Vidya Ram

DUP who? It’s UK’s new power-player

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 09, 2017

bl10_DUP logo   -  wikipedia

The right-wing party zooms from near-oblivion to centre stage

The loss of Conservative seats that forced the party to turn to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has focused attention on a right-wing party typically given little attention nationally.

The DUP, the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland (the parties that support Northern Ireland remaining within Great Britain), raised its number of seats to 10 from eight, potentially providing the Conservatives with the majority they would need in Parliament, after the loss of at least 12 seats in the snap election.

Formed in 1971 by Ian Paisley, the party is now led by Arlene Foster.

According to its manifesto, the DUP’s top priorities include the restoration of a working assembly and executive in Northern Ireland, rises in the minimum wage and a commitment to universal welfare benefits. It pushes for new free trade deals globally as well as “comprehensive free trade and customs agreement with the European Union.” On Brexit, it is pushing for an “effective immigration policy which meets the skills, labour and security needs of the UK.”

However, some of the DUP’s other stances are raising concerns about where British politics could head now, with the party adopting a much more influential position. It is thanks to DUP opposition that Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal, after the party exercised a veto.

Raising concern

It has also blocked any attempts to change Northern Ireland’s strict laws on abortion. There are also concerns about the party’s stance on issues such as climate change, with the manifesto making little mention of any commitment to renewable energy.

“The DUP is stuffed with climate change deniers, homophobes and misogynists. May’s alliance is a dishonourable coalition of chaos,” tweeted British environmental and political activist George Monbiot.

Precisely what issues the party will seek to gain political advantage on, as a result of its informal support for the Conservatives, remains to be seen.

Published on June 09, 2017
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