Why the DUP has acquired real power at Westminster (even if it cannot be overused)…

Nice piece by Jon Worth on what’s at stake here for the Tories as compared to the DUP….

…every day that drags on without a deal for May is one more win for the DUP – they are doing their job in the UK press making Northern Ireland’s issues heard.

Ultimately all the DUP has to do is keep May’s government stumbling forward, and extract concessions on a case by case basis. The first case of this could be next week – if the DUP abstains on the Queen’s Speech vote the Tories will win that vote 317 to 315, close enough to give May serious jitters.

Plus with the complicated rules to force a no confidence vote thanks to the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act it would be entirely conceivable that May’s government cannot get much of its legislative programme through the Commons, but the DUP would choose to not topple her as they would actually like a Corbyn premiership far less.

The government would be bound to a DUP-enforced stasis. While the Brexit clock is ticking.

That’s not to say that this is what the DUP want. They clearly do want delivery. And they will tell you that whatever internal fears the Tories have in terms of DUP illiberalism, instant publication of the deal would allay most of them.

The longer this ‘fight for Northern Ireland’ goes on the greater the scope the party has for getting out the tribalist bear pit in which the NI media prefer to see them trapped.

And yet a good deal also allows them to cast themselves (if they have the self-control) and unambiguously as the ones who brought home the actual bacon, whilst making themselves hard for any one government agency to push around.

Jon, again:

…the DUP might be small (in terms of MPs total) but they have the power to cause May enormous problems. They can make huge demands without any sanction if they do not see these demands achieved.

At the same time, they can play things to make sure May’s government nevertheless survives. The Tories can whinge about them but the critique washes over Arlene Foster and her band.

It washes over the DUP:

  • one, because the special enmity which they enjoy/endure with the local NI press has given them the political equivalent of a commando training;
  • two, in the present circumstances they have been gifted real (if limited) power at Westminster.

Far from endangering the peace, as the greybeards of the Peace Process™ era solemnly warn us, the DUP’s use of bona fide democratic power could help them strengthen (if not broaden) the perception they are in it for everyone after all. [Don’t hold yer breath! – Ed]

We can all see the reasons the Treasury is digging in, but whatever the hysterical reaction in GB, in Northern Ireland it’s pretty clear right now that there’s only one party using active channels of power pursue the peacetime interests of Northern Ireland.

It’s also by far the most positive story the DUP have had running for more than a couple of days at time in the NI press since their establishment. It’s narrative as action. Danny Finkelstein:

…you progress and explain who you are through action. So this idea of narrative, far from being the empty creation of public relations experts, is really about the doing and the action and transforming characters through action and not simply telling.

And as we noted back in 2003, the position which both unionist and nationalists find themselves in post-Belfast Agreement Northern Ireland is analogous to the Prisoner’s Dilemma, which is…

…not a zero-sum game, where one player’s gain is necessarily the other’s loss. if total victory for one side is impossible, there are only two outcomes: both sides do well, or both sides do poorly. As a result, comparisons are deceptive. ‘Asking how well you are doing compared to how well the other player is doing is not a good standard unless your goal is to destroy the other player,’ Axelrod advises.

The problem for their countless opponents is that “the NI story” wasn’t ever supposed to take such an odd and apparently inexplicable turn. That’s largely to do with a great deal of ball watching and the consumption of far too much popcorn, apparently at the DUP’s expense.

‘In strategy, it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.’

Miyamoto Musashi

  • eamoncorbett

    The problem going forward for the DUP will be the older Paisleyite vote , will they maintain that support if the goodies stop coming .
    Ian Paisley would never have signed up to a deal , he would have told May you can have our support if it’s to our benefit, if not we vote against . It would appear that Dodds is actually going to offer support carte blanche to the Tories , that is high risk because leopards don’t change their spots and some of the stuff coming down the line won’t be palatable.

  • TheHorse

    I don’t do forgiveness Pang especially when my family members are victims of collusion and just how many times do you think the natives should forgive people who have been slaughtering them for the guts of a thousand years and its not as if we haven’t made it perfectly clear we can govern and determine our own destiny without interference from the British. Yes the British army and the RUC had agents in paramilitaries on both sides and allowed them to both murder innocent people and their own colleagues. Those people should not be rewarded they should be imprisoned they should not be shielded nor collectively awarded medals either. You want their victims to forgive and forget but I would say you are the minority and that there will be widespread opposition to any British military covenant being imposed in this part of Ireland. Why don’t we have a referendum on the matter.

  • Georfe Jungle

    “I never said Catholics didn’t join the British army I’m sure there are many but they certainly won’t be welcome in Nationalist areas”

    You should get out more and broaden your horizons, you sound like your world ends at the entrance to your housing estate………….

  • Georfe Jungle

    What is this ??? Comedy hour ?

  • Georfe Jungle

    “the natives”

    lol………..this just keeps getting better, don’t go away ! I’m just popping out to grab my popcorn.

  • Georfe Jungle

    “Why would an Irish language be a bitter pill for unionists, isn’t that the same language their forefathers spoke when they fought at the Boyne ?”

    Christ, I just spat a mouthful of popcorn over my computer !!!…..did they sit an Irish course before they came over ???

    Don’t go away ! i’m just popping out to grab a vacuum cleaner.

  • TheHorse

    It was yourself who claimed an Irish language act would be as bitter a pill for unionists to take as an AFA would be to nationalists in this part of Ireland. I assumed you knew the reason why. Apart from the fact there could be no comparison between the two this being Ireland and Irish being the native language of the island of Ireland.

  • Casper

    I respect your opinion and understand your points. I don’t expect anyone to forget, that would be rediculous.
    Forgiveness is a different matter. My granda was gassed several times by the Germans in ww1, then took some heavy hits in ww2, surviving a horrific German atrocity along the way. But when the war was over he forgave and hoped to be forgiven by his former enemies. With no dis-respect to you I prefer to follow his example rather than yours.

  • Casper

    If you are asking me to understand and then explain to you the workings of a N.I unionist mind you’ll be waiting until Satan slips past on ice-skates! It makes no sense to me at all yet tens of thousands of them oppose the language at every turn.
    chrisjones2 is the guy to ask I guess, he talks a lot about it on here.
    When the DUP in Ballymena complain about one single Irish word on a man-hole cover in the road you get an idea they don’t like it much. I can assure you, it will be a bitter pill for those people to swallow, and it’s coming soon.

  • Fick Mealty

    Thanks Mick, I was just checking, was not sure if you had just
    personally decided to feature one of your own comments in this thread, or if another mod had seen reason to do so.

    Cheers!

  • aquifer

    The GFA, effectively the interim constitution of Northern Ireland, outlines that the status of NI is a future decision for NI voters, not for a GB labour party that happens to be influenced by many urban activists of Catholic Irish extraction and nationalist leanings. NI voters are being denied the opportunity to vote for non-sectarian socialism and direct participation in national government. This is not neutral, it is nationalist and sadly sectarian, and by disallowing direct participation in government at any national level, anti-democratic.

  • aquifer

    SF will leave the DUP to stew as the unpleasant consequences of Brexit unfold and refuse to operate Stormont, denying the DUP the appearance of command and boosting the ‘failed statelet’ narrative. Lets face it, we have to suspect the DUP are addicted to sectarian triumphalism, so make them go cold turkey?

  • Zeno3

    Sorry I can’t read that because I’m so far away and running.

  • Zeno3

    I don’t think the DUP can lose votes on policies. I believe their vote ,especially at the last election is just an anti SF vote. I also think the reverse is true.

  • TheHorse

    The Australian Aborigines didn’t just grow there, they arrived from somewhere else and their now considered native just like everywhere else on the planet bar Africa and old Irish have been in Ireland for thousands of years. That makes them natives in anyone’s eyes except of course British types like yourself who don’t know that most of those Scottish planters also spoke Gaelic.

  • grumpy oul man

    Before the election the DUP repeatedly made the following points as reasons why they should be elected to westminister,
    1/ in the case of a hung parliment they could be kingmakers,
    With the weakest PM ever and holding the balance of power, they have failed to actually make a deal.
    Even before going to discuss what they would get for thier support in keeping Corbyn out they promised thier support to keep Corbyn out, no matter what.
    Smart.
    2/ we have highly respected MPs at Westminster.
    I doubt this was ever true but it’s certainly not true at the moment.
    If the Tory goverment goes belly up in the only thing the DUP will get is share of the blame.
    Now of course if all goes brilliantly then the dup will get some of the glory, but is anybody expecting a goverment lead by May to be brilliant and Boris is the favourite to replace her.
    Blame it’s gonna be.

  • grumpy oul man

    Turn the binoculars round james. Its the little eyepieces you look through.
    And a few more nationlist have been motivated by the whole terror group flag thing and some small u unionists are even more small u due the embarrassment of watching unionists once again side with secterian thugs.
    The English are watching it all and thinking a UI might not be a ad idea.

  • grumpy oul man

    Aw but what is the tribe faithful to,
    If the OO get nothing then wee Jim and the TUV might get a bit of that part of the tribe.
    How about Dee and his buddies, what were they expecting to get for the nice words and busing services on election day.
    May is a goner pretty soon and the Tories talent pool is hardly overcrowded.
    The queens speech was so short because the tories will have to negotiate every act of parliament with not only other parties but between factions in the conservative party.
    I Honestally cant see this going well for the DUP and the rising then dashing of hopes will not play the best at home.

  • grumpy oul man

    Good luck with that,
    But out of interest what apart from what will amount to a renaming of funds or a short term loan do unionists expect to get from this.

  • grumpy oul man

    From the community that elected Arlene as leader.

  • grumpy oul man

    Basic common sense,
    Never interrupt a opponent when she’s making a mistake.
    This a low risk high reward tactic, why an earth would SF interfere as Arlene stumbles from mistake after another.
    Also for the first time the unionist narative is in front of the british people and it isnt standing up to scrutiny.
    Maybe we should have a national referendum on Irish Unity, i think we all know how the big island would vote.
    After all if its good enough for Brexit it should be good enough for NIexit.

  • grumpy oul man

    You haven’t been paying attention, it isnt just the ” liberal media” that regard the DUP as deplorable, the its just about everybody from msny tories to labour, greens, lib dem and SNP .
    The editoral in New Scientist last week expressed deep concern at the thought of the DUP having any influence in goverment.
    So perhaps waving this concern away s just those leftys you could look at what is happening.

  • grumpy oul man

    “Intimadate voters into the booth”
    What complete and total nonsense.
    But I’m always up for a laugh,
    Shows us your proof.

  • aquifer

    Eamon McCann says SF often goes round to your house in Nationalist areas if you do not vote it so it must be so. He has always been a staunch socialist, so can be trusted,but maybe not with a mixed economy.

    SF are not going to do this with DUP voters, though the other stuff SF does gets them to the polling station too. Think of it as a double act.

  • james

    “The English are watching it all and thinking a UI might not be a ad(sic) idea.”

    Well, possibly – though of course it isn’t up to them, under the terms of the GFA which increasingly looks like a canny bit of business by Trimble.

    The other side of that favourite coin of Irish Republicans is, unhappily for them, that the folks in Ireland proper are also watching – and increasingly thinking that a UI looks like a godawful, terrible idea.

    It ain’t easy being green – no wonder you are so eternally grumpy.

  • james

    1. I personally vote UUP.

    2. Isn’t this a ripe example of the ‘whataboutery’ you’re always impotently raging against on here?

  • Casper

    So no proof then whatsoever. I’ve heard your claim made a few times and not once have I seen an ounce of actual proof. Maybe you could look deeper if you really believe it to be true.

  • grumpy oul man

    Note the word community, and you leap to her defense at every opportunity.

  • grumpy oul man

    “The other side of that favourite coin of Irish Republicans is, unhappily for them, that the folks in Ireland proper are also watching – and increasingly thinking that a UI looks like a godawful, terrible idea.”
    I would love to see some proof of this please, i suspect its not really true.

  • Zeno3

    I don’t think it matters what the DUP do in the UK Parliament. Their voters are not going to desert them and allow SF to become the main NI Party .
    I can’t see them losing votes because May flops or Boris takes over.

  • james

    The people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to give up their aspiration to claim sovereignty over NI in 1998. I can’t think of anything that happened since then that would make them anything but relieved to have quietly dropped that.

    And, in fact, in your constant harping about what an awful place NI is and how awful the NI people are, you rather make my point for me.

  • grumpy oul man

    The DUP has to produce product.
    Failure to show results will result in drift left to uup right to tuv.

  • grumpy oul man

    So the GFA is another one of those things you haven’t read.
    The people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to drop articles 1 and 2 in condition that the British accepted a border poll result for a united ireland.
    It is just a figment of your imagination that this means the south has turned it back on the north.
    But enough of these deversions , would you like to spell out what you think of councill officals using public money to store stolen pallets for a criminal gang and that gang breaking into councill and stealing the pallets back ( seriously if this was a plot in give my head peace you wouldnt believe it)
    So let us hear no more whataboutry or mopery, no acussing schools of indoctrinating pupuls or any other oul guff.
    Address the op.

  • Zeno3

    I think we have passed that point. The DUP is the only option now for Unionists. A vote for any other is a waste or worse still a vote for SF. It’s the same on the Nationalist side, Vote SF or you will let the unionists in.
    Neither have delivered anything in their time in power and never will. Gerry Adams today is promising a United Ireland in a few short years. He has to keep the supporters on board I suppose. Any day now, eh.

  • grumpy oul man

    So it’s circle the wagons around a party that is held in contempt by the very people you claim to be part off is the plan.
    With a dimishimg percentage of the population protestant the only tactic you can propose is closing ranks.
    The thought of building a form of unionisn that would appeal to others (the only real chance to keep the union is for unionism to make converts) are your UVF flags and big bonfires more important than the union.
    Which is stronger your anti Irish/catholic rituals more important than the union.

  • Zeno3

    I wasn’t proposing anything, and I don’t support the DUP/SF or anyone else. I was just stating what I believe is fact. I have neither bonfires or UVF flags or any anti Irish or Anti Catholic rituals so I can only assume you were replying to someone else.

  • aquifer