The recent DUP decision to vote with Corbyn’s Labour opposition in the House of Commons against the Tories to end the pay cap for NHS workers and to oppose the proposal to increase student fees by £250 has underscored the weakness of Theresa May’s Tory/DUP government.
It also underscores the chasm between the DUP and the working class communities it claims to represent where there is no mandate for austerity.
Every opportunity should be taken to weaken the Tory/DUP government and to break support away from the DUP towards a genuine anti-austerity, pro-LGBT+, pro-choice, pro-refugee and anti-sectarian alternative.
The signals from Stormont negotiations to form a new Assembly Executive point increasingly towards a return to direct rule from Westminster.
However, all of the parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin in particular, have made it clear they want to restore the Executive as soon as possible.
It’s clear none of the parties want to be accused of walking away from negotiations first.
Nevertheless, for now, Sinn Féin have made it clear they will not rejoin an Executive if the DUP fail to agree to an Irish Language Act and other equality demands.
The absence of Stormont, along with Brexit fears, including a return of any kind of border, is generating political frustration and restlessness across the North.
But the DUP, now propping up May’s toxic government, shouldn’t be allowed to continue to ride roughshod over basic equality demands.
To make negotiations with the DUP meaningful these demands should be extended to include Equal Marriage rights in the North but also the right to choose, the reversal of neoliberal austerity contained in the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements, an end to foot dragging on legacy issues, the reversal of plans to reduce the Corporate Tax rate and an end to Tory inspired Welfare Reform. Without these demands being met there can’t be equality, dignity or respect.
The DUP should come under increasing pressure to break from Theresa May’s and Tory plans to continue with austerity.
The recent vote in the House of Commons proves this is possible.
The most effective way to increase pressure on the Tory/DUP government, secretary of state for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire and budget cutting civil servants, is through mobilising people power from all working class areas to stop the cuts as on the 1 October demonstration.