Dan Colley is filling in for Paddy Duffy this week
Biting the postman of news
This week's news was defined by the gaffers and their subordinates. Be they defiant, waning or retiring it seems that there has been some leadership shifts and mask slips this week in UK politics.
The Queen's Speech, the British parliamentary tradition whereby the Government of the day feeds the reigning Monarch a series of words to say in a particular order to an audience of people who know the script, while wearing her very best hat, put me in mind of a very posh vaudevillian ventriloquist act. Everybody knows the dummy is inanimate, that the man with the reddest face is making the words happen, the whole experience is absorbed by trying to hear the puppeteer's voice in the things the puppet says while watching to see if his lips move, and yet it's such fun to see the enchanted piece of wood say such incongruous things. "[My Government will] ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deter those who will not", said the sixth generation German immigrant who has never had a job and who lives off the British exchequer with her Greek husband and children.
In announcing the legislative agenda for her new Parliament, the Queen character in this piece gave us some insight into her priorities for the coming session including "helping people to move from welfare to work" and promoting "a fairer society that rewards people who work hard" and of course enabling the state to investigate "crime in cyberspace" delivered with all of the ease and familiarity with the issues that this writer has with the legacy of Alex Ferguson.
With UKIP eating into the Tories' share of the steak and kidney pie, Nigel Farage thumping about the place drinking British litres in English versions of cafe-bars, enjoying his moment as the thinking man's Nick Griffith, while having weight added to his side of the rocking boat by Tory heavies like Nigel Lawson, Boris Johnson, Michael Portillo and zombie Thatcher, it hardly seems surprising that the agenda for the new Parliament should veer toward the right with Cameron saying he'll try harder to be harder. It's just disappointing that the Lib Dems continue to just make do with the scraps that fall from the Tories' table, with Vince Cable somehow turning his response to the anti-immigration legislation into an explanation about how immigration is a good thing.
Speaking of Britain's immigrants, we go to Ireland now, where the Head of State caused upset with Euro-sceptical remarks that did not get run past the Cabinet. President Higgins said in a speech to the European Parliament and followed, this week, by an interview in the Financial Times, that there is a "hegemonic" economic model being propagated by the EU leaders and calling for a "radical rethink" of a problem that is not just economic, but moral. Nobody expected Michael D to be a wall flower president when he took office. Like Mary Robinson, he knows that his official roles are mostly ceremonial but also knows that microphones don't know that. A debate was stirred about whether he was over stepping his brief as Lord High Chief of Stamping and Dining but Vincent Browne urged him to say it like it is. Why hide your true thoughts behind cloaking language? With all of the Government and main opposition parties falling over themselves to be the best boys of Europe, and glowing with pride when they're told they're the model of a modern major disaster State, perhaps the President, precisely because they are a figure above politics, has a role in freshening debate. And better it come from a friend in Higgins than foe in Farage.
Still though, I'd rather be Eamonn Gilmore this week, clambering to claim that his Chairman is actually, despite appearances, supporting him, or even Prince Charles at the Commonwealth Meeting, than I would like to be David Moyes in a few weeks time. If anybody will have trouble answering the question "Who's the boss?" it's the players and fans of Manchester United. As Ferguson, after 27 years, retires and joins the board of directors it's probably fair to say that it can get pretty chilly in the shadow of the most successful manager in the world. Manchester United is, as I understand, a billion pound hairdressing franchise.
Dan Colley is a writer and theatre maker based in Dublin. firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @NeoNancyBoy