The Tory/DUP deal - another nail in the coffin of uncertain British politics?

Image credit: Amanda Paul

Finally, the anticipated deal between the Conservatives and the DUP, hinted at since the hung parliament outcome of a general election which took place two and a half weeks ago, has come to fruition. The agreement, which promises the Tories support in crucial Commons votes and, in return, an extra £1 billion for Northern Ireland over the next two years has been hard fought – some critics are claiming the DUP have been merely “bought off” by the Conservatives in order to allow their role to be limited to that of a sleeping partner, and thus fulfil of Theresa May’s desperate desire to create a “strong and stable” government.

Nevertheless, the three-page document summarising the terms of the deal is a recognition that the DUP’s clout, despite their meagre ten MPs, will not be fully diminished:  their support for other Tory ideas will be on a “case by case basis”, allowing their influence to perhaps take a more central role in affairs of the nation; the concerning beliefs of certain DUP party members regarding abortion, the death penalty, and the teaching of the theory of evolution should will certainly sound alarm bells for many in relation to this side-note of the agreement. Moreover, both parties will retain the right to review and assess the agreement after each session of Parliament: in two years’ time, when this election has become simply a distant memory, the “strong and stable” governance of the country may again expose its rocky foundations. For a country experiencing such turmoil in home and foreign affairs at present, this is not a situation any Prime Minister would desire to experience.

This raises the question of who the real winners of the election were – or, indeed, whether there were any winners at all. The agreement is testimony to a shattered British democratic system, bruised by years of deceit, incompetence and the resulting public fury. The whole parliamentary process seems in chaos: after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, calls for Theresa May to resign reached new amplitudes, and polls posited Labour as having a three-point lead over the Tories – a sharp contrast to the 17-point lead the Tories had at the start of the election campaign. Though now there is some stability to the Conservatives’ authority, the new agreement with the DUP will inevitably threaten the situation more than repair it – there is too much tension already for a deal with such a vocal party to go unnoticed. And whilst Labour appear to now have swathes of public support, the inner conflicts within the party are still blatant, leaving them in a position arguably no better than the one the Tories are in currently.

Choosing who will be in power may always be a case of picking the lesser of two evils; but, in this case, the answer was not clear-cut, a fact revealed by the hung parliament outcome of the election. The results were close and, dependent on the progress of this already shaky agreement between the Tories and the DUP, may be close again in an imminent future vote. And whilst this political quibbling continues, only a perpetual background noise of upset governance is created. Whilst the situation is unstable, no progress can be fulfilled.

Though the people may just want a job to be done, it seems, sadly, that nobody is able to do it.


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