Alex Kane on Peter Robinson

I have blogged about Alex Kane’s Newsletter columns before. The latest is another excellent analysis from a unionist perspective.Kane states that Robinson will have difficulty moving away from Paisley’s shadow and amongst other things cites the “Chuckle Brothers” about which Robinson did nothing. However, I would submit that allowing Paisley to do this may have helped Robinson to look distinctive, different and more acceptable to the harder line elements in his party which may have been traditionally suspicious of him. That suspicion may well in part come from his know pragmatism and central role in the “Task Force Report” which Kane mentions.

Of course Kane’s analysis that Robinson’s destruction of the UUP will be remembered by the UUP and be a hindrance to greater cooperation is correct: Fermanagh South Tyrone 2001 being the classic example with the tacit DUP support for Jim Dixon gifting the seat to Gildernew. In that episode surely the hand of Robinson loomed large?

The failure of the DUP to gain much from the St. Andrew’s negotiations and the disingenuous nature of how they fought the last assembly election have of course been analysed at length previously. It is worth mentioning, however, that that sell out will be long remembered and Robinson must take much of the blame. It will return to haunt him every time he tries to draw a line in the sand. Robinson could quite easily become another Trimble on that score.

Kane is also correct that Robinson will be haunted by the ghost of Paisley. Worst of all would be the possibility that Paisley might denounce a move made by Robinson after he becomes leader. I doubt this will happen but there is another problem. Once Paisley dies (and despite his apparent excellent health it may happen) the party may look back and say “The Big Man will be turning in his grave”; conveniently forgetting Paisley’s recent living spinning around.

The lack of democracy in the Democratic Unionist party is of course most amusing but hardly a new phenomenon.

  • Turgon, any thoughts on who might have been responsible for the ‘resignation’ letter” [source Fermanagh Herald].

    With regard to the resignation letter, Mrs Foster explained that the Party leader ‘as your nominating officer can resign you from the Assembly’.

    “All that has happened now is that he has our resignation letter saying that we have breached Party discipline. I signed it without any difficulty and I’m a lawyer.”

    There would appear to have been limited scope for dissenting voices within the DUP. Would that be likely to change under Robinson’s leadership?

  • fair_deal

    Turgon

    I am sorry but this would make Machiavelli blush at the level of control and influence attributed to one person.

    “cites the “Chuckle Brothers” about which Robinson did nothing.”

    Evidence that Robinson did nothing? Being unsuccessful and doing nothing are two different things.

    For example there has been regular press comment about senior people asking Paisley to cut back on the CB stuff but how he was ignoring the calls.

    “However, I would submit that allowing Paisley to do this may have helped Robinson to look distinctive, different and more acceptable to the harder line elements in his party which may have been traditionally suspicious of him”

    Paisley’s behaviour didn’t impact on perception of others it impacted on the perception of Paisley. It may have hastened his departure but that is not what changed perception of Robinson that was his performance at DFP and in the Executive particularly in comparison with Dodds (his choice of department doing little for his profile).

    “Kane’s analysis that Robinson’s destruction of the UUP will be remembered by the UUP and be a hindrance to greater cooperation is correct”

    Absolutely if weren’t for that pesky Peter Robinson and them meddling kids at DUP HQ David Trimble and his UUP gang would have got away with it. A re-writing of recent political history that is monumental in the extreme. Alex had the sense to highlight the UUP’s own role in its downfall you wouldhave been wise to be equally cautious.

    Also if the UUP allows hurt feelings and their problems are ‘all the DUP’s fault’ tantrums to get in the way of seeing the sense in making a deal that would probably double their number of Westminster seats and increase Unionism’s and Northern Ireland’s influence in a possible (arguably probable) hung parliament more the fool them.

    “Fermanagh South Tyrone 2001 being the classic example with the tacit DUP support for Jim Dixon gifting the seat to Gildernew. In that episode surely the hand of Robinson loomed large?”

    Nope. It was the hand of Jim Dixon. He is a plain spoken and solid Ulsterman (if too prone to conspiracy theories). When he puts his mind too it you’re going to have a hell of a time to get him to think any different. If you do move to Fermanagh you should try and make his acquaintance. A man who has suffered a great deal for his beliefs throughout the Troubles.

    Plus if I were Alex and yourself, considering the UUP’s base activities during that campaign, they would be wise not to raise that matter too loudly.

  • WindsorRocker

    The chuckle brothers imagery, for which Alex pins some of the blame on Robinson, was not pre-orchestrated in my opinion… it was just another way in which Paisley sees the world in total black and white and how, like throwing snowballs at important people and ranting at rallies, he doesn’t care how people perceive him. Paisley is known to act spontaneously, sometimes without a thought for perception and that applies in this decade just as it did 4 decades ago….. It’s just that, given the decision he made, spontaneity now costs him support rather than bolsters it. The hard pragmatic decisions that the DUP made need somebody who is equally pragmatic to follow them through and manage the perceptions, which we all know is reality in the eyes of those who form them.

  • dewi

    He looks wonderful in a red resistance beret in Moloney’s book. DUP should skip a generation and try and be useful.

  • Democratic

    You should see the deputy minister in his OC combat fatigues from the 70’s Dewi – he’s a bit harder to recognise with a balaclava on though………

  • aquifer

    So AK says PR is not ultra enough.

    “He has been a pragmatist for an incredibly long time.”

    So he understands politics is the art of the possible.

    An in the world of angry Orange separatism this counts as heresy. Big Ian’s futile sectarian bluster being much more acceptable.

    No more Union, just Onionism, multiple layers of bile and thin skins. No wonder the brits have left us to it.

  • Fair Deal, that may be your opinion of Jim Dixon but he’s also a racist – quite open about his support of apartheid in South Africa and an vigorous opponent of immigration of any sort. Google his name next to racism and see what comes up. Sorry to go off topic, but given FD’s flattering assessment of the man I felt it necessary to point this out.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘You should see the deputy minister in his OC combat fatigues from the 70’s Dewi – he’s a bit harder to recognise with a balaclava on though……… ‘

    How do you know its him then?

    D’oh !

  • cut the bull

    How do you know its him then?

    He knew it was him because he was holding a rod. A ten foot Hardy fly fishing rod hee hee

  • Crataegus

    When will supporters of the UUP stop hoping for the collapse of the DUP and stop seeing that as the salvation of the UUP?

    When will the UUP actually try to widen its base and try to appeal to people who may support the Union but who are not from the Unionist-Orange tradition? When will they offer a modern, policy based non sectarian alternative acceptable to a wider range of the electorate? Is such a Unionist party even possible?

    Sure the DUP are going to decline, sure they are under attack from the extreme, poetic justice. The TUV will split their support and decimate their numbers. But surely some Unionists must see that pandering to the back woods men holds no real long term future for Unionism? Will Peter Robinson (assuming) move that Party to the centre or will he repeat the mistake of the UUP?

    I wonder in a declining DUP how people like Mr Donaldson now feel, will feel? Boy has he got a lot to answer for and what exactly has he achieved?

    Most of all is there any sense of reality at all in Unionism? Has it any meaningful future in any of its current forms?

    Is any Unionist Party interested in the votes of people who couldn’t care a dam about Irish Union or the British Unity?

    I find Unionisms various guises to a greater or lesser extent repulsive yet I often find common cause with many of the individual politicians on many issues. What is it about the group identity of all these parties that is so much less acceptable than the sum of the parts?

    Is Unionism fast becoming the greatest threat to the Union?

  • graduate

    I usually find a certain element of commonality with A. O’kane, but on htis issue I’m at odds with him and Turgon both. Don’t they think it’s time they stopped bleating on about the DUP desdtroying everything, got their fingers out and tried to become more relevant to today’s society. They don’t run the country anymore and they sure as hell ain’t going to be seen as a natural party of government if they don’t sort themselves out. At present they just look like a bunch of whiners who don’t know what they want and have no ideas for chianging anything. There also seems to be a certain unease in UUP circles re PR becoming next DUP leader- are you worried that he’s going to steal morre UUP types? As for the UUP needing to widen it’s base and the DUP being on the way out, why do you think the DUP isn’t thinking the same thing? Look at Dianne Dodds’s circular before last election reminding voters where she stood on social policy. The old certainties of orange and green aren’t enough anymore, we’ve got to wake up and see that the world has changed and politicans had better change with it or become totally irrelevant

  • fair_deal

    PP

    New info for me as I had never discussed the issue of race with him.

  • Jo

    It never ceases to astound me how this fcuking CB epithet is elevated to such astral levels as to cause the political earthquaking that is alleged.

    A couple of fcuking photos of 2 men laughing at an unseen joke shakes the political firmament? Yez are easily shook.

    I had no notion that a Unionism which practiced discrimination for decades, armed itself throughout the twentieth century to fight a United Ireland and proudly watched the OO march through areas where they were not wanted could in fact be such an easily offended sensitive wee creature when it came to a picture of laughter.

  • Paul P

    “There is a core vote within unionism and a presently untapped vote within the wider pro-Union community which would never feel comfortable voting for or supporting a political party like the DUP. It is to that core vote and untapped vote that the Ulster Unionist Party will be directing its efforts over the next few years.” Reg Empey

    Where have we heard this before. This is pure Trimblespeak. The only hope that the UUP have of winning seats back is by the help of Jim Allister i.e. Dromore By election.