Belfast Telegraph

Stormont needs Katie Hopkins like voters need another undemocratic, cobbled together deal - not in the slightest

By Lindy McDowell

Stormont. There we all were wracking our brains for a solution to the latest impasse and all but giving up hope - and suddenly there steps forward a saviour with all the answers.

Our mistake - silly oul' us - was that we'd always assumed that if it was necessary to engage an outside intermediary to oversee negotiations we'd be looking for someone with proven expertise in political diplomacy and mediation.

Someone with extensive knowledge of, and sensitivity regarding, the nuances of local division. Someone who would command the respect of all parties.

Why didn't we realise that the obvious candidate was a reality TV star with a big gob and a talent for self-promotion?

Katie Hopkins, formerly of The Apprentice (other alumni include 'Jedi' Jim Eastwood and Donald Trump) has graciously offered her views on securing political progress where none exists.

"As an outsider," she says, "what I want to do in Northern Ireland is to get all your politicians in a room together and tell them to stop being such a divisive bunch of idiots and work out how they are going to make it happen."

Heavens! Why didn't any of us think of that?

Possibly because the first big problem has been how to get all of our politicians in a room together...

Also - and I love the arrogance/naïveté of the woman here - a swift lecture from her about our MLAs being "a divisive bunch of idiots" is really going to sort Stormont?

In some ways la Hopkins would seem to have the ideal qualification to intervene. She appears to be non-partisan. Sort of.

Put it this way, just as the Osmonds declared themselves a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, Katie is a little bit Shinner, a little bit DUP.

In an interview with reporter Leona O'Neill, she says she feels a united Ireland is inevitable. But then she goes on to say she supports the DUP even though, "I find the DUP and our transfer of cash to them was a curious thing".

But before you despatch the membership forms, Gregory, Ms Hopkins adds that she is "increasingly torn" about whether Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK.

She's on firmer ground in terms of whether MLAs should have been pocketing their pay while Stormont has been in shutdown.

"The situation with Stormont is dreadful. Government money is not money, there is only taxpayers' money. Any person who takes any taxpayers' wage and sits at home or doesn't do their job is stealing from the taxpayer."

Here at least, she taps into what is very much widespread public opinion locally.

Hopkins has a new book to flog and presumably didn't want to seem lacking an opinion when questioned about us and our ongoing political quagmire. It would have been Rude (the book's title) not to hazard some brief analysis.

But I think it safe to say that whatever happens here no-one will be falling over themselves to secure her services as political arbiter between DUP and Sinn Fein as they seek a deal.

Here's the thing though... why should any of us pliantly accept they should be doing any deal whatsoever - outside of Stormont? A deal that necessarily involves zero transparency in the negotiation stages and which excludes all members of other elected parties.

This is an aberration of democratic process.

It's the politics of huff and strunt and 'I'm not speaking to you' being afforded precedence over mature, open debate, which we're always being told - by all sides - is the only way forward.

It's not as if we, the punters will get any say in any deal that may be reached.

And lunatic as it is that we're now being proffered political advice from a megamouth who doesn't know her impasse from her elbow, how daft are we the voters, that we allow this to continue in our name?

If it was happening elsewhere we'd be holding candlelit vigils outside City Hall to protest.

The entire electorate here, not least that part of it which voted for those parties not involved in the current standoff, is effectively being denied representation by those who are being paid well to represent them.

I'm surprised there hasn't already been a test case to the High Court.

Humbling of Hollywood is not before time

The torrent of allegations against Hollywood stars like Kevin Spacey (left) continues amid some belated soul-searching from Tinseltown. According to an insider: "This will change Hollywood forever." Good. As well as changing a culture which permitted and enabled sexual abuse of the young and vulnerable, any chance that it might also lead to a toning down of the luvvie lecturing? One of the most sickening aspects has been how so many of those now being outed for their vile behaviour (and their cheerleaders too) previously got on as though they'd been ordained by Oscar.

Got a gong, thought they were God. Too much to hope now for some Hollywood humility?

Wildlife shows just leave me feeling Blue

I'm ashamed to say that I still haven't watched a single episode of Blue Planet II (left) and all that fabulous underwater action. I've watched a few clips, but not yet a full show.

I blame my da. When we were wee and wanted to watch educational, informative stuff on television like The Waltons or The Flintstones, he made us switch over to wildlife documentaries.

"Sit there and you might learn something," he'd say.

What I did learn was that I didn't like wildlife shows. This, sadly, has stayed with me. I still prefer trashy TV.

In that one respect, like Sir David Attenborough, I plumb the depths.

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