New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
14 September 2017

Angela Rayner’s tuition fees victory reminds us the DUP has its own agenda

The DUP voted against the government for the first time since their £1bn deal.

By Stephen Bush

The pound buys less and less these days, including in the House of Commons. The DUP voted against the government for the first time since their confidence-and-supply arrangement, backing Labour’s opposition day motions on public sector pay and the planned increase in tuition fees from £9,000 to £9,295.

The Conservatives, in a move designed to limit the damage, gave the whole vote a pass, and according to Paul Waugh, will do the same throughout the whole parliament.

There’s now a legal row about whether or not the tuition fees vote is legally binding or not. You can argue it both ways and there may have to be another vote, not on tuition fees but on whether or not the mechanism that Angela Rayner used to force the vote is kosher or not. (At that point, though, you’d expect the DUP to vote with their notional partners.)

But the vote tells us – or reminds us, at least – of a few things. The first is that Labour’s shadow education secretary is the real deal – she has assembled an impressive backroom team and is good at the graft as well as the art of opposition.

The second is that Theresa May is getting a little better at this, or, at least, less prone to acts of avoidable self-harm. Retreating when she just can’t win isn’t a trait that the PM has demonstrated in the past but it is one that the new Downing Street is showing more and more.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

The third is that the DUP aren’t a mere adjunct of the Conservative Party – they have their own minds, their own agenda and, unlike the Liberal Democrats, they don’t see their political interest as showing that coalition can work. Their interest is in showing the union can work for Northern Ireland and in delivering Brexit. Thanks to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, they can prop the government up and let it down an awful lot of the time. 

Content from our partners
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce
How to reform the apprenticeship levy