The Clash sang: Should I stay or should I go now. That is of course the question for both Peter Robinson and his party; for other unionists it is also a valid question. The TUV and UUP can claim no credit for bringing this disaster upon the DUP. Iris Robinson managed to dig this hole not so much with a JCB but rather having borrowed the equipment used to excavate the channel tunnel.If Robinson goes the new DUP leader will have been the third in as many years and will have rather less authority than they might like. This will be ensured by the apparently feudal nature of the DUP with the three great warring families (Paisleys Robinsons and Dodds) which calls to mind the Wars of the Roses. The latest battle seems almost like that of Bosworth Field with Peter Robinson as Richard III fighting bravely till the last (My Kingdom for a Horse?) Any new DUP leader will face a party riven with factions and paralysed by fear of further revelations as well as terror of the fast approaching verdict of the electorate. All in the DUP must surely know that in the process of their internal battle they are driving their ship towards the rocks, though none of the choices open to them seem likely to salvage the situation.
In all of this the other unionist parties look on completely powerless and whatever comes out of the current chaos it must be clear to all that there are dangers as well as opportunities. A massively weakened DUP or a DUP implosion could result in a surge for the TUV. However, it could also result in Reg Empey becoming the leader of unionism. Faced with that prospect maybe a save Peter campaign is not such a bad idea.
I have alluded to the concept of chaos theory in the past regarding politics. This theory suggests that in dynamic systems small differences in initial conditions yield widely diverging outcomes, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. The only positive suggestion I can make is that I leave you with the poetry of Donald Rumsfeld (this being a known unknown surely)
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.
Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing