I think I am going to have to find a phrase stronger than going full potato. The general election stalemate has led to something I never thought I would see, and the consequences are horrific.
Within 24 hours, nearly half a million stunned people have signed a petition to get the Conservatives to rethink this disastrous move.
A huge protest march has already converged on Downing Street (10/06/17.)
And live ‘reactions’ can be found here.
The Northern Irish party the DUP have become the linchpin for the Conservatives. With 10 seats they could form a coalition but they are being very cagey about what they will do. And their election posters suggest their motives for so doing would be to hang the Conservatives out to dry. After all when May went to the Queen to request permission to form a government, no formal agreement had been reached and scuttlebutt suggest they’ve deliberately asked for a vote on reducing the time limit for terminations AND the Defence portfolio in return, and likely more, so May will either refuse and negate the process herself, or agree and officially become the worst PM of modern times.
Here are their ‘friendly mask’ policies but the reality is a hell of a lot worse…
- Their conditions could be too much for even Conservative backbenchers to accept
as they’d be happy with ‘Checkpoint Charlies’ along the border and have a sh*tty LGBT+, racial, women’s body autonomy and climate change denial/creationist record to boot (as does May, in relation to to the first issue- she voted against many Bills for LGBT human rights, such as same sex marriage);
and they may even want May gone (as they do not trust her on on a ‘soft’ B*exit) and a mandate to keep minorities suppressed in Ireland as a precondition of their support.
Would the Conservatives really go this full potato just to keep ‘power’? The DUP make UKIP sound like Euripides, sober, at a symposium.
who shot Colin Horner to death in front of his three year old son; days after the killing, just days ago. Below is a letter from the LCC requesting all Union supporters to vote to get rid of the SDLP and UUP– which is what happened...
This is an absolute smack in the face for all those who died in the Troubles, especially the Catholics, and whose families tried so hard to forgive and move on– and those who worked so hard to make the Good Friday Agreement. Ratified in 1998 by Labour, this is an ongoing process to try and keep Ireland as peaceful as possible. This Friday (09/06/17) should the DUP take steps to actually agree to this, should be known as the Sh*t On The Good Friday Agreement… as this possible ‘deal’ actually contravenes the GFA. Unless Ireland is under direct Westminster rule, there has to be parity and neutrality at Stormont in all areas. The extract below is from the GFA.
Orange will indeed be the new blue… both would be terrible whilst also being long-time bedfellows (as I said in the Corbyn blog over a month ago) though to be fair the ‘old school’ Conservatives were happy to play both sides
so I only hope either side see some sense on this- and if not, that Parliament votes this potential pact of pandemonium down.
And it looks they’re actually going to do it (10/06/17). Peston says
The prime minister has sent a team of officials, led by her chief whip, Gavin Williamson, to Belfast to negotiate the details of an alliance with the DUP.
“A coalition would be much better than a looser alliance”, one senior minister said. “We don’t want the DUP demanding money for this or that project they fancy every time we need them to support us in a vote. That would be deeply unstable”.
So THEY are going to IRELAND, (I guess if they came here people would lose their sh*t if they came here but it is still negotiating from a position of weakness to go to their ‘territory’) cap in hand,
weapons in one pocket, women’s rights in the other, to make a deal with violent, fundamentalist nutjobs, people that NEVER actually backed down when all the other factions did– offering full coalition (which surely under the law at present is not allowed) privileges in the name of ‘stability’. I actually feel sick. And so, it seems do her chief advisors Nick Timothy (nicknamed ‘Rasputin’ by disaffected Conservatives,) and Fiona Hill as they have both resigned! Or it’s all just Conservative power grabbing, to prevent a leadership challenge on May. Insular ar**holes, refusing to see the bigger picture…
If they even DARE to say Corbyn is a ‘terrorist sympathiser’ after this…
Sinn Féin (that grew from the (P)IRA terrorist (to the English) or pressure group/movement (according to historians), but if the DUP are deemed legitimate, so are they) will not ally with any party or send MPs to Westminster as that is part of their mandate, so while they could have made a difference in mathematical terms, in political terms- absolutely not. And imagine the furore if they did! Yet the idea of a Con/DUP pact might force them to break their mandate.
meaning the Conservatives would only have a majority when it comes to B*exit. As we have seen the DUP promised a soft B*exit in their manifesto (due to the border with Ireland) BUT paradoxically, have proposed hard border policies in the past. The upshot of this is that the Conservatives will not be able to implement anything in their manifesto without the consent of other parties. On top of this, many of their own MPs are against many manifesto policies too. So to risk what Irish peace there is to even suggest an alliance with the DUP will go ahead is right into Brass Eye territory. And for the final nail in May’s coffin, when becomes evident they can’t pass bills then there will be a vote of no confidence.
Is May considering revoking this EVEL law, brought into government by the Conservatives, just to keep her pants in the drawers (yes, pun intended) of Number 10?
Why is even considering this such an issue? Laws can be changed, right?
Ignore the Irish ‘Troubles’ at your peril. A direct result of centuries of English oppression and imperialism; at the heart of the conflict lay the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. The goal of the unionist and overwhelmingly Protestant majority was to remain part of the United Kingdom. The goal of the nationalist and republican, almost exclusively Catholic, minority was to become part of the Republic of Ireland.
If you want a loose time frame it ‘started’ with civil rights march in Derry on 5 October 1968 and the ‘ended’ with the Good Friday Agreement on 10 April 1998. Oh if only it was so simple. We have to go back further to the ‘partitioning’ in 1921, with the southern twenty-six counties gaining independence from Britain. (Yeah, as that worked so well with the creation of Israel in 1948, didn’t it?) The other six north-eastern counties remained part of the United Kingdom. And the killings began in earnest.
This new state of Northern Ireland had an in-built Protestant majority (roughly 65% Protestant and 35% Catholic) with its own parliament and considerable autonomy within the United Kingdom. Sovereignty was retained in Westminster, as was responsibility for defence, foreign policy and other UK concerns.
Of course you could go back further right to the reign of King John (1189-99) but this is a blog not a history text book so I will keep it as brief as possible.
If you want it kept simple- this was a fight over territory, not a religion. At its heart lay two mutually exclusive visions of national identity and national belonging. The principal difference between 1968 and 1998 is that the movement from violence to peaceful methods to achieve their aims, and the path to this is littered with bones and drenched in blood.
During the ‘Troubles’, the scale of the killings perpetrated by all sides – republican and loyalist paramilitaries
the main ones were:
Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA)
Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC)
Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
South East Antrim UDA (SEA UDA)
Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF)
and the British security forces – eventually exceeded 3,600. As many as 50,000 people were physically maimed or injured, and the conflict has left an indelible mark on Ireland. And it it still going on, intermittently, to this day.
‘Home Rule’ returns
By 1968, the Northern Ireland parliament had been dominated by unionists for over fifty years. But they could not resolve years of unrest and injustice, such as institutional discrimination against Catholics, and when they tried, their measures were not enough for nationalists and republicans and too much for many unionists. Tension that eventually broke out into violence was inevitable.
Of course, UK governments were quite happy to intervene. In 1969, the situation was so grave that British troops were sent to help restore ‘order’. That went well. By 1972, things had deteriorated so badly that the British government suspended the Northern Ireland parliament and imposed direct rule from London. This happened again in 2002!
- The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) was the main republican paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland and their position was British withdrawal and Irish unification. The ‘Provisionals’ split from the ‘Official IRA’ in 1969. Their determination to do this was only strengthened by the introduction of internment (imprisonment without trial) in 1971 and the killing of 13 people by the British Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday the following year.
When secret talks with the UK government in 1972 collapsed, the IRA’s only option left was the eradication of the British presence in Northern Ireland through a war of attrition.
- The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had resolved to use violence to resist republican paramilitaries and to oppose Irish unification.
Attempts to find a solution.
- the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement, with the aim of devolved, power-sharing administration and a role for the Irish government in the internal affairs of Northern Ireland, was tried.
But only three Northern Ireland political parties participated in the Sunningdale talks –
- the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP),
- the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and
- the centre-ground Alliance Party.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was wholly opposed to Sunningdale and did not participate. And representatives of the ‘extremes’ – loyalist and republican paramilitaries – were not even invited. This lasted barely a year.
But from this you could argue came some of the ideas that resulted in the Good Friday Agreement twenty five years later.
- Nothing else was attempted till 1985. And in the meantime, people died. The Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) was the next serious attempt to achieve a political accord that resolved the “Irish question”. It gave the Irish government an advisory role in the affairs of Northern Ireland and determined there would be no change in Northern Ireland’s constitutional status – no Irish unification in other words – without the consent of its people. But even this milder version went down like a lead balloon; the Loyalists utterly opposed Irish involvement and rejected the proposal for a devolved, power-sharing government. Only the SDLP and Alliance Party supported the AIA.
Is the letter sent out (above) last month by the DUP pretty much ordering supporters to cause the collapse of the SLDP, UUP and AP making sense yet?
In the meantime, the (P)IRA had been busy after years of being shut out of any political due process. Sinn Féin, the “political wing” of the IRA, was as vociferously opposed to these agreements as the extreme unionists. The party had grown in prominence and influence since republican hunger striker Bobby Sands was elected a member of parliament on a wave of popular support shortly before he died in 1981. It had shown Sinn Féin the power of political engagement and led to the adoption of a strategy known as “the armalite and the ballot box” in which the IRA would continue the “armed struggle” while Sinn Féin contested Northern Ireland elections.
And it was the IRA who announced a ceasefire in 1994.
They were first to see that ‘long war’ was unwinnable. The British Army had come to the same conclusion. It didn’t ‘help’ that the US by this point had chosen to stop funding the republicans and the UK had stopped funding the Loyalists– overtly anyway. Sinn Féin played the long game well and were in the best position to enter negotiations designed to end the Troubles and restore self-government to Northern Ireland.
- The ‘Peace process’. These talks began in earnest in 1996. In almost all quarters, a combination of political realism and war-weariness (as is often the case historically) cleared the path to negotiation. And yes the US had their finger in that pie- Clinton appointed veteran US senator George Mitchell as chair of the talks process that concluded in the Good Friday Agreement.
But old emnity refused to die. Even the idea of getting round the table with Sinn Féin was repugnant for many unionists and loyalists.
- The UUP, under leader David Trimble, demanded that Sinn Féin committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means (bit rich, coming from them!).
- Representatives of loyalist paramilitaries also agreed to take part.
- But to nobody’s surprise, Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) viewed the whole process as unacceptable. They abandoned the talks and opposed the subsequent agreement, but still took their seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly that resulted.
This is the loophole May seeks to exploit in her bid to unite with the DUP to form a government.
But eventually the Good Friday Agreement did happen. The UUP and SDLP agreed to accept power-sharing, including with former paramilitaries who were committed to the peace process. And the DUP considered this traitorous. As we can see, they bided their time, and this year struck to wipe them out as political powers at Stormont (The Northern Irish Parliament) completely.
Do not think the Good Friday Agreement solved all the problems.
Not till 2007 was there any semblance of cooperation between the parties in their Parliament. When government returned to Stormont buildings in Belfast, this time it involved a fully inclusive power-sharing arrangement that embraced both the DUP and Sinn Féin – now the dominant parties within their respective electorates.
And people are still dying.
So Northern Ireland has become a polarised, two-party Government after the collapse of the SDLP and UUP. And so have England (for the first time since the 70s.)
And don’t think for one minute that this doesn’t affect Scotland too. Sectarianism is still alive and kicking there, over religion and Irish issues.
So in a move that was not entirely unexpected, Davidson leader of the Scottish Conservatives, could be allegedly making move to distance herself from the English Conservatives’ election car crash. While this would clearly be 99% an intra-party power grab, and she cares little for the body rights of women else she would have opposed the ‘rape clause‘, as a lesbian she could make it about a protest over LBGT issues, as the DUP have been seen to be rabidly against them. Maybe she should check out May’s LGBT voting record, eh. ￼￼￼ This decision, if she is making it, breaks the basics of an association that has existed for over 50 years. And it would be massive– while they’d still take the whip from the Commons their seats would not ‘count’ in the Conservative majority. So even with the DUP seats, May would not have a majority– and a national party split is also highly significant. In 2011, Davidson opposed rival Murdo Fraser when they called for the separation of the Scottish Conservatives to establish a new centre-right party in Scotland. But times, and politics change- so we will need to watch this space and see if it happens. For more on the consequences for Scotland see the election results blog.
Ever wondered where we get the phrase ‘beyond the Pale’ from? ‘Pales’ are stakes or fences. And they marked the border showing
the shrinkage of the area under English domination in Ireland during the late medieval period (as shown in the accompanying maps). This area was defined by a series of rampart ditches and fences which the administration caused to be built to encompass territory it felt it could defend against encroaching raids from the surrounding Gaelic clans. [my italics]
May is going so far beyond the Pale it is a DOT to her. Then again, the DUP aren’t exactly any better- they’ve been planning for this possibility this since at least 2015.
Alea jacta est.
A Number 10 spokesman said: “We can confirm that the Democratic Unionist Party have agreed to the principles of an outline agreement to support the Conservative government on a confidence and supply basis when Parliament returns next week.
“We welcome this commitment, which can provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond.
“The details will be put forward for discussion and agreement at a cabinet meeting on Monday.”
No mention of course of what this deal involves. Then we find out there is no deal, from a statement released afterwards by the DUP! The statement from Downing Street was released ‘in error’. The DUP are not a party that appreciates being spoken for or gentle in negotiation (understatement) and with a Conservative reshuffle in the offing and an emergency 1922 committee meeting (these have gone beyond rumour level into fact) on the ‘Sabbath’ (holy day for Christians) the Conservatives aren’t helping themselves here.
And after months of sectarian dog whistling, partly of course to smear Corbyn, May is actually prepared to see Ireland burn to keep her frail hold on power. And is even making a dog’s dinner of that, for which we, in retrospect, might be thankful.