Belfast Telegraph

Non-fallers among election's runners and riders should get on with the job in hand as we definitely don't need another re-run

By Lindy McDowell

One of the things that I admired most about Diana, Princess of Wales was that, despite her rumoured flakiness and tendency towards manipulative behaviour and her often dubious decision making, at times of great personal crisis (and there were many) especially when the cameras were upon her, she was often borderline Churchillian.

No matter how wretched she may have been feeling - apart from those infamous occasions when she deliberately wanted to signal to the media her hump at Charles - Diana pinned on her bake a smile as dazzling as the Kensington Palace chandeliers. Her version of Winnie's V (for victory) sign to the masses.

I know I couldn't do it.

I could maybe manage a teary-eyed rictus grin. But not the full Diana that lit up her face, her eyes, her entire being and said to the world: "I'm fully in control, here."

I was thinking of Diana when I switched on the television the other day and Arlene Foster popped up on screen.

I don't know what Arlene was saying at that point - the sound was down. But what startled me most was how she looked.

Her eyes were darting back and forth. She looked sullen, sour, awful. She looked - and this is the word that immediately sprang to mind - distracted.

In both senses of that word.

Both as in "distraught".

And also disengaged. As in wondering: "Did I switch the gas off before I left home?"

Now, after a bad election, any of us might have looked the same. As I say, I'm pretty certain I couldn't do shiny-eyed bravado myself.

But Arlene is a politician. You'd think she'd be able to put, if not a braver face on things, at least a more neutral face.

You'd think they all would ...

Watching this week, all our politicians react to the election results was a bit like watching the school sports day.

There was wee Gerry, elbowing aside Michelle (the supposed team captain), doing his celebratory lap of the pitch because his team almost pipped last year's winner to the school's cup.

And there was Arlene, worried and defensive that once she got back in the changing room her team would light on her for dropping the baton in the relay.

And worse of all, there was Emma 'Little' Pengelly throwing a strop at a teammate for supposedly not helping her over the line.

Blaming others, Ms Little Pengelly, just makes you look very small.

The competitor who actually came closest to dignified was Mike Nesbitt and he was the one, ironically, throwing in the towel having been tripped up by his own outreach to the other side. In the context of the sectarian head-count, which elections here are relentlessly reduced to, I think it's fair to say there is no sign of a cross-community Stormont squad emerging any time soon.

So for now, after we taxpayers have picked up the tab for this latest election, what we're left with once again is the same old, same old.

True, more of some of the same old, same olds. And fewer of others of the same olds.

But still.

Same old impasse. Same old coalition. Same old arguments.

We are stuck with eternal coalition. One which will only work if both opposing sides pull together.

Which is why I'm not sure if the current post-election bout of jubilating and bickering and blaming and nastiness augurs all that well for what is to follow.

As wise Mr Kipling once advised, if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same ...

In other words - politicians, get over yourselves and get on with it.

That's what we need here now.

Such an attitude might not only lead to a bit more dignity in our leaders' demeanour.

It might also involve some actual real progress on the ground.

Although the chances of that?

If only ...

Feminist icons don't get their kit off, Emma

Emma Watson (previously, actress in Harry Potter) has found herself in the midst of controversy over that most heated question - was posing with her clothes off a feminist statement? This on the grounds that Ms W (who has just recently appeared topless in Vanity Fair) had previously signalled herself a 'feminist' icon. Personally, I don't think nudity makes you feminist. Or even - awful word - empowered. It does though, get you attention. That's an entirely different thing.

But if you want headlines - it works. In which case, Emma - who cares about feminism?

Brave police still putting their lives on line

Of all the stories dominating the headlines this week, what resonates most with me are these words of the PSNI officer on BBC's Crimewatch describing how he was shot in north Belfast a few weeks ago.

"I felt something hit me," he said. "Everything slowed down. Blood was pouring out. I thought that was me.

"I thought I was going to die on that (filling station) forecourt." Brave man. A brave man like so many other PSNI officers, putting their lives on the line for the rest of us.

Total respect to them all - men and women.

Belfast Telegraph


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