Theresa May is desperately trying to cling on to being prime minister despite having lost her parliamentary majority by running a campaign that has been widely criticized, even within her own party, for being poorly run and having a lousy message. Since her party now has only 318 seats but requires 326 to have a majority in the 650-seat parliament, she has turned for support to the Democratic Union Party that has 10 seats in her efforts to cobble together a slim majority. The Liberal Democrats who once formed a coalition with David Cameron and were severely punished by the voters in 2015 clearly were not going to make that mistake again. In fact, their leader Nick Clegg who was deputy prime minister in that coalition lost his own seat yesterday.
I had not heard about the DUP before and looked it up and it is a party with a truly ghastly agenda. They were founded by the late Rev. Ian Paisley, a notorious religious fundamentalist, and are opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion rights, with creationist sympathies, and have climate deniers in their top ranks. In other words, they are US Republicans. But wait, there’s more!
As Robert Mackey says:
As several commentators observed on Friday, the British public generally pays no attention to politics in Northern Ireland, and so might be in for a shock to discover just how extreme members of the D.U.P. are.
The party, founded by the virulently anti-Catholic, evangelical preacher Ian Paisley — who once denounced Pope John Paul II to his face as “the antichrist” — still includes fundamentalist Christians who believe in creationism but not climate science, and have fought to keep U.K. laws permitting both abortion and same-sex marriage from being implemented in the province.
The D.U.P. also has a history of close ties to Ulster’s loyalist paramilitary gangs, who were responsible for terrorist atrocities against Irish Catholic civilians.
Mackey adds, “Given that the vicious tabloid campaign to smear Jeremy Corbyn as an “apologist for terror,” focused on his supposed failure to condemn the I.R.A. in strong enough terms, it will be interesting to see how those same newspapers now present May’s deal with the political allies of Ulster militants as perfectly acceptable.” But hypocrisy is nothing for people like May.
So this is the group that holds sway over Theresa May. I am not sure to what extent issues like abortion and same-sex marriage are settled issues in the UK but you can be sure that since the DUP have the Conservatives over a barrel, any concessions May makes to get them to support her are going to be horrible. What will they demand in exchange for their support? They are pro-Brexit but want an open-border with Ireland and this will undoubtedly be a key demand. May said that she called for the election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations but she is much weaker now. As the tabloid Daily Mirror said in a banner headline, the Conservative-DUP alliance is a ‘Coalition of Crackpots’.
Meanwhile, the final results are that the Conservative-Labour vote margin was a narrow 42-40%, showing how much Jeremy Corbyn was able to energize the electorate, especially the young. Even though they failed to become the single largest party, they are exuberant and celebratory, seeing this a major step forward. Zaid Jilani quoted many people within the ranks of the party and its own supporters and US observers, who predicted before the election that Corbyn was too radical and predicted that he would lead the party to oblivion. They were proven wrong.
One-time Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said in an interview with the former president that the “Labor Party just sort of disintegrated in the face of their  defeat and move so far left that it’s, you know, in a very — in a very frail state,” calling the process “Corbynization.” Obama seemed to agree with assessment, saying that “the Democratic Party has stayed pretty grounded in fact and reality.” Contrasting Bernie Sanders to Corbyn, Obama assured Axelrod that the same process wouldn’t happen in the United States because “Bernie Sanders is a pretty centrist politician relative to Corbyn or relative to some of the Republicans.”
When Obama describes the Democrats and being “being grounded in fact and reality”, he means that they are a neoliberal, oligarch-friendly party with some progressive social policies, essentially Republicans with a softer edge.