Belfast Telegraph

DUP now the talk of the town after win

By Steven Alexander

With the DUP now established as Westminster's kingmakers, political pundits and voters in Great Britain found themselves scrambling to learn more about Northern Ireland's biggest party.

The DUP may be part of the political fabric here, but despite being the most British of parties, most British voters seemed to be getting a crash course in Arlene Foster's party yesterday.

Jonathan Powell - Tony Blair's former peace process adviser - suggested it might not be a bad thing that Northern Ireland wasn't dominating front pages any more.

But it must have been galling for DUP Commons leader Nigel Dodds to hear English commentators and journalists talk about Theresa May's "Irish bailout" and the DUP referred to as "Irish unionists".

Never mind May's failed gamble or Corbyn's comeback, those logging on yesterday morning would have found out that the most googled political party in the DUP.

In fact, "The DUP" was the top trend on Twitter in Belfast too, as the local party found itself at the centre of Westminster politics for the first time since John Major's government.

The DUP's website crashed several times yesterday, such was the demand for information about who the Tories' new government partner was.

One report suggested that the party manifesto had been viewed five million times.

"I was one the thousands of people googling 'DUP'," admitted Tory voter Kirsty. "I don't know all that much about them."

Meanwhile Josh Hinton (30) said: "From what I know they're socially conservative and comfortable bedfellows of the Tories.

"It doesn't bother me that they're not part of the mainland either," he said - arguing that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.

"But it's certainly not the result I wanted" was his conclusion.

Suddenly, it looked as though the decision of broadcasters to ignore Northern Ireland in Thursday night's exit poll had been a big mistake.

They had been happy to record predictions as irrelevant as 'zero' for Ukip, Plaid Cymru on three MPs and Greens on one.

But clearly no-one had thought that the DUP vote would prove key - as pollsters had simply slapped 'Other: 18' at the bottom of their results.

Sky News also had an explanatory graphic - a Dummies' Guide to the DUP - that outlined what the party stands for.

In case you didn't know, they are: "Support staying in UK, socially conservative and soft Brexit."

The channel initially described Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as the party's Westminster leader - before being quickly corrected in a follow-up reported by their more knowledgeable correspondent David Blevins.

As commentators scrambled to read the DUP manifesto to learn what the party might demand Theresa May as the price of their support, the Independent's environment correspondent described the party as "a far-right party with a track record of Donald Trump-style climate change denial".

He added: "In addition to controversial views on science, the DUP is known for its links to loyalist paramilitary groups, anti-abortion stance and accusations of a prejudiced attitude towards the LGBT community."

While the party would no doubt disapprove of the tone of such a description, it pales in comparison with today's headline in the Mirror: "Coalition of Crackpots."

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