There seems to be a general feeling that Peter Robinson is the hero of the hour. That he flew back from Florida and admonished his DUP MLAs…especially Nigel Dodds and Nelson McCausland for undermining his whole “outreach to Catholics” thing. And put the wheels in motion to make everything ok for the big Covenant March on 29th September.
I think this gives Robbo too much credit….his outreach is a sham anyway. And rather than UNDERMINING it, Dodds and (especially McCausland) have EXPOSED the sham.
Nelson McCausland is intriguing. They say that facial hair makes a politician look sinister. But it cant just be this with McCausland………..as I also have a beard and I am obviously not sinister.
Rather it is Nelson’s outside interests that make him different. He is a latecomer in comparative terms to the DUP, first getting elected to the Assembly in 2003. He is not “gene pool” DUP. In fact most of his political career has been spent in opposition to the DUP. He was member of the Ulster Independence Committee……..He has variously been a member of the United Ulster Unionist Party, Ulster Unionist Party, and an Independent Unionist, fighting a succession of usually unsuccessful elections.
Indeed he seems better placed in a group of fringe unionist politicians such as Cedric Wilson, Fraser Agnew, Willie Fraser and Boyd Douglas who seem to drift in and out of parties and operate in ad-hoc “parties” before the inevitable collapse and defection.
McCausland seems to have more political acumen than the others and in 2003 being the second DUP man worked to his advantage when he finally made the Assembly. In 2009 he made it to the Executive table as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure and since last year he is the Minister for Social Development.
Yet…….he is probably better known for being the man who “invented” the Ulster-Scots language. He was also the main man in the 1980s for the Lords Day Observance Society. And of course a prominent Orangeman. Although none of this would do him any harm politically…..he strikes me as being semi-detached from the DUP, at heart an Independent and a person who operates in pressure groups at the fringe of politics.
The belief that Norn Iron’s Protestants are actually the lost tribe of Israel appeals to many loyalist and unionist fundamentalists. Being among Gods chosen people brings a certain superiority over indigenous people……whether on the West Bank of the Jordan, Texas and North Belfast. Nelson is fully signed up to that nonsense.
For me …he has a disconnected approach to interviews. Slightly superior. Indeed very superior.
Yet he has done well for himself and anyone who remembers his pathetic interview about the Ulster Scots “language” on Hearts and Minds several years ago, will be amazed that he is now in the Norn Iron Executive.
Nelson might say that GOD has blessed him. I might say that Nelson has been lucky.
The main DUP man in North Belfast should be Nigel Dodds (Diane Dodds…his wife …is a Member of the European Parliament) who is the MP at Westminster. Dodds was also a MLA at Stormont until September 2010, when he stood down in line with the DUPs policy on “double jobbing”.
In the Assembly Elections of 2011, McCausland was the DUP main man…..bringing in two colleagues with him to Stormont.
As McCauslands star rises, Dodds seems to fall. Representing North Belfast, he has “only” a 2,224 majority over Sinn Féin. In Norn Iron terms this is marginal. For nearly two decades Dodds has been the #3 man in the DUP…..behind the Rev Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson. But now in his mid 50s, it seems unlikely he will succeed Peter Robinson as Leader….except in the very short term.
I dont suppose McCausland WANTS to be Party Leader….he operates better in the background. A kingmaker and kingslayer rather than the king.
Dodds and indeed Mrs Dodds have done pretty well financially out of Politics. Not of course that there is anything wrong with that. Even the Bible says the labourer is worthy of his hire. While Mrs Dodds has been worthy of her hire in Europe (since 2009)…..Mr Dodds has been worthy of his hire as a Westminister MP (since 2001), the Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2010) and been worthy of his hire as a Minister in the Norn Iron Executive (1999-2009). Thats a lot of worthiness although some naysayers note that he was among the “top 20” expenses claimants in the Westminster Parliament.
Dodds lives near Banbridge in County Down and that has led to some talk that he is not as often “on the ground” in North Belfast as he was when he dealt with local issues. This is a little unfair….Devolution has allowed Dodds to delegate in his constituency. This has obviously strengthened McCausland.
Dodds is a Free Presbyterian …as are many DUP members but McCausland is at arms length from that Church but in better standing with the Caleb Foundation the pressure group of religious fundamentalists and creationist nutters (not all Free Presbyterian) who keep an eye on the God versus Mammon struggle.
Peter Robinson is an Elim Pentecostalist and while some are certainly involved with Caleb Foundation, the impression is that the main function of the Caleb Foundation is to guard against the inda secularism to which Robbo (publicly) aspires.