Ten days ago we were saying goodbye to the old and ringing in the new but will things be different in 2012? Will the New Year bring us to a brave new world? Will we make progress towards a shared society?
It’s supposed to happen. Just over a month ago Peter Robinson told his ‘Dupers’ that he wanted them to broaden their appeal.
He wants an end to “them and us” politics. He wants his party to woo Catholics to vote for them. If they do, in a sense the ‘Dupers’ will be following the ‘Shinners,’ who joined the persuaders for their cause some time ago. So, the old mean-spiritedness won’t cut it anymore. It’s to be a battle for hearts and minds now. It’s to be about winning new friends and influencing new people.
At the beginning of December I wrote that the change would, make “a fascinating challenge for the DUP dissidents.”
At the time, hard-line East Derry MP Gregory Campbell responded to his dear leader’s plea by saying the party would go along with it, provided their “core values” were protected. “If we abandon those values there would be strong resistance,” he warned.
Then, just before Christmas, Mr Campbell included these remarkable words in an article for a local newspaper. “…We should be watchful for sectarian, petty and narrow-minded ideology. We should be prepared to expose it when it occurs,” he wrote.
Well, there’s an ironic turn-up for the books! DUP people looking out for sectarian, petty and narrow-minded ideology! This we must see. If it’s out there they’ll find it. Aren’t the Dupers the world-leaders in that field? Wasn’t the party founded to promote a sectarian, petty and narrow-minded ideology? Weren’t these things the hallmarks of the old DUP?
Still, everyone can turn over a new leaf. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow,” as Isaiah put it in the Old Testament. We have to believe in redemption.
So, was it empty rhetoric from Peter Robinson or will things really be different in 2012? We’ll just have to wait and see but don’t hold your breath.
Norman Hamill writes in the Journal every Tuesday