A curious silence?

Two days ago, Malcolm was one of the few to pick up (from the Sunday Tribune) the quite extra-ordinary story of an intimate (if heated) exchange of emails. They involved:

  • two DUP eminents: an MP (Jeffrey Donaldson), and an MLA, aspiring inheritor of the North Antrim Westminster franchise, a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the DUP spokesperson on justice (all that, Ian Paisley, Jr), and
  • a convicted double UFF murderer, who has now found Jesus, but neither humility nor a civil tongue (Kenny McClinton).

What is astonishing is the silence that has followed. The murky implications of this correspondence may need spelling out:

  • McClinton claims that he has access to the DUP rank-and-file, whom the leadership are ignoring. He is suggesting that the “long war” is not over.
  • McClinton implies Paisley is failing to repay a political blood debt: “I went out on the 10th May 1977 and shot a man DEAD … to back up your father’s less than popular call for a strike”.
  • He contrasts the “good, high-paid jobs” and “large bank balances” of “DUP politicians and their sons” with the “ex-loyalist prisoners” who are “treated like something scraped off the sole of someone’s shoe; unemployable; living on social benefits” [sic].
  • In return, Paisley is making it clear that the DUP’s main interest is manipulating the policing issue to provoke strife within Sinn Fein: “Rejoice, our enemy is turning against themselves.”
  • Donaldson, despite McClinton’s abuse, more in sorrow than in anger, still greets McClinton as “a brother in the Lord.” However, he specifically asks McClinton to support the DUP leadership’s approach, as the only alternative to the Westminster “deeply green Plan B … Is that what you fought for, Kenny?”
  • Paisley had tried to secure a visa for McClinton to get into the US, despite his terrorism and murder convictions, so that he could “preach the Word”.

Let it be emphasised: Paisley and Donaldson are prime candidates to inherit the DUP leadership.

So why has the mainstream media neglected this? It is surely as significant as any MP caught playing “hide the sausage” in the wrong bedroom. Yet … silence. Even the magnificent Slugger O’Toole now seems to have lost interest: the debate thereon petered out over the issue of when a terrorist became an “ex-terrorist” (try replacing “terrorist” with, say, “rapist” or “killer” to evaluate the logic of that one).

To put it bluntly, who is leaning on whom to bring peace-and-harmony?

Meanwhile the cleavage within the DUP deepens by the day. Mainlanders may need reminding that politics in the “North” are often more akin to those of the US Deep South than to the usual UK civilised mud-wrestling. The repulsive George Wallace of Alabama steadily moved to the fringes of racism:

Seymore Trammell, Wallace’s former finance … recalls a talk with Wallace after the [1958 Alabama Governorship] defeat: “He said, ‘Seymore, do you know why I lost that governor’s race?’ I said, ‘I’m not sure, Judge. What do you think?’ He said, ‘Seymore, I was out-niggered by John Patterson. And I’ll tell you here and now, I will never be out-niggered again.'” [Source]

Similarly, every leader of every strand of Ulster Unionism seems doomed to be eventually out-flanked by the die-hard segregationalists to his Right: O’Neill, Faulkner; Trimble and now Paisley. Not so long ago (indeed it still appears as the first hit when one googles “DUP”), the Paisleyites were proud to be

The most religiously fundamentalist of all the Unionist parties and the leading party opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.

As of now, that link to “what we stand for” seems, curiously, broken.

The real issue is how, over the last couple of weeks, the omens for trouble within the DUP have multiplied, since Lynda Gilby in Sunday Life (the Belfast Telegraph in drag) wrote it up two Sundays past:

The DUP power struggle has begun, so sit back and watch the show.

Toppling Paisley as leader is probably unthinkable at this point.

So, as things stand, we may well have to wait until the ‘Big Man’ is called to his maker for the real fun to begin.

Either way, for the DUP, disarray beckons.

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