Over the weekend, the hive mind of Momentum, Comment Is Free and chunks of the BBC somehow reached the view that the Democratic Unionist Party was a threat to our civil freedoms. Its support for the Conservatives wasn't simply a reflection of the election result, a way to give the UK (and, indeed, the rest of the EU) certainty during the Brexit talks.

No, it would mean Orange walks in Downing Street and backstreet abortions and the end of the Belfast Agreement.

How ironic, declared snickering Twitter Lefties, that, having denounced Jeremy Corbyn for his links with Irish paramilitaries, the Tories should now be forging such links themselves.

This equivalence between the DUP (a constitutional party) and the IRA (a terrorist militia) spread moronically. Perhaps, for those who took no interest in Ulster politics before Friday, it was based on honest ignorance.

There were Loyalist paramilitaries; and, like the IRA, they had political parties attached to them. The UVF and the Red Hand Commando were represented by the abominable Progressive Unionist Party; the UDA by the now-defunct Ulster Democratic Party.

These parties played the same repulsive game as their opposites in Sinn Féin, using their links to armed gangs to win the influence that the ballot box denied them.

The DUP, by contrast, consistently opposed political violence. It is true that some ex-paramilitaries joined the party after renouncing armed conflict; but the DUP never saw bombs and bullets as having a legitimate place in politics. Too many of its chiefs knew at first hand what terrorism meant.

Arlene Foster, the party leader, saw her father nearly killed in a shooting and was herself the victim of a bomb attack on her school bus when she was a girl. Nigel Dodds, the DUP's parliamentary leader, was attacked by the IRA as he visited his severely disabled son in hospital. Jeffrey Donaldson had two cousins murdered. These are not politicians who need to be told to be tough on terrorism.

It is extraordinary that I should need to write that sentence. But, in the current climate, when almost anything gets repeated provided it serves to delegitimise a Conservative Government, the preposterous idea that the DUP is somehow equivalent to Sinn Féin needs to be addressed.

Sure, in its early years, the DUP was ugly and opportunistic. If it never embraced paramilitarism, it certainly tolerated some nasty sectarianism. But that is not the same as planting bombs, for Heaven's sake.

In any case, today's party is very different from the bellicose DUP of the 1970s and 1980s – largely because, when the Ulster Unionist Party collapsed following the Belfast Agreement in 1998, many of its leading figures, including Jeffrey Donaldson and Arlene Foster, moved across to the younger movement. The DUP is now, in effect, the mainstream voice of Unionism in Northern Ireland, where it is overwhelmingly the largest party.

The really disturbing thing, though – the shameful, disgusting thing – is that its critics aren't content with that false equivalence. They actually regard the DUP as worse than the IRA. In the eyes of the Corbynistas, actively supporting the IRA in the 1980s was fine, but receiving the support of the DUP today is not.

In other words, collaborating with terrorists is OK provided they're sufficiently anti-British; but working with a parliamentary party, when it is Eurosceptic and Right-of-Centre, is unacceptable.

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Protesters hold placards as they attend a demonstration against the Conservative party alliance with the DUP in Parliament Square on June 10, 2017 in London, England.Getty Images

Why unacceptable? Here we come to the usual litany of complaints, trotted out in duckspeak. They're anti-gay, they don't believe in global warming, they hate women, yada yada.

"The DUP is the political wing of the 18th century, a bunch of homophobic bigots, and now they have the Tories over a barrel," says Owen Jones, whom I curiously can't help liking. "A DUP-Tory government is a menace to LGBT rights and women's rights."

Hmm. Let's consider these accusations in turn. The DUP has not, in any official statement or policy paper, rejected the idea that human activity is playing a part in climate change. Sure, some of its MPs disagree; but that is true of many parties.

Its positions on same-sex marriage and abortion are indeed more conservative than those of the Conservative Party, but they are mainstream in Northern Ireland. The DUP backed the local equivalent of Turing's law, retrospectively pardoning gay men who had been given criminal sentences. Its position on abortion is actually softer than that of Labour's local sister party, the SDLP. None of the main Northern Irish parties wants to extend the 1967 abortion legislation to the Province.

As for misogyny, the DUP is the only Ulster party with women elected to every branch of government – as well, obviously, as being led by a woman (a woman who, naturally, has had her share of the misogynistic abuse that some Leftists seem to think is OK when the target is a female conservative).

I realise that I am playing the critics' game by getting into these arguments. Those critics are not interested in an impartial assessment of the DUP's policies; all they want is to stop the Tories taking office.

You doubt me? Then consider this. In 2010 and again in 2015, Labour sought a deal with the DUP that would prop them up as a minority government. It never occurred to commentators, back then, to call the party racist or misogynistic, still less question its commitment to the rule of law. What has changed? Only the parliamentary arithmetic.


Daniel Hannan has been Conservative MEP for the South East of England since 1999, and is Secretary-General of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists. Follow : @danieljhannan