From Socialist Review, No. 173, March 1994.
Copyright © Socialist Review.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Review Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
‘Never once has this vicious anti-Catholic thug been treated with the disdain heaped on Gerry Adams’
‘Saturday night is Brookside night. Fiona and I have followed this particular soap with some degree of regularity. The script is getting a bit crass though ... one glaring prejudice remains a soft target for abuse – Christianity. The Bible believing character is portrayed as a “Jesus freak” and sexual deviant ... Television finds it impossible to portray a Christian as a normal rational human being’.
I have no doubt many Christians would agree with the above statement, thinking themselves normal, rational, and not the least bit deviant. The astounding thing about the above quote, however, is not what it says but who says it.
The author of these remarks was none other than Ian Paisley junior, son and religious and political disciple of the great man himself.
Now as it happens I’ve seen the character in Brookside who has earned young Ian’s wrath. To be perfectly frank, he seems a model of rational normality compared with the demented Northern Ireland cleric.
Indeed it would be hard to imagine any soap dreaming up a character like the good Doctor P. Only something like Monty Python or Blackadder would dare invent someone so ridiculous.
Paisley would make a great comedy character if he weren’t so dangerous. For this dreadful buffoon, with his salacious tales of ritualistic Catholic orgies, his obsessive demonisation of the pope and all things Southern Irish, has also acted as inspiration to anti-Catholic riots and to men with guns. More than once the demon doc has been rumoured to have had very close association with sectarian killers.
Close followers of Paisley were centrally involved in the Kincora boys’ home scandal, which involved one of the worst cases of systematic child abuse in these islands.
Yet never once has this vicious anti-Catholic thug been treated with the disdain and vilification that is heaped on Gerry Adams. There are no howls of anguish or outrage if Paisley chooses to visit the US. He is, after all, a constitutional politician and, no doubt, a ‘normal, rational’ Christian clergyman. Just a normal loyal Ulster patriot and a good Orangeman.
That is, an Orangeman in the old sense of the word, not to be confused of course with the new Tory style Orangeman.
I was in Australia when poor old Stephen Milligan bit the bullet (well the Outspan actually), and found it all slightly unnerving. Were Tory MPs now reading Stack on the Back and taking its advice to heart? The last time I wrote this column I had, after all, advised (quoting George Washington as my authority) that Tory MPs begin doing the honourable thing. One MP and a Westminster councillor later I am beginning to feel a terrible weight of responsibility on my shoulders.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I also went on a down under tour which may have seemed to the untrained eye as if it had been planned to follow Prince Charles around.
Now, given some of the less than friendly things Stack on the Back has had to say about Chas and his wretched family, this may seem too much of a coincidence, but it wasn’t me, honest, guv – whatever people say. The Australian incident involved a young man making a relatively harmless protest about a very serious subject: the appalling treatment of boat people by the Australian government.
Australia is a lovely country but there is a nasty racist undercurrent that runs through official Australian society. On television there is a very long advert, which I think is government sponsored, singing the praises of multiculturalism in a sort of nationalistic ‘we’re all one, we’re all Australian’ way. Meanwhile the treatment of Aborigines remains appalling, and desperate refugees are locked into internment camps.
It was their fate that led the young protester to get Charles fidgeting at his cufflinks. After a noisy protest the young man was granted bail, but only on condition that he be admitted to a mental hospital.
Funny, in the good old Cold War days didn’t our side condemn the dreaded Russians for locking political opponents in psychiatric wards?
The most amazing thing about Australia and New Zealand was not how different things are from Britain – like sitting in a Sydney park at five o’clock in the morning in the middle of February wearing only t-shirt and jeans, drinking finest Australian plonk and discussing the great political issues of the day.
No, the things that struck you were the similarities: the anger at the way the system shreds its health service, treats its minorities, throws workers on the dole. The way they make the poor pay for the crisis of the rich, the lack of guts of trade union leaders, and the drift to the right of Labour.
Just like here there is a great thirst for answers to all this madness, and for alternatives. Socialist organisations are growing, as are socialist ideas. Just think, genuine socialism and all that sun. Now that really will be Utopia.
Last updated: 10 March 2017