Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

As far back as 1921, Unionist icon Sir Edward Carson was bemoaning betrayal by Westminster when he said: “What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power.”

By 1972, Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath was pulling the rug under Unionists by abolishing their beloved Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont, and his successor Harold Wilson was branding them as “spongers” on Britain.

Worse was to follow in 1985 when, of all people, Margaret Thatcher sparked Unionist protests by signing the despised Anglo-Irish Agreement, and lo and behold her successor John Major admitted Britain had “no selfish strategic or economic interest” in Northern Ireland.

Lessons learned? Well, let’s trust in Boris, so when he promised there would be no Border in the Irish Sea he was cheered to the rafters by the DUP before he, er, introduced a Border in the Irish Sea.

Still no problem, a few weeks ago Dame Arlene Foster backed new Prime Minister, Liz Truss as being “emotionally attached to the Union", so there were high hopes that legislation to overthrow the dreaded Protocol would soon pass.

What could possibly go wrong, we thought, before horrified Unionists then watched leading Tories cosying up remorsefully to Dublin.

Are you seeing a pattern yet?

Perhaps Liz Truss will yet deliver on getting rid of the Protocol, who knows? But you wouldn’t trust her to deliver the post never mind anything so important.

And this week, Tory grandee Ken Clarke said in the House of Lords what many others were thinking, that the real reason the DUP won’t go back into Stormont isn’t the Protocol but because they would have to serve with Michelle O’Neill as First Minister.

But in view of the history of betrayal, Unionism trusting Westminster is, to invoke Einstein, insanity.

It’s not, however, their only strategic mistake of recent years.

There’s no doubt changing demographics and voting patterns have played a part in where we are now electorally.

But it is only six short years ago that Arlene Foster’s new leadership was in large part responsible for the DUP’s best election result which saw them take 38 Assembly seats to Sinn Fein’s 24.

Instead of reaching out from a position of such strength, the party went on a downward spiral with a series of poor decisions.

They hitched their wagon so vehemently to the Brexit train, which resulted in the (to their eyes) disastrous Protocol and the short-lived influence with the Theresa May Government. It was financially beneficial for a time, but a relationship with Downing Street was prioritised over relationships at Stormont.

The recent Census shows that people in Northern Ireland who identify as 'British only' is at its lowest figure of 31 per cent, and many people put down disillusion with Brexit and the attendant mess as a major factor.

The RHI debacle was a major embarrassment to say the least, and the “crocodile” comment over Irish language served to alienate many Nationalists, portraying to them an arrogance towards their culture.

Despite some fine words of reconciliation at the start, and at the end, of Arlene Foster’s term there wasn’t a lot in-between to encourage Nationalism.

Overall, the party failed to grasp the opportunity to build bridges and as they slipped in the polls as they continued to play partisan politics. It’s their shtick after all.

As their fortunes fell, the party turned on itself with Foster dumped, Poots elected as leader then quickly dumped and Donaldson installed to turn the tide.

As Foster moved on to greater things, a tv and media career, a Damehood and apparently a seat in the House of Lords, the party mess she left behind retreated even further into the politics of fear.

To an extent it worked. As disappointing as the Assembly elections were earlier this year for the DUP, they could have been much worse if the polling of last year had come to pass. Putting the Protocol front and centre of the campaign and warning that it posed an existential danger to Unionism worked in a sense.

This week I watched a short clip of a video from 1971 when Jonathan Miller challenged Enoch Powell’s constant message of fear over race relations in Britain, essentially saying that if politicians constantly tell people they should feel fear and horror, that is what will happen in many cases.

But the vote the DUP gained has come at a price, and they’re now on the Protocol hook.

Journalist Sam McBride tweeted this week that loyalist Jamie Bryson “has emerged as the DUP’s de facto director of policy".

“That’s extraordinary, not least because he’s entirely open about wanting to destroy the Good Friday Agreement, while the DUP now endorses the amended Agreement,” said McBride.

The problem, of course, is that if the Assembly goes down, possibly for many years, Northern Ireland will be governed directly from Westminster, the very people I referred to in my opening of this article and the English, in 2022, seem less sympathetic than ever to help us out.

Two weeks tomorrow is the deadline for Stormont to get up and running after the election. If it doesn’t, and only a scrapping of the Protocol can save it according the Bryson, Allister and the DUP, then the Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris says he will call an election within two weeks,.

The speculation, then, is that the Assembly election will take place just before Christmas, a mad time for voters any year but insanity according to Einstein if we’re doing the same thing over again.

Surely, there can be no doubt about what the election is really about; forget the cost of living, health waiting lists or any other everyday issue you care to mention.

When they call at your door looking for your vote, as far as the DUP is concerned there are only two issues; getting rid of the Protocol and making sure Michelle O’Neill isn’t First Minister.

It’s why more and more people are heading to the middle ground, and it will be interesting if there is an election to see if the age-old politics of fear continues to attract enough voters.

The many decent, hard-working and principled people in the Unionist community deserve a lot better than this.