As a consequence of the hung Parliament following the snap general election, the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party are locked in negotiations regarding a “confidence and supply agreement”. If this was to come to fruition, the ten DUP MPs would support the government in motions of confidence and would ensure a Queen’s Speech and a budget would be passed. An intense amount of scepticism exists towards any form of alliance, especially an alliance with the DUP. It would be an act of political self-harm to forge an alliance with an organisation with the social views of the DUP, and not to mention their and their links to paramilitary organisations.
Forging any type of alliance with the DUP who have a regressive stance on many LGBT+ women’s rights is suicidal. The DUP are a Christian unionist party, and their evangelicalism causes them to hold extreme attitudes which manifest themselves when the DUP used a legislative veto to oppose same-sex marriage. Ian Paisley Jr, son of former Reverend Ian Paisley and MP for North Antrim described himself as being “pretty repulsed” by homosexuality. Similarly, David Simpson, MP for Upper Bann echoed the apparent widespread disapproval towards same-sex marriage. In 2013 – Mr Simpson remarked that ‘In the Garden of Eden, it was Adam and Eve; it wasn’t Adam and Steve’. Gregory Campbell, MP for East Londonderry described homosexuality as an “evil, wicked, abhorrent practice”. Endorsing comments of that magnitude just shows how antiquated, traditional and narrow-minded the DUP are. The DUP’s evangelicalism is echoed throughout with restricting abortion rights in the North which is simply inhumane. The DUP is in serious need of reform as their values are simply antiquated and incompatible with mainstream political practice in the UK.
One of the strategies Theresa May used in the election campaign was defaming Jeremy Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser due to communication with Sinn Fein at the height of the Troubles. The question to the Prime Minister would be: does the Prime Minister know much about the DUP? Jeremy Corbyn’s defamation by the Prime Minister now appears to be mere hypocrisy. It also suggests that the Prime Minister is purely extending her stay of (rightful) execution by just bundling about a bunch of unknowns, frankly, in order to have a slim chance of governing. Similar to Sinn Fein and their links to republican paramilitaries such as the IRA, the DUP have links to loyalist paramilitary groups such as the Ulster Defence Association. The DUP could not even dispel and detach themselves from the UDA since in the build-up to the election, the UDA ‘strongly urged’ the electorate to back Emma Little Pengelly in South Belfast. The DUP support an organisation which shot a father, who subsequently died due to his injuries while holding his three-year-old son outside a Sainsbury store in Bangor over the May bank holiday. Affiliation with terrorist organisations rightfully being condemned by the public.
The DUP entering into a confidence and supply motion threatens the nature of the Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement was paramount in securing peace and stability within Northern Ireland. The agreement outlines that the Northern Ireland executive has to be a neutral arbiter between Republicanism and Unionism. Opposition to the DUP-Conservative alliance is based upon the fact that the impartial spirit of the Good Friday agreement is killed. The nature of the Assembly should be decided in the North of Ireland, not by proxy in London. So, for the Prime Minister not to consider the implications for a document which was salient in securing peace in Ireland is worrying.
This alliance would do greater harm than greater good for the Conservatives. It would be wiser to struggle in a minority government than the DUP being the kingmakers. The DUP want a softer version of Brexit since they are completely opposed to a return of a hard border separating the North and the Republic. A hard border which would be militarised and passport checks would result in support for reunification skyrocketing. Theresa May has already experienced one embarrassing moment by losing the 2015 majority, she doesn’t need another one in due course. Allying with the DUP will make the Conservative Party unelectable and will almost certainly guarantee a landslide defeat at the next election. Socially, the Conservatives are associated with the bedroom tax, the failure of the big society, rising food bank use to name a few. Remember, it was the David Cameron and the Conservatives who were progressive and made same-sex marriage legal. At the time of his resignation, it was recorded at 30,000 gay people who could now get married because of this policy. Theresa May wants this alliance to create certainty but it is highly possible that it will create uncertainty and diminish the little progressive capital the Conservative’s have. The 19 Conservative LGBT MPs might find this potential alliance with the DUP unpalatable which could lead to potential resignations or defections.
A DUP alliance would be suicidal for any political party to enter. From the outside, it simply looks that Theresa May is trying to extend her stay of execution as Prime Minister and Tory party leader. There are many implications that she clearly hasn’t considered: the affiliation with loyalists, the implications for the Good Friday Agreement and the implications for the future of the Conservative Party.