Brian Monteith: Grubbiness is in the eye of the beholder

Theresa May  greets Arlene Foster, the leader of Northern Ireland's DUP, in Downing Street. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images
Theresa May greets Arlene Foster, the leader of Northern Ireland's DUP, in Downing Street. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images
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It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If it is true, and I happen to think that as we all have our own definition of what is beautiful then it must be, then it naturally follows that ugliness must also be in the eye of the beholder.

Earlier this week we witnessed the minority Conservative Government strike a confidence and supply deal with the Democratic Unionist Party that ensures the government will win any votes that could bring the Government down.

Annabel Goldie's Scottish Tories got into bed with the SNP  form 2007-2011. Picture: Jane Barlow

Annabel Goldie's Scottish Tories got into bed with the SNP form 2007-2011. Picture: Jane Barlow

Immediately all political parties that were not part of it attacked it. Our very own Nicola Sturgeon, not one to bother about blindingly obvious hypocrisy called it a “grubby deal”. Others used the term “squalid”.

I would not go as far to say it is a thing of beauty but it is only as grubby as every other deal that its critics have entered into themselves. After all, deal-making is the stuff of politics, and as deals go I happen to think that when analysed most people would think it is not so bad after all.

The DUP convinced the Prime Minister to keep the triple lock that protects the value of pensions and retain the Winter Fuel Payments across the whole of the UK – was that not what most people wanted? The Tories would probably have won a majority if they had kept those policies in their manifesto.

And as for the deal providing money for the DUP’s own benefit, Theresa May’s government will part with £500 million this year and next to go to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the benefit of all those who live in the province.

Spending this pot of gold is not limited to only DUP parliamentary constituencies but the whole of the six counties – in other words it is not a sectarian bribe, and were Sinn Fein to yet again enter into a power sharing agreement (a grubby deal, anyone?) then you can be sure this filthy, tarnished moolah will reach its way to Derry’s Bogside and West Belfast.

If the DUP is that bad why did both Labour and the SNP make their own behind the scenes overtures to them? Is a deal only grubby when it’s someone else’s?

Politics is full of deals, it exists for deals; and if it’s not between parties then it’s often between a party and the voters.

Was Corbyn’s offer to abolish English and Welsh tuition fees – costing £7.5 billion not a bribe, a grubby deal where the many taxpayers would pay for the few Jemimas and Jeremies? This DUP deal looks cheap at the price by comparison.

Maybe the grubbiness is because it’s a Tory deal – but all parties have mud on their hands. Remember how the SNP voted with Thatcher to bring down the Labour government and force a general election in 1979? Remember how, only last month, the Greens declined to stand candidates in marginal SNP seats.

And it’s not as if the SNP has not struck deals with Tories before. Remember how Annabel Goldie fluttered her eyelashes at Alex Salmond. They got into bed together so the SNP could govern from 2007 until 2011, keeping only to the censors’ game of each having one foot on the floor at all times. Like those golden years of Hollywood, the public was entertained and delighted.

It’s also not as if our First Minister does not know a grubby deal when she sees one. She herself runs a minority government. When it comes to concocting deals she changed her budget to find £220 million for the Green Party to approve of. In proportion it was costlier and grubbier.

So why does our First Minister call the DUP deal grubby? Could it be she is annoyed that it prevents her from having her own grubby deal with the Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour? A deal she so often teased about being on the table?

If it is because Scotland has not been offered a similar wodge of notes then she could of course have done an Annabel and hitched up her skirt and winked in the eyes of the Tories. Some would call that standing up for Scotland, others would call it lying down for Scotland – be it beauty or grubbiness it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

OMG, this QC needs to up her game ASAP

When it comes to being stupid, don’t let the fact that someone has the letters that signify Queen’s Counsel after their name fool you.

Stand up MP Joanna Cherry QC, who asked the Prime Minister this week why she would not remove the requirement for comprehensive sickness insurance from those applying for British residency until after we leave the EU. Why not now?

Theresa May answered because it is a EU requirement, not a UK one, and once we have left the EU we can and shall remove that requirement.

Maybe the QC should read her briefs more closely.

Buying British seems to be best plan again

A lot of good things happened in 1988 – for a start my twin sons were born, for which I shall forever be thankful.

Would you believe that it is only now, a full 29 years since British manufacturers’ order books are as full as they were back then? So much for the economic recession that even the threat of a Brexit vote would bring. Are British companies being bought up because of the fall in the value of sterling? Why, the opposite is the case, British companies have been buying up foreign rivals. As the SNP like to say, let’s stop running our country down.