And so it is reported that Big Ian will indeed be relinquishing the North Antrim seat at the upcoming Westminster election. Well, no matter what reservations I have about Big Ian – and they are many – the Commons will certainly be a more colourless place without him. And, since he’s now 83 and visibly frail – though if you see him evangelising at City Hall on a Friday lunchtime that great booming voice still does the business – we can’t begrudge him a belated retirement.
The North Antrim DUP will be holding a selection meeting next week, but it’s widely expected that Baby Doc will get the nomination. The power of the Paisley name remains strong there, but it remains to be seen whether the Paisley dynasty can be carried on. Jim Allister is standing in North Antrim, and is hell-bent on winning what will be a fight to the death for the soul of rightwing unionism. Had Big Ian stood, he would probably have won; Wee Ian will be a much shakier bet, and Sunny Jim will have a fresh spring in his step today.
If you haven’t seen it already, you might like to cast an eye over my review of David Gordon’s The Fall of the House of Paisley. It’s a most enjoyable book, and suddenly topical again. We eagerly await The Fall of the House of Robinson.