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Poots’ brief reign could prove an unlikely catalyst for DUP to completely overhaul its policies

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19.06.2021

At 21 days, Edwin Poots’ tenure as a political leader may be among the shortest in these islands and certainly its brevity has led to sarcasm among commentators and the public. But while there’s real human drama around his bid for power, the unseating of Arlene Foster, the extraordinary conclaves of the DUP at the Crowne Plaza and behind closed doors at Stormont and presumably elsewhere, and some of that has undoubted touches of slapstick, it may also be the case that Mr Poots’ reign will be remembered as a catalyst for change.

This isn’t to downplay the scale of what’s occurred in the DUP, but it highlights this is a crossroads for the party. It took a direction five weeks ago which it rapidly understood to have been very much the wrong response to contemporary political pressures in 2021.

That this party could stage the reverse ferret it has done over the last 72-hours is spectacular. But it could well represent exactly the kind of radical and courageous thinking it needs to survive.

Right from the off Edwin Poots pitched himself as the man of principle, the hardliner, the fundamentalist, the pragmatist, against what he considered the vacillating, unforceful, sleepwalking, “liberal leaning” DUP of Foster and her allies — soft-centred, Westminster compromisers.

Circling the unionist wagons around a Protestant core was the key strategy to defend the Union. Even as the unionist vote was leeching off into Alliance Party support or abstention and the Protestantism more diverse in its opinions and beliefs than the political party which sought to represent it, the Poots’ cadre held fast to an outdated model of what the DUP........

© Belfast Telegraph


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