This TV Review first appeared in the Andersonstown News
It’s some time since I sat down and watched even part of NOLAN LIVE (BBC ONE). Like many others, I’ve grown weary of his shouty style and the way he shakes up outrage like cats in a bag on its way to the river. Last week I made an exception and I’m glad I did.
He had the Alliance Party’s Stephen Parry in the studio, and he had Jamie Bryson on a screen. But it was the clips from Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster that really made for fascinating listening. There was Doug Beattie, a little bouncy line showing as he spoke. Chris Buckler asked him if he’d serve as Deputy First Minister under a Sinn Féin First Minister, if that’s how the votes came out next May. Doug’s answer was that he was running in the election to win, and his ambition was to be First Minister himself. Fair play to Buckler – he brushed aside the guff and kept dragging Doug back to the question: Would you serve as Deputy First Minister if Sinn Féin became First Minister? And every time Buckler dragged Doug back, Doug squirmed and dodged, until it became clear that he dare not answer it.
Then we had the DUP’s Sammy Wilson ducking the same question: would the DUP have a Deputy First Minister post if Sinn Féin were to become First Minister? Um, ah, er, well, mm – no answer again. It’s kind of enjoyable, to be part of the audience while supremacists are roasted on a spit.
On the other hand, it’s disheartening – maybe even outrageous – that the question even needs to be asked. It’s like inquiring of someone “Do you support the law that prevents men beating their wives?” To even ask it suggests that the person might conceivably think wife-beating was a good idea. And to ask would a unionist serve as Deputy First Minister with a Shinner First Minister is an insult. Or should be an insult.
But of course it’s not. The supremacist mind-set that’s been hard-wired in the brains of some unionist politicians and voters means that to concede first place to a republican would make the politician seem weak, servile, submissive.
Stephen Parry said the obvious: he’d serve as Deputy First Minister with a Sinn Féin First Minister if that’s how the votes came out. It’s called democracy.
Jamie Bryson tried to explain his way out of his self-dug hole by saying that Sinn Féin had walked away from Stormont (remember RHI?) so they couldn’t talk about democracy. I found myself almost sorry for Jamie as the absurdity of his position emerged. It was like empathising with a punch-bag on the receiving end of Tyson Fury.
So where do these denials and refusals-to-say leave us? My view is that every fevered word stuttered from the lips of unionist politicians makes their supremacist position clearer, and sends another couple of hundred voters to the May polls, aching to vote for anyone but these hopeless, caught-in-a-time-warp excuses for politicians.