DUP needs to watch its advocacy of what’s becoming its own minority enthusiasms

It’s been a rough week for Arlene and the DUP. Newton Emerson is clearly losing patience with the DUP leader’s impetuosity

After his career almost imploded in 2010, Robinson displayed convincing signs of humility and reflection, at least for a while.

Foster has met a few Gaelgoiri but she is still triangulating her position to imply she has not moved an inch. It is clear she feels herself to be the victim of a cunning republican plot – and that view looks increasingly justified as the Stormont deadlock drags on. But where is Foster’s admission of falling for this plot? What is her explanation for knowingly doing so? And where is her cunning?

In 2008, the Robinsons left out a wedding anniversary card from Gerry Adams, signed in Irish, on their three-ton hand carved stone mantelpiece. They made sure the Sunday Tribune saw it.

When the Sunday Independent asked Foster about Adams, she said: “He has a very strange personality. He wouldn’t be someone who I understand very well because he is not the norm of people who I would meet.”

Of course, Sinn Féin is enjoying this far too much for its manufactured outrage to be taken seriously. It is unionists who need to rail against Foster. She is simply not up to the task of leadership – and worse still, she looks incapable of improving.

My old mate Peter Geoghegan is after an explanation for huge (but entirely legally) registered expenses lodged by the DUP during the Brexit campaign last year. He won’t get one, other than this was the DUP doing its bit for the mainland Brexit cause.

In the meantime, you will remember SF claims to have spent less than 10k fighting what it now claims is a disaster for the whole island. [Wasn’t that worth more than a measly 10k? – Ed]. Probably, but since SF returns to the Electoral Commission are often more fiction than fact, we’ll never know.

Blondes, legal and transparent donations, hey, what’s next? Oh, I nearly forgot, and this is probably the more important thing. Right now, the DUP’s dominant plurality – refracted through power-sharing formulas – has put it on the wrong side of several majority popular issues.

Brexit, they may calculate, will cut up rough in the near term, but then continue to serve the Unionist interest over time by fundamentally altering the relationship of NI to a newly Westminster-centric UK state.

Others like Marriage Equality and even the Irish Language Act are more in the mould of the tar baby which matters to their socially conservative base, but things that are broadly unpopular.

Even the 51% backing for a border poll (to which Arlene once rather rashly shouted ‘bring it on’) is perhaps an indication there may be an embedded political reflex to almost everything the DUP opposes: bolstering the voices and advocacy of their opponents, regardless of its merits or demerits.

Finally, I’ve praised Ms Foster’s outreach to the Irish Language community (which senior party figures have much maligned in the past). It’s grand to talk the talk, but speaking out of both corners of the mouth only works for Sinn Fein in this part of the political biosphere.

As Steve Moore points out this morning, Mrs May shows how canning your base can create a broader appeal (and help keep the whole country together)… The question is, do they have the breadth and quality to do that?

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