Jeffrey Donaldson – The mouse that roared…

There is no stranger sight than the famously mild-mannered Jeffrey Donaldson trying to play the hard man. This morning he gave a speech threatening to quit Stormont and trigger a fresh election “within weeks” if their demands over the NI Protocol are not met.

At the start of the week, I heard a rumour that the DUP wanted to crash the Assembly to prevent SF from getting the First Minister position. I thought it was a bit fanciful but three days later…

The DUP created this mess for themselves by backing Brexit. As our American friends would say, “they got to own it”.

The delusion of the DUP is astounding. They are at an all-time low in the polls but they are still acting like they are top dog.

The NI Protocol protocol is an extraordinary hill to die on. The average punter in the street could not give a flying f*ck about the NI Protocol. I am certain 99% of people could not explain what it actually is. As someone with an interest in politics, I would struggle to explain it. The low turnout for anti protocol demonstrations shows this is not an issue for most people in Northern Ireland as it does not seem to be affecting the daily lives of most of us.

What I do think people care about are the imploding health service and our other creaking public services. I don’t think the electorate is going to reward the DUP for further damaging public services with a fresh period of limbo.

The DUP is playing with fire. UUP leader Doug Beattie warned on the Nolan Show that if the Assembly collapses it may never come back. There is a common view amongst some Nationalists that they really don’t care if Stormont falls as they think it will make a transition to an all Ireland easier. The theory goes that without the meddling of those pesky politicians it is over to the British and Irish governments to do a gradual transition of power. What are another 10 years when you have been waiting for 100? My own personal view is Whether as part of the UK or a United Ireland, we all need Northern Ireland to work.

Amid all the bluster and noise it could come down to the simple fact that the DUP don’t like the fact that they are not the top dog and they are doing the political equivalent of taking their ball and going home.

The winners in all this will be the UUP, Alliance and SDLP. Doug Beattie, Naomi Long and Colum Eastwood are doing an excellent job of coming across as sensible and pragmatic. Naomi Long in particular is playing a blinder at being a voice of reason. The other winner is going to be the Apathy Party. People are getting so fed up with these perpetual crises that they are disengaging from politics, and who could blame them.

I also think our politicians just can not govern. The boring day to day stuff of running departments is beyond their skill set. They are addicted to crisis. They need the buzz of interventions from the Taoiseach and Prime Minister. They need the high of phone calls from the US President to feel alive. Like an indulged child, they scream: “look at me, look at me!” at every opportunity.

I for one am bored with this game. Pull it all down Jeffrey, knock yourself out. Turn Stormont into a Hotel, it would be more useful.

When the history books are written they will not be favourable to the DUP. They will have killed the thing they professed to love.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde