Emerging from the shadow of “Stalin”…

Peter Robinson is funny old bird. One minute he is laughing and jovial (you can’t build a team as effectively as he has, without strong personal skills). Then he seems to change character when the ‘interview’ begins: it’s as if the scene has been suddenly shifted to a verbal war zone. Fionnuala O’Connor usefully points [subs needed] us in the direction of a profile of Peter Robinson, by David McKitterick who describes him as “ambitious, clever, and workaholic”. As a teenager, according to his sister Pat, he was a budding singer songwriter in the Dylan/Donovan style. The menacing glasses have given way to contact lenses. Clearly there is more to that frosty exterior that comes over on the media. He’ll need to show more of it, when Stalin finally falls from the DUP plinth.From O’Connor’s piece:

The DUP deputy leader who told the House of Commons 13 years ago that Margaret Thatcher had “prostituted herself” by allowing Dublin a consultative role in Northern Ireland is no doubt still tucked inside the architect of the party’s crabwise approach to powersharing. Both are folded into a personality nearly as unreadable to his party as to outsiders. Old rhetoric will probably now be steadily ditched if internal feedback stays benign: though the recent Robinson article in these pages was harsh enough in its refusal to admit that the St Andrews Agreement he helped negotiate might in any way resemble the Good Friday agreement.

Discordant gear-changes are the least important accompaniment to major political shifts. DUP lesser lights, their mentor that ranting public speaker with an extra reserve of biblical vituperation, have always behaved as though abominable rudeness to and about opponents was the surest way to preferment in the party, and their voters’ hearts. Sharing power with Sinn Féin has yet to be absorbed at the grassroots – and who can wonder? DUP people do not like today’s political dispensation but they want it to continue, as long as they can claim to be top dog.

Appearing in public with someone called Biffo is eminently ignorable, especially since he came bearing a gift of sorts. The new and smaller party leader – 12 years older than Biffo and coming into his own as he approaches 60 – has to weather his first joint appearances with the former IRA leader now trading as Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister. Facial features must be arranged and visual warmth adjusted to the occasion. A run-through would be handy before going live with Martin McGuinness, he of the twinkling eyes – though chill incarnate, of course, until commanded to deploy his inner charm.

But a couple of touching photographs – in the Irish News last week and on the BBC website – showed Messrs Robinson and McGuinness shirt-sleeved and smiling warmly at each other. Foreign parts have worked wonders before on reticent unionists. These pleasant shots were taken last summer in Washington, when Robinson could only dream about becoming first minister. Launching a “Folklife Festival” in the Smithsonian museum, he perhaps looked more his youthful self in public than at any time since that long-ago IRA bombing killed his school friend, and pushed him into a lifetime in Ian Paisley’s shadow.

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  • Bob’s My Uncle

    He is apparently a *massive* Big Brother fan too. Just sayin’…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Do an internet search for the string “Peter, Peter, East Belfast Seater” and you’ll come across a rhyme which may or may not be libellous ..

  • Rory

    Would it be too much to hope that in following “Stalin” the new First Minister demonstrates that he shares more of Khruschev’s propensity for reaching out to bring welcome change than that of Brezhnev to retreat to the bunkers and batten down the hatches?

  • [aside]

    Paisley Jnr on a ‘solo run’ says DUP

    Not so – say state papers following another FoI request.

  • RepublicanStones

    i have a fair idea what the rhyming scheme might be for that Companero….question is, no smoke without fire?

  • Danny O’Connor

    Nevin-the plot thickens

  • aquifer

    Paisley polished his own angry image before the cameras, it did him no harm. Unionists feel angry and abused, period.

  • Comrade Stalin

    RepublicanStones, I couldn’t possibly comment.

    Rory, you can’t really compare Paisley to Stalin, not given his last-minute turnaround. More of a Khrushchev. Robinson would be closer to Khrushchev than any other Soviet leader.

  • Danny, we know what was on the House of Paisley ‘shopping list’. Will we be told about the desires of the Swish Family Robinson?

  • “Stalin is not dead”, quipped Robinson, and that can mean that DUP policy will be continued under new DUP.

    “It is up to Nigel (Dodds) and I to give leadership along with our colleagues in the Assembly to the party and to the unionist community to make it clear we are fighting for the unionist agenda, we will oppose republicans at every possible opportunity we have.” .. Peter Robinson

    So it’s no change in DUP policy. Stalin rules OK 🙂

  • Danny O’Connor

    Nevin
    I remember Duncan Shipley Dalton referring to them as the Swiss bank family Robinson.

  • darth rumsfeld

    No it isn’t up to “Nigel and I”; it’s up to “Nigel and me”

    Just like nothing “has went” (Arlene Foster) or we “would have saw” nothing( Poots).

    Perhaps Catriona Ruane is right in her zeal to improve an education system which has produced such illiterates.

    And before anyone attacks my grammar, I know one should never use a single sentence paragraph, but it’s the internet, where standards are slacker.

    CS- Punt another Krushchev? Really? So when is he going to put the missile silos on the Copelands and point them at Offaly? Or bang his shoe on the table at the cross-border bodies? And was he a ruthless commandant who refused to allow any retreat in the Siege of Clontibret, and authorised officers to be shot if their men showed cowardice?
    Of course Nigel does look a bit like Breshnev….

  • darth rumsfeld

    Things you seldom hear number 366

    “I remember Duncan Shipley Dalton”