Thursday, May 31, 2007

Queer goings on with a folk on the hill

For once I am almost inclined to agree with DUP supporters and members of the Free Presbyterian Church - just why are the media getting so worked up about the statement made by Ian Paisley Jr (pictured left) that he finds gay people repulsive? Homophobia is quite acceptable in the DUP; being gay or possibly even confused about your sexuality is enough for you to be expelled by the leadership (go to Wikipedia and type in ‘Paul Berry‘ for more information).

Neither is this the first time that the dour, uncharismatic son of the Rev. Ian R. K. Paisley has generated controversy over gay issues. In 2005 he was censured by the Northern Ireland Policing Board for obscene comments he made about Stephen King, an openly gay senior Ulster Unionist Party official and advisor to David Trimble. This time it is a wee bit different. This time Junior is (appropriately) a Junior Minister at Stormont and therefore carries some real responsibility as opposed to previously being just another one of Northern Ireland‘s impressively large band of democratically elected wasters. Just in case you haven’t heard about Paisley the younger’s little rant to a Dublin-based music magazine here’s how the RTE website reported it:

“In a interview with Hot Press magazine he is quoted as saying 'I am, unsurprisingly, a straight person and I am repulsed by gays and lesbians'.
He also said that 'those people harm themselves and - without caring about it - harm society'. He further explained 'that doesn't mean to say that I hate them. I hate what they do'.

Ah, I see now. It’s not that you actually ‘hate’ gay people, you just hate the things that they get up to in the bedroom with their bums - sort of like the way in which the British National Party say they aren’t racist because they don’t ‘hate’ people of a different race, they just believe they should get to hell out of Britain.

This is all very tragic as well as highly embarrassing for people living in Northern Ireland. At least when the BNP make ridiculously racist comments people in Britain can pass them off for what they are - the mindless rants of a small, unrepresentative lunatic fringe. The DUP are not a lunatic fringe. They are the largest party in Northern Ireland and the fourth largest party in Westminster. They have pull in around 25% of the vote in the province and can claim to represent the views of the majority of unionists living here. Which actually leads me on to a very intriguing question.

Is it just me or do I rarely meet a unionist/Protestant who fit’s the standard DUP image? The majority of Protestant people I know do not possess an obsessive hatred of gay people. The majority of Protestant people I know do not think Paisley or his son are ‘great men’. The majority of Protestant people I know do not consider alcohol, nightclubs and dancing to be a sin. The majority of Protestants I know like going to a restaurant, out for a drink or heading shopping on a Sunday. The majority of Protestants and unionists I can say for certain are not homophobic, they are not racist, they are not sectarian. And I would say the same about Catholics too. In fact, I find each ‘community’ (for want of a better term) as tolerant or intolerant as the other is. So why is it that so many Protestants in Northern Ireland repeatedly cast their vote for a party whose ranks are filled with individuals who are members of what is in truth quite a small, ultra right Calvinist sect?

David Trimble did speak in the past about the malign influence of the Free Presbyterian Church within the DUP but generally this is something unionists do not discuss. It’s about time they did. It is my belief that there is a silent majority of Protestants out there who are too lethargic or too comfortable to rid themselves of their reactionary leaders. Come election time the unionist people of Ulster are always faced with two choices: soft unionism or hard unionism. These days, faced with the rising Sinn Fein vote, they hit the panic button and vote for hard unionism. This form of unionism may help to adequately represent their views on the national question, but that is about it. It’s time for this majority to speak up.

As I mentioned earlier, the attitudes of both Catholics and Protestants on the ground here to homosexuality is pretty similar, though it seems to be the latter who are almost exclusively associated with homophobic views. It is true that Sinn Fein and the SDLP both officially have policies which promise to promote the rights of gay and lesbian people (and SDLP Youth did turn up at last year’s Pride Festival in Belfast unlike Ogra Shinn Fein - perhaps a young Shinner can let us know if this part of the ‘equality agenda’ isn’t one worth honouring). However, at grassroots level there is no greater acceptance of gay people amongst the green section of the population than there is with the orange one. The Catholic maintained schools sector is far from enthusiastic when it comes to teaching kids about diversity. From my own experience, I can tell you that I was not taught once about what it meant to be gay. Similarly the largest sporting organisation on the island, the Gaelic Athletic Association, does not appear to have one openly gay player - something which gay rights activists have picked up on in recent times. And as for the Catholic Church itself, don’t even get me started on its teaching on the issue.

Clearly this goes way beyond comments made by Ian Paisley Jr in 'Hot Press'. There is a long term battle to be fought on the issue of gay rights here in the north. While we are starting from a position of a much lower level of tolerance than other parts of Europe it is still one that I am confident we will win. In the short term the best answer that we progressives can give the unreconstructed fascists is to make this year’s Belfast Pride Festival and parade - on August 4th, take note - the biggest in the city’s history.

And remember: if God really did exist do you honestly think Ian Paisley Jr would be a true representation of masculinity as our Lord meant it to be? Of course not. Sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who will be Deputy Dog?

What did you make of tonight’s ‘Newsnight’ debate on BBC 2 between the six candidates currently campaigning for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party? Personally I thought the whole debate, if it was indeed worthy of that title, was quite stale and never really got going. Even so I’ve decided to cast my vote. Like my football predictions you can virtually be guaranteed that the result will end up looking nothing like this:

1. Jon Cruddas

2. Peter Hain

3. Harriet Harman

4. Alan Johnson

5. Hilary Benn

6. Hazel Blears

I liked Cruddas. He appeared to be a genuine person, enthusiastic and crucially emphasised the rebuilding of the Labour Party as a grassroots organisation, something which Tony Blair has contributed to damaging so much with his emphasis on slick PR machinery and media manipulation in place of activism. I was also pleasantly surprised by Peter Hain’s performance, though I do worry that his references to his involvement in the anti-apartheid movement and the Anti Nazi League are desperate attempts to inject some kind of radicalism into his campaign. Harman and Johnson were hard to separate for third and fourth. In the end I give third preference to Harriet as, well, she is a woman. As she keeps telling us. Finally, Hilary Benn and Hazel Blears. I sincerely hope that neither of these two win the Deputy Leadership race. Blears came last in my opinion for a run-of-the-mill clone like performance. Oh, and apparently she is 4'10" tall. Far too small for Deputy Leader.

So, Hazel Blears will probably end up winning then.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where now for Labour?

There is a corner of the RTE Election 2007 website containing a picture of Pat Rabbitte. The caption underneath reads 'standstill election for Labour'. 'Standstill'? Hang on a moment, haven't we been here before? Well, yes of course we have. For about 85 years in fact, if you ignore the small details of the 33 seats won in 1992 and a couple of slip ups in the thirties. Just as there has been talk in recent days of Sinn Fein having hit their 'ceiling' one could also speculate that the Labour Party hit their ceiling a long time ago and can only at best ever hope to play second fiddle in a Fianna Fail or, more probably, Fine Gael led administration. Which is pretty depressing when you think about? Imagine this situation in any other European country. For instance, imagine in Britain a situation where Gordon Brown could at best only hope to be Deputy Prime Minister in a government led by David Cameron or Menzies Campbell. You couldn't imagine it.

So as the dust settles on the 2007 General Election it's time for the left to start a thorough re-examination of where it stands, and at the moment it unfortunately stands in the same place as it stood in 2002 and 1997. The past decade has seen some false dawns. The most notable came in 1998 with the fusion of Labour and Democratic Left. At the time there was a lot of optimism on the left. Ruairi Quinn went as far as to predict that Labour could take 40 seats when the next election came round, a figure that would have most likely made them the second largest party in the state. In the end they achieved half of that target and stayed in their seemingly perpetual position of third place. When the reassessment begins at Ely Place (tomorrow I believe) and in branches across the country two simple questions should be posed. The first: why? Why is the centre left so bogged down in this 20 seat rut? The second question: what can be done to change this? The questions will no doubt be the easy part.

A point that seems to be getting raised quite a bit is one which states that people in the Republic are happy, don't want change and hence the 78 Fianna Fail TDs returned to Dail Eireann. This does have some merit attached to it but it has been over emphasised in recent days. While things certainly are much better than they were in the dark days of the 1980s the Republic is still far from the fairytale fiefdom of wine bars and coffee shops that some people like to imagine. Health - that old chestnut - was perhaps the biggest topic of the election campaign. It remains the one area where seemingly everyone south of the border seems to be united in displeasure. One of the most revealing statistics came in the leaders' debate on RTE when it was stated that a cystic fibrosis sufferer in Northern Ireland can on average expect to live more than ten years longer than those suffering from the disease in the Republic. No other country in the EU would permit a government to oversee a period of uninterrupted economic boom coupled with such a poor health service.

But where was the discontented voter meant to channel their disgruntlement? In theory, the alternative coalition should have been the avenue by which they would eject the cowboys of Fianna Fail and their PD hangers on. Unfortunately the alternative coalition was not presenting much of an alternative. This was glaringly obvious to anyone watching the leaders' debate between Bertie and Enda. After ten years and more than a fair share of balls ups along the way Kenny seemed unable at the crucial moment to pin down the FF leader in front of a national primetime audience (well, if you don't count the people who watched the ‘Sopranos‘). A poll in 'The Irish Times' a few days later pointed found that most voters felt Ahern had triumphed in the live TV battle. Even Comrade Pat - who has been an articulate opponent of the government over the past few years - seemed unable to say what exactly he would do differently if the reigns of power were transferred to the Mullingar Accord parties. At times all Rabbitte could come out with was McDowell-style personal attacks such as 'do you want another five years of Dick Roche'. Well, of course people didn't, but they may have wanted to know what would happen with five years of Pat Rabbitte.

Another reason why Labour seems to be stuck in a rut is the party's lack of a killer instinct. Following the 2002 election Labour were only eleven seats short of Fine Gael. While they certainly weren't exactly riding on the crest of a wave they were in a much better state than FG who were on the ropes at that point. It is worth considering whether the party should have focused their following five years on driving the stake through the heart of the wounded Blueshirt beast once and for all and then taken over as the main opposition party to Fianna Fail in the Dail. This isn't all high falutin talk I should add. Pat Rabbitte made a mention of the benefits of Labour being the main opposition party in a recent interview with 'Hot Press', though this was when asked about the unlikely event of a FF-FG coalition. Any post 2002 plans of targeting Fine Gael may not have subsequently gone to plan but surely it was worth a try? It is my belief that Labour must at some point confront this. If it refuses to take the bull by the horns then all the centre left can ever dream of is seeing the leader of the Labour Party become Tánaiste.

On the other hand if Labour were the main opposition party then that could lay the foundations for a future left-led government - one of the goals laid out by Ruairi Quinn and Proinsias De Rossa at the time of the merger between the party and DL in the winter of 1998. But before we get carried away with notions of left led governments however we should at least consider how refreshing and reinvigorating it would be to see a left wing party in opposition to a right wing government as opposed to the near 90 year trend of having a right wing party in opposition to a right wing government?

So what should Labour do in the short and long term to move things forward? This one really demands a separate entry so I‘ll merely kickstart the debate. If anyone has a view of their own they’d like to throw in please do. Here's a few thoughts of my own.

First of all, don't do a deal with Fianna Fail. Fintan O'Toole may think it’s a grand idea but I don‘t. A deal with Fianna Fail at this point would seriously damage both the leader's integrity and the credibility of the party as a whole. Secondly, don't sack Pat. The reaction of Brendan Howlin to all of this will be most interesting. Had it not been for the party’s absorption of former Stickies like McManus and De Rossa in the late nineties the Wexford TD would probably be the party leader today. He would also have taken them down a different path for this election. Howlin was an staunch opponent of the pact with Enda Kenny’s party, although while he disagreed with it he was not guided by any feelings of sour grapes and did abide by the decision made by the Labour Party conference (which it should be remembered backed the Mullingar Accord by around 80%). At the moment Pat says he is staying, there does not seem to be any calls for a change of leadership among the grassroots and there are no signs of a coup being planned in Wexford.

Thirdly, no more pre election pacts for the foreseeable future. I appreciate the point that the party has done no worse as a result of the recent accord but not getting tied into an agreement for the next election would give the party much greater room for manoeuvre in the wake of the results five years or so down the line.

Fourth, and finally, don't be afraid to be radical. Too many punches have been pulled since the Mullingar Accord. Sean Lemass once said that the Labour Party was the most respectable party in the state because it was frightened of appearing even "pale pink" to the electorate. This does still apply to an extent. I recall reading a Vincent Browne interview with Pat Rabbitte in ‘Village’ a couple of years back when the Labour leader appeared hesitant to use the very word ‘socialist’ to describe his party. If the leader of the Labour Party finds it difficult even to say the word socialist in a magazine interview three years from an election then you really do have to wonder what the point of the Labour Party is.

Some say that left politics is irrelevant in today’s Ireland. I disagree. The left vote may not have increased this time around but neither did it collapse. Compare that to the near wipeout experienced by the ultra capitalist Progressive Democrats and suddenly things don‘t look too bad. The next move for Labour on this side of the Irish Sea then is clearly not a Clause 4 style one. No such ideological move is required, certainly not one to the right (at least I bloody well hope not). Strategy and organisation should be the main issues on the agenda when the National Executive Committee meets on Thursday.

Perhaps now is the time to think big. Support for the party has been stagnate in recent years because the party itself is stagnate. In the coming years Labour needs to be more radical, more passionate and more independent. What precise change is needed is still not clear. Time will tell. Pat Rabbitte said a few years back that his purpose was to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”. Say what you want but if you ask me it was a damn sight better than that “are you happy” malarkey.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Bertie Ahern has a mischievous grin on the front of this morning's edition of 'The Irish Times'. It's hard not to allow him his moment of glory.

Over the past few months various polls have predicted that Fianna Fail was in disarray. There were endless predictions of political meltdown for The Republican Party, musings of a late spring electoral apocalypse for Ireland's largest political organisation. The polls were not looking good if you were an FF-er. Basically, you faced one of two scenarios: either you were going to lose the election to the coalition of Fine Gael and the Labour Party or else - and possibly just as bad from Fianna Fail's point of view - you were going to have to scrape together enough support to form a new government, possibly even one involving an unholy alliance with the rivals for the republican mantle Sinn Fein. 'Village' magazine reckoned that Fianna Fail would probably end with a total number of seats somewhere in the sixties. Last week's 'Sunday Tribune' gave a (slightly tongue in cheek) stage-by-stage prediction of just how disastrous a weekend this could be for the party, the final stage being the resignation of Ahern as party leader. It was going to be tight, but either way the government were in for a hammering. Weren't they?

Not even the most optimistic member of an FF cumann could have dreamed of what has happened over the past 24 hours. Now, I don't like opinion polls. However, they are part of the game these days and in recent times they have proved to be accurate more often than not. After the Republic's General Election there will no doubt be a lot of pollsters on the dole queue by the time the new Dail convenes in a few weeks.

Fianna Fail look set to return to power with an impressively strong vote. They are likely to lose only three or four of the seats they won in 2002 and will probably end up with even more seats than they had when they came to power way back in 1997. They will fall short of an outright majority and with the Progressive Democrats who have, I am pleased to say, been left with only one seat.

Even by the standards of the Teflon Taoiseach this was one of the great escapes. But it wasn't an escape like John Major's escape in the 1992 British General Election. In that election the Tories just about scraped through. Not so with Bertie. Fianna Fail, while not a majority, is still the largest party by a very long way. As I write the party is almost thirty seats clear of the opposition and has nine more seats than the Mullingar Accord grouping.

It's hard to know just how the popularity of this government has held up despite the scandals and notorious balls up they've made over the course of the past decade. Let's face it, for all of New Labours slick PR work they would kill to have retained the sort of support that FF have. Blair's popularity started to decline the minute he walked into Number 10. Ahern's actually increased between 1997 and 2002 and, now, has dropped back to a 1997 level again. It is remarkable. I'm not even going to begin to speculate in any kind of depth the reasons for why it is so remarkable. Despite what some people say, people north and south of the border here are still unique in having strong party loyalties. Family roots and a tendency to remember minute historical details for centuries means that the two civil war parties are - barring upheavals of a biblical magnitude - are almost certain to be the two largest parties for many years to come. This guaranteed layer of support is not enough to explain the success of the current administration.

Perhaps the success is all down to what some would call the 'Bertie factor'. Perhaps people don't feel all that far removed from this little unsophisticated man from the northside. Take Michael McDowell for instance. He was a political animal. Intelligent, articulate, refined. Had he been born in Britain or the US he would have excelled in politics just as he has here. But he wasn't. He was born in Dublin and Tom Parlon - a fellow Progressive Democrat TD who lost his seat in Laois/Offaly - tells us in 'The Irish Times' today of the euphoria in the pub he was having a consolation pint in when it was announced McDowell had lost his seat in Dublin South-East. Bertie? Ah, sure Bertie is that loveable Dub. He's into the GAA, drinks Bass and supports Manchester United. He's one of 'us'. Sure, so what if his finances are bit suspect? To be fair, he does seem to be a nice enough chap. I have seen him at football matches in Dublin and he does appear to be a genuine fan, unlike Mr Blair and his 'memories' of Jackie Milburn. I have heard other people telling me stories about how they walked in Fagan's bar in Drumcondra to see the Prime Minister enjoying a pint after a hard day governing the country. Laugh if you may, but sadly a lot of people would rather cast their vote for a politician on the basis of just how down-to-earth he or she is as opposed to what their actual politics are.

And then there is the economy. While public services in the south could be much better than they are, economically it is hard to find fault with the government. Even in the leader's debate I did feel sorry for Enda Kenny when it came to the subject of the economy - he had nothing to say. Kenny could not point out one single thing that Fine Gael could do better, instead opting for the worn out mantra that the Celtic Tiger was not the baby of Fianna Fail but actually the construct of the old 1994 to 1997 Rainbow Coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left.

But overall Bertie is all things to all men and nothing with regards to everything. He stands for nothing. He does call himself a 'socialist' and has criticised 'right wing economists' in the past, but he has no problem cuddling up with the captains of industry either. And that is what we opponents of the current administration are facing. It'll be good to see the back of him!

Moving on from the Soldiers of Destiny, it would a mistake not to mention Sinn Fein. The Shinner's vote has been rising now ever since the 1994 Provisional IRA ceasefire. This weekend they finally got what is probably their first taste of harsh political reality since Gerry Adams lost his Belfast West seat to the SDLP's Joe Hendron back in 1992. Their overall vote did increase slightly, but they have lost seats won in 2002 and missed out on numerous target gains. Most surprisingly of all, the photogenic bright young hope Mary Lou McDonald failed to win her seat in Dublin Central. It appears the ceiling has finally been hit - with a bang. It will be interesting and a test of their political maturity to see how they recover from this setback.

Spare a thought too for the Trots. Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party will be something of a loss to the next Dail and Clare Daly's performance was quite disappointing. Richard Boyd Barrett put in a good performance in Dun Laoghaire for the SWP-in-disguise-party that is the People Before Profit Alliance. The 30th Dail will be a Trot-free zone.

Finally, you are probably wondering why I have not mentioned the Labour Party. Well, since these are my own comrades I'm not going to jump to any conclusions except to say that the result is disappointing. A full post-election entry on Labour will follow.

For now it's time to remain calm, count to ten and say 'congratulations Bertie'.

Back to the drawing board. See you in 2012.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Damn. I knew this would happen.

Not the good news I was hoping for in the south's General Election:

Exit polls suggest that Fianna Fail support is at roughly the same level as it was at back in 2002, which is bad news if, like me, you were hoping to see Fine Gael and the Labour Party take power in the Republic. On the plus side - and making things very interesting indeed - is the likelihood that Bertie Ahern's lads (and a few girls, but not many mind you) will not gain an outright majority in the 30th Dail. Add to this the fact that their current coalition partners, the Progressive Democrats, are in big trouble if the polls are anything to go by. I very much doubt that any sympathy will be expressed for McDowell, Harney and O'Donnell who have displayed most clearly the 'heartless bastard' side of the Celtic Tiger.

Sinn Fein seems to have had a bit of a disappointing election. Exit polls give the Provisionals 7.3% of the vote; a rise in support but not the massive breakthrough that Gerry Adams would have hoped for. The Greens are up 1% to 4.8%, proving once again that they are not some novelty surge party. A place in government perhaps? Too early to say at this stage.

And the usually motley crew of independents and smaller parties will be present. The RTE poll currently has them on 7.5%. As much as I disagree with the politics of the Socialist Party I really do hope, if only for the entertainment value, that Joe Higgins does not lose his seat in Dublin West, as has been speculated.

Whatever happens, its going to be an interesting weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Re. My recent absence

I really should be ashamed of myself. I've been a naughty blogger. It's been over two weeks since my last post, but my excuse is a good one - I have no internet connection, surely an important factor in any bloggers life. As sad and pathetic as it sounds, I never realised I would be so helpless without the old web. I tried going down to the local library but I just didn't have the time to wait around while the kids did their stuff on Bebo (whatever that is). But not to worry. A friendly engineer has finally promised to come round on Friday to get me up and running again. A glut of posts will surely follow!

Monday, May 07, 2007

What would Connolly have said?

You really do feel for Pat Rabbitte sometimes, don't you? If he's not getting attacked from the right for having too many policy differences and being too left wing to share power with the Blueshirts then he is getting lambasted from the left for supposedly selling out the kind of ideals represented by the men and women of the 1913 lockout. How many times poor old Pat must have been asked what Connolly or Larkin or any other deceased left leaning figure would have made of him and his modern day Labour Party over the past few years. I've always thought it a poor form of argument to use the politics of the dead to try and persuade or blackmail those people living in the present. So, at least until May 25th, leave Pat alone. Right. Moving on.

I'm sure most of you have by now seen the clever piece of video flying about the web which shows Bertie Ahern on BBC 2's reality entrepreneur show (who would ever have guessed capitalism could be sold off as entertainment?) 'Dragon's Den'. Well, now the same guy that brought us that gem has given us Enda Kenny - introduced by the delectable Lucinda Creighton though I'd prefer Olwyn Enright myself if you're asking - on Officially The Most Evil Teleivision Programme In History, 'American Idol'. What next? Pat himself on 'Celebrity Love Island'? Maybe Gerry Adams on 'Celebrity Jigs 'n' Reels'? Or perhaps George Galloway on 'Celebrity Big Brother'. Wouldn't that be hilarious? Oh, hang on, that actually happened. Enjoy people. It's enough to put you off coalition for good:

N.B. I have noticed in recent weeks I have been using a lot of videos from YouTube in my postings here. I do plan to reduce my usage of this in the coming months so as to avoid any 'dumbing down' allegations! But you have to admit, the Enda clip is great...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy May Day

I hope you all have a happy May Day, although taking into account it is Tuesday today and most of the parades and other festivities won't be taking place until the weekend I am assuming the vast bulk of the workers of the world (or at least those in this part of the world anyhow) won't be supping on their pints until the week is finally over.

On a slightly more serious note I was trying to think of a good link to accompany my May Day post. And my link? Well, how appropriate that it should be LiNK themselves. LiNK stands for Liberty in North Korea, in case you are wondering. Now a lot has been written about the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Some people are fascinated by this oddball Stalinist dictatorship that seems to be trapped in some bizarre Cold War timewarp. Others are amused by its eccentric autocrat Kim Jong-il, a man who has - among other things - banned the population of the country from having the same hairstyle as him (citizens are advised to obtain a 'socialist haircut'). The Dear Leader was portrayed in 'South Park' creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's 2004 film 'Team America: World Police'. Some people even take their enthralment with the northern part of the Korean peninsula to a whole new level and refer to themselves as 'Pyongyangologists'.

North Korea is, however, far from funny. It is quite possibly the most frightening place on earth. No trade unions. No free media. No legal political parties other than the Workers Party of Korea. Public executions. No internet. Telephones apparently only allowed to be used by trusted Party members. Citizens are not allowed to leave the country. Foreigners who can obtain permission to get in are followed from their arrival until they leave by a 'guide'. Food shortages. Oil shortages. Electricity shortages. If we are to remember the workers of any country this May Day it is the workers of North Korea that surely deserve our solidarity the most.

LiNK is a voluntary, non-profit, non-partisan, non-ethnic and non-religious group which aims to educate people about North Korea. They also perform some remarkable work through their Safe Haven group by helping to find shelter for the thousands of orphans abandoned in China. You can find out more about LiNK by taking a trip to their website which provides comprehensive information on the DPRK and their work. Follow the link below more details:

Finally, even in this global age very little is known about life inside North Korea. This makes this following piece of film - split into two parts - as amazing as it is terrifying. Somehow someone managed to get into North Korea, shoot the following footage and smuggle it back out again. What follows is tragic, but what it also clearly shows is that North Koreans, despite the 24 hour propaganda that has cut them off from the outside world for over six decades, have not been completely brainwashed. There is some form of dissident underground movement inside the country. We can only hope that it is a large one: