The Taming of Shrews (and others)

With the Ulster family Robinson apparently safely off on holiday it is maybe time to have a brief look at the politics of Mrs. Robinson’s recent outbursts rather than the comments themselves and indeed what this tells us about the DUP.One of Shakespeare’s most sexist plays is “The Taming of the Shrew.” In this several suitors wish to woo the beautiful Bianca. However, she cannot marry before her shrewish older sister Katerina. Petruchio marries Kate for her dowry and also for the challenge of getting her and then proceeds to take her away and “tames” her at his country house. It is a pretty politically incorrect play and I must admit to not liking it very much.

The role of the whip in a party is amongst other things to prevent other politicians saying and doing things that might be damaging to the party. I suspect the problem is that there are some in the DUP who are beyond reproach, no matter how damaging their comments. As such “taming” Iris’s outbursts is probably difficult.

Robinson like many of us seemed to get fixated on one particular set of issues: in her case it was homosexuals and the specific application of religious views to politics (however confused her theology was on that). After the initial storm on the Nolan show she should probably have kept a low profile but like many of us was attracted back to similar issues like a moth to a candle. We all do this, when in a hole we all continue to dig at times, feeling that we are being (often deliberately) misunderstood or misrepresented.

She is of course not alone in the DUP in being attracted back to issues on which she would be wiser to remain silent. Ian Paisley junior has also returned moth like to the issue of selling land to (amongst others) Seymour Sweeney.

Over the last number of years whatever the political position changes or not of the DUP there has been a marked professional-isation of the party and its media image. It has become rare to have a DUP member on air who is anything other than polished and professional in both content and delivery. Peter Robinson and those whom he has gathered around him have undoubtedly masterminded this transformation. There was always the possibility that Dr. Paisley might say something a bit mad but with him now gradually leaving the stage it looked like the days of DUP spokespersons inflicting significant damage upon themselves and the party had ended. Paisley junior and Mrs. Robinson have shown that that is not necessarily the case. The danger is that the DUP whips may find it difficult to “tame” both Paisley junior and especially Mrs. Robinson.

Mrs. Robinson’s comments may not be a particular problem with some of the fundamentalist wing of the party and indeed initially I wondered if her first set of comments was to please such people. The ongoing comments have, however, probably played less well with some of the ex-UUP supporters. With the albeit distant and unlikely prospect of the UUP emerging as a new shiny Conservative and Unionist party containing plausible representatives; the DUP should probably find a way to keep Mrs. Robinson quiet. Maybe whilst on holiday Mr. Robinson should try to “tame” Mrs. Robinson’s outbursts.