Sammy bending under pressure

Sammy Wilson, Environment minister and sage, has attracted UK national media attention for his views on the environment, as closely monitored here by Pete. A Times profile recounts the cavorting, the bike fine, the guy with the jester’s licence etc., all of which made Sammy quite endearing. But as noted, Sammy and his colleagues in power are a different matter. The Times piece is significant as it turns a UK national spotlight on the DUP fundamentalist culture that was overshadowed by the twists and turns of the peace process. Now the national media, casting out the odd hook into the changing NI story, has landed the likes of Sammy, Iris, young Ian and the bold Mervyn.

The new DUP runs the risk of turning the past tragedy of NI into present farce and this is doing them no good at Westminster. At home, the verdict is less sure. If they pursue a course emboldened by fundamentalist Republicans in the US and the tiny band of creationists in GB, will hard-won support from the middle of the road unionists start to leech away? Ironically it was big Ian himself with his unique authority who yanked his wild men to heel saying in terms: “ I do the big jokes and stunts around here.”

There are some signs of a gingerly climbdown under pressure. Sammy himself in his website is recanting as bit. Nigel Dodds defends the ball as well as the man.

The key issue is that the programme for government has been implemented with the targets that are in there and we will continue to do that.”

But the Times’ charge remains to be answered

“Power has gone to their heads, and some senior DUP members, including Wilson seem to be revelling in their new-found notoriety”.

They have to learn that for all their striving down the years, power in Northern Ireland is quite a small thing and that “our wee province” ( or more quaintly, “this country” ) is neither self-sufficient, nor a DUP fiefdom. Even in their own terms, that message is what is ‘meant by “unionism.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    “Power has gone to their heads, and some senior DUP members, including Wilson seem to be revelling in their new-found notoriety”.

    Putting forward the idea that the notoriety of these people is “new-found” seems self contradictory given the article’s details on Wilson’s career going back to the mid-80s.

  • GGN

    I dont think he is under pressure, he cant be, there is no mechanism to put him under pressure.

    In a normal society (a democracy) he would of course be forced to resign but of course he would never have been elected in the first place in a normal society.

    He was elected because of his ‘stauchness’ at the end of the day.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Comrade, what is David Ford’s view?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Michael,

    I do not know.

  • veritas

    its about time the national spotlight was put on these fundamentalist Christian crackpots and their loony beliefs….

    Its fine if they want to believe the world`s flat and rests on two elephants buy keep it to themselves….

    Total separation between church and state is what any liberal democracy is built on….

    Even in the heart of the “Empire” their religious views are scorned and laughed at….

  • niall

    Between him and McElduff you really have to wonder. Mirror image fools to embarass the place.

  • The Impartial Observer

    “Power has gone to their heads, and some senior DUP members, including Wilson seem to be revelling in their new-found notoriety”.

    The irony of course is that Sammy doesn’t have anything like the power he seems to have. Most environmental legislation is enshrined in EU directives which UK law is subservient to. Witness his abrupt climbdown over the ASSI in Tyrone when it became clear that his actions were illegal.

    Again I’m reminded of Kenneth Bloomfield’s comment on William Craig’s reaction to the Civil Rights Movement in his memoir Stormont in Crisis. Bloomfield had the impression that Craig thought he was a minister in “some great and powerful state,” when in reality he was a glorified county councillor! The DUP seem to have the same delusion that they are in control of events when in reality there is relatively little that they can do!

  • The Impartial Observer

    Sorry that should have said “Sammy doesn’t have anything like the power he seems to think he as…”

  • willis

    IO

    Worry not, it makes perfect sense either way.

    Let’s get a sense of perspective about this. Sammy has been the subject of serious investigate reporting before now.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The fact that Sammy’s powers are limited aren’t the point; this whole exercise has been all about him boosting his media profile as a tough guy.

  • kenny boy

    anywhere else one would wonder if a glass or two of the devils buttermilk was present at times

  • It seems to me that for all of his buffoonery, Wilson seems to be trying to be the champion of one particular group. That is the anti-regulation “old school” businessman constituency who think that they should be in control of everything and not be interfered with. They also think employees will use any excuse to dodge work. They also tend to hate Europe.

    In England, those that hold those views would tend to vote conservative. You would also find quite a few of them voting UKIP. Over-regulation is still of concern to many conservatives but the “employees are all lazy by nature” attitude is not typical of most businessmen today.

    I am left wondering if Wilson has set out deliberately to “woo” this constituency as a political strategem. Whether Wilson can endear himself to this group is another matter. My hunch is that he comes across as too much of a clown.

    The Times seem to think that Wilson will still be given a “cooler” ministerial post in Robinson’s next re-shuffle.

    I would surmise that this will be a dilemma for Robinson. If there is going to be a “u” turn by the DUP on the environment, surely he would be better off to tackle that issue now rather than making himself look like a ditherer later on.

  • … this will be a dilemma for Robinson

    Wilson is far from the DUP’s only embarrassment. The problem for them is that they rose to power on the basis of the kind of negativity that Wilson is displaying. It was all about saying ‘no’, rather than actually facing problems and resolving them. No to evolution, no to Irish, no to North-Southery, no to gays, … ‘Ulster’ always said no. If Robinson wants to make the DUP look like a serious party, then he has to divest himself of most of the vote-winners of the old DUP – Campbell, Wilson, Paisley(s), even his own wife!

    The problem is that the nay-sayers are the ones that get the votes for the DUP. If he sidelines them, he may end up losing power. But if he gives them positions of power he shows the DUP up for what they are. The basic weaknesses of the DUP are starting to become more visible.

  • 6cp

    For a time the DUP seemed to have been taken in by the Global Warming fundamentalists, but now that 650 prominent international scientists are disputing claims of man-made ‘warming’ the DUP are among the first to realise the vacuity of the case for anthropogenic global warming.

    Everyone else will eventually recognise the folly of their ways, but it may take some of you guys here on Slugger a little more time to swallow your pride and admit you were wrong. Have you not noticed that even the BBC, sensing a change in the debate, has started to put qualifiers on many of its ‘global warming’ reports?

  • Peat Blog

    As we slip deeper into recession, politicos like Sammy will have to mind themselves a bit more as regardless of their actual or perceived powers, those losing their jobs and finding it tough to pay the bills will likely scrutinise a bit more what the decision makers are acually doing to alleviate the problems.

    Sammy, even with his four jobs, nevertheless finds the time to pontificate on all issues under the sun. Being a bit of a rent-a-quote suggests that he isn’t exactly taking his position seriously.

    In addition to his well documented lobbying on constituency issues, it makes one wonder how any decisions ever get made by him within his Stormont department.

    It’s also hard to believe that a politician who seems to relish upsetting all the various environmental interest groups with a direct stake in his ministerial portfolio can survive over the longer term.

    This is hardly the sort of concensus politics that many were hoping for given our fractious history and the everyone-in-government charade in the big house on the hill.

  • ??

    If Robinson wants to make the DUP look like a serious party,…………..

    The DUP is the largest party in NI, looks as if its pretty serious.

  • Seymour Major

    “………the DUP are among the first to realise the vacuity of the case for anthropogenic global warming”

    So what if there are 650 scientists with dissenting opinions? They are not a majority. The fact that there are dissenters to the established view that most of the cause of global warming is man-made is not news.

    There is an ethical question here about how politicians should treat science. In my view, Politicians should follow the consensus of established scientific opinion. They are not qualified to have an opinion unless they are also a scientist.

    Politicians have a duty to make decisions and policy on the basis of scientific consensus. If you wait for absolute proof you may have left a problem too late.

    Sammy Wilson is not a scientist. I would suggest that Sammy Wilson’s motives for ignoring consensus scientific opinion is entirely convenience – based, selfish, “not my problem I’m an Ulsterman” and absolutely nothing to do with a balanced view of the weight of scientific evidence.

    Sammy Wilson is an unethical politician.

  • Dave

    Scientists should seek the appropriate mandate from the public if they want to make governmental decisions.

    It matters not a damn how many scientists support a theory versus how many do not. Science is not about establishing a consensus, and facts are not determined by a straw poll taken among scientists. Contrary to the totalitarian sentiments of those who wish to shut down public debate, the issue is not settled.

    In addition, to those who celebrate how little power a politician has: that is also how little power your ‘democracy’ has. That is not something that democrats should celebrate.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Horseman:

    Wilson is far from the DUP’s only embarrassment. The problem for them is that they rose to power on the basis of the kind of negativity that Wilson is displaying. It was all about saying ‘no’, rather than actually facing problems and resolving them. No to evolution, no to Irish, no to North-Southery, no to gays, … ‘Ulster’ always said no. If Robinson wants to make the DUP look like a serious party, then he has to divest himself of most of the vote-winners of the old DUP – Campbell, Wilson, Paisley(s), even his own wife!

    This is pretty ridiculous. Is it completely inconceivable to you that Wilson’s reasons for stopping the ad might have justification beyond narrow-minded political viewpoints ? Just exactly who is the bigot in this conversation ?

  • Belfast Greyhound

    I am finding it just a little hard to reconcile what Wilson is saying about how this heating up of the planet is nothing new as it has happened in the past and his views as a six day creationist.
    Either the world is a very much older place than he says and evolutionary changes have taken place before or this global warming is an entirely new phenomenon and consequently a highly unpredictable one at that with catastrophic potential for us all.
    Is it entirely too simple on my part to feel that he shares a view that ‘we are living in the last days’ outlook and Christ wil return and we don’t have to worry too much anyway.
    This is not flippant on my part but stems from a bizarre conversation I had recently on train with an individual who originally appeared normal enough to have a conversation with.
    If his (Wilson’s) views are stemming from anything of a similar sort of stream of semi-consciousness we really ought to be concerned about his ability to do the highly important job of Minister for the Environment.