Sunday 18 March 2018

Britain being over-run by aliens

British General Election (All Channels)
Above The Law (RTE1)

Illustration by Jim Cogan
Illustration by Jim Cogan
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

You may not be directly affected by many of the issues being debated in the British General Election campaign, you may not even have much interest in the result, but if you wanted to see a bunch of people really enjoying themselves last week, you had to be watching Newsnight and Sky News and the ITV debate with the seven party leaders.

They might have called that the "ITV Seven", in memory of a grand old sporting institution, the seven  horse-races that ITV used to show on a Saturday.

But for that, the party leaders and the journalists who know them so well, would need to know things that most of them will never know.

So they carry on with their own distinctive culture, which is now so detached from the living culture, there is a special sealed-off section in the Newsnight coverage in which the actual human beings of Britain get to express themselves.

They can be seen at their kitchen tables, talking amongst themselves, these actual people living in a land which is clearly a completely different land to the one from which David Cameron and Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have emerged, trying not to say the wrong thing. And the actual people, for all the thoughtfulness of their contributions, are clearly not enjoying themselves as much as the other crowd, these aliens who have come among them, pretending that they have been here before.

Miliband, for instance, can be heard dropping a "t" from the end of certain words, so that instead of declaring "I'm not doing it", he says, "I'm no' doing i'".

That'll work.

Cameron is more of a man for the fake body language, bounding into a school assembly hall with his jacket off and his shirtsleeves rolled up, almost flattening his host with the enthusiasm of his greeting.

At the back of the hall stand 50 journalists and those fellows with their arms folded who have written Dave's lines for the day, and they're loving it. And yet somehow they have connected with at least one thing that happens in the world of the actual people, this issue of the "zero hour contracts".

It is abominably clever of Miliband's people to nail the Tories on this, because it feeds in to the larger malaise of unfettered fat-cattery, of Cameron's allegiance to the hedge-fund zillionaires of the City, and all tha'.

In this country too the scandal of zero hour contracts has finally captured our attention, so that Miliband seems to have happened upon a real winner here, an issue that is not just trending, but that will open up the whole steaming cesspool of misery and exploitation which has been created by the hegemony of the corporations.

Whether he means any of it, or will ever do anything about it, is not the point. All that matters, is that everyone is having fun.


And oh what fun we too will have, when our election kicks off - indeed it has kicked off already - because for us there is not just that hydra-headed issue of job insecurity, there is an issue bigger than anything they've got in old Blighty.

Over there, the nationalist party UKIP is causing a lot of unpleasantness but it'll probably get about two seats. Over here, the more extreme nationalist party Sinn Fein, which unlike UKIP would have access to its own army if it so desires, is preparing for government. Which brings us to a programme called Above The Law, a terrifying documentary about the victims of IRA "punishment beatings" which was shown on RTE two weeks ago, and of which almost nothing has been heard since - maybe, indeed probably, because many viewers just didn't have the stomach to watch it all the way through.

Now I realise that for nationalists these things are in "the past" but still...if old Nigel Farage had been in any way linked with such scenes, even by the vaguest associations, even if it all happened in "the past", would he be standing there as one of the ITV Seven? If his associations were more than vague, if he shared the worldview of the people who ran that regime, and fraternised with them to this day, would he be allowed on television at all?

To ask such questions of Sinn Fein would surely not detract from anyone's enjoyment.


British General Election (All Channels)

Above The Law (RTE1)

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