Sometimes I forget that Peter Robinson is First Minister of this place. I don’t know why I should. After all he gets the air-time. However, when I see all the fuss being made about his speech at the DUP Conference I wonder to myself, why all the fuss? And then I remember, oh yes, he’s First Minister.
They say that nations (or, in our case, little county-council sized regions) get the elected representatives they deserve. Perhaps. But I’m genuinely of the view that Peter Robinson is not truly happy in his political skin – it doesn’t quite fit. He has grown into it. People aren’t yet fully aware that he is First Minister. They still consider him to be that little angry chap with the dark glasses that used to hang on to big Ian’s coat-tails. School-boyish, career mini-politician.
But now he’s First Minister. He is our most public representative. He visits the White House and stuff and we’re all slightly embarrassed by it all when we remember he is what he is, and when we can be bothered to remember.
Peter is always indignant. He never seems happy. He is the opposite of cool. He is never relaxed. He is sure about God and Jesus and homosexuals. He doesn’t question received ‘wisdom’ that much.
Now his attention is turned away from ‘Republicans” and “Sinn Fein IRA” (because he’s in government with them) – and his wrath is directed at others. The Conservative Party. David Cameron. The TUV.
Everywhere he looks people don’t appreciate his certainty, his authority, his new found importance.
Peter wants to be liked, I suspect. No, he wants to be respected. He weathered the storm and climbed his greasy pole. Now that he’s at the top of it he looks down at his people and is strangely disappointed. His minions look dull from a distance. His acolytes appear a tad grey and insipid – even when ranting. He wants his empire to be better than this. He wants to be a real politician looking down on brighter, happier people but all he sees are adoring dullards.
Because Peter has become Chief Dullard. In Peter’s world the songs are sung not by gorgeous young Generation Xers but by the Rev William McCrea. Peter taps his foot to a dull and clanging rhythm that, strangely, disappoints him.
True, he knew that the pole was greasy and it would be tricky to climb. But, deep down, he is disappointed. And he’s not sure why.