Simon Hamilton was on The Politics Show today arguing with Unison over ‘efficiencies’ in health. This is the latest in a line of strategic errors for the DUP.
Because Simon is such a strong media performer and is on top of his brief (a rare commodity among MLAs) it will mask the stupidity of the decision to put him up in the first place.
Simon did the tough love speech and told the nice Unison lady that cuts must occur. This is all very noble. But isn’t this a crappie job for the health department? Why, if the DUP are at war with the health department, are they intent on taking hits & doing legwork for the Health Minister?
Simon has intentionally told the unions to prepare for the worst, but unintentionally handed the Health Minister a bullet-proof vest. The DUPs take ownership of what’s unpopular (efficiencies/cuts/job losses), and the UUP take ownership of what’s popular (the resulting improvements in service). Way to go Simon!
As things stand, the Health Minister has won over the hearts and minds of health professionals and managed to pit the DUP against health unions. This has been less a masterful display by the UUP (as if!) and more the culmination of a series of strategic errors from the DUP.
Iris has spent years building a reputation on health issues. She’s managed to destroy that reputation in the space of a couple of weeks. Philip Weir must be tearing his hair out.
The DUP is built (still) for politics as it existed when the party was first created. They are more committed to control freakery than devolution; to defunct majoritarian Unionism than to Northern Ireland peace process™. They need to adapt and grow up.
The DUP puts itself to the fore as a decision-maker, but it puts no distance between itself and the consequences of those decisions. If they fail to infuse some generous circumspection into their approach, they will incessantly make the argument for opposition. It’s in the DUP’s own best interests to always seek consensus, be less controlling and let all parties take an equal share of, and equal blame for, executive decisions.
So DUPs… don’t pat Simon on the back and tell him how great he did. Instead, find the guy who thought it was a good idea to put him up in the first place – and so do the dirty work for health and pick an unnecessary fight with the unions. And when you find him, ensure his stupidity earns him first-hand working knowledge of how a frontline hospital operates.