Politics is a bloodsport, as we found out over the last few days. However, we should remember the human side, even with regard to people who have made mistakes.
Arlene Foster is a capable and kind person. Much of the criticism of her as a departmental and party leader is justified, but we should not forget the human being.
I can take you to people, indeed even among my wife’s canvass team, who will confirm her warm nature. It is small wonder Fermanagh people are so loyal to her at a human level, even if it is baffling for some of us at a political level.
Arlene Foster is a fine public servant and is someone who has delivered much good in her own locality. What she is not, is a political leader. She did not deliver significantly as a Minister and one particular oversight saw half a billion pounds disappear from the public purse. This is serious, of course, but on balance of probability I do not believe it was intentional on her part. It shows she has poor judgement as a Leader, but we must distinguish that from the human being capable of good work and kindness.
Arlene Foster is obviously, clearly, under immense strain. Again, having cost us all so much money and cost her movement the electoral majority it had always had by misreading the public mood, it is hard to feel any political sympathy. Nevertheless, such pressure rarely brings the best out of anyone at a human level.
There is much speculation about her political future, but I just hope someone is thinking of her personal future. Arlene Foster still has much to offer as a capable and kind public servant. But she is not a Leader. Her Leadership was not good for the Department of Enterprise, it was not good for Unionism, and it was not good for her personally. I sincerely hope people in her circle are gently telling her that.