Tuesday, June 27, 2017

May's Desperate Power Move

The UK Conservative Party's losses in the snap elections a couple of weeks ago put their Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a minority position, unable to govern with insufficient votes in Parliament without forming a coalition with another party. May succeeded in rounding up the ultra-right Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland, but only by promising them a £1 billion bribe.

The DUP was founded by notorious religious bigot Ian Paisley during Northern Ireland's religious civil war ("The Troubles") in the early 1970s. Their positions on social issues would please the far-right here in the U.S.: opposition to both birth control and abortion, climate change denial, and opposition to same-sex marriage. As Unionists, they favor British military presence in Northern Ireland and a virtual amnesty for police and paramilitary officials accused of atrocities during the uprising.

Another consequence of the alliance may be the fracturing of the power-sharing arrangement with Sinn Fein in governing Northern Ireland. Many Irish republicans are concerned that with the alliance, the DUP can hold Prime Minister May hostage in exchange for punitive measures against them. Any retreat from the "Good Friday Agreement" could spark new unrest in Northern Ireland after nearly two decades of peace, a situation that would fall squarely on the UK's Conservative Party.

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