Friday, 30 March 2012

All fun and games at the UUP

WELL the lengths the Ulster Unionist Party go to get more media coverage know no bounds after their poor showing at the last elections!

First off, hold a leadership election. That way you get all the political correspondents' knickers in a knot with speculation apparently “rife” as to who will win out between John McCallister and Mike Nesbitt.

So desperate are the party to gain media coverage that Mr McCallister decided to deliver his own baby…mother and child are both safe and well after the leadership candidate was talked through the procedure by paramedics on their way to his South Down home. One can only imagine the conversation:

Paramedic: “Now Mr McCallister, please make sure your wife is safe and comfortable and that you have warm water, towels and a press release to hand.”

Mr McCallister: “Hurry up, the contractions are close together…”

Paramedic: “When you tell her to push, you’ll see the baby…as soon as its born I’ll let the BBC know.”

Of course, that’s not right, Mr McCallister’s baby was due next week and no parent wishes to be in that situation.

Mr Nesbitt’s plan to deliver a speech didn’t quite come up to his rival’s performance, but whether it will influence the result remains a moot point. Polling suggests that the votes will be close, but one man who will not be casting a vote is Strangord MLA David McNarry.

Mr McNarry, who got into a wee bit of a spat with outgoing leader Tom Elliott has been kicked out of the UUP for nine months…we have to wonder who he would have been voting for.

Then to compound matters an ex-UU member and former deputy leader crawled out of the woodwork to talk up how bad the party is. Lord Kilclooney delivered his devastating verdict on the party in an interview to the BBC on the eve of the leadership election.

We, being natural cynics, reckon this was a very clever wee plan. You see if the new leader doesn’t manage to halt the decline, then he can point to Lord Kilclooney’s verdict and say “no-one could have stopped it!”

On the other hand, should the party stage a Lazarus-like resurrection, then he can claim to have listened.

How likely that is, well, having cast the stones and read the runes, we aren’t about to become hostages to fortune other than to say that stabilising the UU ship is their best hope for the moment.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Can someone find me a political football please?

IN the absence of a credible opposition at Stormont, MLAs of all shades have been looking for something to get well and truly het up about. Preferably something monolithic, caricatured as faceless and the ‘common man and woman’ as victims.

What better target than… the health service!

Asides from the occasional tragedy and stupid political decision, the health service has committed some really damnable crimes against Norn Iron’s population! They’ve been forcing people to live longer through dramatic surgical interventions, through life-saving drug treatments and even, heaven help us, highly skilled doctors, nurses and other staff performing feats to make sure we live well into our twilight years.

No wonder we need an Older Person’s Commissioner - there’s tens of thousands of old people cluttering up the streets, bullying their way on to buses and joining the queue for a wee message to acknowledge they’ve reached treble figures in terms of age.

So politicians, as is their normal practice, have picked up on some failings to launch attack after attack on the health service. Yes, the failings at one A&E department out of several were awful and the conditions there made battlefield surgery look calm, but the picture isn’t all bleak.

Instead, the politicians should be launching a concerted attack on the general public!

Stupid people are having the audacity to eat healthier, moderate their alcohol intake, stop smoking, take regular exercise…where will this madness end?!

Do these people not realise that all this means you’ll be hanging around for years, upon years, upon years for a place on the surgery list after pulling a muscle doing Pilates?

Politicians! Act now!

Encourage smoking, force feed booze to teenagers, tell single mothers where their nearest drug dealer is, close leisure centres, ban fitness classes and make an Ulster Fry compulsory three days a week.

That way you can slash waiting times for older people within a few short years, and all the regressive taxes from booze and cigarettes can roll into coffers…

Seriously, well we weren’t being that serious earlier. The threats from Health Minister Edwin Poots to cut a swathe through management, investigations after investigations roll on and on.

Yes, such investigations are required, but more importantly the Compton Review has put forward a path for Norn Iron’s health service. That path may be right or wrong, but the MLAs who occasionally turn up to vote in Parliament Buildings need to realise that they must evolve beyond village pump politics and understand that we are a relatively small geographical area and as such we cannot expect a gold-plated regional standard health service. The target can only be ‘best possible’.

And stop getting old!