Monday, October 03, 2005

The Mary Lou effect

Call me a bit out of touch, but when the BBC screened one of the many Sinn Féin press conferences held in a Jury's Hotel a while back and Mary Lou McDonald was first up to the mike, I thought she was the hotel manageress. There I was, expecting her to point out the emergency exits and make helpful comments about little bottles of ginger ale, but no - this was the Party Chairman, no less. The new, acceptable face of Republicanism going straight.

And a very nice face it is, too. Smartly turned-out, well-spoken, soft Dublin tones, intimidatingly brainy and just a wee bit choochy-faced. Sort of "Condoleeza Rice meets hamster".

Let's face it, this SF makeover is well overdue. For so long we've had ageing suits, grey with seriousness, pondwater shirts and razor-edged voices. They're still there of course, but there's a fresh vigour in the party, and it's now being reflected in the leadership team. The shoulder-chips are making way for shoulder-pads. I mean, cast your eyes over the picture above. There's no missing Mary Lou, is there? (And lest I be accused of chauvinism, young Conor on her right surely also embodies the same new smartness that is becoming Sinn Féin's 21st century hallmark).

The first shift, I think, was seen in the rise of Bairbre de Brún. Not just because she's a woman. It was the sheer middle-classness of her. Schoolteacherly, statesman-like - probably the first Shinner Unionists really listened to. I remember, during the Assembly days, she was head of the Agriculture Committee when the Agriculture Minister was (of all people) Ian Paisley. We all gasped at the thought of what discussions might ensue (or not), yet the two of them got on extremely well and showed a fair amount of regard for each other in public. Heart-warming stuff.

Before I get too serious here ... Unionists take note. Stop navel-gazing on policy issues. Stop looking for party leaders with strange hairdos. Forget peers of the realm. What you need is an injection of feminine glamour. Preferably with brains, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. Has anyone got Arlene Foster's e-mail address?

14 Comments:

At 11:37 p.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...

"young Conor on her right surely also embodies the same new smartness that is becoming Sinn Féin's 21st century hallmark)."

Conor is also an ex-prisoner John, and he is anything but middle-class.

"It was the sheer middle-classness of her"

Bairbre is anything but middle-class.

"she was head of the Agriculture Committee when the Agriculture Minister was (of all people) Ian Paisley."

She was the Minister for Health and Paisley was the Chair of the Agriculture committee, he was not a Minister. The Minister for Agriculture was Brid Rodgers of the SDLP.

I think you are slightly mixed up John ;)

 
At 10:49 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Young Conor also has some family members in a little bit of trouble at the moment. As Gaskin appeared to be trying to say, he is hardly respectable.

 
At 11:08 a.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...

"As Gaskin appeared to be trying to say, he is hardly respectable."

No I was not!!

I have known Conor for quite a while and he is an excellent representative and a sound bloke.

I was merely pointing out that Conor has come the same path as most of our leaders and is not some new "middle-class click" as some had suggested.

Don't try to attack his integrity by using me as a shield.

 
At 5:09 p.m., Blogger EWI said...

The most frequent comment I heard from friends about the last European elections was - I kid you not - variations on "would you do Mary Lou" (I'm sure there's a song in there somewhere)

 
At 9:28 a.m., Blogger Rebecca said...

Chris


"Conor is also an ex-prisoner John, and he is anything but middle-class."

So following that argument through to its logical conclusion, only working class people can be sent to jail?!?! And furthermore, it seems you would disapprove of anyone other than the oppressed working classes from joining Sinn Fein...better not let some of ur middle class armchair republican voters know that.

By the way, thats an appalling pink suit that Mary Lou has on her, clearly she has abandoned all sense of personal taste as well as her D4 roots!

 
At 2:08 p.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...

"So following that argument through to its logical conclusion, only working class people can be sent to jail?!?!"

I didn't say that Rebecca, perhaps it would be better to argue about what I have said and not what you would have liked me to say?

I know you are not a Psychology graduate so save the pseudo psychosis :)

"And furthermore, it seems you would disapprove of anyone other than the oppressed working classes from joining Sinn Fein"

Also not true, we are a Socialist party and if a middle-class person joins up they must remember that.

"thats an appalling pink suit that Mary Lou has on her, clearly she has abandoned all sense of personal taste"

Do you even realise how stupid that makes you seem?

You stated she had abandoned all sense of personal taste when it is obvious she has that is heaps.

I forgot, according to Unionist etiquette all women must wear blue or grey.

Sad

 
At 3:13 p.m., Blogger Rebecca said...

"I forgot, according to Unionist etiquette all women must wear blue or grey."

whaat? and you're saying that I look stupid!! I think all women, unionists included would try to wear what suits them.

"Also not true, we are a Socialist party and if a middle-class person joins up they must remember that."

social party eh? funny, I thought you are what it suits you to be at different times, eg. the adaptable position on europe that seems to change with the weather. Are you pro Europe or not?

*by the way, as Margaret Thatcher said I'm gratified that you feel you have to attack me personally, it means you have nothing political to get me on!!

 
At 7:54 p.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...

I am not attacking you personally Rebecca.

 
At 10:47 a.m., Blogger Rebecca said...

"Do you even realise how stupid that makes you seem?"

you were as you have attacked other members of the Young Unionists personally.

No response to my other comments?

*by the way, Wolfe Tone et al are probably turning in their graves with a member of Sinn Fein using the harp of the United Irishmen.

 
At 11:23 a.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...

"you were as you have attacked other members of the Young Unionists personally."

Your comment in question did make you sound stupid, I am not saying you are stupid.

Rebecca, let's get some perspective in relation to your YU comrades.

They refer to my blog as Republican pond life and in the post in question I was attacked personally through out it.

"the adaptable position on europe that seems to change with the weather. Are you pro Europe or not?"

We are not anti-europe in the way the British are. We wish to see a Europe that looks after those less well off, not the present system.

We oppose any European superstate.

"*by the way, Wolfe Tone et al are probably turning in their graves with a member of Sinn Fein using the harp of the United Irishmen"

Why, that is what my Republicanism is all about

 
At 12:45 p.m., Blogger Rebecca said...

"We are not anti-europe in the way the British are. We wish to see a Europe that looks after those less well off, not the present system."

There is a diverse range of opinion on the european issue in the UK. Simply referring to one position that you reckon all Britons hold is a bit simplistic.

"Why, that is what my Republicanism is all about"

I thought you might respond like that. Sinn Fein could not be further from the United Irishmen. The United Irishmen were the only non sectarian republican movement in the history of Ireland. It was a partnership between presbyterians, roman catholics and even the hated anglicans. Lets not forget that Wolfe Tone himself came from an Anglican family.

What resemblence do that have to Sinn Fein, a party made up of members of the IRA who waged a sectarian war against the protestant population of Northern Ireland. Yes, there was the whole definition of 'legitimate targets' but in reality the killing was indiscriminate. Hence Tone et al would be turning in their graves at the idea of such an organsation claiming to be their political descendents.

 
At 6:47 p.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...

"Sinn Fein could not be further from the United Irishmen"

I agree, we are a socialist republican party. The United Irishmen were not Socialist Republicans but they did want a free 32 county republic which was pluralist which is what we also want.

"It was a partnership between presbyterians, roman catholics and even the hated anglicans. Lets not forget that Wolfe Tone himself came from an Anglican family."

Rebecca, I do not need a history lesson on the United Irishmen.

"a party made up of members of the IRA who waged a sectarian war against the protestant population of Northern Ireland"

Total crap!

I am a member of Sinn Féin and I have never been in the IRA. Not one serious academic or political commentator or even the British agree with your analysis of the last 30 years of conflict.

"claiming to be their political descendents"

I have never claimed to be such however I have family members who were also United Irishmen. I use the symbol because it symbolises one half of my republican philosphy.

No matter what you may think of me Rebecca, I am not sectarian!

 
At 7:04 p.m., Anonymous Rebecca said...

It is not total crap that there are former/current (opinions vary on that one) members of the IRA in Sinn Fein. I don't see how you can deny it, you were talking proudly the other day about how your MP was a former prisoner, ie a former/current IRA man. I'm not accusing you of being in the IRA, I do realise that not every member of Sinn Fein is in the IRA but former IRA men make up a huge chunk and most powerful chunk of Sinn Fein. The current leadership of the party is dominated by it.

And if you are attempting to claim the United Irishmen as your own then I am afraid you do need a history lesson.

 
At 3:59 p.m., Blogger El Matador said...

Come on Chris- that pink outfit does look ridiculous! It's one thing bringing in younger people to front the party, but they could at least get them to dress their age- not like a septogenerian at a wedding ;)

Barbie looks like she's about to be at the receiving end of a firing squad in that photo.

They do look a bit like they're modelling the Oxfam Autumn Collection :P

 

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