Likely DUP Demands in supporting the May Government

As someone who grew up on the island of Ireland the DUP are well known to me as indeed are Sinn Féin. I find it saddening that the more centrist parties: the SDLP, Alliance and the UUP captured no seats in GE 2017. All we are left with is two parties  with significant links to paramilitary groups but with very different politics. Apart from the obvious (that SF are Nationalist and the DUP unionist), SF are in politics a socialist modern party but the DUP are ultra conservative with a 17th century mindset considerably to the right of the Tea Party in the US. They are Protestant fundamentalists if not supremacists. It is not however difficult, looking through their various manifestos and policy statements, to get an idea of their likely bargaining position and there is a list which has been compiled here.

I have broken the list down into areas which are less sectarian and may be possibly agreed to by the Tories and others which are unlikely to fly as they may be perceived as too extreme.

These seem possible:

These are less likely but are part of the DUP wish list:

  • An increase in the size and number of British military bases and installations in the North, with training and logistical units, and administrative departments permanently relocated from Britain.
  • The reinforcement of partition, in line with the DUP’s off-the-record briefings, and at odds with its public pronouncements about favouring a “soft” Brexit border around the Six Counties.
  • Restrictions on Sinn Féin, including the party’s access to the House of Commons and Westminster in general, with a loss of public-finances, as available to all other parties with elected MPs.
  • Tighter restrictions on immigration to the United Kingdom and on the rights of non-nationals to access employment, social welfare, education, health, and so on. In other words, a “Britons first” policy.
  • The end of the television licence fee in the UK with the gradual “reform” of the BBC, including partial-privatisation of the public service broadcaster, in line with the DUP’s opposition to the “liberal media”.
  • A diminution of the cross-party, intergovernmental Good Friday or Belfast Agreement of 1998. That is, the peace deal which effectively ended three decades of insurgency and counterinsurgency conflict in the UK-ruled Six Counties. In particular, a rolling back of “Dublin interference” in Belfast affairs, a key concession to the northern nationalist community and the government of Ireland under the Irish-British peace process.
  • The “Britishcisation” of the United Kingdom’s legacy colony through concessions to the Orange Order and others, with the removal of restrictions on disputed parades and marches, a greater use of UK flags and symbols in official buildings, signs and documentation, and the introduction of distinctly British public holidays.
  • Conversely, and as would be expected from a fanatically hibernophobic party, a drastic suppression of any outward signs of Irishness in public spaces, including the continued ban on the use of the Irish language in the UK-controlled regional courts, no equality for Irish-speakers through legislation and no recognition or funding of all-Ireland structures.
  • A block on any possible reunification referendum in the north-east of the country for the next five years, regardless of local political, electoral or demographic circumstances. (A unity plebiscite in the event of a fifty/fifty nationalist and unionist split in the contested territory is another foundation block of the Good Friday Agreement).
  • A “hands-off” approach by London towards the region’s supposedly unique cultural and social traditions. In other words, the British state facilitating the anachronistic fusion of Unionist politics and Protestant fundamentalism, an ideology which manifests itself in a militant opposition to Roman Catholicism, homosexuality, marriage equality, feminism, abortion and anything perceived as liberal or progressive within the confines of the Six Counties.
  • A de facto general amnesty for members of Britain’s Armed Forces and allied services, military, paramilitary and intelligence, for war crimes or acts of terrorism committed in Ireland during the historical conflict or “Irish-British Troubles” from 1966 to 2005.
  • The renewal of post-conflict arrests, detentions, prosecutions and imprisonments of former Irish republican insurgents despite the carefully negotiated commitments given to the Republican Movement two decades ago by Britain in order to end the “Long War”.
  • The establishment of a so-called “IRA Victims’ Fund” to channel tax-payers’ money to persons injured or otherwise effected by the military campaign of the Irish Republican Army. A majority of these compensation payments would inevitably go to Unionist communities in the north of Ireland, particularly to former members of the British forces, including allied pro-UK terror gangs, or their families.
  • The allocation of funds for predominantly unionist neighbourhoods and constituencies, funnelled through state and DUP-associated organisations, including terrorist-influenced bodies loosely affiliated to the party. Some of this would be used to fund loyalist community groups, bands, the Orange Order and so-called “Ulster-Scots” advocacy groupings.
  • Greater impediments to visits by the President of Ireland.

I hope this gives some insight into their mentality. They were the only party in Northern Ireland to be pro Brexit and were, and possibly still are the recipients of very some very dark money. They are worried, their instinct is to  “circle wagons” in a crisis and they seem unable to reach out to the Nationalist community. They are not stupid but fully understand the demographics are against them as in Figure 1; as Catholics are far more likely to be Nationalist than Unionist and easily outnumber Protestants in the younger age groups. My fear is that whereas these policies may be very attractive to their core support base they will alienate the Nationalist community. The may see this hung parliament as a golden opportunity to shore up their increasingly fragile position. It seems however the Torys think they have no place to go so very few of the DUP demands may be implemented.

 

Where to now with Brexit?

I was in Dublin at the weekend; nothing unusual about that, it is my hometown and I go back regularly. On this occasion it was the 40th reunion of my UCD class of ’77. I know that I move in circles where everyone is both successful and well educated so their opinions may not represent a true cross-section of the Irish population however a few things were evident:

Continue reading “Where to now with Brexit?”

Labour has got to hurry

There is no time to waste when you’re a real alternative government – and that is what Labour has now become.

But they need to sort out their EU strategy. They already seem to have said that they want to have the same benefits outside the customs union as inside it (which seems a tad unlikley) but they too, seem to have bought the meme that free movement of people is a problem. Immigration may have been on Nigel Farage’s infamous poster but it wasn’t on the ballot paper. So the idea that the Brexiteers were all voting against immigration is purely speculative.

Continue reading “Labour has got to hurry”

Progress post election- where now?

It used to be said that there are two sorts of Tory voter: the millionaires and the misguided. Now we must add a third to that – the Hard Brexiteer, though some of them are definitely in the misguided category too. It is sad that this bizarre combination is capable of winning elections but it is.

So after Labour’s encourging but still losing result in the 2017 election it is apparent that progressive campaigners are left with two tasks that require prompt attention, especially when another election within a year is certainly possible.

1.Get the voting and constitutional system changed to more accurately reflect the actual votes cast.

2.Teach MP’s, the media and the electorate where money comes from.

This is a very tall order so we have to prioritise. Whilst still a considerable challenge I’d say that money is the easier of the two.

So, we need to write to the mainstream media – I for one complain to the BBC whenever I can when they fail to challenge phrases such as ‘money is short’. I’ve already asked my MP to enquire of the Chancellor where money comes from. It took six months to get a reply and a Treasury minister replied saying I’d asked a question on monetary policy. Even my MP was unhappy at the response and said, if he was re-elected, he would ask again. (He has been, so I’m going to have another go!)

Whilst the true souce of money is an underlying theme on Progressive Pulse, I’m still trying to expand the Jargon Buster – all help gratefully received!

 

No hope – just belief

The central tenet of the Conservative campaign seems to be a beauty contest of personalities with Jeremy Corbyn as chief ogre.

The only Tory plan is austerity, which is largely uncosted. Otherwise there is hardly any plan – and certainly none for Brexit.

Unfortunately the beauty contest has been interrupted by bombings and murders.

Yet, still Police cuts are to stand. Terrorism will be solved with (costless) new legislation. There will be no additional investment in the health service or education. And, although there are less of them than before, 15% more of us are dying in fires – yet the fire service will be cut.

Any personal care at home that was free will now have to be paid for and houses will be commandeered by insurance companies for dementia patients.

And meanwhile, under Conservative economic management and unlike almost everywhere else, we have had an average wage reduction:

 

What an alluring litany of love and hope.

Who on earth wants any of this?

A Conservative vote can only be a vote for self-flagellation.

If by some mischance the Conservatives win, it must surely be proof of rampant Stockholm Syndrome among the electorate, brought about, presumably, by an uncritical and right wing media.

No sane individual could possibly consider the Conservative plans worthy of their support, could they?

But of course it is scandalous that Jeremy Corbyn speaks to crowds and doesn’t always wear a tie.

Lower tax equals a worse life

Let’s be clear, lower tax means lower prosperity, worse public services, worse health and worse education.

The evidence is in the data. The graph below (updated 2017-06-08 following suggestions in the comments) shows outcome measured using the UN’s inequality-adjusted human development index (IHDI) as a function of input measured using tax as a percentage of national income (GDP) using data collated by the Heritage Foundation. IHDI is a number that measures income, life expectancy and years in education.* The higher the score the better. Top of the IHDI league table (see here) is Norway (which despite its oil wealth also has high taxes), bottom is the Central Africa Republic. The UK (in colour) is currently 13th, better than the US, but not as good as Germany, Australia or any of the Scandinavian countries. Included are all countries where data is available which includes more than 95% of global population.

The line assumes a diminishing return with increasing tax. However the exact form of this line is a bit arbitrary as we do not know what kind of correlation to expect. We could argue that countries above the line are getting relatively good value for money whereas those below the line could do better although there is a large country-by-country variation that depends on individual circumstances, such as Norway has oil as well as high taxes.

A simple linear fit gives a Pearson correlation coefficient r = 0.77. This tells us that prosperity outcome is roughly proportional to government input – the size of the governments spend and tax circuit. The more you spend and tax, the better the quality of life, the better your life expectancy and the better your education.

The conclusion is clear. A vote for a tax party of low tax is a vote for a worse life, worse health and worse education. On Thursday, why not vote for prosperity instead?

* IHDI also includes a correction for inequality but in most cases there is not much difference between the HDI and IHDI.