Belfast Telegraph

Why does SoS Theresa have to be so out there?

By Nuala McKeever

Everytime I hear the name Theresa Villiers, I can’t help thinking of Ronald Villiers. He’s the really inept, would-be actor character in the hilarious BBC Scotland sketch show, Chewin’ The Fat, which was on television a few years ago.

Everything Ronald touches turns to disaster.

Let’s hope his namesake has more success acting as Secretary of State for us over here. I’m sure sometimes when these people sign their letters to their bosses over in the capital and put SOS after their name, it’s not always simply a job description, more a cry for help!

She’s made all the right, if dull, noises so far about wanting to “hit the ground running” and has mentioned “hard work” and “listening to people” in her list of things she loves doing. She told Mark Devenport of the BBC that she was “delighted to have come out to Belfast.”

Well, if she’s in listening mode, she might like to hear me telling her that language over here is very important. Getting the right words can make all the difference. So she might consider changing her “out” to “over”.

Lots of London-based people talk about coming “out” to Belfast. Because that’s obviously how they see it/us. We live in an outpost of Empire, an off-shore island, a remote location far-removed from civilisation. The word “out” used this way, conjures images of old colonials, discussing strategy in the dark continent.

“Yes, we’re flying out to deal with the native situation. Bit of unrest, don’t you know, among the little Orange chaps. Bit miffed at us actually. Spot of bother in the north. Carlisle’s Circus is involved for some reason. Bunch of clowns eh, what? Dashed inconvenient I must say. Oh well, can’t be helped. DC has as good as promised me a real job if I don’t blot my copybook while I’m in the jungle so I’m simply going to hit the ground running, work hard and make a big thing of really LISTENING, apparently that plays well with the little people. I say, they DO speak English, don’t they?”

Perhaps I’m reading too much into her language. Perhaps she is au fait with the situation here. In fact, according to her website, this isn’t the only divided island she’s involved with. Apparently, in her home constituency of Chipping Barnet, Ms Villiers has spent years campaigning on important local issues including, “More police on the beat; defending the suburbs; working to re-unite Cyprus ... and demanding a more reliable Tube.”

I hope her grasp of geography is better than this would imply. Since when has Cyprus been a local issue in north London?

But, she’s obviously keen to see small divided islands reunited under one sovereign power, so the nationalists here will love that. And as for tubes, well there’s been so many of them on TV and radio recently spouting rubbish about upholding the law by breaking it, that she’ll be hard pressed to choose, but she’ll not find a more reliable one than Nelson McCausland, that’s for sure.

I could say I wish her well, but, if I’m honest, my main thought is, ‘Why do we need a Secretary of State in the first place?’ What do they actually DO here, now that we have our own government?

Maybe, when she gets a moment, she can spell it out for us, the little people.

Belfast Telegraph


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