SO, Jeffrey Donaldson is going to the ditches over the Brexit Protocol. An interesting if unsurprising approach from the new(ish) leader of the DUP to convince us all that the DUP are the 'real' leaders of unionism, and still have the necessary backbone to satiate their critics.
This positioning by the DUP is of course framed by the disproportionate attention the small cabal of anti-Protocol voices have received in recent months. The combined threat of loyalist violence and unionist chassis appears to be much more interesting to the mainstream media than the more boring stability and getting on with things that is the real world to most of us.
Of course, all of this positioning both by unionism and by some in the media is an exercise in avoidance, when the real issues at play here are the shrinking of the pro-union population and the growth of the pro-united Ireland position. However, this avoidance is as familiar as it is ineffective.
In a repetition of all contemporary pro-union lemmings’ behaviours, Donaldson finds himself chasing the minority of minority positions, hyping up non-existent Protocol threats. Meanwhile, he and the DUP ignore the majority who voted to remain in the EU, and those who voted to leave but intended a soft Brexit where the local economy and jobs were protected.
Bizarrely, but as further evidence of cognitive dissonance, this democratically deficit position is proffered, and accepted by many in the media, as not only legitimate politics but a way of saving the union in 'NI’s' centenary year. Finding alternatives to chasing the minority hard Brexit, anti-Protocol votes might have better suited a party which has not found a solid step since 2016, with all of their ventures in Westminster’s Hard Brexit Land ending at the bottom of that lemmings’ cliff.
I can only come to the conclusion that Jeffrey and the DUP need new dinner parties to go to. Talking to themselves, fellow nihilists and representatives of 'stakeholders' in the UVF, UDA and RHC might feel cosy, but won’t change the harsh demographic and political realities facing unionism.
Watching Jeffrey Donaldson talking about the prospect of Sinn Féin emerging as the largest party and assuming the First Minister position as somehow a unionist Armageddon was so painful I thought about watching from behind the sofa, but to be honest I hadn’t the motivation. However, it gives no confidence that the DUP, or wider unionism, which is not disagreeing with Donaldson, is committed to power sharing in any scenario where they are not a majority. Which is a bit silly given that majority is gone, but there is that cognitive dissonance again.
It is worth remembering that the only party that supported Brexit was the DUP. And the Protocol is only necessary because of hard Brexit. And hard Brexit only happened because of the DUP. Threatening to bring Stormont down over the hard Brexit-necessitated Protocol only provides evidence that the DUP has suffered a political nervous breakdown and strengthens arguments that the northern six counties is a failed political entity, incapable of reform.
Which brings us back to the main issue at stake. The constitutional future of this island is changing. It is time for leadership, not lemmings.