Tuesday 25 April 2017

Reality gets more and more like 'House of Cards'

Gina Miller speaking outside The Supreme Court in London
Gina Miller speaking outside The Supreme Court in London
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Gina Miller, the British businesswoman who brought a court action against Brexit, has paid a high price for it. We heard on World in Motion (Newstalk, Sat 9pm) that a man had been convicted of sending online threats to Miller - the first time this has happened in the UK.

And as she told Shona Murray, ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, the trolls' behaviour had gone far past civilised norms: this was horrific. Miller was threatened with murder, rape, the killing of her children. She was told she should be beheaded, that she wasn't even human but a primate, that she should be "the second Jo Cox" (the English parliamentarian killed last year).

Awful stuff - you really would have to wonder about the deviant mentality of anyone who carries on like that. And, as Miller added, some of these clowns were "shameless", and actually abused her under their own name.

On a tangential point, although she's a divisive figure, I must say that I liked Miller as a person. While I too would have voted Remain if I was British, I don't agree with what she's doing: it's going against the democratic wishes of the people.

But she came across very well. Miller seems like a reasonable person, intelligent, well-informed, open-minded. And clearly it doesn't need to be repeated: the abuse she suffered is beyond the pale, and deserves a good thrashing.

Still, I think she should let the voters' decision stand. That, after all, is the whole point of democracy - people have the right to make their own decisions, even when they're wrong. Especially when they're wrong, come to think of it.

Miller and Murray, by the by, also touched on the potential hard border between the Republic and the North - and a potential new referendum on Scottish independence, which brings us to News at One (Radio 1, Mon-Fri). This week their First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a second independence referendum, possibly as early as next autumn.

Financial Times political editor George Parker told host Keelin Shanley that the announcement has "huge implications for the future shape of the United Kingdom", adding that Prime Minister Theresa May "now not only has to negotiate Brexit over the next two years, but at the same time look over her shoulder at the union possibly breaking up".

It's all quite exciting, actually - like something from a novel. Most current affairs stories are either horrifically grim, unutterably tedious or simply incomprehensible to your average Man on the Street.

But things like Trump, Brexit, Scottish independence, the potential disintegration of the EU, Putin/Russian shenanigans, that North Korean fella who got iced a few weeks back: these things could have come from a House of Cards script (the peerless British original, obviously, not that melodramatic remake).

Am I an eejit for thinking like this? Yes, almost certainly. What can I say, I'm easily bored. I need some "Sturm und Drang" theatre with my politics.

That fine writer Willy Russell popped up on The Ryan Tubridy Show (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am). His most-famous play, Educating Rita, returns to Dublin; Russell was there to talk Rita and more, from early life to his later work.

From Liverpool's legendary Cavern Club - where The Beatles first gestated - to a surprising detour as a hairdresser before getting back to education and into theatre, and from his Irish ancestry to the filming of Educating Rita in the environs of Trinity in Dublin, he was/is an absolute charmer: the kind of fella you could imagine sitting over a feed of pints with, killing time in the most enjoyable way.

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