Political tactics of Peter Robinson all over DUP electoral strategy 

This morning I read a fantastic piece by Steven McCafferty writing for the detail. It can be read here http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/peter-who-how-the-dup-s-longstanding-leader-has-been-quickly-forgotten

The article delves into the electoral strategy of the DUP and quite rightly points to none other than Peter Robinson as the architect. 

The crestfallen leader, despite all his faults and the aroma of corruption that often surrounded him, was a master tactician and one of the shrewdest political adversaries the one is ever likely to come across.

The fingerprints of Peter Robinson are all over the DUP strategy of ‘Arlene for First Minister’. Learning from the mistakes of the Ulster Unionist Party, Robinson foreseen the inevitable crisis for any Unionist leader sharing power with Sinn Fein, and flipped this dynamic accordingly at St Andrews. 

By masterminding the insertion of a change in the clause for the appointment of the First and Deputy First Minister’s, Robinson contrived a powerful weapon for the DUP to use for at least three Assembly election cycles to come. Long enough for him to take power in the DUP, serve as First Minister, build his legacy and organise his succession and post-power influence. 

The building of his legacy had to be sacrificed in the midst of a Nama storm, but this did not stop Peter Robinson continuing to pursue his ultimate final objective; his succession and post-power influence. 

Those who internally lead the coup against Robinson made the fatal mistake of believing that once the legacy section of his strategy had been de-railed, that the fall from power and influence would naturally follow. 

I spoke to a very senior DUP member around the time that just about everyone agreed that Peter Robinson’s legacy had been de-railed by Nama and that his exit would be hastened. I specifically said the following “You need to crush him internally now, he isn’t finished yet.” 

The senior DUP member said “that’s not how we do things in the DUP. We seal a coup with a handshake and a hug.” 

Such weakness backfired spectacularly as Robinson played the internal dynamics masterfully and not only severely damaged the ultimate objective of those behind the coup, which was a power grab, but actually managed to manage his succession and one only needs to look at the DUP’s election campaign- as pointed out by Steven McCafferty- to see the enduring influence of Peter Robinson. 

The conspirators- who I happily worked along with- achieved their tactic of getting rid of Peter Robinson, but failed in the ultimate objective of grabbing the levers of power in the largest Government party. 

The issue, however, is that Robinson’s clever electoral strategy is based on the deceit that he himself contrived at St Andrews. 
The DUP opened the door to a Sinn Fein First Minister, so as they could themselves ride to the rescue to close it again come election time. Of course this is- again- simply a tactic that is designed to serve the ultimate objective, which is to keep the DUP in power alongside their partners in Government, Sinn Fein. 

The challenge for political strategists opposing the DUP is to shine a light on the dark corners of their electoral strategy and expose the deceit for what it is- a clever deception. 

In short-term political strategy the DUP may have used their contrived weapon to their advantage, but they have failed to demonstrate a long term sustainable political strategy that will ensure their succession for the next three electoral cycles. 

The Robinson strategy brought the DUP to where they are now and had enough trip-switches to allow them to cling to power in the third Assembly electoral cycle after St Andrews- but that’s where the strategy ends. 

With the DUP sure to lose some ground, and facing the prospect of having high-profile party members- up to the level of their junior minister- dumped out, it is going to take a political tactician equal in ability to their former leader to enable the DUP to hold power into the next three cycles of Assembly elections. 


Why Catholic & Nationalist voters should give Ruth Patterson a vote 

The race for the six seats in South Belfast has been, and promises to be, one of the most exciting constituencies across the whole of Northern Ireland.

It is a brutal battle within Unionism- there is no point pretending otherwise- and ironically it could be Nationalist transfers that ultimately decide the fate of the final Unionist seat. 

The very basis of the DUP election campaign has been ‘vote for us to stop Martin McGuinness becoming first minister’. I don’t buy this because, as I have previously written, Martin McGuinness- legally and practically- already is the first minister. 

The DUP also fail to tell the electorate that a Sinn Fein first minister was made possible by the DUP approved St Andrews agreement. 

That is why I have re-worked the DUP’s #ForwardWithArlene slogan to a simple #ForwardWithTruth. The truth is that it is not Arlene Foster V Martin McGuinness. 

This attempt to fool the electorate is like saying we are going to have a do or die football match but without any nets. It’s going to end in a draw. No matter what happens on May 5th, it’s going to be an OFMDFM draw. 

The DUP version of Project Fear is designed to entrench the sectarian nature of politics, to use the crude mechanisms of mandatory coalition- underpinned by the St Andrews agreement- to ensure that they always have the ‘fear card’ to play and thus, our system of Government will always be based on the fundamental principle that one main tradition can never trust the other main tradition to govern. 

I believe that Catholics and Nationalists can have a friend in Ruth Patterson. On social issues, political accountability, housing, health and education- Ruth Patterson is a candidate that everyone should feel able to vote for. 

Ruth Patterson is an unashamed Unionist, but the principled and positive Unionism that we have tried to articulate during our campaign is one that is tolerant and above all else believes in the fundamental principles of democracy and law. 

Everyone should be equal at the ballot box and everyone should be equal under the law, and equally subject to the law. 

It is within this Unionism that resides the desire to see truly democratic politics take root in Northern Ireland. We do not need a perversion of democracy to live together, we simply need equality at the ballot box and equality under the law. 

Ruth Patterson can be a voice of accountability in Stormont, shining a light into areas that some want to remain hidden from the public. 

I relished the opportunity to shine a light into the dark corners of the Nama scandal. It did not matter that the wrong-doing allegedly came from within the biggest Unionist party, it was wrong and deserved to be exposed as such. 

I know that Ruth Patterson will challenge wrong-doing, inequality, political patronage or corruption if it raises its ugly head in Stormont. She will, I have no doubt, do so without fear or favour. 

On 5 May 2016 Catholics and Nationalists can transcend the tribal politics the DUP have espoused during this campaign and return the serve.  

A vote for Ruth Patterson is a vote for an unashamed Unionist, but a Unionist that will represent all of South Belfast equally. 

ACC Martin is either blind to police’s powers or being purposefully misleading 

 I was aghast at the comments from ACC Stephen Martin on BBC TalkBack today. 

Whilst technically he is correct there is no criminal offence of wearing a mask per se, he failed to mention that PSNI have powers of arrest if there is the potential for offences. 
Under section 23A of the Public Order Northern Ireland Order 1987 a PSNI superintendent can issue an order that requires persons to remove farcical coverings if they believe there is the potential for offences to be committed. 
 Following the issuing of authorisation by a superintendent under section 23A, powers of arrest for non-compliance are then conferred upon police. 

 In the various illegal dissident republican parades over Easter not only was there the clear potential for criminal offences, including incitement and terrorist offences, but many of the parades were actually actively breaching the law by either breaching Parades Commission determinations or being unnotified public processions.

Quite why a superintendent would not think it was appropriate to issue an order under section 23A for facial coverings in an illegal dissident republican parade is beyond me.
The PSNI found it suitable to invoke section 23A for peaceful and lawful Union flag protests but took no such action to invoke section 23A against an illegal dissident republican terror fest!