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First They Came... But What Is The Real Cost Of The DUP?

27/06/2017 13:39 BST | Updated 27/06/2017 13:39 BST

There are those who say the government's one billion pound deal with the DUP is no problem - the DUP are a democratically elected political party, and partnering up with the government solves the problem of no majority, enabling the UK to have a stronger hand in the Brexit negotiations. Forget hard Brexit, forget soft Brexit, forget smooth or rainbow Brexit; a good Brexit must be the end game, and if this means hooking up with the DUP, it's all worth it.

But come on! This simply does not add up. Because, essentially, if we take this position, we're saying that as long as Brexit's our main aim, anything goes; as long as we get a good Brexit, we'd be happy for everything else to go out the window, that we can start eroding the very morals and values that consensually underpin our own society. Protecting the world's climate is important. So is gender equality and women's right to choose. And is Brexit so desirable, so crucial that we are prepared to throw these beliefs away? Is Brexit so vital that we are willing to undermine and disregard the very principles so many have spent years fight for?

And the next question is how far are we prepared to go? Would it be okay to abandon racial and religious tolerance too? What about sexual choice? Or domestic violence? Shall we get rid of equal pay or workers' rights? Maybe we should ditch universal education? Or social housing? At which point does it become too far? Which bits of morality shall we keep? And which ones are okay to discard? Or is Brexit so important it doesn't matter?

You see, the marginal ideas among the DUP are only the thin edge of the wedge. Yes, they might be democratically elected, but so was Hitler, and Mugabe. And, as history has taught us, thin edges quickly become very thick indeed. Which is why it's not okay to accept just a little bit of it. It is not okay to say a little bit of global pollution is acceptable, for example, or a little bit of anti-abortion is fine, just like it is not okay to say we accept a little bit of female mutilation or a little bit of racial intolerance. It's all intolerable. And that's the point of politics - to stand up for these beliefs, to fight for the society we want; and to keep fighting until we get it. Standing back and accepting it is not an option. And that's why Niemöller's poem continues to hold such resonance. Because it continues to sum up why we can't simply accept the DUP as a few crackpots sitting at the back. Because it always starts with a few crackpots sitting at the back. It's only by saying no and standing up that they don't come to the fore.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

We must speak out. It's all we got. Especially if we want to create a future that's fair, right and equal. First they came. Now they're here. But let's hope they don't stick around. Surely nothing is worth that. Not at any price.