Newsnight goes Northern Ireland: Pale, white male and stale – By Brian John Spencer

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Newsnight, Northern Ireland cartoon, Brian John Spencer

BBC Newsnight Northern Ireland debate, by Brian John Spencer

You had the main opposition leaders debate earlier in the night, three women against two men. Then the Northern Ireland debate on Newsnight, 5 middle aged white men and a Londonista. That tells the story of Ulster’s divergence from its mother island. Here’s a run down of the respective performances.

Nigel Dodds, Brian John Spencer

Dodds – 9/10: Dodds was imperious, bossing the chair and opponents and owning the occasion. His one 60 second riff was consummate. Yet in it all you felt taken a fool. Using the language of liberalism he laundered the illiberalism and retrograde aspects of Britain’s loyal Paddys. Antiquarian 6-county Unionism putting on a mainland-friendly face.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir cartoon, Brian John Spencer

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir – 6/10: The ubiquitous Sinn Fein magnate bewildered us slightly. Usually composed he seemed slightly off frequency. The elevated pitch was strong, emphasising his mayoralty and the continuity he can bring to south Belfast. Then asked about abstentionism, like a 6th form French oral student asked a question for which he hadn’t prepared, he just wheeled off something about the NHS. Besides sounding overly rehearsed at times he stood out.

Mark Durkan cartoon, Brian John Spencer

Mark Durkan – 3/10: The 60 second blast was unremarkable, much like his muted performance, punctuated only by a late swerve into the Nigel Dodds show.

David Ford cartoon, Brian John Spencer

David Ford – 4/10: David can come across very eloquent, especially on set piece press statements, as per his forceful reproach of the Sinn Fein reverse on welfare. His minute pitch laid out the Alliance vision confidently. His interjections were competent but not much more. He still comes across as a professorial uncle, very Milliband-esque in appearance and sound. I’d like to see him try a bacon sandwich.

Mike Nesbitt cartoon, Brian John Spencer

Mike Nesbitt – 4/10: After Dodds dealt his full hand of cards, Nesbitt’s pitch was never going to do anything. The UUP just feels like an irrelevant outcrop eroding on all sides under the forces of intemperate unionism, and this performance didn’t tell a different story.

Evan Davis caricature, Brian John Spencer








Evan Davis – 5/10: Wriggly, giggly Evan as he’s been called has nothing on the late Newsnight anchor Paxman. He kept the show ticking over and probed Dodds on the conscience clause. He sailed her steady.


Watch the debate in full here:

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About Author

Brian is a writer, artist and law graduate.

1 Comment

  1. Eddie Finnegan on

    Clearly, a stale Ulster fry cannot compete with caviar across the water. These greasy ould hasbeens need to pray for real leaders to send them packing.

    “Caviar comes from Virgin Sturgeon:
    A virgin sturgeon’s a very fine fish.
    Virgin Sturgeon need no urgin
    That’s why caviar is my dish!

    Deep down in the briny waters
    Lived a gal named Sturgeon Lou:
    Lou had never thought of mergin
    While older Salmon blocked her view.

    It may well be she needed urgin,
    Not quite ready for the test.
    Made a vow that she’d be ready
    For the thrill she loved the best.

    Ed then set her heart a-thumpin
    With desire for all that’s nice.
    Made her warm and very willin
    To make her pitch and pay the price.

    Now we hear the Virgin Sturgeon
    Loudly make the mating call.
    For Virgin Sturgeon needs no urgin,
    Though Ed’s left gaping round the hall.”

    {with apologies to the original, and to the SNP’s Chief Executive}

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