Public vs Private or “Why do our political parties lack conviction?”

When the Mad Pastor (“Can I have an A – men! “) went on his bile – fuelled rant, most of us shook our heads or laughed incredulously. (Laughs are a social evolution of a fear – aggression response. We laugh because of our discomfort.)

It wasn’t until our First Minister gave a screeching car – crash of an interview where he condoned the hate – speech that most of us stopped laughing. This leader was saying that he wouldn’t trust Muslim members of our community on matters of conscience but would be happy for them to adopt servile positions in society – perhaps running errands or serving him in a shop.

To fix this, the First Minister did two things.

  1. Firstly he gave further testimony that what he actually said, what we heard him say with his own voice had actually been misinterpreted. That our ears were to blame. This was corroborated by the BBC who later claimed the FM was “reported to have said” as opposed to “he said”. You’re a fool if you don’t think there was political pressure there.
  2. A machine of reparations began – initially with a politically correct lie in a carefully crafted statement that few will have read to the end, so laced with two faced snake oil it was. This was followed up with a private apology to representatives of the Islamic faith in Northern Ireland.

The problem with this is the respective  sizes of the audience.

The initial statements,  highlighting the true (and bigoted) positions of the pastor and First Minister have been seen round the world now. To outsiders they are a terrible embarrassment but to people within their coven, they are heroes and that hate speech will justify untold hate crime in the future. In effect, they just told some assholes that it’s okay to be assholes.

The explanation came in the form of text, not audio or video. The audience for this is much smaller. I can guarantee few of the assholes will read it.

The apology was private. We don’t get to see it and neither will the assholes so it doesn’t matter how contrite it was, the people who really needed to hear it are those who will use all if this to justify hate crime.

So what does civic society do?

We normalise it. Our position seems to be that we already know our First Minister is a bigot so there’s no surprise that he says bigoted things. We’ve been told that hate speech is free speech. And we believe them.

And the Stormont Executive, cushy in their inability to do anything effective, will do nothing but bluster and forget. In any other part of the UK, there would be outrage and the First Minister would be ousted as the parties would rally to collapse the Executive if action was not taken. But again they will do nothing.  And you should be ashamed of yourself. Have their been any motions for the First Minister to step down and be replaced by any one of his equally bigoted compatriots?  No. But even an ineffective punishment is preferable to  acceptance.

Is this really the shape of Northern Ireland?  Where parties will parade their ministerial bribes ahead of courage, conviction and commitment? How are we to progress when a five parties coalition comprising of over 80% of out elected representatives have endorsed hate speech through inaction?

Not one MLA from the Executive has even threatened to resign over this. Not one party has taken a stand. Not one of them has shown they follow the Nolan principles of public service.

I have NO CONFIDENCE in our government.

It’s just a step to the right

It looks like UKIP have done well in both the local and European elections and many of my friends and colleagues are disturbed at what this means. It seems that people can’t see beyond the cheap promises but that’s because they’re used to politicians lying to them. The UKIP lies are just sounding better.

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The problem is that this isn’t the first time that a charismatic leader has risen to prominence on false promises and blaming others for the misfortunes of the day. In the 1930s it was a young Austrian artist in Germany and here in Northern Ireland it was a young fire and brimstone preacher in the 70s.

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Reports seem to indicate that there has been a swing to the right across Europe. That will please the UKIP leader: Europe agrees with you and they’d like you to take back your ex-pats and travelling bums.

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I would contend that these swings are not only predictable as they occur after a period of socioeconomic  upheaval but they are also necessary. They’re needed so Europeans can be reminded “Oh yes, these people are quite horrid, can we go back to liking each other again.”

We see these cycles in Europe,  in the US and just about everywhere except here in Northern Ireland where a weird stalemate between two equally distasteful factions has arisen. Perhaps fortunately the DUP make UKIP look positively progressive.

The danger is that we have one year for this to be proven for Westminster.

A Thank You To Everyone

Dear everyone,

Not long until the polls close and the most hectic year of my life.

One year ago I was at Buckingham Palace, was taking Digital Circle to be an independent entity and helped launch NI21 at the MAC.

I now have another invite to the Palace, I’ve started my new games dev company and I’ve been campaigning as a local council candidate for North Down and Ards under the NI21 banner.

I have loads of people to thank for all of this. I’d like to thank my family for being a rock for me. I’d like to thank Joan for helping me get my nominations. If you ever need an election agent, Joan gets stuff done.

I’d also like to thank Bob, Ian, Maggs, Arthur, Ruth, Rosemary, Michael, Ronnie, Dary, Caroline and William for supporting me as I strive to make Northern Ireland better.
I’d also like to thank my local ni21 team in North Down and Ards: Mike, George, Nichola, Jayne, William, Steven, David, PJ, Justin and Peter.

Special thanks also to Tony McMahon and Ryan Cairns for support.

Last but not least – thank you to the voters who turned out in as – yet – unknown quantities to give me a chance.
Here’s to a future for our kids and grandkids.

Make Way, Make Way, Tomorrow’s Coming Today

Make way, make way
Tomorrow’s heading our way
Make way, make way
Tomorrow’s coming today

Oh, a bright new morning is dawning
Make way for tomorrow today
Yes a new tomorrow’s a morning
To light up a great new day

Oh the future’s brimming with promise
And the promise is heading our way
So keep your eyes on that shining horizon
Make way for tomorrow today

Daring new devices will help us to succeed
Better tools for living will meet our every need
Incredible inventions through new technology
Extending life’s dimensions for all humanity

Modern marvels rising around us
Bring progress in dazzling display
So keep your eyes on that shining horizon
Make way for tomorrow today

Make way for tomorrow today!

On Designation, Timing and Storms in Tea Cups.

Last night the Executive Team of NI21 met (as they do regularly) and a motion of designation was brought up. The team voted and a majority wished the party to switch designation from the divisive “Unionist” to a less sectarian “Other”.

From my point of view, this doesn’t change a thing. I’m unashamedly pro-Union. I think that the United Kingdom is the best option for everyone in Northern Ireland. I think the position is a better declaration of where we stand – the constitutional question is enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement and there are procedures for that. Nothing we do or say can hasten or harm that process.

Everyone in the party, including the Deputy Leader, has been forward in saying that designation is at best an excuse for tackling real issues and at worst a sectarian and divisive artifice. Why there’s such a storm in a teacup about this, I don’t know.

If designation is so important, why was this not raised at the very start of the party when the collected brains got together and debated whether to designate one way, or another. All three options were debated including a Nationalist designation representing Northern Ireland. Unionist was selected because John and Basil who were the only people in the party with any sort of mandate (and that remains true today) were elected on a Unionist ticket. They had the chance to change at the formation of the new party and they chose, with the agreement of everyone present, to remain unionist. But in truth it could have been easily argued either way. The party were aware that the media would whip up some sort of story whichever way they designated so in the end, no change was selected.

It was always going to be a challenge to establish something new when we have legions of journalists who whip up stories from non-issues. This is why we get nowhere as a unionist MLA will complain about the naming of a play park and a republican MLA will complain about the naming of a hospital. This is where designation and indeed tribal politics has led us. We have politicians who are more interested in tribal self-interest than in fixing the issues in Northern Ireland. This is why the worst poverty across Northern Ireland is in areas dominated by the major parties. If the problems of Northern Ireland could be fixed by the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP or Alliance, then they would have. Why is it that the poorest regions of Northern Ireland are dominated by the big two parties? Because it serves them to keep their communities in poverty.

From canvassing, I’ve seen that most people have no idea about designation and those who are aware of it, think that it’s a stupid idea. But it serves a purpose to help resolve our shameful past and therefore you have to make a decision. It galls me that we are forced to declare our camp but this is the fragile peace we have inherited.

Now while I may have disagreements on the timing of this announcement, the sentiment from the entire party is the same. I remain hopeful to be elected to represent the people of North Down and Ards in a new future. If this change (and a public spat between the Leader and Deputy Leader) means the people of Holywood and Clandeboye do not wish NI21 to represent them, then that is their decision. But every vote matters and I will still be voting in this coming election.

Living with integrity…

Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.
–Barbara De Angelis

NICHE Digital Fundamental course – free of charge

All attendees at NICHE are entitled to a free place on the Digital Fundamentals course at South West College.

This will offer students the chance to learn the basics of Adobe Photoshop, Unity 3D, Autodesk Maya as well as get instruction in digital photography, narrative construction and concept evolution.

The course, delivered digitally, will encompass 30 hours of tutoring and is free of charge. If you’re at NICHE, why wouldn’t you sign up for it? It’s designed for people with no prior knowledge and completion of the course is accredited at Level 3.

South West College are leading the way in the online delivery of courses and materials,

Why do so many people hate their jobs?

This is from Quora. And I’ve copied it below just in case Quora vanishes. Credit to James Altucher.

If you read it, remember what you have to do tomorrow. If, like me, you have celebrated “Labour Day” with your family today, then these words seem chilling in retrospect. Remember that you have to return to that office, even if you’re a toxic-culture entrepreneur, to maximise value for the shareholders. Few of you reading this will have the freedom to do what you want tomorrow. Fewer still would want the consequences.

Continue reading “Why do so many people hate their jobs?”