Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/952/25633

From The Socialist newspaper, 14 June 2017

Northern Ireland: DUP propping up the Tories

Arlene Foster, leader of the bigoted, sectarian DUP, photo by Richter Frank-Jurgen/CC

Arlene Foster, leader of the bigoted, sectarian DUP, photo by Richter Frank-Jurgen/CC   (Click to enlarge)

For a real cross-community socialist alternative

Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party Northern Ireland (CWI Ireland)

Theresa May's humiliating failure to win a parliamentary majority has placed the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) at the centre of UK politics, with the party set to prop up the Tories through a 'confidence and supply' agreement.

Many in Britain and Northern Ireland are horrified that a party with such homophobic and sexist positions will have influence at the heart of government.

However, while the DUP leadership are reactionaries, they are also pragmatists. They will not push to roll back LGBT and women's rights in Britain, or undermine them further in Northern Ireland, knowing the public would not tolerate it and the Tories could not deliver it. Nor would it be supported by their voters.

The DUP's support is primarily based upon being seen as the strongest voice for the Union, not its fundamentalist agenda. For example, a majority of DUP voters support same-sex marriage; 73% support some reform of our archaic abortion laws, while 49% support full decriminalisation!

The DUP is not alone in holding a backward position on the issue of reproductive rights - while a majority in both communities support the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, this is not supported by any of the main parties.

Relying on the DUP is obviously far from perfect for the Tories but, given the blow they have just been dealt and with Labour rising in the polls, they will not want a fresh election any time soon.

For its part, the DUP does not want to see a Corbyn-led government - both because they oppose his left policies and because of his long-standing connection with Sinn Féin - and will have little interest in rocking the boat.

DUP demands

It will likely keep its demands relatively limited: funding for some pet infrastructure projects and for security, as well as other monies so they can claim to have 'delivered for Northern Ireland'; guarantees there will be no hard border post-Brexit, as ironic as that may seem; and verbal commitments on issues like the extension of the Military Covenant (a government promise to look after former members of the armed forces and their families) to Northern Ireland.

However, it is an inherently unstable arrangement. The DUP can face opposition from its working class base if it is seen to facilitate ongoing austerity in Northern Ireland and can be pressured to make other demands the Tories simply cannot concede to. For example, elements within the Orange Order are already calling for them to push for the abolition of the Parades Commission.

Countless issues and pressures can bring this arrangement crashing down, not least organised working class opposition.

In response to the DUP's now central role, there have been renewed calls from some quarters for Sinn Féin to abandon its abstentionist position and take its seats in Westminster, believing this would strengthen the 'progressive' forces in parliament and, potentially, Jeremy Corbyn.

Sinn Féin is not a progressive party, but the other side of the sectarian coin. Like the DUP, its support is derived from being seen as the most strident voice for 'its community'. Sinn Féin too would use its seats in the House of Commons to inject its divisive, sectarian and nationalist agenda, not to fight for a left government.

Despite its rhetoric, Sinn Féin has ideologically embraced neoliberalism. It has dutifully implemented cuts, committed itself to the project of shrinking the public sector in Northern Ireland and campaigned alongside the DUP for a cut in corporation tax. It is also, as the late Martin McGuinness put it, an 'anti-abortion party'.

Negotiations to re-establish the Stormont institutions are set to recommence, with a formal deadline of 29 June before fresh Assembly elections have to be called, although this is likely to be swept aside.

The DUP's new role at a UK level has the potential to further complicate matters. Sinn Féin and its leader Michelle O'Neill will question more vocally whether the British government can now act as a neutral arbiter.

Given her strengthened mandate, Arlene Foster will not be standing aside as DUP leader until after the RHI ('cash for ash' ministerial scandal) inquiry, as Sinn Féin had demanded.

Historic opportunity

In Britain, the prospect of a left-wing government is now firmly on the agenda in the near future. Meanwhile, sectarianism has strengthened its hold in Northern Ireland.

The high turnout here, reflected a weary sense of obligation to vote against 'the other side', not enthusiasm. All eyes were turned to the battle between Corbyn and May, with socialist ideas being discussed in a way not seen in a generation.

Unfortunately, there was no genuinely cross-community vehicle for this hope and support to find expression at the polls in Northern Ireland. Fresh Assembly and Westminster elections are possible within a matter of months and local elections are scheduled for early 2019.

The Labour Party in Northern Ireland has swelled and shifted to the left under Corbyn's leadership but is still barred from standing official candidates. In the event of fresh elections, Labour activists here must make a decisive stand, even if this means defying the London leadership and acting independently. The alternative is to surrender the field to the forces of sectarian reaction.

The Socialist Party worked with others to launch Labour Alternative ahead of last year's Assembly election, to put the idea of building a mass, cross-community left party on the agenda.

The labour movement is the only force which has the potential to turn the tide away from sectarian division. In the coming weeks, we will aim to bring together all those who recognise that 'labour can't wait', to put forward the strongest possible anti-sectarian voice for those looking towards Corbyn's socialist policies in future elections.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 14 June 2017:


Socialist Party news and analysis

City bosses' £40m bonuses as Number of food banks hits 2,000

Low-paid work till lunch to make rent

Young workers in unions earn 20% more

Corbyn surge beats Trump


General election 2017

May and Tories must go!

Northern Ireland: DUP propping up the Tories

Scotland - SNP loses but Labour could've won more

Wales: Corbyn's left surge refutes right-wing Labour doomsayers

General election: what you thought about it

Corbyn's support increases further during last week of campaign

Rallying in support of Corbyn's policies

Large turnout to hear Jeremy Corbyn


International socialist news and analysis

France - Huge voter abstention belies Macron's 'landslide' election

International news in brief


Socialist Party workplace news

NSSN conference: workers' action to kick out the Tories

GMB conference: angry mood from delegates

LSE victory

Window strikers joined by second plant

Exploited agency workers organise


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

The fight goes on - let's make it a socialist fight to win

Racist EDL humiliated for third time

From Militant to the Socialist Party


 

Home   |   The Socialist 14 June 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Northern Ireland:

triangleJobstown trial begins

triangleMartin McGuinness: from IRA leader to Stormont minister

triangleBradford Socialist Party: The situation in Northern Ireland and implications for the UK

triangleNorthern Ireland: divisive election a warning

Tories:

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Role of the trade unions in bringing down the Tories

triangleKick out the Tories to save the NHS!

triangleProtests around the country demand: Tories out!

Ireland:

triangleInternational news in brief

triangleYorkshire meeting in solidarity with the #JobstownNotGuilty campaign

triangleJobstown Not Guilty trial round-up

Dup:

triangleLambeth Socialist Party: Who are the DUP and what will a Tory-DUP deal mean?

triangleTories and May stagger on amid crisis - get them out!

Socialist Alternative:

triangleInternational news in brief

Socialist:

triangleManchester Socialist Party: Social housing and safety

Government:

triangleAfter Grenfell - fight for safe homes

Labour:

triangleCorbyn inspires at Glastonbury

Elections:

triangleFrench elections: Macron's win

Britain:

triangleConsolidating the Corbyn revolution

Election:

triangleFrench elections: time to build a fighting left alternative

Theresa May:

triangleWhole establishment exposed for role in Grenfell fire

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleThe Queen's Speech; and defending the right to protest

LGBT:

triangleCanterbury pride

Labour Party:

triangleNSSN conference: workers' action to kick out the Tories

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

27/6/17

Housing

After Grenfell - fight for safe homes

26/6/17

Britain

Consolidating the Corbyn revolution

21/6/17

Trade unions

The have-yachts and the have-nots

21/6/17

Education

Open University facing huge cuts

21/6/17

Inflation

Inflation: Workers lose out - time for action

21/6/17

NHS

Kick out the Tories to save the NHS!

21/6/17

Protest

The Queen's Speech; and defending the right to protest

20/6/17

Socialist

Whole establishment exposed for role in Grenfell fire

20/6/17

Brexit

Tories and May stagger on amid crisis - get them out!

19/6/17

Racism

Finsbury Park attack: No to terror, racism, war and austerity!

14/6/17

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: DUP propping up the Tories

14/6/17

London

Massive failings led to Grenfell Tower fire - Rapid, fully funded action now

14/6/17

Scotland

Scotland - SNP loses but Labour could've won more

14/6/17

Bonuses

City bosses' £40m bonuses as Number of food banks hits 2,000

14/6/17

Low-paid

Low-paid work till lunch to make rent

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle27 Jun After Grenfell - fight for safe homes

triangle26 Jun Consolidating the Corbyn revolution

triangle24 Jun Camden evacuation - residents expose fire risks

triangle21 Jun Justice for Grenfell and safety for all

triangle21 Jun Anger and grief on moving Grenfell marches

triangle21 Jun The Queen's Speech; and defending the right to protest

triangle21 Jun Cabin crew call two-week walkout

More ...

triangle27 Jun Manchester Socialist Party: Social housing and safety

triangle27 Jun Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Education in Crisis

triangle28 Jun Hackney Socialist Party: Justice for Grenfell

triangle28 Jun Caerphilly and RCT Socialist Party: Class struggle erupts across South Africa

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2