norma wilson July 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Listened to the news at six in bed this morning, and the two things that made me cringe was, the KKK, and then some where up in the country, some one had went to the bother of painting a Catholic Church’s railings or gate red white and blue?

    The first thing ( apart from the obvious) that came into my head was, Jude is going to have this as his topic today!

    I often use to wonder what an IRA man looked like, and the be honest Brendan Hughes, or the Italian, Scabotachi, you know who I mean, well they were both quite handsome dudes. Now I find myself thinking what sort of a buck eijitt goes out with three paint tins, to paint a place of worship.

    Before I go, you’s all know I am a Prod, loyal to the Queen, and could not care less if another twelfth ( nearly left the F out) never came around.

    My deceased brother, lived in the apartments at the old Barkley Restaurant. He was such a snob when the big day came around, when bringing any one to his place, he would always only enter from the Ballylesson Road. He hated the mess the bone fires created, we used to tell him to bite the bullet, as he might bring trouble round his door. He also was in a mixed relationship.

    I know all you people, do not believe that all Protestanrs carry on like that, well at least I hope you do.


  7. RJC July 2, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    Going off that interview, poor old Mike TV (or ‘Wanchorman’ as the wags at LAD have dubbed him) doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going.

    What I will say is that between now and the end of the decade, I think we may witness the UUP overtaking the DUP in terms of being the biggest Unionist party. The DUP seem never to deviate from the ‘NO! NO! NO!’ script whereas the UUP seem to be more ‘NO! NO! oh, er maybe, but on second thoughts eh, NO!’ which may give them a slight edge over the DUPers.

    How closely linked are the UUP and the OO I wonder? The DUP are essentially the OO in drag, so I wonder to what extent that august order pulls the strings of the UUP?

    • RJC July 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      Well at least we now know where Mike TV stands.

      A joint statement from the DUP/OO/UUP/PUP/UVF/TUV/UPRG/UDA?

      They may as well just have scrawled ‘NO SURRENDER!’ in 50 ft high letters on the front of Stormont.