When over two weeks ago I wrote a blog article titled: “Tories and DUP in bed together – shock horror,”when I was under the impression they had come to a done deal. Because the Tories did not receive an overall majority in the General Election earlier this month, they needed to come to some sort of agreement with the DUP (doing something similar with Labour and SNP, and even the Lib Dems was unthinkable), who would then vote with the Tories on things that mattered, in return for some minor concessions.
When something similar happened with the Tories and the Lib Dems six years ago, that deal was reached quickly and while concessions were more than minor and part of the deal meant sharing power even if the Tories were the senior partner, it did result in four years of relatively stable government, but arguably proved disastrous for Lib Dem’s longer term prospects, something no doubt the DUP were all too aware off. Despite not requiring a share of power and offering a paltry yet highly significant ten votes, the DUP proved quite stubborn in the deal making negotiations that now have been concluded, also aware this was an opportunity that should not be passed on to get a good deal for Northern Ireland.
When I blogged on the matter earlier, I took exception to the opposition voiced by liberal, luvvie types, who saw DUP as a party of largely religious bigotry. But as I argued, some of their principled stands is what rather attracted me, at least the informed by the fear of God element and, given the amount of common ground and historical ties shared by the two parties, the thought of the DUP and the Tories coming to some agreement to allow Tories to govern, seemed eminently reasonable, especially as it would mean rethinking some of the Tory policies that would detrimentally affect the poor. The big question was what compromises would be needed.
We now know! Doing my customary Google search my first three hits were all negative: “There is a magic money tree. But only for the Queen and the DUP”, “Theresa May’s DUP-Tory deal criticised as ‘shabby and reckless‘” and “Scots ministers escalate dispute over Tory-DUP deal funds”. In essence: “a deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) includes an extra £1bn in public spending for Northern Ireland”. In this Machiavellian world we live in many would not blink an eyelid, but the question is: is the deal right?
I have no doubt the nature of politics often includes an element of “quid pro quo” but should it? I have no problem the DUP wanting a good deal for Northern Ireland, which they see as having been neglected in recent years with money being diverted to secure a peace deal, and there is no doubt that £1bn can be put to good use. But if N.Ireland, what about Scotland and Wales? I don’t have a definitive answer but I am concerned that doing deals like the Tories have with the DUP may be the start of a slippery slope. I think more so that the days of this Tory government, and probably Theresa May too, are numbered, but at least for the time being we have a government that can govern and there is lots to do with Brexit etc.