Columnists

Mary Kelly: Arlene Foster's GB News gig won't make the 'dreary steeples' any more interesting to dwindling numbers of 'mainland' viewers

Arlene Foster has joined Nigel Farage on GB News's roster of contributors
Mary Kelly

OF all the post-political jobs the former DUP leader Arlene Foster was tempted by, few would have predicted her popping up as a contributor on GB News.

Though the way its ratings are going, she may last as long as Edwin Poots did in her old job.

She said she saw it as an opportunity for civilised discussion in a meaningful way and then, bless her innocence, she added that it was an opportunity "to bring Northern Ireland very much into the mainstream of politics".

If that doesn't leech another few thousand viewers, I don't know what will.

Surely Arlene has been around the political scene long enough to know that for British viewers, the "dreary steeples" old Winston talked about, are just that... dreary.

She also said most political programmes were too short and snappy. No danger of that at GB News, where some presenters' shows are three hours long and, since they're all wanging on from the same ideological point of view with little actual news to analyse, it's a long three hours.

Arlene made the point that it was ludicrous that three veterinary checks were needed to fly a sandwich from "the mainland" to Northern Ireland.

Surely it's even more ludicrous to be flying sandwiches anywhere when we can make them right here with the lovely bread, meat and vegetables that we produce locally?

The channel has been beset by problems since its inception.

Chairman Andrew Neil unexpectedly announced he was taking a break just two weeks after launching it, to spend more time tweeting from his home in the south of France.

Then another presenter, Guto Harri, was sacked after taking the knee to show his support for the England football team's anti-racism message. So much for the channel's much vaunted principle of freedom of speech, which it claimed was missing from Sky and BBC.

Since then, it has lost its head of programmes, while the ratings for some of its programmes dropped so low they don't even register.

They're so desperate now they've given Nigel Farage his own show – in what's been described as a rare example of a rat getting aboard a sinking ship.

Well, Arlene is in good company. She can bring a wealth of experience from DUP internal meetings to the headbangers she meets in her new broadcasting career.

Surely a slot for Jim Wells can't be far off, then maybe we could have Edwin Poots's natural history series, 'Dinosaurs are a modern invention'.

****

THERE'S been a lot of comment about Labour MP Dawn Butler being thrown out of the House of Commons for calling Boris Johnson a liar.

It's apparently classed as 'unparliamentary language' and forbidden according to the weird Westminster code.

One of Johnson's former editors said he would be unable to distinguish truth if he met it in an identity parade; it's a pity that Max Hastings, didn't mind his stream of invented stories about Brussels because it suited the Daily Telegraph's anti-Europe stance.

Sadly, politics in Britain has become so degraded now that the electorate don't appear to expect any standards from its leaders. Telling the truth seems like a quality from a bygone era, like tipping your top hat when a lady passes.

So even though an Ipsos Mori poll a few months ago found that six out of 10 voters thought Johnson was untrustworthy, he is still ahead of Keir Starmer according to a slew of recent polls.

And Johnson has the cheek to laud a new government scheme to tackle people convicted of anti-social behaviour: "I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be out there in one of those fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs, visibly paying your debt to society."

He should be wearing one himself, along with his cronies who've benefited to the tune of millions from taxpayers for dodgy Covid contracts.

****

IT has surely been long-established that the gold medals awarded to Olympic athletes are not in fact the same as the chocolate coins you get in your Christmas stocking. So could we please see an end to photographers demanding the medal winners pretend to bite the ends to check?

****

AS I write, it is bucketing down and we've had some dramatic thunder and lightning. But that earlier tropical heatwave was pure joy.

And I wonder if it isn't time we revisited some old classics to mark the upturn in temperatures, albeit temporary.

How about: "Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ballywatticock goes walking..." OK, maybe not...

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Columnists