When he went into his fight with George Foreman in 1974, Muhammad Ali used a strategy now famously called ‘rope a dope.’ At its core it is basically give your opponent enough rope and they will hang themselves with it.
In Northern Ireland politics we have seen the equivalent of this today as the wiley old operators within the DUP have outfoxed their UUP rivals (again!). It’s not often I praise the DUP but like Sinn Fein with South Belfast in 2010, you have to give plaudits to such a masterstroke.
In their statement about Haass the party they were largely optimistic
While the final Haass document contains many propositions that the DUP can support and endorse there remain others that would neither be an improvement nor workable and would not help in resolving the problems they were crafted to solve.
We are satisfied that the broad architecture is capable of housing long-term workable arrangements yet the detailed components as drafted, which would determine how those structures would operate, need much more work before they could function in the best interests of the community.
Robinson proposed the creation of a working group to keep going on these contentious issues with the final goal of implementing a workable deal as he vowed that his party were not prepared to ‘throw in the towel.’ Contrast this determined approach to that of Mike Nesbitt’s last night.
I realise a lot of this is just politics, but Nesbitt has fallen into the same trap that Tom Elliott did in 2011. That moment in the UTV election debate where Robinson was the cool, calm leader looking to make progress, while Elliott seemed to have a complaint for everything and a solution for nothing.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs