Hamill’s Beat - Would it be good to have a trendy First Minister?

Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

Would it be good to have a (relatively) young and trendy First or Deputy First Minister? It would be a new experience.

We’d be like a parish full of elderly traditionalists contending with a trendy priest. (In my day you knew they were trendy if they had a guitar, long hair and a sports car.)Yes, it probably is a daft thought. It occurred just because things are so very different here.

Let’s face it – both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness are, in their own ways, ultra conservative.

The ‘trendiest’ thing about Peter is his collection of ties. And he was preceded by one of the world’s oldest ever political leaders, Ian Paisley and before that by David Trimble.

Enough said! (Fair enough, Martin is potentially more radical on the economic front, but he can’t make any difference without fiscal powers being devolved along with a most unlikely change in the Good Friday Agreement.)

Normally I’d rather call with Oscar Pistorius in the middle of the night than face the prospect of a young politician trying to be trendy.

It’s just that this place is so ultra square; the notion of having more challenging leadership seemed briefly worth considering. At the moment we’re only marginally to the left of the Middle East’s most conservative theocracies.

It was a recent article in the Guardian that did the damage. It sparked off the train of thought. Geoffrey Wheatcroft was contending that David Cameron is the new Tony Blair. David has expressed his admiration for Tony. The similarities between the two men are striking.

For both of them image is all that really matters. This weakness has led Cameron into scoring several “own goals,” contends Wheatcroft.

For instance, Cameron thought championing gay marriage would show how progressive the Tories have become but all it has done is to show how divided the party is.

Wheatcroft says Cameron “evinces all of Blair’s lack of principle with none of the guile”. What he can’t grasp is that, “the Tories aren’t meant to be the nice party, they’re meant to be the competent party”.

Can you imagine us having a First Minister who’d champion a progressive move like gay marriage in a bid to be popular?

No? Of course you can’t, not least because gay marriage would be unpopular here in inverse proportion to its popularity across the Irish Sea.

This place is completely unlike tolerant, progressive and pluralist England. It makes you wonder what unionists find so attractive about contemporary Britain.

Our ‘leaders’ are only too well aware of where the social zeitgeist is and they’ve no intention of trying to move it forward. They’d put the clock back if they could.

Of course, we’ve no chance whatsoever of getting socially progressive leadership anytime soon.

You can bet your bottom dollar our leaders will keep the traditionalists in the parish happy. We don’t want a Reverend Cameron or a Reverend Blair. That’s not to say a small dose of that sort of ‘torture’ wouldn’t do us good. No pain, no gain as they say.