Robert Mackey writes that Theresa May in order to have a working majority in parliament has bought the allegiance of the reactionary Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland by offering them a bribe of one billion pounds in social welfare spending. This has just added to her image as someone desperately wanting to cling to power. But another factor that is driving this alliance is their mutual fear that if the May government collapses, another election could see Labour being swept into power and (oh, the horror!) Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister
While Corbyn’s plans to end austerity and reverse cuts to social-welfare spending are anathema to the Conservatives, his long history of support for Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the I.R.A., has made him into a hate figure for the D.U.P. whose voters identify as British, not Irish, and fear being eventually absorbed into a united Ireland.
Scenes of the rapturous reception for Corbyn this weekend at the Glastonbury music festival — where he quoted Percy Bysshe Shelley and heard his name sung repeatedly to the tune of the White Stripes’ anthem “Seven Nation Army” — must have instilled a sense of fear bordering on panic in both the Conservative and D.U.P. camps.
Observers have noted that while May’s party has cut spending of social services with the comment that there is no ‘money tree’ to provide them, she seems to have been able to find money to reduce the effects of austerity just in Northern Ireland. This has not gone down well with the people in Scotland and Wales and underfunded regions in England.
[May] insisted the deal was good for Northern Ireland but also the rest of the UK. However, it is likely to trigger a backlash from other parts of the UK, including Wales, Scotland and English regions that believe they have suffered from underfunding.
The government reached out to devolved leaders as the deal was being published in an attempt to calm any backlash, but failed to stem the anger in Wales.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP accused the Tories of signing a “grubby deal with the DUP” after weeks of back-room negotiations.
“For years the Tories have been cutting budgets and services, but suddenly they have found a magic money tree to help them stay in power,” he said. “The financial aspects of this deal entirely sum up how little the Tories care about Scotland – while a billion pounds is being handed over to Northern Ireland, Scotland is seemingly to be offered little more than scraps from the table.”
May’s poor handling of the Grenfell tragedy has added to her image as being inept and out of touch with ordinary people.