Reply to pete…

Aw hell pete, I just decided to go and write a whole load of other stuff about the DUP. Well, you were the only one to reply to the essay(!)


I think the DUP have watched SF and adopted similar tactics. Certainly the PUP did. But to little effect, as they have few political resources.

Very interesting all the same. But – like SF – there are competing factions in the DUP. And the non-secular wing is probably in the ascendancy, given the events of the last few months. Sadly.

Nevertheless, it’s Robinson and his crew that always gave moderates the most sh*t (much, much more than the Paisleyites in the DUP).

You can depend on the religious wing of the DUP to go a certain way, but the secular/Robinson wing is a slightly harder one to fathom. Either way, they always stick by their word. Like Sinn Fein. Unlike the UUP and occasionally the SDLP…

First few times I encountered Peter Robinson were not great, because he was, frankly, completely prejudiced, and it really showed. It kind of shocked me that it was mostly the Paisleyites who were, in person, the ones you ended up almost respecting… who were honest, frequently quiet, kind and generous, and who – and this is hard to type – actually gave a sh*t. Even the ‘Old Testament’ ones. No really. The DUP has an almost left-wing social conscience sometimes.

It might sound like a contradiction, but it’s no surprise to me that the DUP has enemies that might actually sympathise with it in some ways.

But given the often hostile attitude by some of its more secular representatives, it’s frequent refusal to defuse volalile situations, the ambivalence towards loyalist violence, and a couple of other things, I’m not that surprised at all.

Robinson is perceived as a bigot. He has a lot to learn, but I think he’s slowly getting there. As Adams is doing. Plus, he doesn’t realise that his more secular wing of the DUP is probably as strong as the ‘spiritual’ wing of the party, which – with notable exceptions – consists of backwards, moronic, bigoted, sectarian, half-witted, still-living-in-the-last-century idiots with no political nous whatsoever and who depend on the patronage of Paisley and a slim weight of numbers for survival.

One of the decent ‘noteable exceptions’ would include Mervyn Storey in Ballymoney. Another would be Cllr Nichol in Ballymena. Or Stalford in Belfast. Possibly the new Lord Mayor (to beproved). But not his north Antrim colleague, Cllr Maurice Mills. Or Stirling. Please, no more Robin Stirling. There’s no talking to the man. Or listening to him. It’s getting embarrassing. Really. Even Davy Tweed stood for the Tricolour.

If Robinson could persuade unionism of his credentials (assuming they are genuine), the DUP would have wiped out the UUP completely, I reckon, in the last general election. As it is, things are going fine for them, I would suppose. The religious, cautious, sackcloth and ashes brigade will be claiming victory, but they are not as politically astute and tactical as the Robinson wing, as shown by the council elections… look at how the greater Belfast DUP councillors voted in mayoral elections, and contrast that with the Sticks, where the rural, religious types are elected.

My fear is, that because of Leeds Castle and the aftermath, that the dumb, stupid, selectively Bible-bashing, yet somehow utterly hateful, Stirling wing is in the ascendency. I have a feeling that the Robinson wing got burned after the Leeds Castle talks by the IRA’s Northern Bank heist. But even if true, it is no necessary cause for opprobrium.

The DUP doesn’t expect the upcoming IRA statement to be good enough to reinstate the Assembly – and I think that feeling is shared by quite a few. Perhaps the SDLP’s improbable survival indicated that in some ways… there is an impatience with republicanism.

All of us on Slugger like to think that border politics are the ‘be all and end all’ of discussion.

But here’s news for y’all – it ain’t.

Don’t take my word for it. Talk to people here. Interest in politics is at an all time low. And the next big thing is the IRA statement.

Big f***ing deal.

They come out every month now. They have been utterly devalued by previous ambivalent utterances. They are met with – whether anyone thinks it fair or not – total cynicism and a sense of ‘seen it all before’.

The public is bored with ‘process’. End of story. Read the papers if you don’t believe me. Political coverage is lower than ever. Same with radio. And TV. And who can blame the media?

Yet the summer marching season might dictate whether the talks progress… there are so many factors. And you’ve seen ’em all before. So – like most people here who can – you’ll go on hols over the 12th fortnight sometime. Or stay well away. Or wash your hair. Or just try and ignore it… or, or who cares…

Back to the topic.

Given a recent conversation with a DUP member, who I consider both reliable and progressive, I haven’t much hope for quick devolution, to be honest.

Immediately after the 2003 Assembly election (and you can check it if you can be arsed searching Slugger), I fairly-confidently predicted no solution before the recent 2005 general election. It isn’t a source of pride to have been right.

My revised prediction is autumn 2007 – at the earliest.

Enough of this. Bed.

  • aquifer

    Thanks for opening up the DUP for inspection. That decent christian right/ wrong thing among DUP members and supporters could be interesting if SFPIRA were to make a unilateral and generous step forward. Big if, and it will probably take until 2007 for the party big heads to get bored with back seat driving in scrutiny committees and to sort out their internal pecking orders. Good call.

  • Dessertspoon

    “…backwards, moronic, bigoted, sectarian, half-witted, still-living-in-the-last-century idiots with no political nous…”

    Accounts for a large section of the population not just the DUP, depressingly 🙁

  • Davros


    Could those who insist that the Belfast Agreement is the only game in town not be similarly accused ?

  • larneman


    Would in your experience there be a major difference in the type of DUP rep outside greater Belfast. A difference between the urban and the rural? There seems to be on the surface a massive difference in the type of council rep the DUP have in say Carrickfergus (working class loyalist, secular, yet Orange) compared to Larne (Fundamentalist, Free P, Paisleyite)

    I have heard anecdotally that a constant theme of East Antrim DUP meetings in recent years has been walkouts from the Larne brethern (who are mostly related to each other).

  • mick hall

    Belfast Gonzo,

    I found your article interesting as it is something I have been thinking about quite a lot of late and touched upon it in a recent Blanket piece. I agree with you about the attitude of some members of the DUP, on social issues, indeed this group would be at home with old Labour in the British Labour Party. In the long run both the DUP and SF are going to have to start to deliver real improvements to their constituencies and this can only be done by entering government. If the SDLP stand firm and refuse to be bounced into government without SF, which would be the end of them if they were to do so, then in the end both party,s will have to reach some sort of deal. “No surrender” and “they have not gone away” will just not do and it simply will not deliver the upgrades in services, employment prospects, etc the two parties electorate so desperately need.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on my Blanket article.


  • fair_deal

    IMO too much is being read into this ‘wings’ stuff. The strong impression I am getting is that Free P members are becoming much better at compartmentalising the differences between their membership and participation in the church and their membership and participation in the Party

  • bertie


    I agree.

    As more and more of my UUP friends became my DUP friends I was very unenthusiastic about their decision. I was worried about whether they and their perspective would really be accepted within that party. I expected pressure on them to change to fit in. What I would have to admit was my anti-DUP prejudice (I’m from Fermanagh and the DUP never really caught on there until recently) has been challanged and, as an outsider, the DUP does seem to be genuinely capable of accomodating “secular” unionism within its welcoming arms.