Gregory Campbell was on the Nolan Show this morning on BBC Radio Ulster (yes I know it has a huge listenership in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan). Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly was also on the show and he called Gregory a dinosaur. That’s because Gregory was giving out about the appointment of Sinn Féin’s Mary McArdle at Stormont, the election of Sinn Féin’s Sean McGlinchey to the post of mayor in Limavady, and the failure of Gerry Kelly and all republicans to apologise for their violence during the past forty years.
So does that make Gregory a dinosaur? Uh-uh. No siree bob. Any time a politician opens his mouth, if s/he’s smart (and Gregory is smart), s/he thinks first what impact this will have on their constituency. Gregory’s constituency is the hardline element of the DUP, the backwoods boys, so the ‘hard man’ act, as Kelly called it, fitted the bill nicely.
It also provided a DUP smokescreen, something Nolan suggested to Gregs. According to Wikileaks, the DUP was in talks with Sinn Féin for three years before entering power-sharing: this at a time when they were telling the public they wouldn’t touch SF with a very long barge-pole that had an extension attached to it. When Nolan made the Wikileaks suggestion, you could almost hear Gregory moan. He immediately began accusing Nolan of taking his questions from texts sent into him and no, I don’t know what that text reference means. Nor, I suspect, did Nolan. But that was OK, because it served its purpose. It was a brisk return of serve, a quick counter-punch, a timely distraction. Clever, nimble Gregory.
Things ended with the DUP man admitting that Sinn Féin had the right to appoint anyone they liked at Stormont and that they had the right to fill the mayor’s chair in Limavady with anyone they chose, but he Gregory had the right to criticise them…You get that? Even cleverer. Q: What are your reasons for criticising? A: Because I have the right to criticise. Mmm. You know there’s something missing in there, but Gregory has wrapped his answer in so much smoke, it’s hard to say what it is.
So no, Gerry, Gregory ain’t no dinosaur. Dinosaurs aren’t as nimble as fleas and they don’t have a special place in the heart of a big chunk of the DUP electorate (well they do but not as warm a place as Gregs). The important thing this morning was to spend as little time as possible on the Wikileaks thing , because it suggested the DUP had spent several years lying its head off to the electorate. Gregory did that quite brilliantly.