The upside of Theresa May shaking her magic money tree is that the Tory leader proved austerity was never an economic necessity and always a Tory political choice.
Purchasing with taxpayers’ cash the votes of 10 Democratic Unionist MPs at £100m a pop makes hers the most heavily subsidised job in the history of British politics when without the £1bn bung she might be on skid row, chucked out of Downing Street by Conservatives still angry she gambled and lost.
May has probably bought herself a couple of years with our taxes, evidence there is always good money to throw after bad when the goal is self-preservation for a Prime Minister who knows the price of her position and the value of nothing.
I worry about the impact on the Good Friday Agreement and peace in an increasingly polarised Northern Ireland when the DUP Tax means the Government can’t with a straight face pretend it is an honest broker. Appointing an independent mediator, as was often the method adopted in the run up to the 1998 peace deal, would be sensible but, hey, what seems fair and obvious is too often the least preferred option.
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire would need a wisdom of Solomon he lacks to be even handed between the DUP’s Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill after the
Sash for Cash arrangement to sustain May in No 10, the Conservatives in Government and him in Hillsborough Castle.
What is a grubby deal for the Tories is a windfall for the DUP and a welcome for the £1-billion across communities in the six counties of that part of Ulster will be tempered by the threat to resuming power-sharing in Stormont.
We know the deal put on the table and signed but nervousness is legitimate about what is under the table, details of any shadow discussions and understandings shared during nearly three tortuous weeks, when May and Foster decided to be blood sisters.
The Tory Party’s strengthened Parliamentary position – 316 voting MPs up to 326 when the DUP earn their corn against the 313 Labour should be able to muster in a Popular Front opposition if it persuades the Liberals, SNP, Plaid Cymru, a Green and Northern Ireland’s Independent, that North Down Blairite Sylvia Hermon, to join forces against the Mayhem hordes – is also a political weakness.
Tired Theresa’s political capital is vanishing, adding another £1bn to the national debt her party fetishises over bankrupting Conservative ideology. A British public sick to the back teeth
of a living standard-reducing, public service-destroying austerity likely to shout louder than ever that she must pay the nurses and install sprinklers in council tower blocks.
Old Tory excuses about “we can’t afford this” or “there’s no money for that” were destroyed by the wads of notes found down the back of the sofa for hardline anti-abortionists and gay marriage-haters. I was at the Tory Party conference in Bournemouth 2002 (as a journalist not a representative, to avoid any misunderstanding) to hear May as the then Conservative chair admit voters saw hers as the nasty party. History has come full circle when she’s poisoning the brand with DUP contamination.
The social conservatives she’s embraced don’t have to go for abortions if pregnant yet it is intolerable they force other women to be pregnant. Equally, if DUP MPs don’t believe in gay marriage I advise them not to wed somebody of the same sex, but to stop other people who love each other joining together in a union(isn’t that what Unionists are supposed to champion above all else?) is a prejudice May’s failure to fight highlights the unprincipled opportunism of a vicar’s daughter with a resurfacing reactionary past.
Every region of England and the nations of Wales and Scotland will be demanding their fair whack of extra resources from May. Labour MPs banding together in groups of 10 to obtain £1bn for the North East of England or West Midlands in return for voting with the Conservatives would be self-defeating. Scotland’s 13 Tories and Wales’ eight, however, deserved to be run out of their constituencies unless they extract a Northern Ireland-style deal from their mistress.
The challenge for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, chair and chief executive of Labour’s Left Project, is how to sustain momentum and winkle out May and the Tories. The DUP bribe’s armed them with stronger arguments. The downside is the Conservatives will be harder to shift.