Will RHI bring down the Government?
Would it be a bad thing?
Do you care?
I suppose the short answer to the first question is that it is too soon to tell. But it seems increasingly obvious that eventually there will be one crisis which will push the “institutions” over the edge.
At one level, the disconnect between DUP and Sinn Féin is increasingly obvious. You might well choose to believe the SF narrative that DUP-SF is a joint and equal government. You might well choose to believe the view (articulated by Christopher Stalford MLA) that Sinn Féin is “the junior partner in a centre right coalition”. You might well choose to believe my narrative that Sinn Féin is a docile lap-dog or I might moderate it slightly and say that DUP is in government and Sinn Féin is in office.
Certainly Sinn Féin are not strutting around telling any gullible person that they are an all-Ireland party, who are heading for government in Republic of Ireland. To put it bluntly, Sinn Féin have peaked and it is harder to sell their self-proclaimed “rise and rise” to the electorate.
Whether it is alienation from voting itself, the emergence of People Before Profit or SDLP showing signs of life, it is clear Sinn Féin are under pressure.
RHI is a disaster. RHI is a scandal. Certainly DUP circling the wagons is unimpressive. SF have been weak. They make polite demands that Arlene Foster stands aside as First Minister. She says No…..and well that seems to be that. They hide behind “collective responsibility”, a concept that DUP does not seem to recognise.
What of Claire Sugden, our Minister for Justice (a very badly named Ministry)? She was co-opted to replace David McClarty (formerly UUP, Independent) and elected last year as an honest broker…gene pool UUP and Alliance-lite.
But she always seemed lightweight and and an unlikely Minister for Justice and it is likely DUP-SF gave her the job on the basis that she is a lightweight. Yet she has not rocked the Government boat over RHI. A choice between “collective responsibility” and the “public mood” and she seems to have made the wrong choice.
Ms Sugden is better placed than me to judge the interests of her own constituents in East Derry. But she owes her election to being UUP and Alliance voters as well as a personal vote. But UUP and Alliance are firmly in the “Arlene Must Go! ” camp.
It seems to me that she is damaging her chances of retaining her seat but she may not be thinking in terms of a long-term career in electoral politics.
UUP and Principle? Well there is always Opportunism. The Opposition parties have been presented with an “open goal” but deep down this is the same UUP which had an electoral pact with DUP as recently as May 2015.
Alliance Party and Principle? Another risible concept. Six months ago, they felt entitled to be given the Justice Ministry and crawled on the ground to get it…and failed. Does anyone really think the Alliance Party would be agitating for Arlene’s resignation if they held the Justice portfolio.
Sinn Féin and Principle? I saw better jokes in Christmas crackers. They dont seem to realise that it is about the “institutions” not the “Peace Process”. SF have travelled too far, been sucked into the Establishment too much and the ordinary folks on the street can live happily without Máirtín ÓMuilleoir
SDLP and Principle? Well not surprisingly I do not find this to be risible. But SDLP has too much principle for its own good. They would do a lot better if they were as unprincipled as I am. But SDLP would never listen to me….after all they never listen to anybody that wishes them well.
No more Mr and Ms Nice Guy. SDLP should be going straight for the throat. Bring this Government down. Think in terms of an Election.
There are two forms of analysis. One looks at demographics and last known election results and simply says that things will not be any different. The second form of analysis is political and tries to interpret what is happening on the ground.
The next major test of public opinion is not scheduled for some years. And throwing a spanner in that particular schedule is not a bad idea.
There is nothing to lose. Certainly not for SDLP. Conceivably there is something to gain.
Principle is great…SDLP have it. But do they have the Courage?