Jim Allister continues to pound away restlessly at the DUP and Peter Robinson. The man whom Robinson himself brought back into the political fray has become his bête noire. The tale brings up three literary possibilities each with a different ending. Robinson may be Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel who created the destructive Golem of Prague but was eventually able to stop it by removing the Golem’s clay tablet. Alternatively he may be Jonathan Harker who eventually destroyed Dracula or he may be Victor Frankenstein who failed and had his self created nemesis outlive him. Allister’s latest attack on Peter Robinson is interesting in shedding a little more light on the St. Andrew’s Agreement and the machinations surrounding it. It again shows Peter Robinson’s tactical prowess but maybe his strategic inadequacies and inability to think of quite possible What if…. scenarios.
Allister states that the changes to the original Belfast Agreement which made the First minister come from the largest party rather than the largest tradition were agreed at proximity talks in London in the aftermath of St Andrews at which potentially dissenting DUP voices (including at the time Allister himself) were not invited. This of course is the change which could easily allow Sinn Fein to take the First Minister’s post at the next election. Allister pointed out the dangers at the time but none of the DUP MPs in Westminster voted against that change.Allister claims that this was a deliberate policy by Peter Robinson to ensure a perpetual blackmail of the unionist electorate to always keep the DUP vote up in order to keep a unionist first minister. Of course after the European elections this looks less likely and the DUP may have shot their bolt on the issue. The First and Deputy First Ministers are of course actually coequal but there could be significant embarrassment for the DUP in having McGuinness as First Minister. In addition there is also the irony that under the old system any TUV representatives elected to the next assembly would have had to support the DUP to block a SF First Minister. As such the DUP would have been able to usefully blackmail the TUV. Now there would be nothing the TUV or any other unionist could do if SF are the largest single party.
Again Robinson seems to have gone for a short term advantage and created a long term problem. Just like what he did when he thought it would be a great idea to bring Allister back into the political fray to prevent Willie McCrea from being the DUP’s European candidate. Like all the above literary works this is a story about someone who thought he had come upon a great idea only to have its outworking threaten to destroy him: short term tactics versus long term strategy.