Does the Tory manifesto contain bits of hope for the DUP?

As the current polls are pointing to the Conservatives being returned to office with an enhanced majority and the DUP’s influence is likely to evaporate. However, reading the Conservative Manifesto I wondered whether some of this might be premature as I focused on the Northern Ireland section. Here is where I must put the health warning that proof will be in the eating. But I have highlighted some key passages from the manifesto.

Let’s start off with Devolution as the Tories hint at a more proactive approach towards the regions;

This positive evolution of our constitution has given a voice to people who felt distant from the centre of power, and responsibility to people for their own part of our great country. We will continue to work in partnership with the Scottish and Welsh governments and the Northern Ireland Executive, in a relationship underpinned by pooling and sharing resources through the Barnett Formula. We will respect the devolution settlements: no decision-making that has been devolved will be taken back to Westminster. Indeed, we envisage that the powers of the devolved administrations will increase as we leave the EU. However, we can still do more for the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The United Kingdom Government has in the past tended to ‘devolve and forget’. This Conservative government will put that right. We want the UK Government to be a force for good across the whole country.

Commitment to the Union and Good Friday institutions;

Our steadfast belief remains that Northern Ireland’s future is best served within a stronger United Kingdom.

Our commitment to the 1998 Belfast Agreement and its successors, together with the institutions they establish, is undiminished. The next Conservative government will therefore work to re-establish a strong, stable and inclusive executive at the earliest opportunity. We will uphold the essential principle that Northern Ireland’s future should only ever be determined by democracy and consent.

On the economy;

A Conservative government will work closely with an incoming executive to strengthen the economy even further, to improve productivity, reduce public sector dependency and promote Northern Ireland as a location for inward investment. We remain committed to the devolution of Corporation Tax powers subject to the executive demonstrating fiscal stability.

On security and the past;

A Conservative government will continue to work for the full implementation of the 2014 Stormont House and 2015 Fresh Start Agreements. This includes new bodies for addressing the legacy of the past in fair, balanced and proportionate ways which do not unfairly focus on former members of the Armed Forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The immense contribution of the security forces during the troubles should never be forgotten. We will reject any attempts to rewrite history which seek to justify or legitimise terrorism.

United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund;

We will use the structural fund money that comes back to the UK following Brexit to create a United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund, specifically designed to reduce inequalities between communities across our four nations. The money that is spent will help deliver sustainable, inclusive growth based on our modern industrial strategy. We will consult widely on the design of the fund, including with the devolved administrations, local authorities, businesses and public bodies. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be cheap to administer, low in bureaucracy and targeted where it is needed most.

Reading through the pages there is a lot in here from the economy, strengthening the Union, to the Past that would bring a smile to a DUP face. As the talks take place after the election about restoring the Executive, it does seem that the Conservative view of devolution proceeding is very much in line with the DUP’s with Northern Ireland playing a fuller role in the UK and great bodies after Brexit to enhance a One Nation approach.

As UK politics continues in a state flux it will be interesting to see how this approach works in reality and how much of it is properly implemented.  There is the Thatcher example of Northern Ireland being as British as Finchley which ended up the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985 to Unionist condemnation.

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  • aquifer

    “The United Kingdom Government has in the past tended to ‘devolve and forget’. This Conservative government will put that right.”

    Code for tighter budgetary control? Br-exit is going to cost and there is already a queue of post election bad news forming. Higher inflation caused by the exchange rate fall, lots of risky consumer credit that may not pay back in a downturn, welfare cuts, the london city financial centre exporting itself to Frankfurt or Dublin. In the immortal lyrics of Bachman Turner Overdrive “You ain’t seen nothing yet”. Br-exit could be one to forget.

  • hgreen

    The Tory manifesto looks like it’s been pulled out of their arse. It’ll be lucky to last a week.

  • Gopher

    The DUP are essentially a firewall between a large section of the electorate and SF therefore whilst they can slipstream some Conservative policies the DUP are a party of perpetual defence. The politics of defence is simply an admission of inferiority so I imagine the DUP will find little cheer in the conservative manifesto. The Conservatives being on the front foot and proactive something the DUP are incapable of.

    Where money is concerned the language is clear, all parties in Northern Ireland are muppets with public funds so the government will “consult”. As Northern ireland is the antihesis of “cheap to administer, low in bureaucracy” that money will be spent thankfully under HMG auspices so that the paramilitaries, culture and other bogus wasters dont get their mits on it.

    “We remain committed to the devolution of Corporation Tax powers subject to the executive demonstrating fiscal stability.”

    What in the world can the DUP take comfort from there

    “The United Kingdom Government has in the past tended to ‘devolve and forget’. This Conservative government will put that right.”

    I’ll translate that into Irish and Ulster Scots for you. When we get our majority there is no way in the world we are going to let you waste money on an industrial scale without some HMG oversight.

    So to paraphrase there is night and day between the Tories and DUP this election is local to Northern Ireland and is about the border nothing more nothing less

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Yep. And anyone who wants to handle what comes out of a tories arse wants their head felt.

    What Ma May wants is to micro-manage the whole union in such a way that no questions can be asked of her, and she gets to do exactly what her insecure personality needs to stay in a safe little walled garden. Luckily life isn’t like that. Events and people in the EU, Scotland and NI will conspire to make her a very unhappy PM in the end.

  • ted hagan

    So what did the Tory manifesto have to say about farming subsidies and whether they will replace them once the UK leaves the EU and avoid disaster for the farming sector in Northern Ireland? That would be much more beneficial than the manure emanating from Tories talking through their backsides.

  • NotNowJohnny

    “We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous.”

    Not much hope for the DUP here.

  • NotNowJohnny

    While there is a clear commitment to protect the interests of both Scottish and Welsh farmers, no such commitment is made in respect of Northern Ireland farmers. So when the DUP appear on your doorstep, remember to ask them about this.

    Interstingly the section on Northern Ireland contains just 13 sentences of which 6 are mere rhetoric, 2 are dependent on an Executive which doesn’t currently exist while of the remaining five, 2 refer to terrorists or terrorism, 1 refers to violence, threats and intimidation, 1 refers to the troubles and 1 to the now long defunct Royal Ulster Constabulary. And that’s pretty much it. A clear plan for the future there.

  • Backbencher

    I suspect you meant to type SF/IRA there. Rigid dogma, ideology, social division etc just about sums up their 30 year campaign.

  • NotNowJohnny

    No I didn’t. I meant to type DUP. If you read carefully you’ll note the link between this and the title of the OP. But don’t let the fact that this is a thread about the DUP stop you writing about Sinn Fein if you wish to.

  • lizmcneill

    I expect the Tories will see that the disabled, poor and disadvantaged don’t get it either, based on their track record.

  • Brian Walker

    It shouldn’t take the manifesto to chart a new direction. The proof in the of the pudding will surely come if the UK government makes a first meaningful intervention in the talks. I agree though that as I observed last week in my own review of the manifesto that the apology for “ devolve and forget” was quite staggering. It comes when the whole emphasis of the hard Brexit policy has been to slap down the flexing muscles of the devolved administrations, no doubt not only because of the hard Brexit approach but because nationalists in office are the enemy of the “precious precious Union.”

    There is a contradiction here on May’s attitude to devolution which the manifesto doesn’t resolve. I and the real experts are pretty sure that the references to extra funding and exporting activity in the devolved areas is intended to increase UK government’s profile in Scotland where government is now so extensively devolved that the UK role seems increasingly remote.

    I suspect NI was included largely for form’s sake but we shall see. More money from the Brits seems to check SF’s political ambitions only briefly. Siding with the DUP over army prosecutions has only resulted in a SF veto on Brokenshire taking on a meaningful role as talks chairman – assuming he wanted one, which has been doubtful so far.