The DUP conference at the weekend established without doubt that its primary objective remains the elimination of Ulster Unionism from the political map of Northern Ireland. Not a comment or harsh word against its partners in Government but plenty of antagonism against the UUP, all the more sweet for parading 3 “defectors”.
Of just as much interest was the increasing degree of internal control being exerted over its own members. The DUP equivalent of a “liberal” wing had started to stir under the last months of the Robinson regime but its leading voice Paula Bradley was reduced to stating in an interview when asked about same sex marriage which she is rumoured to be supportive of “I am a member of the DUP I will do what my party asks me to do” and on the signing the petition of concern “we have no other option but to do that”.
Those who are drawn to membership of the DUP seek the comfort of an authoritarian party in the hope of achieving an authoritarian state albeit that power is shared with another authoritarian party in Sinn Fein. That authoritarianism in the pursuit of power, supported by the opportunity to offer positions in political office is the regime which results in members stating “we have no other option”.
Freedom from authoritarianism has been hard fought for and hard won by many generations in many societies. The freedom of political thought, the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience are core values which the authoritarian nature of the DUP struggles to understand or accept. Minded of the words of Lord Acton “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” those who believe in freedom must continue to resist the desire of the DUP to eliminate their political opponents in unionism in order to rule with absolute power and authority over the unionist population.