Belfast Telegraph

If Stormont was a Bake-Off trial, Mary would tell them to stop stirring

By Lindy McDowell

Just after Bobby Storey was lifted and Stormont went into yet another meltdown last week, I took myself off on a tour of Twitter to gauge how the online community was dealing with these dramatic developments.

I hate to be the one to point this out to our politicians (of all parties) but trending in Belfast, well ahead of the latest Stormont "shock" and the Storey story, was GBBO.

And no, that doesn't stand for Get Big Bobby Out.

That's the Great British Bake Off.

In other words, the local tweeting public would appear to be more concerned about fruitcake than the latest Stormont bun fight.

OK, yes, people on all sides do have real and understandable concerns about what's happening in the political process. But we've been here so many times before.

And when you have the collapse of a sponge trumping the potential collapse of the Assembly, that has to be bit of a worry, too.

We all know what Peter thinks. We all know what Mike thinks. And what Martin thinks. And what Peter and Mike and Martin think about each other.

But there doesn't seem to be a lot of thought at party leadership level given to what the ordinary punter thinks of the lot of them.

I get out and about a bit and listen to what people have to say. Believe me, it isn't always complimentary. Put it this way, an awful lot of people would suggest it's not just the pastry that's flakey.

And this isn't helped by the fact that after an eternity teetering on the infamous brink, the political process now seems to have finally fallen down the rabbit hole after Alice into a land of complete nonsense and lunacy.

Mike Nesbitt is on a watershed. The DUP are doing the hokey cokey. And Sinn Fein are seeing butterflies. To sum up - it's a choice between geology, choreography or entomology.

What are we to make of it all?

Who could have imagined the DUP championing the withdrawal method? And who (aside from Bobby Storey, apparently) really believes the IRA is utterly butterfly?

We deserve a whole lot better than this. If the Assembly really was a Bake-Off trial, Mary would be advising us to scrape the entire mess into the bin and start again from scratch. Sometimes, the recipe just doesn't work.

If nothing else, it would be cheaper, too.

But then, as there's no shortage of dough for our bulging, bickering, bumbling, barmy Assembly, why would they want to let the thing collapse?

Paramilitaries still in the wings, NAMA, a welfare black-hole deficit of such scary proportions that the sum could potentially refloat the Greek economy ...

The whole thing is a shambles and we're stuck with it. Little wonder that when the mix hit the fan last week, Prime Minister David Cameron chose relaxing at a cricket match (and slagging off the people of Yorkshire) rather than devoting himself to trying to sort out Stormont Crisis Number 3429.

But someone has to take control. We can't go on like this, with these endless, interminable rows which rock the Assembly and do such damage to public confidence in the political process and, worst of all, drive people further back into their tribal corners.

We can't continue to have the shadow of the gun and gangsterism on both sides contaminating democracy.

And you would think, too, that we can't continue leaning on outsiders to come in and nanny us through yet another impasse.

We haven't quite hit rock bottom, but we're close, and we will get there if all our politicians continue to disregard the mood of the public and keep doing what they always do when the heat is on.

Keep on stirring.

Arlene’s internet trolls a disgrace

Do you think it would help if Arlene Foster got a fake tan and hair extensions? Maybe some glitter gel nails and high heels? Would that conform more to the internet trolls’ notion of what a high-achieving woman in public life should look like? Absolutely shocking has been the level of personal abuse directed at Arlene online in recent days.

Really brutal, nasty postings (some of it shamefully from women) attacking her for her looks.

She keeps her hair short. Favours business suits. Seemingly this isn’t “feminine” enough for the Twitter Fifties’ throwbacks. No male politician would ever be subject to this level of vile personal abuse. It’s disgusting.

Spaceship message could be death of us

Are we sending an offensive message to aliens?

Apparently, a plaque on a spaceship launched in 1972 carries an illustration of the human race that may fail to conform to cosmic equality legislation.

One scientist complains: “The plaque shows a man raising his hand in a very manly fashion, while a woman stands behind him, appearing all meek and submissive.”

Actually, they both look a bit uncomfortable. As you would, if you, too, were greeting guests in the buff.

Much more troubling — the question of whether we should be doing outreach to aliens in the first place. They might be cleverer than us. Less concerned about equality issues. More focused on global annihilation.

Belfast Telegraph


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