Friday, 30 April 2010

Who said what when the microphone was still on

GORDON Brown's 'Bigot-Gate' clanger dominated the headlines midweek. But what have the local politicians been saying off microphone?

When Catriona Ruane and Margaret Ritchie were on radio this week debating the state of South Down, both were at pains to say that they had a 'working relationship' and that they both 'worked round the Executive table'.

But did they sit down for a natter together beforehand? And when the radio microphones were turned off did they grab a quick cuppa together before hitting the campaign trail?

And round the Executive table, when the 'serious' business of government is put away, do the ministers have a catch up on the football scores, the weather and whether the election polls actually mean anything?

The populace wants, nay demands, that the Sky News's sound team mic-up the Northern Ireland political elite so we can hear what they really think.

On the other hand, would they say anything that was of remote interest to those of us who are not sad political anoraks? Which, of course, touches on the question - will Northern Ireland politicians ever say anything relevant?

What has been remarkable about the past couple of weeks campaigning has been the outstanding ability of many of the candidates to comment, during a Westminster election, on issues that have been devolved. Health, education, agriculture and policing have all been discussed ad nauseum.

Either they view the electorate as completely stupid on such constitutional matters, or they slavishly follow an agenda set by the media or others - whatever you think, just try not think about it too much: otherwise you might end up really, really considering what way to cast your vote.

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