SWOTing the parties: Strengths of the DUP…

It is not clear to me that anyone inside politics never mind inside the media really has a clue what’s happening in Northern Irish politics, nor what is going to happen for the foreseeable future, never mind inside Hillsborough Castle over the next day or two. So we’re asking you to help us construct a swot analysis, ie to enumerate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for all the major political parties. Today we start with the DUP, for no other reason than they are in the most ‘interesting’ position just now.

Imagine you are a strategist being stupid money to list precisely the key qualities of the party in each of those columns (in the interests of keeping focus all off topic comment will be removed from this thread). First, their ‘Strengths’:

  • Frustrated Democrat

    – Focused on power and retaining it.

    – Amoral – will do what they have to do to succeed.

    – One or two able ministers.

    – A widespread grass roots organisation (weakened by TUV defections).

    – Some younger up and coming people.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve taken off some interesting comments, but there will be a time and place for them when we snap to weaknesses and threats.

    I’ve also had an email from Mark saying we should have started with threats and gone the other way, which when I see the insights people are volunteering, might have been the right way to do it.

    For now, we’ll press on with this way round today and try it the other way tomorrow…

  • tacapall

    – They are a Unionist political party with their OWN religion, their OWN version of morals.

    – A black and white understanding of society.

    [Weaknesses coming up tacapall – mods]

  • Turgon

    Arguably more strengths than any other party in NI. A few:

    – Large fairly well organised and fairly well disciplined party membership, leadership and representatives.

    – The overwhelming majority of the political talent within unionism: much more than the UUP or TUV.

    – The best tactician in NI politics: Peter Robinson: strategically flawed but tactically brilliant.

    – A fairly large amount of money.

    – Incumbency, which will be an advantage in the coming elections.

  • Kensei

    – They can probably tolerate no deal; the Unionist electorate never punish people for saying no.

    – Electorate might back them if it looks like they are going to further negotiations

    – Leverage, at least while they are the largest Unionist Party: having frustrated SF so far there is a lot left on the table to negotiate

    – Some good electoral cycles mean they have a broader spectrum of Unionist opinion than they traditionally did, and a wider bas eof representatives.

    – The TUV make them look relatively less extreme

    – The UUP seem insistent on repeatedly messing up

    – One or two able MPs that could be moved to the Assembly if needed to shore up performance

    – Generally decent discipline

    – Incoming Tory Government may be more favourable, allowing them to play for time

  • Mick Fealty

    Good stuff, keep them coming… Arguably some of yours Ken could be divvied into Opportunities later, but… that’s the spirit of the thing…

    I’ve reformatted posts into bullets… that, I hope, will help people speed read others and think about possible gaps…

  • Kensei


    I think you are better divving up generally positives and generally negatives. You’ll have too many threads and too much confusion otherwise

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m hoping to chart them all afterwards… so let’s not get too bogged down at this stage…

  • tacapall

    Thats very decietful of you Mick maybe you should rephrase your question. If you’re going to moderate my post then take it all off, just seems like a controlled question.

  • Strengths:

    .Robinson’s tactical awareness and cunning
    .Incredibly tight party disclipine
    .They have focussed and achievable number of targets
    .Large number of their younger members have come up through the era of student politics in QUB when it was dominated by Republicans.

  • Opportunities

    . Below Adams, SF leadership and party are intellectual and strategist lightweights
    . A hung parliament/Conservative government may need their votes
    .Conservatives and Unionists lack focus and disclipine

  • Carsons Cat

    *Recognised as having the strongest leader of any unionist party in terms of strategy and ability.

    *Those coming behind Robinson are still of higher calibre than the other unionist parties. The ‘second teir’ people like Dodds, Foster, Donaldson etc etc are far more recognisable faces then their counterparts in other parties.

    *They actually represent a much wider spectrum of the unionist community than most people give them credit for. There’s obviously the Free P core and history which isn’t going away, but that influence certainly isn’t growing.

    *Even the Tories have recognised that they’re going to be a force which needs to be worked with and that combined with a definite cooling in UUP/Tory relations it means they actually can makes serious moves to unionist unity in which they get the benefit of having seen to be one of the driving forces of it.

    *They can actually point to strength in negotiations – even in the last 24 hours. Yesterday morning Conor Murphy was telling everyone there was “hours” for politics to live here. Today the PMs scuttling off home, and SF’s threat to go nuclear will start to look a little hollow very shortly.

    *They’ve learnt many (but probably not all) the lessons of UUP failure under Trimble. They also can actually use the TUV to their advantage as the reason why they need to get concessions like parading to sell to unionism.

    *Whilst the electorate may not exactly be holding street parties for the DUP, they’re not actually clamouring to get voting for either the UUP/TUV either. They might have some difficulties but writing them off into electoral oblivion or even defeat in upcoming elections is mostly wishful thinking motivated by party political blinkers.

    *Incumbency is a useful thing – at Westminster and lower levels. Its a bit of a repeat point, but never underestimate just how many of the “faces of unionism” which sit in the DUP. With the greatest of respect to someone like Alan McFarland or a huge swathe of the UUP’s “top team” they could walk down the street and very few people would recognise them. The DUP have recognisable people well down into their 2nd or 3rd teir of people.

    There’s probably more which might come later.

  • OscarTheGrouch


    Strong vote winning messages of God and anti-IRA, especially if electorate perceive a crisis or potential Nationalist take over.

    Message ‘appears’ clearer than any other anti-Nationalist option.

    Moderated image by Paisley dropping back and Arlene coming to fore.

  • Mick Fealty


    Request refused. You should have read the original post.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    “It is not clear to me that anyone inside politics never mind inside the media really has a clue what’s happening in Northern Irish politics”

    I think what this means is that the JOURNALISTS have got things so hopelessly wrong over past couple of weeks. “Bloggers” (from all sides) who are less professional have actually called things much better.

    The DUP…….theres an officer cadre there that the UUP dont have. UUP. lack a second tier of commitment junior leaders.
    While I comment elsewhere that their weakness is Free Presbyterian Church…..the DUP DO understand their electorates bigotry. No DUP leader will ever get prissy about being called a bigot.
    In that sense DUP is not only representing unionism ……it is actually REPRESENTATIVE OF unionism.

  • LabourNIman

    -good leadership team – Dodds and Robinson know they need each other

    -will never be held to account over their right wing views… as they never mention them.

    -they actually have good public speakers. While I don’t like sammy his is good at delivering a speech in a coherent and well thought through manner. SF just tend to lecture. UUP only seem to let McCrea lose nd he always makes a fool out of himself.