In a royal turn-up for the books, a survey in the Sunday Independent found Queen Elizabeth II had a higher approval rating than all the Republic’s political leaders.
She polled 50%, coming in ahead of Taoiseach Micheal Martin (44%), Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (38%) and even Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein’s queen-in-waiting (45%).
There was a time when such a result would have been unthinkable. But we live in more open-minded times.
The idea of throwing Her Maj into the polling mix was genius. People always appreciate a ‘none of the above’ option.
Up here, even if they included the Queen’s tea party partner, Paddington Bear, in a poll, he’d do well. The bear would walk it.
That’s not to say our own dear leaders are totally disdained by the public. Some tend to do better than others. Naomi Long consistently polls well. Doug Beattie was going great guns until the emergence of some dodgy historic tweets knocked him back several percentage points.
For a long time, Robin Swann was the man, due to his admired handling of the Covid crisis. Only if monkeypox takes off will a future Health Minister have such a high profile.
As the Queen’s surprise showing in the Sunday Independent poll shows, what people admire are attributes such as dependability, trustworthiness, diligence and dignity. These are not always qualities we associate with politicians.
Take Boris Johnson. This week we learn that even a large section of his party colleagues can’t take him.
In fairness, he did win the confidence vote, even if it was by a humbling margin. But he didn’t look humbled.
Sir Keir Starmer, a man who makes ditchwater look intoxicating, delivered a long-winded lament about what a travesty the outcome was.
A cuter politician might have offered a wry smile, a thumbs-up and a congratulations to the Conservatives for making it easier for Labour at the next election.
That might have had a more destabilising effect on Boris backers than an opposition leader signalling he’d be happier with anyone but Johnson.
Lampooning politicians is more fun than trying to harpoon them. Former PM Tony Blair, is currently the subject of a new rock opera in London called Tony! With Derry Girls finished, could there be an opening for a similar production here? Jeffrey! Michelle: The Musical?
But back to Boris. His gift for continually scooting free from crises that would see any other politician roasted has led to him being dubbed the “greased piglet”. This may be unfair to the well-basted porcine community.
But why should BoJo be bothered anyway? He may not come near the Queen in the popularity stakes, but his childhood plan to be “king of the world” got a bit of a boost this week.
The Cossacks have adopted him. In admiration of his “freedom loving hair” (their words) and support for Ukraine, they’ve made him an honorary Cossack. A large portrait of the PM, depicting him in a traditional Cossack coat as garish as Downing Street wallpaper, sitting cross-legged and playing what’s described as a lute-like instrument, has been installed in a museum in Chernihiv. Follow that, Jeremy Hunt.
Elsewhere in the region, Boris has had at least one street in Kyiv named after him. No mention of a Boris Bridge yet, but he’s probably working on it.
In Westminster he may be regarded as a wide boy, but in Ukraine Boris is king, if not queen, of people’s hearts.
On a serious level this does help him closer to home.
On the foreign stage he’s performed well of late (EU leaders might disagree). The Ukraine emergency touches all our lives, and Johnson, whatever you think of him in other respects, has led from the front.
Across the globe, ordinary people stand with Ukraine. So the congratulatory message from the Ukrainian president to the PM, after he’d won the confidence vote, will have done him no harm internationally or indeed back home.
As we know, people are fickle. One day you’re oven-ready turkey, next you’re greased piglet. Next, Big Dog again?
To keep with the animal analogy, is there a possibility that Boris might, over the upcoming few months, pull another rabbit out of the hat and bounce back up the popularity charts?
Stranger things have happened. A British queen topping an approval ratings poll in the Republic of Ireland being one of them.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots almost achieved a first this week - having to be rescued from a rescue boat. Launching a support fund, he took to Castlewellan lake in an amphibious vehicle which almost keeled over. Fortunately it righted itself and, with onlookers heartlessly chortling, returned safely to shore. Also launched this week, the new electric workboats - the greenest on the planet - developed and built in Belfast by Artemis Technologies. The boats glide effortlessly over the water. Amazing stuff. But hard to say which photo call was the most memorable. Sink or skim?
In Australia there’s been a bit of a hoo-ha over the revelation that KFC has been supplanting lettuce with cabbage to complement its nutritious deep-fried chicken products. Apparently lettuce farming has been badly hit by recent floods. But some customers are not happy with the cabbage substitution. One said it felt like a sign of the apocalypse. Indeed. Where could it end? Brussels sprouts served up on burgers? Pak choi on pizzas? That cabbage on a Chicken Zinger, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Congratulations to Britney Spears, who got hitched this week. It was a traditional wedding in that she married someone else. Unlike Kshama Bindu, who married herself. That ceremony, in Gujarat, India, was not without incident. A politician complained and the priest due to officiate said he’d prefer to marry her to a tree than to herself. Kissing her reflection in a mirror, the bride described her “sologamy” as an act of self-love. Hopefully she’ll be very happy together. You’d hate to think of her splitting up.