As you all probably know by now the Conservative Party have formed an ‘agreement’ with the Democratic Unionist Party after failing to win a large majority in the June 2017 snap election. Many on the left seem to be calling this a victory for Labour, Mr Corbyn declared triumphantly “we have changed the face of British politics”. Right as he was, he was right for the wrong reasons. It’s time we take a good look at the party who have so unexpectedly been thrown into the limelight.
All it takes is a cursory glance at the news to see much has already been written about the origins of the DUP in 1971 amidst the troubles. So i’ll just entertain you with some great quotes from their founder, Ian Paisley:
“Line dancing is as sinful as any other type of dancing, with its sexual gestures and touching. It is an incitement to lust”, regarding dancing.
“They breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin”, regarding Catholics.
“I have never made an inflammatory statement in my life”, regarding himself.
But Ian Paisley arguably got a little bit milder in his later life, or as mild as you can be after founding two paramilitary forces, and on top of that is very much dead. So can we really judge the DUP for its conduct forty years ago? Do the words of one man tarnish a party forever? Luckily, we don’t have to have a pointless back and forth about party history, we can just look at the DUP today! Let’s dive in.
Gregory Campbell, MP for East Londonderry and part of the current government who once called homosexuality “an evil, wicked and abhorrent practice”, basing this belief on the Bible and an odd concept called “natural justice” which he failed to explain. Campbell stated homosexuality “is something so radically awful as to merit total and utter opposition”. Are these the words of a radical member of an otherwise level headed party? Not exactly, Ian Paisley Jr, another of the ten MPs of the DUP, has called homosexual practices “immoral, offensive and obnoxious”. Yet Arlene Foster, the current DUP leader proclaimed that “gays are welcome” within the party… as long as they don’t want to get married. It seems prudent again to reiterate that this is the party that the Conservatives have seen fit to form a government with. It’s not hard to see such an action as tacit support for the DUPs policies in Northern Ireland or at the very least a non-opposition to such policies.
Homosexuality not your issue? How about climate change? Sammy Wilson is another of the tenacious ten. This man has served as Northern Ireland’s finance minister and the executives environment minister, quite a record for one who sees climate change as a “pseudo-religion” and views every penny we have spent on preventing it as a waste of resources. He stands by his position that we should just learn to deal with climate change rather than stop it. Unsurprisingly, the Green Party in N. Ireland have declared him to be the most likely to damage the environment in N. Irish politics. Again, it can’t be fair to judge the party by the words of one man, and again we don’t have to. The DUP manifesto remained silent on the issue of climate change completely, simply committing to a ‘sustainable’ energy supply with no mention of what that entails.
Did you know that abortion is illegal in N. Ireland unless the mother’s life is in danger, and even then only if the pregnancy is under 9 weeks and 4 days? Well, now you do. Often women have to travel to other parts of the UK for treatment. The DUP plays a big role in stopping reform in this area. Irrespective of your position on abortion, it seems impossible to not see the current situation as, at best, dysfunctional. Have no fear though, in the case of a pregnancy resulting from rape, Arlene Foster has said the party needs to “carefully consider” abortion. Such a far cry away from the pro-choice Conservative Party. Already there is suggestion of lowering the abortion time limits in the rest of the UK. I believe this puts a little doubt on the suggestion that the DUP would simply be ignored within the government.
I’m sure that the vast majority of the Conservative Party does not agree with the policies of the DUP. Unfortunately, that does not change the fact that the DUP and their policies have been catapulted into the limelight by the direct actions of the Conservative Party following the election. Maybe you can accept that there was no other choice, that Ms May did what she could to secure a stable foundation for Brexit talks. Yet even this seems questionable when the DUP are committed to a soft Brexit as to maintain uninterrupted trade with the Republic of Ireland, understandable when this trade accounts for a sizeable chunk of the N.Irish economy. How loyal then will the DUP be to May’s campaign slogan; “no deal is better than a bad deal” when the prospect of a no deal looms?
Homosexuality, climate change, abortion and Brexit. I have detailed just a few of the inconsistencies within our new government. However, I’m sure many more will present themselves over the coming years, provided it survives that long. It seems, that in a time of desperation and uncertainty, the Conservatives are making a deal with the Devil, they just don’t know it yet.
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