What follows here was triggered by a flashback to my schoolboy recollection of ‘ A School for Scandal‘ by Richard Brinsley Sheridan who was writing in the second half of the eighteenth century. I am in no sense true or faithful to the original text in my portrayal of the main character at play ‘Confidence.’ In other words this is about ‘farce.’ Here we go: “Will someone go upstairs and tell ‘Confidence’ to come down?”If ‘Confidence’ has slipped out of the house without telling Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster, her behaviour could cost the DUP ten or twelve seats in an Assembly election.
The DUP’s elusive ‘Confidence’ may well have been lurking about the place all the time but like the little French milliner in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play ‘A School for Scandal’ Sir Peter Teazle always ran the risk of being exposed. The DUP’s little milliner ‘Confidence’ has been caught on.
She was there all the time but was being cynically hidden by the DUP, just like Sir Peter. And Sinn Fein has spotted that the last thing the DUP needs is an election against a background of scandal.
One senior DUP source summed the party’s dilemma up in these words: “The Shinners are pushing us up against the wall. They are bullish now. In an Assembly election we could go down to twenty one/twenty two seats in this climate.”
Enter another of Sheridan’s character’s, Mrs Candour, and ‘Confidence’ is now being unmasked for what she was all the time – a sham. Like Sheridan’s play the confidence issue was just a ruse and a farce.
One DUP source said: “If you have leverage on your political enemy why not use it.” The DUP had that leverage on Sinn Fein but now the emperor has no clothes.
In conclusion, despite the Gregorian chant in the background the DUP will probably not adhere to a Gregorian time-table.