The central problem with being a king-maker is that you have to make a king. While you’re doing a public display of your political muscle, and boasting about what you’ve got the would-be king to agree to, the time comes when the public form a judgement on the kind of king you’ve landed them with.
In the case of king-makers the DUP, their first king was a queen really – Queen Theresa. She proved to be a devious Queen, trying to sell the DUP down the river, but in the end emerging as a hapless figure who crashed and burned in the face of opposition. Chalk up one serious lapse of judgement by the DUP.
The second king the DUP have produced – well, maybe more saluted – is Boris Johnson. Nothing that Johnson has done so far has been impressive, apart from his cheerful assurances that he’ll take all of us over the cliff with him, if the EU don’t smarten up. By now it should be clear to even the most dim-witted DUPer that the EU is depressed rather than impressed by Boris’s threats : if he doesn’t get his way, he’ll drink the kool-aid and have everyone else drink it too. That’s the DUP’s best Westminster buddy we’re talking about.
But let’s be optimistic. Let’s hope that somehow, some way, a last-minute deal can be pulled out of the burning hat. Will the DUP be hailed as having played a major role in this great victory? I doubt it. The populations of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland will be so weak with relief, they’ll be incapable of speaking, let alone hailing. But one thing you can be sure about: here in the North, they’ll not forget the damage the DUP has already done to business and farming. The English, Scots and Welsh may harbour similar resentful memories, but they’ll be nothing compared to the disgust of just about everybody here with half a business brain.
But have I forgotten? – the unionist population will vote for the DUP no matter what they do – a bit like Trump’s followers. Arlene’s party will still get the votes because the alternative – people opposed to the Precious Union or, in the case of the Alliance Party, carpet-baggers who’ll hop into bed with whoever is most attractive – the alternatives to the DUP are so much worse. So despite everything, the DUP will maintain its political dominance.
Certainly that’s how it has always worked until now, and if a deal is secured at the last minute it’ll no doubt continue to work.
But if there is no deal? If we are poisoned/pulled over the economic cliff with the Tories and the DUP – will the Precious Union still be worth the price? Hard to say. But just as all strategies for battle disintegrate on the first engagement with the enemy, blind loyalty to the DUP may fall apart on reception of the first unpayable bill.