Robinson: Softer, wiser, and stronger…

Lindy McDowell has never been any fan of the DUP, but…

At the time I remember describing Peter Robinson as a lame duck leader. His electoral humbling by Alliance’s Naomi Long seemed to bear that out.

I suggested that if the UUP were to get their act together (they didn’t; no surprises there) they would capitalise on DUP difficulties. But the moment passed and then a strange, unforeseen thing happened. Peter Robinson began to show his human side. Maybe he always had one and had just kept it firmly in check. The telling thing is this new compassion – there is no better word – did not, and does not, seem contrived or put on.

And in conclusion:

The new softer Peter Robinson (sounds a bit like a toilet roll ad, I know) is the sort of politician he and his party would have sneered at a couple of years back. Yet he’s also now the very picture of a triumphant and secure party leader.

Who would have thought it would have turned out like this?

As a footnote, I have previously argued that Gerry Adams might “at the very least announce he would like his post as president to become contestable”, on the basis that contention is a good way to keep a political party healthy.

Peter Robinson’s story of the last 1s months at the very least, demonstrates that contention draws your opponents out in the open, and keeps you and your party much fitter and more able for the challenges ahead.

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