Jude Collins

Friday, 17 December 2010

Peter Robinson Redux?

So  - is Peter Robinson the Bill Clinton of the north?  Now I’m not suggesting that Peter has any of Bill’s  appetite for interns. For a start,  he doesn’t quite have Bill’s personality or pulling power. In fact a year ago Robinson looked like a dead man walking: those suspect deals about the sale of land, and his wife Iris’s colourful love-life with a 19-year-old lad whose entreprenurial skills impressed her so much, she got a business acquaintance to stump up £50,000 so the lad could get going with his idea for a café on the Lagan Tow-path. To make matters truly awful, Peter gave an extended TV interview in which he tried for the sympathy vote in a way that made the death-of-little-Nell scene in Dickens read like knock-about comedy.   This man, we told each other, will not lead the DUP for very long.  When he lost his Westminster seat to Naomi Long,  the political funeral bell appeared to have tolled.

But is he now doing a Clinton and emerging from his own ashes just in time to sweep to election victory again? There he is the other day, on TV with Martin McGuinness, explaining what a good deal we all got with the budget.  He looks in possession of all his faculties, he looks as cheerful as someone with his features ever can look, and, unlike Brian Cowen in the south,  he  doesn’t look at all like a man who might be pushed from his leadership position before the next election. Maybe the anti-Robinson snow-storm is over. Maybe he’ll retain his grip on the leadership, lead his DUP troops into the May election and re-establish the DUP as the most dramatically-successful political party the north has ever seen. If Bill did it, why not Peter?

But wait. Let’s extend that Brian Cowen comparison. There was much talk of Cowen being toppled so Fianna Fail could go into the coming election with someone less open to public contempt. Talk, but no action. It now appears that Cowen will still be at the helm for the election in March. Similarly, Peter will definitely lead the DUP troops into the May election.

And the outcome? Well, the road not taken is always a difficult one to interpret, but   it’s a safe bet that Fianna Fail will do badly in March. Maybe not as badly as some think but badly nonetheless.  The party will look at the damage and after a respectable time-lapse, it’ll decapitate Brian Cowen.

Ditto the DUP.  Holding onto the devil they know, the party will do better  next May than some might think or hope. Better but not good enough. The DUP will thank Peter profusely, sit quiet for a respectable period of time, then decapitate him.  They’ll say he’s stepped down for personal, family reasons but we’ll all know what happened. Then there’ll be a drum-roll, the curtains will part and through them will step the new leader, that most sparkling and charming of DUP men, Nigel Dodds.                                                               


  1. Notwithstanding the fact that you seem to really dislike Peter Robinson(and have some strange issues with his face LOL!) I actually think that he will retain the First Minister's post in May and will likely hold onto the position until the next election in 2015 which is when he has already stated he would consider retiring from politics. I am a Nationalist but I think that Robinson deserves great credit for the way in which he has positively developed his relationship with Martin McGuinness and the nationalist community as a whole (which included his gracious acceptance of the Bloody Sunday report) throughout recent months. Clearly, Robinson was the brains behind the DUP and it was he, and not Paisley who carefully laid the path for powersharing with Sinn Fein, and his recent attempts to genuinely guide the DUP into a more moderate and centre party is a good sign. I know that many of my Nationalist friends now have considerable respect for Robinson and I for one hope that if the DUP remains the biggest party that he remains at the helm as Party Leader and First Minister because he is doing a good job in guiding his party towards a more progressive path and has impressed me as being a First Minister for ALL the people of Northern Ireland. The comeback kid? I certainly hope so.

  2. Ha ha - I don't have, as they say, any issues with his face (he does look stony-faced, it's fair to say) and I don't really dislike him either. But I thought his wronged-husband deal on TV was embarrassing and failed-manipulative. I agree he's more moderate than, say, Dodds; but the DUP bought into power-sharing because there was nowhere else to go, other than power-sharing. Paisley himself has said as much. So let's not get too congratulatory. As for graciously accepting the Saville Report - I think that AND Cameron's response belongs in a Monty Python episode. Your troops murder fourteen innocent people in broad daylight, and thirty years later you or your government get round to saying 'Sorry'. Not 'We must prosecute the guilty people' or 'Here - accept these millions for the loss of your loved ones' or 'I hear there are other instances where innocent people were set up and murdered'. No. Just 'Sorry'. And the nationalist people tell themselves that's a victory. Words fail me.

  3. Jude; And Adams' masterpiece performance on his Father's alleged sexual abuse of his siblings wasn't worthy of an Oscar?
    Anytime a politician summons the media to an interview is a sure fire photo op, and in Robinson's and Adams' case, a tactic to alter the smell of the scent before the wolves arrive at the door.
    The difference between them is that Robinson is perceived by the general public as a victim in his role as the betrayed husband of a cunning and sexually perverted spouse, while Adams was proven once again to be a sly, lying and manipulative figure who threw his own revered Father under the bus in order to deflect attention from his own role in shielding his brother from allegations of family sexual abuse.
    Both men have encountered serious accusations this year. Only one has earned respect and renewed public credibility with their performance. The other is a forlorn figure of public ridicule whose every word is now a recipe for side splitting laughter.
    If his party had any good sense, they would quietly sit him down and then decapitate him from political life.
    The only problem is HE WON"T LET THEM!