Yesterday the people of the United Kingdom produced an election result that has shaken the UK’s political establishment to the core. When British Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election, seven weeks ago, the Conservative party had a huge lead in the polls. Theresa May had a slender majority in the United Kingdom parliament, and told the British people that a new election was necessary, to ensure that she could “secure the best deal for the UK,” during the negotiations on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.
The polls put Theresa May’s Conservative party so far ahead, that she believed an election would lead to a huge Conservative Majority in the House of Commons. May had stated on at least seven occasions that she would not call an early election, but with the right-wing media on her side, May believed that she could wipe Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party off the face of the United Kingdom’s political map. It was being predicted, that May could win a 180-seat majority, something that would have made her position unassailable, and rendered any opposition to her policies futile.
May’s election campaign was shambolic. Policies were announced that proved controversial, and she attempted to mitigate the damage, by making a series of embarrassing about turns. Where May’s campaign was lackluster, Jeremy Corbyn galvanized Labour support, especially amongst young people. Voters under 30-years-old have traditionally failed to vote in the UK. Not so, on this occasion. Young people turned out in huge numbers and, as reported by the BBC, they were widely credited with a surge in support for Corbyn’s Labour party.
The result is that Theresa May has lost her majority, and is now reliant on the support of other parties to achieve her political aims. Unfortunately for May and the Conservative party, most of the other political parties in the United Kingdom would never support her. In the end, May must form a minority government, and is now reliant of the support of the Democratic Unionist Party [DUP], a hardline unionist party in Northern Ireland.
So, Who Are The DUP? Some Things You Should Know About The Democratic Unionist Party
The DUP was formed in 1971 by the protestant fundamentalist leader Ian Paisley, who led the party for 38 years. The DUP is now led by Arlene Foster, and is the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Having won 10 seats in yesterday United Kingdom general election the DUP is the fifth largest party in the Westminster parliament. The protestant unionist parties in Northern Ireland do have traditional links with the Conservative party on mainland Great Britain, so they would seem natural bedfellows for Theresa May.
With May failing to win a majority, she has turned to the DUP to “prop up” her minority government. The Guardian reported that the DUP’s 10 Members of Parliament will support Theresa May, but even then her majority is wafer thin. Whilst the DUP and the Conservatives do share some values, the DUP are startlingly controversial, and many Conservatives will find it difficult to reconcile the differences between the parties.
As reported in the Guardian, the DUP are against same-sex marriage, they are anti-abortion, and they are climate change deniers. There are significant policy differences between the DUP and the Conservatives, and leader Arlene Foster, has been mired in controversy over an energy deal that will cost taxpayers around $750 million. The DUP leader has faced constant calls to resign over the scandal, and her refusal to do so led to the collapse of the Northern Ireland assembly.
More worryingly, the Metro reported that the DUP has links to Northern Irish terrorist groups. Former DUP leader Peter Robinson was believed to have been involved with loyalist terror group Ulster Resistance. The DUP also collaborated with other terror groups, including the Ulster Volunteer Force, to smuggle arms into the UK. Several DUP candidates, in the 2017 general election, were endorsed by loyalist paramilitary groups.
Previous DUP leader Peter Robinson while part of Ulster resistance, and anti Catholic militia pic.twitter.com/B2XtllIRBa— For the many! (@TheEvilGenius3) June 9, 2017
As Open Democracy pointed out, many are deeply concerned that a far-right minority party, with just 10 Members of Parliament, will now act as “kingmakers” in the UK parliament.
The DUP will doubtless extract a huge price from Theresa May, in return for their support. What that price will be, we shall have to wait to see.
[Featured Image by Alastair Grant/AP]