- They allowed themselves to be frightened by Jim Allister, and it showed. The lack of interest in the post by anyone higher than a Councillor showed that they feared engagement with him, had someone of note risen to the challenge and actually took him on they would have at least shown some backbone. After all how can you take on Sinn Fein if you are frightened of a fellow unionist?
- Diane Dodds was a bad candidate, despite all the words of support from the party leadership Diane is not known for her personal skills, debating skills or policy knowledge. In council she can put her hand up to vote when required, which in reality is all that most DUP Councillors are required to do.
- Family politics gives some comfort that the people around you are trustworthy and supportive, but there comes a time when it just looks like greed, that time has come for the DUP.
- The DUP campaign was poor and lacklustre, even the printed material screamed at people rather than talked to them. Rumours of catastophic mistakes abound. It became clear that the Director of Elections was out of his depth.
- The strenuous efforts to keep Diane off the hustings stage with Jim Allister were pointless if there was no commitment to carry the policy through for 100% of the time. It would have been easier to hit all the hustings early in the campaign and draw the stings before the expectations grew towards the final week.
- Voting for someone to be number one to keep someone else out is not going to be a good enough reason in the future. People have cottoned on to the cynical changes negotiated at St Andrews to establish the DUP election chant for the future, they don't like it.
- Like it or not the DUP lied to a sizeable section of their support in 2007, they told some a vote for the DUP was a vote to enter Government, they told others a vote for the DUP was a vote to stay out of Government. Those chickens were always coming home to roost.
So what next !
Changing a few Ministers won't make much of a difference bar a few new faces, Nelson at DCAL will mean lots of Ulster -Scots funding and lots of money for Linfield but the arts in Northern Ireland are in for a financial drought. Peter Weir for DETI, hmmm I have seen the tears in DETI civil servants eyes, the less said the better. Plug Poots for Environment makes Sammy look like Stephen Agnews best friend.
The biggest change the DUP could deliver is to make devolution work. We used to complain that direct rule ministers flew in to Belfast, took decisions and flew out again. More and more the general public point out that while we may have not always liked the decisions at least we had some form of Government. Being in Government means being capable of governing and that Peter is the problem, to date the DUP have shown themselves incapable of governing. Putting that right is about changing attitudes not personalities.