Arlene is not a bad person, just a bad Leader

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.


4 thoughts on “Arlene is not a bad person, just a bad Leader

  1. korhomme says:

    Arlene Foster seems to have the view that a ‘strong leader’ is one who doesn’t deflect or change under pressure, or when circumstances change, one who remains immutable. But this isn’t being strong, it’s being intransigent, and she seems not to know the difference. It’s also a sign of weakness, overcompensating for character flaws.

    • korhomme says:

      There’s a parable or fable which explains it better than I can: the oak tree and a thin, bendy thing beside it, perhaps a birch. When it’s stormy, the oak stands firm and proud while the birch bends and shakes. When the big storm comes, the oak tries to remain proud, aloof and haughty while the birch bends before the storm. Eventually, the oak is uprooted while the birch remains upright afterwards.

  2. Martin J Frankson says:

    To play devil’s advocate, why is she regarded as a poor leader for just being honest in her views. Sure she’s not polished but she is authentic. It can be argued that the only mistake her party made was not getting its dormant vote out to the same degree SF did.

    That’s why I think DUP will bank on a second election. They are spooked and this will galvanize its non voting supporters into turning out for #AE17Part2

    The next election will see electoral pacts and will see a unionist majority reemerge and in style too.

    At least it’s getting people out to vote.

  3. E McCamley says:

    All this is very likely true, but it is irrelevant. Many equally disastrous politicians were loyal to friends, kind to children and so on. She was appallingly and publicly rude to Enda Kenny when he suggested a coordinated response to Brexit; she insulted anyone who promoted the Irish language; she appeared in an absurd Union Jack scarf, for all the world like a 12th July harridan, to promise a “brutal” election campaign. This was one promise she kept, effectively soliciting Protestant support to keep Catholics out. We will all have to live with the consequences of this folly. Your sympathy is misplaced. Denis Healy once told Shirley Williams that being nice was not enough. If Arlene joins Shirley in the Lords they can compare notes.

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