You’re probably aware that the former DUP leader Peter Robinson has a book out titled Witty put-downs and Clever Insults. He tells the reader not to be dismayed if they’re currently not quite as sparkling as a  latter-day Oscar Wilde. “It’s a craft that can be honed with the right guidance and ample practice.”  One example from this how-to-be-witty manual is one borrowed from Sammy Wilson, who at some DUP shindig  came out with the following:

“I read that Gerry Adams talks to flowers and hugs trees. Yes, he’s a tree hugger. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised, given how often he has been handled by Special Branch.”

Boom boom.

If the rest of his examples are along these lines, I’m going to give his witty putdowns and clever insult a wide berth. If Peter had published a book containing witty put-downs and clever insults from the days of his marriage to Iris, now that I would have bought. But not this.

Eventually, Peter may put together a book that lists all the times he has warned the DUP that they’re heading for a cliff-edge with a quarter-mile drop. A couple of years ago he spelt it out:

  • unionists “cannot stop a border poll from happening”
  • a Tory government which doesn’t rely on the DUP might call a border poll
  • a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government “certainly would” call a poll
  • nationalists and republicans have been “pouring out United Ireland propaganda”

A couple of those warnings from 2018 look a bit tired now. He’s right that unionists can’t stop a border poll, and a Jeremy-Corbyn-led British government would have been tricky ground for the DUP – but thanks to Smarmy Starmer, Corbyn is not only not leading the Labour Party, he is no longer even a Labour member.

As for his final point, about nationalists and republicans “pouring out” propaganda – oh that they were, Jeffrey. We could all do with some serious thinking that results in a detailed picture of what a New Ireland might look like.

Peter Robinson is a dyed-in-the-wool unionist; it says something that he’s seen by the party he once led as being wobbly on the Union. He is also similar in expression to John Major: habitually solemn features, with utterances brain-numbingly dull.

Still, if he yanks the DUP back to the present-day real world, he will have done the state – and the rest of us – some service. Forget the red nose, Peter – straight talking is what’s required.



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