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How Donna Trump could be just the wild card we need to shake up our cosy little coalition at Stormont

By Lindy McDowell

Published 11/05/2016

Changing times: First Minister Arlene Foster with her DUP colleagues Paula Bradley, Joanne Bunting and Emma Little Pengelly who were all elected to the Assembly last week
Changing times: First Minister Arlene Foster with her DUP colleagues Paula Bradley, Joanne Bunting and Emma Little Pengelly who were all elected to the Assembly last week
Donald Trump
Wolf Hall star Mark Rylance
Barbie heaven

Would it make a big difference, do you think, if America was currently facing the prospect of the presidency of a Donna Trump as opposed to a Donald?

Old Donald, as we all know, hasn't exactly been pitching for the feminist vote in his raucous campaign to secure the Republican nomination for the White House battle.

He has been sexist, misogynist. He has been a crude, offensive, lunatic.

But oddly this does not appear to have alienated women voters entirely. Somebody is voting for him out there. And they can't all be men. He's even secured the backing of rapper Azealia Banks, who dismisses Hillary Clinton as talking to black people "as if they're pets".

Hillary, famously, is trammelled with the constraints of the political correctness that Trump has so successfully made mincemeat and mockery of. To his fans (followers doesn't seem quite the right word) part of his appeal has been his utter disregard for playing by Establishment rules.

Trump is a political renegade. But would a female - a Donna Trump - have been similarly successful with the Republican grassroots?

It's hard to imagine a big-mouthed, bolshy woman would have survived politically quite so long.

The simple fact is that, for women politicians, the rules are trickier. Which may explain (although only partly) why in 2016, for God's sake, the Land of the Free still hasn't had a female Commander-in-Chief.

Okay, we don't have much room to talk here. But this is fusty old, backward old Northern Ireland and not only have we now got a female First Minister, but the election just past has returned a 50% upsurge in female MLAs.

For heaven's sake, we now have 30 instead of 20. At this heady rate we'll have attained parity by, oh, possibly the end of the century.

But let's not sneer too much at what progress has been made here ...

The interesting thing is that you get the impression from some of the local election contests (party organisers, take note) that youthful and female played much, much better with the voters than mature and male.

Over the water there's been something of a sea change, too.

The seemingly unstoppable success of the impressive SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been slowed - a bit anyway - by the storming advance of Ruth Davidson and her revitalised Scottish Tories.

This newish leader of the Conservatives in Scotland is a young, plain-speaking, kick-boxing gay woman who attended the counts hand-in-hand with her partner.

Scottish Conservatives are obviously a bit less conservative (with a small c) than our conservatives (ditto) over here.

In Wales the leader of Plaid Cymru is Leanne Wood. Throw in Her Majesty the Queen and all we have to do now is get rid of Dave Boy Cameron for the full female house of cards in the UK.

Being female doesn't automatically make someone a better politician, of course, any more than being male does.

But it is heartening to see at least some limited progress in terms of real reflection of electoral gender.

At Stormont, change comes dropping slow, though. In every sense.

Two words that have been echoed again and again in recent days sum up our "new" Assembly ...

Status quo.

We could be doing with a Donna or a Donald Trump to rattle that status quo. And no, I'm not necessarily calling some Tango-tanned, megalomaniacal big mouth down on our heads.

But a challenge to the DUP/Sinn Fein Establishment, a shake-up of that cosy, cumbersome, coalition ...

That would not be a bad thing.

Hats off to Rylance for defending the BBC

The Government's treatment of the Beeb came under scathing attack at the Baftas by actors, including our own James Nesbitt and Wolf Hall star Mark Rylance, who played a broodingly, brilliant Thomas Cromwell. What fascinated me more than his spirited defence of Auntie, was to see Rylance without his trademark hat.

Why does he always wear it? Receding hairline may be the answer.

But actually he looks better without the fedora. Thomas Cromwell's medieval beret was a good look, though. 

Light the barbie ... before summer vanishes

Suddenly it's summer. The sun is out, the sky is blue. And so off you head to the hardware store. You need to buy the barbecue and/or furniture and plants to turn the backyard into a tropical paradise. Next stop the supermarket, to choose from the limited range of barbecue-able chicken drumsticks in various flavours of chilli.

Then to the off-licence for the vino. Home afterwards to unload it all, to chill the wine, build the barbie and change into last year's holiday wear. And by the time all that's done? Summer's almost over ...

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