The basis for the Conservative-DUP alliance

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.


  1. KG says

    The opposition parties in the Commons (Labour, SNP, LibDems, Plaid Cymru and a solitary Green) should craft a joint amendment to the Queen’s Speech (which will be debated on Thursday), adding investment on the same per capita scale in all other nations and regions of the UK. Such investment would of course be the right thing to do: Brexit is going to hit the economy hard, but interest rates are still low, so the government should borrow to invest in infrastructure and “human capital” (health, education, social welfare), so if the amendment was accepted by the Tories, great. But if not, for the DUP to vote against it or even abstain would expose their claims to be acting in the interests of the whole UK as the lies they are. I’m not optimistic the opposition will get this together -- hostility between Labour and SNP is intense, the LIbDems are in the throes of a leadership contest, Corbyn and those around him give no sign they recognise the need to mobilise a broader coalition beyond the Labour Party, both inside and outside Parliament.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    May’s party has cut spending of social services with the comment that there is no ‘money tree’ to provide them

    You’ve not plumbed the depths of what she said, not reported all of what she said, nor to whom and in what context. It beggars belief. She said, to a nurse who hasn’t had a pay rise for eight years and asked if that was fair, that “there isn’t a magic money tree that we can shake”. The callousness is staggering.

    She’s a dead woman walking, and comfortably the worst Prime Minister of my lifetime.

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