Is Peter Robinson’s time as DUP leader coming to an end?

In todays News Letter, Sam McBride has a report on the mounting pressure for Peter Robinson to step down as DUP leader and First Minister.

McBride reports the concern within the party about how the DUP would do in an Assembly election led by Robinson;

There is concern within the party at how it would fare if an election was called, with one senior figure telling the News Letter that the DUP has been “haemorrhaging” support over recent weeks.

In relation to the date of Mr Robinson’s departure, the individual said: “The sooner the better.”

He also quotes other party sources who are unhappy;

One DUP politician who has been publicly restrained about Mr Robinson’s leadership told the News Letter: “He’d need to go soon.”

Another party source said that the party was taking “a pounding” over its decision to re-enter the Executive despite the revelation that the IRA did not decommission all its weapons and the allegation that the IRA Army Council effectively runs Sinn Fein.

Then we have the blow back from his appointment of Emma Pengelly as a Junior Minister from a party source;

And he said that the decision to appoint Mr Robinson’s former special adviser, Emma Pengelly, as a junior minister in the First Minister’s office had been met with incredulity in the party.

He said: “Can you imagine Cameron doing that – putting one of his advisers in as a minister after getting a big pay-off as his adviser?”

Full story here

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  • Madamarcati

    Peter Robinson will never resign voluntarily. His safest bet is to die in this dictatorial position as anything else would leave him and his family and their multiple ex-lovers, open to criminal investigations into blatant misuse of public funds and fraud.

    As far as the future of the DUP is concerned, even if he did resign now, seemingly of his own free will, it will be too late to rescue the party politically. There has just been too many years of their blatant abuse of power against their electorate by their local councillors up to Teflon Peter himself for the DUP to ever recover credibility.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    What with the “quality” of replacement FM available from the slightly lower ranks of the DUP, Madam, I’d expect Peter to retain the post even, like poor Francisco Franco, in a “post-mortem” life support system. But I’d hardly expect his successors to cut a “Valle de Los Caídos” memorial out of the hill behind Stormont in his honour.

    But I defer to your psychic skills in this matter………

  • chrisjones2

    Time for the Mighty Dodds to act!

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Mischief from the News Letter in favour of their Ulster Unionist paymasters, I suspect.

    Unlike the SDLP, nobody has attempted to challenge the DUP leader in public. Certain people may think that the DUP returned to government too quickly; but the DUP were taking a great deal more damage for not being in government, especially for keeping the Health Minister out of his post, and the associated public commentary over their salary arrangements.

    Robinson is merely reflecting the facts on the ground. Most people want devolution to work, even though they aren’t happy about SF.

  • Makhno

    Cheeky sod!

  • Robin Keogh

    I remember sometime back arguing with Mick about the DUP. He felt that Unionism was coalescing around the DUP while I believed not so much. Unlike SF who comfortably takes about two thirds of the nationalist vote, the DUP have rarely managed to touch 50% of the overall Unionist vote and with the recent shenanigans up on the Hill it looks like they have been outsmarted by the UUP. However with six months to go before the Ass elections; they have time to pick back up. Whether or not they have the ability is another story.

  • Zeno

    The mystery is why the Government shafted Robbo. They shafted SF as well, but what did he do or not do to deserve it?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Unlike SF who comfortably takes about two thirds of the nationalist vote, the DUP have rarely managed to touch 50% of the overall Unionist vote

    The DUP have been consistently well above 50% since at least 2003. In the assembly elections since devolution returned they’ve also consistently sustained two-thirds of the vote.

    Assembly elections :

    2011 DUP 198,436 UUP 87,531 TUV 16,480 :: DUP share 65%
    2007 DUP 207,221 UUP 103,145 UKUP 10,452 :: DUP share 64.6%

    Westminster
    2015 DUP 184,260 UUP 114,935 TUV 16,358 UKIP 18,324 DUP share 55%
    2010 DUP 168,216 UUP 102,361 TUV 26,300 DUP share 56%

  • Madamarcati

    Thank you.

    Expect the Unexpected.

  • Greenflag 2

    Who got the numbers right Robin or Catcher ?.

    ” the DUP have rarely managed to touch 50% of the overall Unionist vote”

    Does’nt seem right .

  • tmitch57

    David,
    Can we expect a future post from you, Alan or Mick profiling the various candidates (Dodds, Foster, et al.) in the running to contest the next DUP leadership contest? Any indication of when it is likely to be held?

  • mjh

    Strictly speaking both are correct in what they say. The precise figures you get depend on which parties/individuals you count as nationalist and unionist and which elections you choose to quote.

    The Euro elections are held every five years so if you:
    1) include all the NI-wide elections in each five year cycle, and
    2) count as unionist all the parties and independents who transfer predominantly with the unionist designated parties, and
    3) count as nationalist all the parties and independents who transfer predominantly with the nationalist designated parties,
    you get the following:

    5 years beginning May 2004 – DUP average 63% of unionist votes and SF 58% of nationalist

    Cycle starting May ’09 – DUP 49%, SF 61%

    Current cycle starting May ’14 to date (probably complete apart from next year’s Assembly election) – DUP 46%, SF 62%

    So both are dominant within their grouping, but whereas SF are currently within a whisker of two-thirds of their segment, the DUP has been slipping.

  • mjh

    It’s astoundingly difficult to get rid of party leader who doesn’t want to go. (Ask those who have been pushing AMcD since last May.)

    In the end it usually comes down to the “men in grey suits” when enough of the senior people in the party go to the leader to convince him or her that the game is up. That’s how the DUP did it with Paisley. Sometimes it requires the entire top echelon of the party to deliver the message – as when each member of the cabinet had an individual meeting with Margaret Thatcher.

    At the same time it’s worth remembering that every party in power contains its share of the disappointed, the disenchanted and the disaffected; more so if the leader has been around for a long time. Inevitably at times of difficulty some of these will grumble (anonymously of course) into the ear of a nearby journalist.

    Sam McBride only has one source. That fact alone suggests he or she is a grumbler, rather than a serious plotter with organised support, or at most one serious would-be plotter who is hoping to get a ball rolling.

    If there were already a cabal of high-level members with the numbers to shift Robinson they would have been speaking directly to Robinson, not to the Newsletter.

  • Greenflag 2

    Thanks for that clarification MJH . So if I simplify the numbers for memorial purposes I can honestly state that both claims are right and that both are wrong all depending on which political universe the numbers are counted in ? Recently I conjured up NI politics as a kind of quantum political universe of its own . Your clarification has only served to confirm my worst suspicions 🙂

    More seriously thanks again . As neither Catcher nor RK have refuted your clarification I’ll take your post as the de facto truth of the numbers .

  • Greenflag 2

    Probably a decent man and perhaps mighty but does he not resemble a shorter and swarthier version of a former USA President who set up an organisation called CREEP and did’nt enjoy a happy exit from the Whitehouse and whose most memorable quote which clarified his respect for the law was .

    ‘ It can’t be illegal if the President does it ‘

    Still he opened up China with Henry Kissinger and gave us all globalisation . Billion of people from Kazakhstan to Taiwan and from New Delhi to Jakarta are indebted to the man even if he was fond of a drink -didnt like Jews (but made an exception for Henry ) .

    Maybe the Great Dodderer can do the same for the people from Carrickfergus to Strangford . Outside of that though could be tough though impossible 😉
    Way too early anyway. First up DUP have to pip SF at the post and that is not by any means a certainty at this stage. A week is a long time in politics -6 months an eon .

  • Greenflag 2

    I think they thought he was going to bring the house (Assembly ) down and the London chappies have enough on their plate right now . Budgetary disaster -EU Referendum – Rebellious Scots and the last thing they need is a shower of ingrates or ungrates from NI sending NI back to 1974 . Been there done that already several times I would think would be Ms Villiers behind closed doors veiled threat . She probably did’nt use her handbag as Maggie did- Maggie never liked Unionist politicians – and it was’nt because her great grandmother came from Kerry – She just could’nt figure out what made them tick or the other word that sounds like it . Same with Enoch .

  • Gopher

    I’m sorry but the News Letter and half the DUP are bigger idiots than the rest. For the first time since the 50’s the Republics government are singing of the same hyme sheet as Northern Ireland. This is a salient moment, If Peter walked away FG and FF would be severely embarrassed, instead dress it up in whatever clothes you want but in under 10 days there will be no army council or no assembly. As for Pengelly, two points. Firstly and most obviously the DUP have a great chance at two seats in South Belfast. Secondly the battlefield has changed as NAMA has proved. The stand out feature of the NAMA deal was SF had absolutely no expertise, were technically clueless and still dont understand it. Thats why you promote people of technical ability not why you promote someone because they were a stalwart of the organiztion.

  • Pete

    Not sure who in the DUP would actually do a better job than Robinson, to be honest…

    He’s one of the more intelligent and capable in the DUP. I can’t see why people in the party think it would helpful for him to be replaced.

  • “Is Peter Robinson’s time as DUP leader coming to an end?”

    No. Not this side of an election. Don’t be stupid.

    I would question the News Letter’s article, but they have their sources – whoever they might be…

    Cameron couldn’t do it because MP’s are always elected. We have a different system. And once an individual is an MLA then they are as eligible as a Minister as anyone else.

    As for David’s posting of the article [“mounting pressure”? – Ed] Well, it’s obviously an interesting story…

  • Zeno

    What difference would it make to the British Government if it did fall?
    They stick a couple of Civil Servants in and a Direct Rule Minister and implement everything they want.
    I think it was a slap down to both DUP and SF. But a better question is why did Robbo go back in and not collapse it? I’d say they have him owned and if he doesn’t keep his nose clean worse will come out.

  • Mary Anna Quigley

    Xmas wish, all go give our head some peace. Pack of dirty clowns Stormont! At least we have some normality direct rule.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You should perhaps have read the prescient comments of Madamarcati lower down, Pete…..

  • Granni Trixie

    He’s a lame duck in the Public’s eyes?

  • Zeno

    “Strictly speaking both are correct in what they say.”

    Well , except for Robin obviously?

  • Granni Trixie

    Joke or plant? (Trick or treat,geddit?)

  • Greenflag 2

    Your knowledge of of the quantum world of NI politics appears somewhat deficient 😉

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Zeno, I’m pretty certain I remember the late Lord Bannside offer the excuse (in those final interviews he gave) for his own “Chuckle Brothers” duet that Westminster had offered him the choice of either quickly learning the lines for the act, or facing an imminent United Ireland solution……..

  • Greenflag 2

    HMG wants out of NI not further in. Robbo has to live in the place and he understands NI at a level that the London bureaucrats and/or DR Minister no matter how well meaning will ever comprehend . From Tunbridge Wells or Chelsea -NI ( at least it’s politics ) might seem more than a little convoluted . They don’t have crises of identity or nationality or religion in Potters Bar or Dover or Bristol and they’re not overly dependent on the public sector economically either ,

    Robbo is the best you got for now .

  • Greenflag 2

    The public may not be aware of the fallacy of composition .

    When everybody is a lame duck then nobody is a lame duck . . NI politicians from all parties have been conveying the impression for decades now that lameness and duckhood have been major distinguishing traits in their political performance .

    I’m trying to think of a political duck in NI or indeed anywhere else at the moment who does’nt limp . Nope they all limp some more so than others of course .

  • Zeno

    “HMG wants out of NI not further in. ”

    What makes you think that? The only thing in the world that has real value is land. Few if any want rid of land.

  • Robin Keogh

    Aplogies, i was looking at the 2014 euro and local elections, i didnt include the 2015 westie election due to the unionist pact with so many parties stepping aside.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    On the surface an equal number of Unionist candidates stood aside so the overall effect would have been neutral. In practice the pacts may have encouraged Unionist voters to come out when they might not otherwise have done.

  • David McCann

    My understanding is much like Sams that it will be Dodds as leader with Arlene as FM

  • Gaygael

    I’m unsure.
    The DUP seem be at their very upper limit in terms of assembly seats. There is very limited space for them to gain anymore unless the UUP completely implode and no unionist rival steps up to otherwise replace them.

    Recent events suggest that the DUP may take a hit.

    If I was an heir apparent, I would rather ride out the storm and let robbo depart after some losses at the next assembly election. That would give me a clean slate, and something to work toward and three years before the next election.

    If I took over before Xmas, it would be a hard turnaround. And even if I only achieved marginal slippage, that would still dent my leadership.

    If I was the heir apparent, I would be happy to wait until May 6th.

  • Zeno

    Brilliant.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I was on the same page as you GG but what happens if the DUP take a severe busted nose at next Assembly Elections and lose 10 MLAs because you kept poor Robbo at the helm – The so called Heir will undoubtly take the rap by not stepping up to the plate to rally the party through a stormy election. One might say that is a serious lack of Leadership !

  • mjh

    “You might very well think so” T.E.

    On the other hand remember Machiavelli’s advice that anyone intending to topple a prince must be sure to kill with the first blow. If a challenger reveals him or herself now, and Robinson survives the attack, that challenger will suffer immediate loss of reputation and constant future undermining from the leader’s friends.

    Even if the challenge is successful there will be those who will blame the evidence of internal disunity for any losses at the next election – and the new leader will have lost a large part of their political capital within months of taking over.

    So, while there could be risks in hanging back, on balance I think Gaygael has it spot on.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Thatchers demise in 1990 could happen, where you have a Heseltine running horse to pave the way for the new Leader John Major. What was Thatchers words when stepping down as Prime Minister – To allow sucess at the next general elections that year !

  • Zeno

    Is that true Seaan or did the good Lord invent that like a lot of his other rantings? Or did the Brits invent it just to give him the excuse He needed to grab the Title he craved? People keep saying the Brits want out, but I see no evidence of that. When the GFA was signed they kept a clause in where they get to decide if we ever get even a referendum. If they wanted out they would be having one every year instead of constantly blocking them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Zeno, having long attended parties in Chelsea and Kensington where people (sometimes in their cups, but not always) say what they actually think (and would never say before the media) it rings all too true. My own reading of this is that the late Peer up until some point in the early 2000s genuinely believed that having the backing of the majority of Unionist voters after he’d ruined Trimble and the UUP meant that Westminster were obliged to listen to him and eventually give ground, just as Jim Allister, for example, seems to believe still. That’s the impression I’d gleaned at that time from some of those here who knew Paisley and would still mix socially with a notorious Lundy like myself for old time’s sake. He was very quickly disabused of the fact, and offered the choice between moral consistency with his own questionable ideals and (semi-) Absolute Political Power, with the St Andrews beano as a fig leaf. No contest……..

    Of course, I may have been mislead by elite gossip and the will to retain the dreary steeples ( and Drumlins) of Ulster as the last foothold of Imperial Glory by those still living the “Lives of a Bengal Lancer” may very well trump common sense and their thankfully getting shot of a ramshackle mess that requires far too many necessary repairs to ever make the rather junior partner with Cerberus in holding title at all keen on holding on to it. But I doubt it……

  • mjh

    Agreed. A group of conspirators could put forward a stalking horse candidate. Of course this could only be done at the time and in the manner specified within the party’s rules for the election of leader. Anyone know what the DUP rule book has to say on the matter?

    Actually Heseltine wasn’t a stalking horse – he desperately wanted to win. And Major was only able to profit from Heseltine’s intervention because the Conservative Party’s rules rather bizarrely permitted a candidate who had not stood in the first round of the contest to enter a second round if no candidate won outright on the first.

    So unless the DUP’s rules provide for something similar, and permit an election to be held against the wishes of the incumbent leader, and permit that election to be held well before May, the stalking horse would have to remain in the stable.

  • Zeno

    I don’t know Seaan. I just don’t see any evidence that they want out. They spend billions to hold on to it and even had their Soldiers die in the streets. They held on to the power to call a referendum and are doing nothing to encourage a UI.

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘ I just don’t see any evidence that they want out. ‘

    Neither will you. The UK has a responsibility for NI as long as a majority of people in NI want to remain in the UK . If and when that changes then it’s another story . The UUP under Jim Molyneaux opposed devolution and wanted full integration within the UK i.e Northern Ireland as Suffolk or Rutland . All of the UK ‘s main political parties rejected integration at a time when neither Scotland or Wales had devolution.

    They have to be seen to be as neutral as possible -you might ask why they should be ? The UK has more to lose from destroying political and economic relations with the Republic than from ‘losing ‘ NI in a referendum . If NI disappears politically – its relationship with the UK in terms of trade and the Republics will continue as ever.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Zeno, I don’t think they have held onto much power to call a referendum once NI Elections produce a 45% Unionist 45% Nationalist 10% Others Split that will be the deciding factor that calls a referendum !

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘……the de facto truth of the numbers.’

    Pah!

    Paddy R will be along to tell us it’s irrelevant anyway because nationalists will have a majority, oh, sometime after Xmas…………..And then Zeno will say that’s irrelevant because that’ll only be a quarter of the electorate anyway.

    I think I spend too much time around here……..

  • Greenflag 2

    I agree 🙂

  • Zeno

    Not according to the Secretary of State. When she turned down the last one she cited election results AND opinion polls and pointed out that they didn’t show that a Yes Vote could be successful.