Finding themselves on the wrong side of history, the DUP are reacting by confronting the future government in London head-on.
In a speech to the Lagan Valley Democratic Unionist Association on 29 April Peter Robinson said:
" ... When it came to supporting the sort of tougher laws on terrorism that the Conservative Party opposed last year, the DUP was free to do what it saw as being in the best interests of the United Kingdom in general and Northern Ireland in particular. In the future any UUP MP would be expected to vote not for what was necessarily in the interests of the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland but what was in the political interests of the Conservative Party.
Equally, would the UUP sign up to the significant public expenditure cuts for Northern Ireland that the Conservative Party would introduce after the next election? ... "
Plucky or just plain stupid?
It may have seemed sensible to support Gordon Brown on 42-day detention at the time, but it doesn't look so smart now. And to boast about it, and throw it in the faces of the Tories - almost undoubtedly the next British government - looks unbelievably stupid.
Whether the DUP has a strategy for dealing with a future Tory government, allied to its UUP rivals, is unclear. This kind of bear-baiting may simply be a reminder that the DUP are essentially a party of outsiders, not yet used to being in power and having to build working relationships with other power-centres. Ironically, Robinson appears to be better able these days to play nicely with the Dublin government. As this blog has remarked before, the underlying Ulster Nationalism of the DUP leads it continually towards a rapprochement with its nominal enemies in Belfast and Dublin rather than with the genuinely foreign government in London. Such a realisation has not yet occurred to most DUP supporters yet, but perhaps a prolonged period of Tory government will open their eyes.