Talking about the Presidential Campaign…that Prime Time programme last night. September 29, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, The Left.
You’ll find it here if you missed it and want to catch up. But Prime Times last night was undeniably of interest to anyone wanting to get a sense of the candidates. The format, individual short interviews oddly enough managed to catch a sense of them, and granted arriving with preconceptions wouldn’t probably see those preconceptions changed, but…
Higgins was good. Very cogent, fluent. And remarkably relaxed. Perhaps too relaxed. He talked about it being necessary that he be ‘authentic’ and ‘be yourself’. And that was grand. But in all honesty he seems… well, whisper it… just a little … boring. In a way, and this was touched on in the interview, he seems like a very traditional President, a pre-Mary Robinson President. It may well be that the citizens of the state will want that at this juncture. And to be honest whether he gets up the nose of Israel or China doesn’t seem to me to be something that will exercise most people.
Top marks too for dropping the name of the President of the General Assembly of the UN as a supporter!
In regard of McGuinness’s appearance – well he’s not boring at all, but that may not be a good thing. It was interesting how relatively fluent his explanation re IRA membership was. The question on a President for 32 counties though some have said it played badly seemed to me to go okay. That said a friend of mine made what I thought was an excellent point today about the McGuinness candidacy which was that partition might actually work out to his favour. Their point was that there was a flip side to the animosity which was that people knew less about the North and if he could remain detached from the technicalities he still presented an attractive candidacy. Certainly he could relax perhaps just a little.
Mary Davis was curious. Smooth, no question about it. Articulate. Perhaps a little too polished. She certainly seemed to protest perhaps a bit too much about being a ‘totally Independent candidate’ and being ‘the only truly Independent candidate at this stage’. An odd claim to make even if this was recorded before Norris won his fourth Council nomination. What of poor old Sean Gallagher [one has the unpleasant suspicion that that is a phrase that will be used again…]. One thing that struck me was how she seemed to falter just a little at the more critical questions. The smile vanished. The tone became a little more abrasive. Richard Crowley’s question on had she ever had to taken on an unpopular cause in her public life was brilliant. I’ve never seen it asked before in any contest.
An oddly evasive performance from Gay Mitchell and suddenly it becomes clear why he’s got problems. He’s running for a government that despite its supposed popularity [and look at the latest polls where both government parties are shedding some support] seems in the face of the recession and the forthcoming Budget seems oddly fragile.
Most fascinating was the issue of his letter of clemency for US death penalty prisoner Hill. His excuse?
‘…so-called Liberals would have left him out…’
Hmmm…not so sure of that. I think it would be more a case of expecting that he’d support others in a similar straits at around the same time who had different viewpoints.
Dana tells us that the ‘people know [her]’. I wonder. Somewhat cruel of Miriam to note that 14 years ago she went before the people and they rejected her. Still, she has a point about how she was the first Independent candidate to get nominated. Interesting to see whether that doorway will be kept open in future years. But it all seemed a bit vague.
Norris struck me as much more combative than was necessary. Even angry. Is this a deliberate tactic? The issue of the extra letters still seems to me to be a bit tangential; though whether he can hold the line on having advice not to publish to them will be interesting. And in that is encapsulated a problem, perhaps a more pertinent problem than that facing McGuinness. Whereas McGuinness has to fend off his membership of the IRA he is able to keep putting 17 years between him and various acts carried out by that organisation. Whereas Norris has letters floating around. Different, more immediate. Problematic.
Sean Gallagher was better to than I’d expected. The problem is that it seemed very vague too. He got somewhat tangled up in issues of trade missions. To be honest I thought he had a point that he didn’t create them, but that a President would assist in their creation. His big problem is he seems underpowered for a run at this point, not being a politician or being political.
I found it a lot more entertaining that I’d expected, and there’s going to be more. Enjoyable too the way the ‘what is your weakness’ question, standby of a million job interviews, was thrown in for some of them. It’s such an artificial formulation, but sure isn’t this all artificial, seven somewhat diverse individuals thrown into the crucible.
Watching it I’d wonder about the outcome.