14 May 2009 Edition
THE JULIA CARNEY COLUMN
Jim Allister: He’s behind you!
“I FIGHT this poll on the basis of 24/7 opposition to republicanism.” Have we ever heard more terrifying words or faced a more fearsome foe than Jim Allister? For it was he who in making this ringing declaration of determined intent at his campaign launch last week struck this writer with a feeling of sick dread from which I have yet to recover. I lie in bed, feebly plucking at the sheets and wondering who will save us.
How can we beat a man who opposes us 24/7? For if Jim opposes us every second there can be only one explanation. Jim Allister does not need sleep.
Think on it. Don’t be so swift to shake your head, roll your eyes and turn to the sports page. Let me ask you one question dearest comrade: have you ever seen Jim Allister sleep?
And neither have I.
My flatmate, poked into wakefulness, also admits she’s never seen Jim Allister asleep. Ignore the fact that Roisín has no interest in politics and she’s not altogether sure who I’m talking about, that’s still a 100 per cent result in a survey at least as scientific as those done by the Sunday Independent.
Poor Brian Tumilty, our Director of Elections. How do you get up in the mornings? To know that even as you put in 10-, 12-, 15-hour days working on the campaign when you, your body and mind cracking under the strain are forced to sleep, Jim Allister just keeps on going. Do you weep, Brian? I would. Tears of bitter helplessness.
JIM Allister’s like a Duracell bunny. They have the same odd unblinking look in their eyes, the same robotic way of moving and, like the Duracell bunny, Allister is covered in a layer of pink fur, invisible under the lights of a television studio, as it happens.
And like the Duracell bunny, Allister is unstoppable. When other candidates are in bed, when the men and women who have led the republican struggle through the last 40 years have laid down their weary burdens for the night, Jim Allister is out there... opposing things.
He stalks the streets of the Six Counties, moving slowly but unhurriedly through the crowd. Why hurry? He’s Jim Allister. He knows time is on his side. He knows his enemies must one day sleep. Young republicans, out about their wholesome childhood games, know to come in before it’s too late, before Jim Allister appears and... opposes you.
Many’s the republican activist in the heart of the Falls or tucked up in his cottage in Camlough who has told me of being awoken in the dead of night by a sound outside. Perhaps it’s a cat, our quaking Chuck whispers to himself, but when he creeps to the window and peers fearfully around the curtain there is Jim Allister, on the road outside, putting up Traditional Unionist Voice posters. And despite the fact that our hero makes no sound, that he is fifty yards away behind thick glass, somehow Jim knows he’s being watched and turns around. His eyes glow, they tell me, with the fearsomeness of his opposition.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, he’s opposing you. At Christmas and on St Patrick’s Day. On Easter Sunday and All-Ireland day. While you’re reading this and while you’re down the pub or getting your hair done, Jim Allister’s opposing you. Yes, you, personally. He’s opposed to you and everything you stand for and believe in and you’d better believe it, comrade, he’s coming for you.
In fact, he’s behind you right now.
IN George Orwell’s 1984 he writes of the ‘Two Minute Hate’, when people were forced to watch a propaganda film, full of subliminal cues designed to whip the audience into a frenzy of violent hatred for Big Brother’s opponents. By the finish of it, no matter how frightened or apathetic they’d been at the start, they end up blind to anything but hatred for the enemies of their masters.
Allister’s just like the film, showing 24/7 – obviously – whipping up hate for nationalists and republicans in the hope that his voters will ignore rising unemployment, that their leaders back an education system that fails the Protestant working-class and don’t believe in climate change. Just hate nationalists, rile up the unionist base with your 24/7 hate, something even Orwell couldn’t have imagined, and you’ll be grand.
But there’s nothing special about Jim Allister. He’s a jumped-up little hate-mongering thug who would have been right at home in Mussolini’s Italy or Hitler’s Germany or apartheid South Africa. And here’s another thing he has in common with those three political systems: he’s doomed to failure.
Still, I genuinely have never seen him sleep.