One of the things, I guess, that will be taxing most of our new readers from elsewhere is why does a crisis around one political leader potentially threaten the nature of the whole settlement? In an op ed for the London Times today, I’ve sketched the outline the plot of the political power play that’s been going on underneath these top line events. In effect, the supposed partners in OFMdFM have been engaged in a (to put it very crudely) at game of ‘who f**ks whom’. Like a pair of scorpions fighting to the death, the DUP is trying to ensure that if it succumbs it maximises potential damage to the Shinners. This is doomsday territory for one and the end of a very long march to power for the other.
Should Robinson see out his six weeks stay of execution (for it is surely nothing more than that), any possible Assembly election would take place in April, a month before the likely date for the Westminsters. Sinn Fein’s element of surprise has dissipated and the other parties now have an opportunity to re-group and prepare for a very different kind of election in the wake of a transparent failure of both parties in OFMdFM to deliver anything of substance in the last two years.
May could see the first election in years that is about something other than counting tribal heads. We will have to wait and see whether the other parties have the means – and the will – to seize the opportunity to invite the electorate to pass judgement on the twin sponsors of the collective oligarchy that was the OFMdFM (singularly distinguished by that lower case ‘d’) – aka, the dysfunctional semi detached polit-bureau…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty