‘Sunday Politics’ on BBC TV is usually interesting viewing. It’s got Andrew Neill as presenter, and while he mightn’t win the Most-Loveable-Human-Being-I’ve-Ever-Met contest, he does know how to lob a hand-grenade question. He had David Davis, the man who was once considered a cert to lead the Tories, on just now. Neill’s first question was “When are you going to join UKIP, then, David Davis?” which might have set a lesser man gulping and um-awing. Davis handled it with the good humour of a man who sees his arch-enemy (yes, Viriginia, that is David Cameron) in the unhappy situation of having first lost one MP to UKIP, which could seem unfortunate, but then lost a second, which definitely looked like carelessness. Or worse.
But it’s the breakaway bit of Sunday Politics that’s the fun bit. That’s when they open the ‘regions’ slot, and today we had Mark Carruthers talking to journalists Dearbhla McDonald of the Indo and Liam Clark of the Belfast Telegraph. Clarke was interesting on the Poots-Robinson spat – or maybe ‘fight to the death’ would be more accurate.
Poots said Robinson would be gone as leader before the next election; Clarke said he tended to agree. And so do I. A man spouting political blood from so many orifices as Robinson currently is does not, no matter what he says, look like a man in good political-leadership health. Those tweets of support looked phoney, the lemmings talk on TV from Robinson sounded not just contradictory of what he’d said earlier, it sounded, well, kinda fatal for a political party leader. Can you imagine Gerry Adams saying that some of his senior party members had the political vision of a lemming? Or Ian Paisley Sr – when he was still in office, that is. Once out of it, of course, Paisley Sr let fly with rare abandon. Between The Doc calling Robinson ‘the beast’ and Eileen calling Nigel Dodds …what – was it ‘Dodds the sod’? Uncomplimentary, anyway. And then Peter in turn calls his ex-Minister for Health a lemming. To paraphrase W Shakespeare, playwright and poet: there’s something rotten in the DUP that smells of ancient fish.
The other interesting Sunday Politics thing was that Liam Clarke said his newspaper’s poll on Monday would show a majority here in this little stateen want a border poll. EH? Up to now we were told it was only the mad Shinners that wanted one, now we’re told it’s a majority of people! Right lads – time to go for the fall-back position, which both Mark and Liam quickly adopted: a poll here is one thing, but wouldn’t the south have to vote too eventually, ha ha ha, and they wouldn’t be keen on taking on a £10 billion subvention, ha ha ha, chuckle chuckle. I was nearly laughing myself until I remembered: that much-bandied £10 billion figure doesn’t take into account the amount of money tax-payers here pour into the coffers of British Treasury. The final sum might look quite different after you’d done that sum.
And listen, Mark and Liam – I know these things have to be said a few times to get through to people, but you’re both bright guys. You know that the vision of Irish reunification which many people on this island have is not of the south ‘taking over’ the north. In fact for most nationalists and republicans the thought is horrifying. What is proposed is a new state, a new country where a new kind of politics could grow and a new self-reliance would emerge – yes indeed, within the EU. The north is not one of these little trailers that’s going to be hitched on behind the south’s big car. A unified Ireland would be one totally new vehicle. And if you thought an awful lot of Scottish people got excited about the prospect of independence, wait until this poll finally gets unwrapped . You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.