By Sean Burns
Jeffery Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, has been threatening to collapse the institutions, by removing executive ministers if article 16 is not triggered by the British government. A threat that he has now backed down on after assurances from the Brexit Secretary that she will suspend aspects of the post-Brexit deal if agreement with the EU cannot be reached.
These threats are a reflection of a real pressure on the DUP from their base to take a hard and effective stance in opposition to the protocol. Opinion polls have illustrated the DUP being outflanked by both the UUP and the TUV. Some dropped to as low as 9% falling behind Sinn Féin. Regardless of Donaldson’s actions, the DUP are caught between a rock and a hard place. They are unable to act decisively and take a hard line while maintaining the institutions and at the same time to compromise further undermines their position.
At its core the state of suspended animation the DUP find themselves in is born from below where there is a widespread perception within the Protestant community that they are being forced into a de facto ‘economic united Ireland’, as a result of the East/West border. This adds to the growing sense of insecurity and isolation of many Protestants, who feel that the Union is unraveling and they are threatened with becoming a minority in an all-Ireland state against their will. Rioting last year and large protests against the protocol are indicators of a bubbling anger which will not simply dissipate. As we approach the elections in May tensions over the protocol will be a dominant feature.
The failure to deliver a good quality future and living standard is fuel to the fire. The conditions of low wages, precarity and insecurity and the overall inability of Capitalism to deliver its promised “peace dividend” has and will undermine the establishment parties.
Working-class can show the way
Left in the hands of sectarian politicians the situation will worsen. All the green & orange parties in the North base themselves on the division that exists in our society. As we approach the elections in May, both the Unionists and Nationalists will up their sectarian rhetoric as they vie for a dominant position but neither offers a solution for working-class people.
While they present themselves as the champions of their respective communities both parties represent the interests of Capitalism. There is an escalating cost of living crisis in the North. We have historically low wages, a fact that both
Sinn Féin and the DUP have often boasted about to foreign investors. The price of gas for example is rising by nearly 38% in some instances, and it’s not the only cost. Energy, food, rent, etc are rising hitting working-class people the hardest.
United struggle of the working class – Protestant, Catholic and neither – in our common class interest can raise people’s sights towards the potential for fundamental change: for a break with the capitalist system which sows division, and for a socialist future in which working-class people have a real say over the running of all aspects of society.