Arlene keeps mum as she bangs the drum

The DUP launched its manifesto today in a breathtaking example of the cynical manner with which the party has treated the electorate since the RHI scandal unfolded before our eyes.

The party leader, Arlene Foster, declared that she would not answer any questions at the launch due to suffering from a case of “man flu” which, alas, did not prevent her from delivering her speech- a decision which prompted this response on Twitter from the BBC’s political correspondent, Gareth Gordon:

It gets better though.

The DUP have fought this campaign with one purpose in mind: to deflect the attention of the unionist electorate from Arlene Foster’s RHI scheme which has plunged the party into turmoil in recent months.

In her earlier staged public addresses, DUP strategists clearly decided that the best strategy was to stick it to the Other– and hence the double-barrelled attack that brought us the glib Polish Language Act insult alongside the crocodile jibe.

Her performance in subsequent public outings, including a BBC The View interview with Mark Carruthers that produced a scathing assessment of her from Newton Emerson and Deirdre Heenan, have clearly left party strategists concluding that the best way to limit the damage and get the party’s singular drumbeat message across would be to prevent the media from even asking Arlene questions!

The speech delivered to the party faithful and assorted journalists today was noteworthy for the brazen manner with which the Project Fear agenda was articulated.

To Gareth Gordon once again:

It is the continuation of a strategy that was apparent in the first televised debate of the campaign and in the party’s election literature delivered to unsuspecting voters across the land:

With ten days to go, it appears the DUP have decided that their best hope is to be found in allowing nothing to get in the way of the drumbeat being heard, particularly the voice of their own leader.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    There are some very serious issues here. Steven Agnew recommended a single wind scheme of the north coast which would have effectively met renewable requirements, but othesr at Stormont prefered small scale inefficent schemes which would filter subsidy funds to small concerns. “Green energy” is not a lark, but in a world where oil will ineviatbly increase in price, even in the short term, to the point where it becomes entirely inefficent, something pragmatic needs to be done to safeguard the continuity our energy requirements.

    The important thing to remember is that Arlene was minsiter, with responsibility for what went on during her tenure. Anywhere else out there amongst “real people” she would have been compelled to step down with this sort of careless gaff, and her handling of the situation after her exposure has shown very, very poor leadership skills, with the inevitable default to “NO”. While the money “stays within NI” it is still being filtered away from those who most need it in practice and this is inexcusable waste in any sensible persons book. I’ve run budgets myself, its not rocket science to avoid careless waste and get value for money spent if you have your eyes on the ball and are doing your job.

    My own problem with the DUP is that they appear unable to accomodate the political needs of the whole community, and constantly revert to what Am Ghobsmacht sometimes calls the “ringing of the wagons” mentality. This crude emphasis on what are percieved to be the key emotional requirements of their voting base is not something which in any way fits them to control the office of first minister, a “whole community” leadership post. That our first minister can be accused of such a wanton waste of public funds, especially in an economy which requires careful nurturing if we are ever to escape the ingrained dependency culture and even begin to hint at to the higher standards of our southern cousins, is no light matter.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    How does Seaan hate Protestants?

    I challenge you to substantiate those remarks or withdraw them.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Surely you cannot be serious Mick? Are you suggesting that Arlene hasn’t got a fair crack of the whip with regards media treatment?

  • johnny lately

    It depends on when you first got the flu and which strain you got, I’ve had the flu once in my life and that was back in the 60’s when I was a kid. It would be doubtful that anyone who really had the flu would be doing anything other than lying on their back.

  • johnny lately

    You could include yourself in that category Mick as you certainly can’t say your an impartial observer without your own particular agenda when it comes to the DUP and Sinn Fein.

  • Msiegnaro

    No however Arlene was extremely vulnerable.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    If they stand for the union then why do they try so hard to keep it along tribal lines when clearly this is only capable of delivering a disaster?

  • Reader

    Korhomme: If Ms Foster is ill with ‘man flu’, what’s she doing at a meeting spreading the germs around?
    Same as Hillary Clinton with the pneumonia. You don’t have to believe it if you don’t want to.

  • anon

    The BBC has a duty to be impartial. If you have concerns take them up with the BBC trust.
    Newspapers have no such obligation – they can be as biased as they like.

    What I’m really trying to say is – quit your whining FFS!

  • anon

    I thought it was a very sexist remark from Arlene. As a victim of misogyny (ahem), she should know better.

    Btw there’s obviously nothing misogynist about her ignoring Michelle O’Neill and thereby implying that she’s Gerry’s puppet.

  • Lucian Fletcher

    The SF/BBC coalition? You do realise how utterly bonkers that sounds? If you’re going to go down that road, you have to understand that it’s a road to nowhere (or Dublin).

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    I’m genuinely curious as to what you think is ‘left wing’ media here.

    Beyond a few new sheets published by the socialist workers all media here is centrist and in line with the default neoliberalism that pervades.

    You’re sounding daft.

  • The BBC trust is a joke just like the BBC’s impartiality claim and of course papers as private business’s are entitled to have their opinion but that that will not stop me pointing out that they are coming from their own opinion rather than that of an unbiased one.

  • anon

    And what makes you the arbiter of what is and is not biased? Are you yourself perfectly free from bias?

  • anon

    I’m curious – are there any other examples of a party printing an election leaflet with a big picture of the leader of another party and noone from their own party?

  • I make no apology for my views nor do I attempt to cover my views with a veil of impartiality, I tell it how I see it. The “journalists” who ignore that which doesn’t suit their agenda and concentrate on what does are what I refer to when I point out bias. Every other political party supported the RHI scheme and indeed lobbied to get the grants increased, the SDLP tried to get it re-opened and then removed their statement from their website until they were caught and put it back up claiming there was a technical error. SF tried to get it kept open when it was planned to close it and he Greens claimed it was not generous enough. I could go on but all of this is largely ignored by the BBC in the mad rush to get at the DUP.

  • JR

    It is simply breathtaking that this is the best the DUP can do. Paper over unprecedented financial scandal and a complete failure to govern, a failure to respect parity of esteem, a failure and a shambles in any way that it can be measured, the disaster of brexit which will remove subsidies which fund 90% of farm incomes and add 50% tariffs to all our agricultural goods to be shipped anywhere this side of an ocean.. By invoking the bogeyman of 30 years ago, in the full knowledge of how weak and shamelessly transparent their manifesto is as demonstrated by not allowing press questions.

    If This message does manage to chime with the unionist electorate and the DUP is delivered back as the largest party with Arlene still at the helm then it is the nail in the coffin of power sharing.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you OtF, I’m myself from a “Protestant Tradition” background, with an ancestor who was treasurer of a nineteenth century Belfast Conservative Association which was inceptive to the first development of Unionism. My closest friend’s brother was one of the first people to stand for what would become the DUP! One of my first memories is of a tartan blanket in a LOI field my (very Orange) mother took me to, and I simply cannot see how my attempts at a sensible “insider knowledge” critique of the numerous failings of some worrying aspects Unionism can really be construed as prejudice or hatred!! I’m in fact rather admiring of some of those people who have tried over decades to broaden the UUPs appeal locally as a potential one community party, all the way from the efforts of Brian Maginess and Sir Clarence Graham, who attempted to bring Catholic Conservatives into the party in the 1950s, to sane and moderate men who want to make power sharing work constitutionally such as Danny Kinahan. Not so much an anti-Unionist, just very, very critical in my assessments of some aspects of Unionism.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    You sound positively Trumpesque

    Is your face as Orange as your sash?

  • mickfealty

    Yes. I’m saying it’s nearly all whip and very little crack!!

  • file

    But, Granni, the only actual way to understand how unlike the real world this place is and how unimportant its local squabbles are is to leave. You can come back, but you bring a bit of perspective with you.

  • file

    There was a united Ireland here up until 1921.

  • newniman

    I sometimes wonder what Unionist (or English Nationalist) appeal was like in Liverpool immediately after Churchill sent HMS Antrim up the Mersey in 1911 to quel the worker’s (United Protestant/Catholic) revolt there to ensure the applecart was not upset for the rich throughout the UK. His strategy worked, instead of fighting the real problem by 1915 (after the Defence of the Realm Act) the Workers focus had become so befuddled they instead attacked and destroyed 200 “German” businesses in the City even though the Cabinet 2 days before War hostilities were declared had yet to find a justifiable reason to enter the conflict. King Geoge V subsequently stated: “You have got to find a reason [to go to war]”.

  • grumpy oul man

    How was she any more vulnerable than anybody else and what does that dead cat have to do with a election that she caused because of the almighty mess that is RHI and her refusul to do the proper thing and step down for a while and let a enquiry find out what was happening.

  • grumpy oul man

    A common refain from loyalists charged or imprisoned during the Troubles was “i wish i never heard of that man Paisley”
    Playing of the fear card was (and is) a favourite tactic of unionisn and more often than not resulted is some numpty going out and attacking nationlists or thier property.
    Paisley knew what he was doing and knew what was likely to happen.
    The classic example of this was his forming of UR with colour parties, res berets, oaths and speechs about sacrifice and fighting the enemies of ulster.
    Then when the inevitable happened and UR got the guns out, Paisley acted surprised and washed his hands of the whole thing.
    AR now plays the fear card and surprise surprise we still have numptys.
    Surely we deserve better from our polticians.

  • grumpy oul man

    Let us hope that in a week and a half you will still disagree with AG on a few points.

  • grumpy oul man

    It was a bloody rude thing to say.
    I know people passionate about the Irish language and none of them are shinners.
    To compare them hungry reptiles was nothing more than secterian dribble thats why people are offended and not all (or even most) of those people ane Shinners.

  • Granni Trixie

    Not necessarily. James Joyce in Dubliners for instance implied that you need to leave Ireland to develop and at the same time had characters who showed that they were not changed by the experience (notably a “Frank” who ofcourse was anything but…).

  • mac tire

    In your haste to defend Foster and the DUP you mentioned (in only the above 2 posts, mind): BREXIT, Sinn Fein/BBC coalition, David Cameron, EU, lawyers, welfare reform, victims, IRA, green energy, handouts, foreign workers families, foreign aid, blame assemblymen, civil servants, economists and engineers, hatred of DUP/protestants.

    Do you realise how crazy this looks to the rest of us?

  • mac tire

    She has had every chance to “crack”. The fact that she herself wields a whip every time she is given a chance to have a crack is her own fault.

  • file

    Necessarily. Your ‘not’ may be indicative of your not having spent long enough away. James Joyce was a Brit who refused an Irish passport several times, and anyway he never lived in Norn Iron – it is Norn Iron that is the lunatic asylum which residents only recognise as such after they have escaped.

  • Granni Trixie

    Oops your prejudice is showing. Around the world Joyce is recognised as a genius not a ‘Brit’ and he had telling insights about Irish cultural and social life,

    I for one do not see what passes for life here as ‘normal’.
    I take your point though about him not having lived in messed up Ni.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    The Grand Old Duke of York…

  • Petrus Hibernus

    Disgraceful lack of political character by the DUP

  • Petrus Hibernus

    We’re a more homely bunch I guess

  • Petrus Hibernus

    I’ve been there. trouble with living in such bright cities is that homely folks like us are made feel like green horns. Also they are often contrary to our moral fibre to

  • Petrus Hibernus

    The IRA ceasefire was the mostdestabilising event for UNionism. It’s like the end of disease would be destabilizing for doctors. Modern unionism is based upon the IRA threat. They need the IRA.

    Now that the IRA doesn’t exist, unionism still needs to conjure it up to scare its people into not falling to the folly of voting Alliance or Green

  • Petrus Hibernus

    The DUP will claim that Gerry is still the real leader

  • john millar

    Duck dodge as you may
    Lets try “approve” rather than support

  • john millar

    I think you may be missing the attempted point

    The appropriate analogy may be
    That A is being expelled /pilloried for poor grades whilst the behaviour of other “pupils” is even worse and is not subject to the same sanctions.

  • file

    I am only joking about Joyce being a Brit. he had a beef with the Irish government and that is why he would not accept a passport. He was as Irish as the moon reflecting in the unfathomable darkness of a Connemara boghole.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Newniman. While I’d followed up Neville Mcready’s moderate activities to control the miners strike in South Wales, 1910, I’d not encountered Churchill’s actions against the Liverpool Transport Strike before, and it is telling. In March 1914 Churchill abortively attempted to use Mcready to arrest the UUC and UVF grandees so that Home Rule could take effect. Always a great one for the use of force, Churchill. None of my grandparents respected Churchill at all, quite a common thing in an Ireland where he had succeeded in alienating almost everyone, no matter what their politics might be, who was not actually related to him.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Actually Steven Agnew was one of the first to question the economics of the RHI scheme back when Arlene was minister, Darrell. As he said at the launch of the manifesto:

    ” We were the only party to raise issues about the [RHI] scheme from its very inception. ”

    http://www.irishnews.com/news/2017/02/21/news/platform-green-party-leader-steven-agnew-938004/

    He has also been perfectly consistent in questioning Arlene’s ministerial abilities:

    https://sluggerotoole.com/2016/12/23/soapbox-arlene-foster-was-never-a-suitable-first-minister/

    This “Greens claimed it was not generous enough”could do with some unpacking, as my own understanding is that the Green Party is critical of these half baked heavy subsidy schemes favoured by the main parties which deliver little except personal profit to subscribers.

  • eamoncorbett

    bbb, you could promote the idea of Britain and Ireland jointly supervising a power sharing administration in Stormont which would be subject to severe censure in the case of deadlock. It’s time for new thinking.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Once those guys at Loyalists Against Democracy do a Stone Roses parody of this thread, then we are beyond satire.

  • Rory Carr

    While not resisting the general tenor of your thinking, Mr Grumpy, I do think that, for historical accuracy, I should point out that it was Gusty Spence alone who famously regretted having ever heard of “that man, Paisley,” rather than it being “a common refrain from Loyalists…”.

  • The Irishman

    I had a good chuckle at your second paragraph.

  • Granni Trixie

    Agreed.

  • Rory Carr

    Tell us, Darrell, please how it is that you learned of all these matters, of which you say there has not been a word, if not through the very media which you complain fails to report them.

  • grumpy oul man

    Gusty did say it and i believe David Irvine said that many loyalists shared his opinion.
    You could of course be right as im working on memory.

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    What an awful parody of the South African flag….
    .

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    You don’t need to conjure up the IRA..they are operating on the streets of West Belfast as I write….

  • Katyusha

    While not the exact words, I have heard the sentiment expressed by loyalists I know personally, Rory.

    Anecdotal evidence, I know, but I tend to believe people when they say they’d been led up the garden path.

  • burnboilerburn

    Sounds like a good plan to me

  • Jag

    Just over a month ago, a seriously ill Martin McGuinness, frail after several months of brutal treatment for a condition that is usually fatal in a small number of years (the Irish Times did a detailed story on his illness, many found it distasteful and intrusive) came out to announce his withdrawal from the Executive office.

    The point is, Martin came out and gave his statement,answered questions and gave interviews.

    I hope Arlene gets over her headcold soon.

  • Hugh Davison

    Anyone with any sense gets the flu jab. Works every time. No flu.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Hi John

    I grasped the attempted point as it is a way of thinking that I used to employ when I was a unionist with a bigger ‘u’, I learned said way of thinking from my grandmother who would always indignantly reel of a litany of ‘others-who-hath-passed-untouched’ anytime David Dunseath did his job and got stuck into a politician (who happened to be a unionist at the point of the aforementioned broadside).

    Interestingly, her reasoning behind the media’s divergence in opinion from her own was that it was full of communists.

    Yesteryear’s bogeyman has been replaced by a more modern one.

    And as for the rest of it:

    “Not a word from the Sinn Fein / BBC coalition about David Cameron spending £9 Million of tax payer’s money on his little leaflet of lies supporting the EU.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36013363

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35743994

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36582567

    “Not a word of complaint from them about the £200,000,000 paid into the pockets of lawyers for the Saville enquiry in Londonderry.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8737531.stm http://www.bbc.com/news/10292828 http://www.bbc.com/news/10205654

    “Not a word about the Sinn Fein grandstanding over welfare reform that cost the NI block grant £170,000,000.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-32714202

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-32883191 http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-32810265

    “Not a word of the cost keeping the thousands of innocent victims in disability payments or rebuilding of towns and moving communities as a result of the IRA terror campaign.”
    I’m pretty sure the BBC have mentioned this over the course of 3 decades.

    “It will take a lot of lipstick to cover all of that but then the SF friends in the media will turn their blind eye to all of that.”

    Simply put, I don’t recall an example of a person on here being so demonstrably wrong on their assertions.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Not a word from the Sinn Fein / BBC coalition about David Cameron spending £9 Million of tax payer’s money on his little leaflet of lies supporting the EU.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-pol

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-pol

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-pol

    “Not a word of complaint from them about the £200,000,000 paid into the pockets of lawyers for the Saville enquiry in Londonderry.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_http://www.bbc.com/news/102928http://www.bbc.com/news/102056

    “Not a word about the Sinn Fein grandstanding over welfare reform that cost the NI block grant £170,000,000.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-nor

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-norhttp://www.bbc.com/news/uk-nor

    “Not a word of the cost keeping the thousands of innocent victims in disability payments or rebuilding of towns and moving communities as a result of the IRA terror campaign.”

    I’m pretty sure the BBC have mentioned this over the course of 3 decades.

    “It will take a lot of lipstick to cover all of that but then the SF friends in the media will turn their blind eye to all of that.”

    Simply put, I don’t recall an example of a person on here being so demonstrably wrong on their assertions.
    Ask yourself “why am I so incorrect?”

    .

  • lizmcneill

    Brexit looks soooo successful for Northern Ireland http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/no-special-deal-possible-to-stop-the-return-of-border-controls-1.2981088

    All those promises about no hard border….

  • Unlike your blinkered approach I am a United Kingdom citizen and we as a nation voted to Leave the EU despite project fear, etc. etc. and leave we will regardless of the naysayers fretting about the border. In truth Southern Ireland will probably see the prosperity of the UK (their biggest market) and eventually want to leave to … if the EU lasts that long !!

  • The media did not invent the RHI scheme of course not but they spend their time talking about the negative issues around it while ignoring the positive aspects. Issues such hugely successful job creation rates at Invest NI are ignored when that is a real positive story for the DUP government minister are ignored by the media in their raging belligerence, balance is all I ask for and I don’t see it.

  • lizmcneill

    So being concerned about the economic impact of a hard border is “blinkered”?

  • There is a border between two sovereign nations and it has been there for a long time before the EU federalist project and it will remain, nothing to be scared of. On a recent holiday near Geneva my wife and I crossed the border between France and Switzerland a dozen times (in and out of the EU) without hindrance, stopping when asked and proceeding when permitted. It is not complicated it is the same process as hundreds of countries around the world use and do not have a problem. Borders are blown up to be a huge bogey they are not, the border having some administrative checks on it will not cause any famine or any other such major issue. You just need to get over your fears and look to the bright economic future, look at the stockmarket since last June, employment and trade is booming and that’s just at the prospect of getting free of the EU.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Darrell, I was involved in editing a project for the UN a few decades back about the “good news” across the globe on ecological issues. The producer was a very fresh faced and innocent person, who believed that this was the real news, which I’d agree with her over in an ideal world. But it does not attract ratings, (even with my own masterful editing skills, learnt on Music videos and interestingly applied to documentary there). Ratings are attracted to nasty and dirty.

    Even so, I’ve had to do with Invest NI and felt its performance is geared to the very sizeable concerns such as Bombardier rather than small entrepreneurs. While this certainly keeps some jobs going, companies such as Bombardier (which seems to be reliant on major government subsidies in Canada) cannot offer long term guarantees where their profitability is reliant on increasing development in cheaper and cheaper labour markets. Personally I’d feel that such funds would be better spent developing really self-sustainable jobs rather than simply propping up jobs a year at a time. I’ve heard this complaint from many others. I’d be interested to learn just how many of the jobs created are likely to sustained over an extended period of time, the real test in job creation and one NI authorities have usually proved quite weak in managing since 1922, when that division of Ireland ironically so desired by northern Unionist industrialists started a dramatic downtrend in the all Ireland trade which had been a central component in that economic miracle in the north which had occurred over the Home Rule Controversy period. Effectively since 1922 the NI unit has always been just too small to compete in the real world without serious external subsidy, and while partition damaged the southern economy also, this was very much a Pyrrhic victory for northern Unionism.

    The RHI business is a

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But Darrell, while “On a recent holiday near Geneva my wife and I crossed the border between France and Switzerland a dozen times (in and out of the EU) without hindrance, stopping when asked and proceeding when permitted”, this was only because Switzerland has subscribed to a series of treaties which ensure that the country conforms almost entirely to EU law on these important issues, most importantly membership of the Schengen area. While Britain and Ireland have not been subscribing members of Schengen, their common travel area has until now found Ireland far more open to Schengen than the UK.

    I doubt that if the Common Travel Area is sustained we will actually find the hard borders that an exit from Europe suggests actually come about, but if the UK government is to be believed, regarding their negotiating stance, their very belligerence may force Ireland into Schengen with all the problems that suggests for open travel.

  • lizmcneill

    So if you commuted across the border or had family on the other side, you’d be ok with stopping when asked twice a day? What about roads that cross the border multiple times? Or the all-island agricultural industry, that’s chopped liver?

    Northern Ireland isn’t a sovereign nation, it’s an exclave lacking certain things like, oh, direct flights to places like Switzerland. You can’t ignore the fact that we’re physically and socially attached to Ireland not Britain.

    Anyway, Switzerland is in the single market and May is insisting we must leave it.

  • Sorry if my post was too long for you to comprehend but in short RHI had flaws, but many positives as well. Many other problems caused by other parties had little if any benefit to the local economy but are largely ignored by most of the BBC reporting. I could list many other issues but you may feel it is too long.

  • Bobbell

    Tony Blair’s demon eyes and the Tories used Alex Salmond in the last general election.