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Why moaning to Nolan isn't enough when we can say no to cuts

By Nuala McKeever

Published 18/05/2015

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It'd be fascinating if everyone's voting choice was displayed above their heads in lights. Then, when people complain about cuts, or taxes, or the health service, you could look up and check out whether or not they actually voted for the politicians who are making the choices they object to.

Considering the Tories got less than 40% of the vote overall, their spending cuts have not been voted for by most of the country. But in Northern Ireland, most of the electorate did go out and vote for the very parties that have consistently behaved in such a way that most of the electorate has complained about for the past five years.

How do people square these things in their heads? Years one, two, three, four and five - listen to Nolan, complain, call in to Nolan, complain, sit in the car/taxi, complain, go to pub, complain, go home, go on holiday, go to sleep, complain. Election Day - go in to booth and vote for more of the same. D'oh. That behaviour makes Homer Simpson look like a smarty. (Mmmmm ... smarties ...)

The latest announcement in an ongoing list of appalling spending decisions is that the Performing Arts department at the Belfast Metropolitan College is to close with the loss of jobs and places for young people wanting to follow a career in theatre.

When BMC moved to swanky new premises in Titanic Quarter a couple of years ago, funnily enough, there was no room for the theatre department.

Oops. They'd "forgotten" to build a theatre space, so that department stayed on in the decrepit surroundings of Tower Street on the lower Newtownards Road. The bell was tolling even then.

The courses on offer there have consistently been the only way that young people here who don't have the financial support of well-off families behind them can afford to enter the theatre qualification world.

From their numbers, we can applaud scores of actors and theatre workers who have made great careers for themselves and brought entertainment and joy and hope to thousands of people here and abroad.

The list is too long to itemise here, but the chances are, if you've enjoyed anything in the theatre here in the past number of years, you'll have been receiving the benefit of Belfast having its own performing arts course.

Bangor offers some courses in the South Eastern College, but places are limited and filled already, so up to 150 young people currently studying at BMC will have nowhere to go.

It's an appalling decision to take performing arts away from our city. But I guess the Government reckons that if it can get away with imposing misery in health, business, education, construction, housing and benefits, then they can surely take on a bunch of thespians, no bother.

Thousands of people in London and Bristol have been on the streets protesting against Tory-imposed austerity. But, funny enough, in a society where the media is largely controlled by people like Murdoch, you don't see honest reports of this on the news. Most only reported a few arrests. No mention of the thousands who protested peacefully.

This Government is systematically silencing anyone who has the ability to articulate a critical viewpoint. Slice by slice, they are cutting and separating and weakening people's sense of collective power.

We are the people. It's our money that governments are talking about. Why on earth do we feel so passive? Stop watching and reading Murdoch news. People power does work. Sign petitions. Go on marches. Protest. Write to your MLA and MP and say no to cuts. Do something other than complain.

All roads should lead to Balmoral

The prize bulls on display at the Balmoral Show were nothing compared to the bull coming out of the DUP and Sinn Fein about why the road into the site still wasn't built.

Whether there's a peace and conflict centre there, or not, if the site's being used, it needs a road that can actually take all the traffic turning up.

But as with so many spending decisions by governments, those making the decisions don't feel the brunt of their own stalling and blame-gaming. Their disdain for ordinary people is palpable. First prize to FM and DFM for arrogance.

Making a clean breast of Picasso 

Well done to the Fox News Channel that blurred out the breasts in Pablo Picasso's painting, Women of Algiers.

The artwork, which sold for $179.3m (£113.54m) at auction last week, is in Picasso's cubist style, so it was probably quite a challenge for the creepy zealots at Fox actually to identify which bits were breasts and which eyes or other body parts. But they obviously did the right thing.

Imagine the horror if someone watching their news was inadvertently exposed to something beautiful and artistic. My God, next thing y'know, they might actually start thinking for themselves. Shudder ...

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