They call me maverick


It was put to me recently – “You are clearly not interested in power – too willing to speak your mind, party managers could not control you – who knows what you would say next.”

Mavericks, apparently, are great for the press – they widen the debate, and add colour – but you couldn’t trust them with anything important. Boris is fun, Boris is intelligent, Boris gets things done but Boris couldn’t be allowed to run the country.

Apparently, “If you want to have power, you need to be a minister – stay in a party, stay safe, don’t take positions, don’t upset the applecart, in fact don’t do anything, just hang around and wait your turn.”

Jeremy Corbyn, a man with deep convictions, a man with charisma, a man who can connect with ordinary people has just been elected Leader of the Opposition by a huge majority but the media already have their narrative – it means the utter destruction of the Labour party.

But why was the 100-1 shot able to demolish, not just beat, the establishment candidates?

Corbyn’s election suggests a huge underlying frustration felt by ordinary people towards party managers, spin doctors, media pundits and the hidden forces who appear able to control our politicians. This is not confined to the Labour party or the UK.

In the US, Donald Trump is the first Republican candidate to reach 30% in the polls. He is outspoken, outlandish and totally unsuitable to be President of the United States but that is his appeal to many people. I wouldn’t write him off.

At home in Northern Ireland the antipathy towards politics and politicians could not be clearer. Faceless bureaucrats whisper sagely behind the scenes that things would be much better without politicians. They aren’t anti democracy you understand, just being practical. The media and their pundits sit on high and pass judgement. They aren’t anti democracy either, they are just holding people to account.

We have been here before. This is dangerous ground, an angry, disillusioned and disengaged electorate will eventually vote for anybody that sticks it to the establishment. Maybe electing Mavericks to high office is the least of our worries.


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