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The DUP and London June 22, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.


One interesting aspect of the negotiations this last week has been the implication of a basic fact. That fact is a deep antipathy on the part of many in the UK to engage with the DUP. There’s been much rending of hair and wailing and gnashing of teeth about this in the Irish media (Eoghan Harris had a masterclass in this at the weekend in the SI where it, everything, was the fault of… SF! You have to wonder. You really do), much of it along the lines of ‘don’t be beastly to the DUP’ though given that it was English media et al who were critiquing that party it was hard to see why we should have to take any responsibility for what they decide they feel about their unionist compadres. And while I’d never criticise someone for being unionist (indeed I rather admire Sylvia Hermon amongst others) I can’t quite see why it is unreasonable to critique the more outlandish beliefs amongst many leading DUP lights – creationism, climate change denial, antagonism to LGBTQ people and rights etc. Indeed isn’t it a good thing to be criticising people not for their unionism but their other political beliefs? Isn’t that a different sort of politics? Isn’t that what we have been told is necessary?

But the implication I mentioned above is even more intriguing. When it comes down to it even the Tories in their straitened circumstances were loath to do much of a deal with the DUP. Indeed it was remarkable to see not so much what was left in (rather banal economic policies) as what was left out (near enough anything to do with social policy and/or the dispensation in the North).

Here is the DUP’s moment. A grateful Tory party in London!

And yet a grateful Tory party which is unwilling to – say – fundamentally undermine the GFA/BA (ironic that considering how abysmal London’s representatives have been in the North in recent times). It’s not just what London accepts are the constraints, but what the DUP accepts likewise. They may hope for political emphasis tilted in their direction – but essentially the status quo persists.

And so we have this bizarre situation where the DUP are, if anything, near enough champions of a no-border policy on this island. Are asking for more funds into the North. Seeking special assists in a range of areas. Assume SF were willing to jettison abstention. What would an SF menu look like. Not much different. What more could they ask for or reasonably expect from a BLP government? Not a lot one has to suspect.

In a way this underlines how the North is indeed special, distinct. Something, by the way, that the DUP under Paisley senior always seemed to grasp so much better than the hardy but diminishing band of direct rulers in the UUP. But that logic is an odd and paradoxical one because what is good for the North under the present dispensation is likely to align with what SF (and in fairness the SDLP) consider to be good for the North. And that is likely to be good for the island as a whole too.

As to the DUP itself and the response to it in England. I am dubious that this comes as much of a surprise. Perhaps the broadness of the response might. And the fact that it is evident amongst Tories too. One would hope that that would be food for thought for them as regards how they (the DUP) should proceed from here. It will be telling indeed if we see any signs that they might attempt to soften certain aspects of their approach subsequently. I’m dubious that will happen, but who knows? Certainly it does point up a degree of isolation that they themselves might not quite have recognised. After all, if not the Tories as natural and congenial allies in London, then who?


1. bjg - June 22, 2017

I’m not sure you’re right about “… this bizarre situation where the DUP are, if anything, near enough champions of a no-border policy on this island”. Brian Walker on Slugger O’Toole interprets Nigel Dodds as saying

The DUP is sticking with their hard Brexit. Their reasoning is essentially political, that the absence of customs checks in any form on the island of Ireland would mean customs barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. This is anathema to the DUP.


Hard brexit means hard border. I think Pete Baker, commenting on Brian Walker, is too optimistic about what the EU can allow,



WorldbyStorm - June 22, 2017

You could well be right bjg. Hadn’t seen that slugger post. Pete’s very sharp but as you say may be being very optimistic.


WorldbyStorm - June 22, 2017

Just thinking Walker says the DUP won’t affect the shape of the outcome seriously but one has to wonder


benmadigan - June 22, 2017

does anyone really think that England and Scotland will allow brexit policies to be determined by the DUP?

the DUP may well think so
they have an over-inflated sense of their own importance that we all buy into – which is the basic problem in ireland north and South.

We are all bedazzled into immobility by their threats of potential violence

isn’t it time the estalishment in ireland stood up to these bullies?


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