DUP: a stone to trouble the parliamentary stream?

Last week’s optical illusion of a crisis was notable less for its audacity than for the rank amatuerism with which it was carried off; giving rise to rumours of a splitting of interest inside the unitary ranks of Sinn Fein. By contrast, last night’s coup de grace from the DUP allowed themselves to act audaciously and pull off the parliamentary trick of the decade (well, as far as NI is concerned at least). No one in the party is admitting it got the concessions reported, but they are not denying it either. They simply basking in the reflected warmth of a British media determined to see weakness in every action of Gordon, whether it actually exists or not.

, ,

  • kensei

    Mick

    act audaciously and pull off the parliamentary trick of the decade

    The what now? What the hell am I missing here? GB could not lose that vote. The DUP screwed him for all he’s worth. Fair enough. But it was opportunistic and probably unrepeatable, and will probably damage their standing with an incoming Tory government.

  • The Third Policeman

    Mick, from todays Daily Mail,

    ‘The moment the vote was announced heads swivelled on the Democratic Unionists and fingers jabbed at them. A searingly close result had been won for Brown’s rickety regime by the gay-bashing, Pope-hating DUP!…..Hundreds of good British soldiers died saving Northern Irish Unionism over the past three decades. Now its MPs return the compliment by killing Magna Carta.’

    Did you catch BBC news last night? The result was reported almost with a mixture of ridicule and contempt for a PM which had to rely on the votes of the DUP. I don’t think the DUP can bask in anything the British media is saying about them at the moment. If there’s reflected warmth for the unionists its coming from anger and little else.

  • qubol

    indeed Kensei, you’re easily impressed Mick and as tricks go it’s hardly genius its just the maths fell on the side of the DUP.

    Plus everyone here has been so quick to judge the ‘crisis’ last week – fact is we don’t know. The outcome so its way to early to call it amateurism, maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t none of us know.

  • picador

    To act audaciously – I believe that’s what David Davis has just done.

    With regard to the DUP, Brian Feeney has it right – they are interested in the parish pump and little else.

    The story had moved on – the dreary steeples have had their 15 minutes worth.

  • percy

    TTP
    Amazing quote that from the Daily Mail, the favoured read of the right. Don’t see that popping up though on ATW.

    Mick,
    interesting comparison there between SF and DUP tactics. They’ve both given each other a good kick in the bollocks.

  • TAFKABO

    I think the DUP did the right thing. Had they voted against the government they would have contributed to weaking them even further and added to the likelihood of a strong Tory majority at the next election.
    The DUP are better served by either Labour or Tories having a small majority, which means they continue to be in a position of influence.

  • papa’s revenge

    People forget the stark difference in opinion between the English ‘average john bull’ and the commentators at loss making rags.

    the English public will be warmer to he DUP’s vote than the great and good (and ignored) may wish to present them as being.

    “magna whota ? what about da bomb factory they found down bottom ‘ut road ? what’s ma daughter doin in that 47 year old Pakistani mans car ?” etc.
    I don’t think people realise how deep this stuff is getting.

    The same way they don’t realise the potential misuse of statutory powers will seem peripheral when they are scrapping their lovely wife off the wall.

    the s.f. automatons are stung, as you would be if you found out that after 30 years of cheating like rats, and proclaiming your brilliance in comparison to those narrow minded puritan bone heads , that once you have a level playing field your actually a bit shite.

  • Mick,

    You say, in your Guardian piece: I doubt the DUP will be off anyone’s radar from now until the next election.

    Apart from the simple fact that I think you’re quite wrong, lets look at the cconsequences of you being right.

    Firstly, no-one in Britain really knew or cared who or what the DUP were before yesterday. Those that did know, knew only Paisley, and believed that his removal had somehow removed the last great bigot from the Northern Irish political scene. I guess many people thought that NI was now a ‘normal’ place.

    But now, with the super-trooper turned on them, the DUP are going to be looked at a bit more closely. People are going to want to know who are these people who ‘repealed the Magna Carta’ (Copyright Daily Mail!)?

    And what are they going to see? That in Northern Ireland there are people in power who are anti-Catholic, anti-gay, creationist, and just plain nasty (copyright Brian Feeney!)

    How will that help the DUP? They will be untouchable to modern liberal people (and that is most of Britain, I believe), and it will be a source of much embarrassment to GB that he had to ‘deal’ with them. He will want to extract himself from that contagion, and visibly, before it sticks to him.

    As has been said many times, be careful of what you wish for. The DUP wished for this ‘balance of power’ thing, but it may make them lepers.

  • j

    Another thread on this. great.

    People we elected have influenced a vote in our national parliament.

    What a coup. They have secured representation in exchange for taxation. We seem to be a little behind the rest of Europe but what the hell better late than never.

    We should put up more statues of Carson for keeping us part of such a great democracy.

    I think we should elect 18 DUP MPs next time. Double the power.

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    The main difference over the two things I see is SF trying to sell the idea of concessions from their threat, no one really believing them and certainly no evidence of said and the DUP denying they got concessions, no one believing them and everyone waiting to see what they were.

    The DUP certainly look to be driving Stormont and setting all the agendas while SF lurch from crisis to created crisis with nothing to show for any of it.

  • Mick Fealty

    j,

    There’s another one coming, just to warn you.

    picador,

    I’ve just done a piece for Brassneck (I’ll link it when they put it up). Audacious? Maybe. Stupid? Absolutely. He’s no longer Shadow Home Secretary, and he’s not getting his job back; if he gets re-elected. That is a space worth watching.

    As for what they are saying about him in Westminster. Try this: http://tinyurl.com/3hyd99.

    On Brian Feeney’s piece, I think we should probably benchmark that in the same way that Conor Cruise O’Brien’s statement that the peace process was simply a breather before the IRA went back to war was worth benchmarking

    O’Brien committed the folly of believing that all patterns repeat themselves, endlessly. I fear Brian has made a similar mistake. Although I am willing to be proved wrong, the nuclear fusion in Wesminster appear to augur otherwise.

  • Suilven

    I think most people are missing a key point – a defeat for Broon last night would probably have heralded the death knell of his premiership. He may have struggled on a little longer but ultimately the knives would have been unsheathed and planted firmly in his back.

    In those circumstances, after the internecine warfare of a genuine leadership contest and its fallout, does anyone think a second consecutive Labour PM without a personal mandate would be a flyer? Not for long IMO. I reckon we’d have had a general election within a year (all the more likely if Labour grasped the opportunities inherent in putting the Tories in to bat on a sticky economic wicket), which few (if any) of the local parties would welcome in the near future.

    So for the DUP to bargain a raft of concessions and delay however slightly a possible unwanted election, in return for voting for something they were probably minded to vote for anyway, is a great deal in political terms. If it puts a few Tory MPs and Daily Mail readers noses’ out of joint, so what? Said groupings are hardly likely to jump straight into bed with Sinn Fein now, are they?

  • percy

    Mark McGregor
    nice one, you managed to type what I was thinking, but couldn’t find the right order of words 😉

  • j

    Mick,

    I will try to take off the sarcasm hat here and make a serious point.

    Surely what Feeney was saying is we are basically totally irrelevant to the UK parliament (you seem to have implied as much on a previous thread when you said SF had more influence in the past than the DUP & UUP and they dont take their seats).

    Now we can all agree that the DUP exerted some influence last night and may do so in the near future once again.

    However, they are not influencing (or seeking to influence) UK policy – just buy a few quid for the province and maybe block ILA or something like that. It was a golden chance to influence UK policy and prove that the north was just as much part of the UK as anywhere else. Unfortunately I think they proved Feeney right on this occasion and were basically bought off.

    It reminds me of the democratic primary in Peurto Rico last week. What a crucial part of the US that is.

  • Realist

    I had to chuckle (Are we still allowed to use that word?) when I read that the DUP are crowing that they hold the balance of power in Westminister. They held the balance on last nights vote! Tomorrow is a new day and their friends in the lobby last night won’t want to look at them now that they have served their purpose. Close votes like this come along once in a parliaments life. In any case how could wee Geoff do a ministerial job in the Assembly, be a diligent MLA and a hard working local councillor and also hold the balance of power in London. Even “Orangeman” would be hard pressed to cope with all that no matter what the pay.He would have to take advice from the Robbo’s about how to purchase a nice flat in London and stay there full time if he has ambitions, along with his mates, to hold a balance of power.

  • Realsit

    Oops! Forgot he’s also an MP!!

  • Mick Fealty

    j,

    The UK parliament does have considerable reserved powers when it comes to NI. And it will do no harm to squeeze some respect out of the Chancellor when it comes to making a settlement.

    It has bought the FM some acknowledgement and something I suspect with solidify into respect in Britain. Within a week of taking office, that is not a bad result.

    That said, that’s just my view. I’m off to do a big food shop for a festive weekend…

    Bye all…

  • DC

    “Last week’s optical illusion of a crisis was notable less for its audacity than for the rank amatuerism with which it was carried off; giving rise to rumours of a splitting of interest inside the unitary ranks of Sinn Fein. By contrast, last night’s coup de grace from the DUP allowed themselves to act audaciously and pull off the parliamentary trick of the decade”

    That’s if you believe it really was the DUPs votes that won it Mick, especially after your post about ‘what did you expect after all it’s the DUP’. There were others swayed mainly from within Labour and your comment above is a fairly spun out assumption. One that ignores the totality of the vote base and given that this vote was instigated by another actor and government, is measured against totally different circumstances.

    The Tories, of all parties, trying to look concerned over the imposition of an extension to criminal justice measures! Blah, arse to that, if you believe they care at heart you need to think again. The Tories are just about petty political point scoring because they as the opposition have to oppose for the sake of it. The public are backing it, so I don’t find anything remarkable by what has happened.

    Rather than have the media say: “good job Gordon” for bringing the required amount of your party with you to bend your way, create instead a specious ‘out’ to override that political victory. Namely, the DUP, and say ‘ah ha!!!’ you were bought. C’mon, but sure that’s dirty oppositional politics isn’t it.

    Good job Gordon!

    Do you really think the DUP would have voted against this, fat chance. Besides, any deals with the DUP, if we follow that line of thought, can be reneged upon because Labour can afford to mistreat the DUP given the limited amount of influence they have on British media and politics.

    The Tories are playing games just like Labour has tried to do recently and that is to go against long understood political ideology and it is likely to backfire.

  • j

    Mick,

    How much respect did Jackie Healy Rae get? Mildred Fox? Tony Gregory? It plays well in their constituency but the rest of the country just resents them.

    The DUP may have done a better job of getting more crumbs off the top table than anyone else has previously done but its still crumbs.

    Your view is they should do the best they can to get as many crumbs as possible and they did a great job. My view is its embarrassing to be asking for crumbs never mind celebrating.

  • percy

    I’m off to do a big food shop for a festive weekend…
    Good idea Mick, time to stockpile some extra pies and nukie brown ales,
    as the prices are rocketing daily 😉

  • Mick,

    It has bought the FM some acknowledgement and something I suspect with solidify into respect in Britain. Within a week of taking office, that is not a bad result.

    That’s pretty close to a Stockholm Syndrome that you’re suffering from there, Mick!

    Next thing now you’ll be quoting approvingly from the Newsletter.

  • Mick Fealty

    Horse:

    I suspect I may have tethered myself to the computer for too long by that stage. 🙂 But here’s what you said on your own blog (consider it book marked) just last Friday:

    “For the DUP, who have been publicly gloating about their ability to foil and sabotage Sinn Féin’s plans, the future looks humiliating.”

    j,

    “Your view is they should do the best they can to get as many crumbs as possible”

    My view is of what they did (and what that might add up to), not of what they should do.

  • doctor

    “Next thing now you’ll be quoting approvingly from the Newsletter.”

    Horseman, I was thinking along very similar lines but you beat me to the punch! I know that paper has always supposed to have been the unionist version of the Irish News, but the last few years or so it’s more like the DUP’s version of An Phoblact.

  • truth and justice

    I dont think the DUP would hav evoted against the Government on this, however if they played their cards right and got something out of it for the people of Northen Ireland good on them i would be vey dissapointed if they didnt.The change in power with Robinson in charge has certainly done the trick!

  • Mick,

    Yes, indeed, I did say “For the DUP, who have been publicly gloating about their ability to foil and sabotage Sinn Féin’s plans, the future looks humiliating.”. I don’t think that I am wrong (yet) – I think the current situation is too fluid to draw any firm conclusions, as you have been doing. But I do think that the DUP has painted themselves into a corner or two. If you line up the little ducks, there are a few things that make the future look tricky for the DUP:

    (1) Both they, and GB, are insisting that no ‘deal’ was done. So, despite Gregory Campbell’s coyness, if any tit-bits come NI’s way, either the DUP cannot claim them, or they do claim them and thereby show both themselves and GB to be liars!

    (2) The DUP remain a deeply illiberal party, and the British labour party will be tarnished by any hint of a dependency on them. So GB will be doing his best to avoid showing them any favours.

    (3) Regardless of the deal that wasn’t, the DUP position vis-a-vis nationalist demands remains untenable. They will have to give something, and that then must look like a climb-down. I, like many others, have been carefully saving all of the statements where the DUP swore that they’d give nothing at all. They’ll be used against the DUP when the time comes.

    (4) If the DUP continue to obstruct everything, maybe with the imagined support (forced!) of GB, then SF will have to provoke another crisis, and this time it won’t be a phoney one. Don’t let the DUP’s moment in the sun disguise the fact that there are a lot of nationalists out there, who are waiting for their interests to be defended. SF can pick the time of the crisis that suits themselves best, and the DUP worst.

    (5) Read Dominic Lawson in today’s Independent. I’m not the only one who thinks that the DUP have effectively lost any goodwill that they could have had with the next British government.

    All in all, I think the DUP just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The only way they can go now … is back down!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Horseman

    I take your points, but I doubt if there would be too many complaints about the DUP if the Govt suddenly decided to hand over the proceeds of the military bases to the Executive or give us a break on water charges.

    And then there are things the Gove just doesn’t have to take action on; an Irish Languange Act is solely a matter for the Assembly, or devolution of policing and justice is a matter only to the parties concerned.

    As for SF provoking a crisis in such circumstances, well, that’s the chance they’ll have to take. And it’s a big, risky chance.

  • Different Drummer

    A Horeseman Writes:

    ‘And what are they going to see? That in Northern Ireland there are people in power who are anti-Catholic, anti-gay, creationist, and just plain nasty (copyright Brian Feeney!)’

    Well that’s not what he was saying when he was cheerin the big man back to stormont saying that because they were prepared to go into government with SF that that meant that the DUP had changed.

    For the DUP’s voice will always be ‘traditional’ and extreme illiberal and reactionary. Now they have even more chance to prove Feeney wrong the first time and right the second time as they go back to their position of proping up reactionary London governments.

    I wonder who Gerry which will use to tell his gay activists to lay off Iris?

    After all they do have a governmnet to run you know.