Posted By: April 08, 2015

Brian Feeney. Irish news ( Belfst). Wednesday, April 8, 2015

OPINION polls on social attitudes in Britain show an unexpected level of agreement on matters like banning smoking in workplaces and restaurants, gay marriage, legalising cannabis, equality laws. There’s one political party which stands out from the others on such matters and that’s UKIP. Nearly half of UKIP supporters think the laws against smoking are too strict whereas 65 per cent of the population think they aren’t. A huge majority of UKIP voters think religious views are more important than equal rights whereas, for example, the general public by 50 – 39 per cent think bed and breakfast owners should not be allowed to discriminate against gay couples. Generally speaking, in Britain people support legal regulation to enforce progressive policies but UKIP voters don’t.

On two other issues UKIP is way out of line – immigration and the EU. 91 per cent of UKIP voters oppose immigration completely and of course the party’s signature policy of leaving the EU receives blanket support.

By now you might be able to see where this is going. Which Norn Irn [Northern ireland] party is racist, homophobic, intolerant, opposed to state interference or legislation to enforce progressive social policies and wants out of the EU but not necessarily in that order? No prizes for answering the DUP because the answer is so obvious everyone would have to get a prize.

One interesting sideline on this phenomenon is the similarity between UKIP voters who look nostalgically back to the 1950s and the outlook of DUP voters who also imagine a non-existent golden age 50 years ago when there were certainties like a Unionist government at Stormont and the RUC and B Specials and no uppity Fenians. In Britain, UKIP voters yearn for a past that never was just as DUP voters yearn to return to a non-existent stable society here. The DUP is a party catering for ideas and policies which, if they existed, died in the decade after World War II but are now unattainable.

They would be happier living in Clacton, the town which elected a UKIP MP last autumn and was excoriated by the Times columnist, former Conservative MP Matthew Parris. Parris said the town “represents a Britain that’s going nowhere”, a resort “trying not to die filled with friendly people trying not to die”. He got out as fast as he could and advised the Conservative party to do the same and leave the place to UKIP. He said the future lies with “immigrants and graduates taking their dreams to the big cities and embracing the new cosmopolitan reality”. Clacton sounds a bit like Carrickfergus or Donaghadee on a Sunday.

That being said there is one extremely dangerous policy which is as backward and stupid as the others the DUP (and UKIP) embrace but which could destabilise the north seriously if it came into operation. That is, first a referendum on EU membership and secondly a vote to leave, known as ‘Brexit’ or British exit.

Sinn Féin has not been making much play of this danger during this election campaign, understandable partly because Sinn Féin has never been a warm supporter of EU membership and secondly because the EU is not exactly the flavour of the month in the Republic given the depredations of the ECB and the European Commission since 2009.

Nevertheless the CBI in The North has calculated that the EU is worth £3,000 annually to every household here. The North benefits enormously from EU farm subsidies and free trade from here to the Russian border. Talk about Britain saving about €8 billion annually from its EU contribution is irrelevant to here because Westminster would not treat The North as a special case as the EU does. Who would pay for the border posts? What about the Irish companies which own most of the creameries and meat packing plants here? What about the giant Brazilian company Marfrig based at Moygashel? Would it and many others stay if The North were outside the EU? Surprisingly for a party obsessed with policing and security the DUP seems unconcerned about the end of the European arrest warrant or the prospect of The North becoming a refuge for mainland European jihadis on the run. Still, since the borders would be sealed and no immigrants allowed and you wouldn’t have to cater for Muslims or gays, it would be heaven.