NI Finance Minister: “they are probably delaying or seeking to delay the whole process of trying to make a budget.”

The BBC reports Northern Ireland Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, criticism of today’s protest in Belfast by the trade unions.

…Mr Wilson said unions were “giving false hope to people that somehow or other by holding placards they can avoid these financial choices”.

He also accused the unions of using the cuts to gain political clout.

“In doing so, they are probably delaying or seeking to delay the whole process of trying to make a budget.”

And the NI Executive’s ‘protest’, Sammy?

The Irish News‘ political correspondent, Diana Rusk, has the [anonymous] quote of the day

As one executive source wryly put it: “There is a range of views, from Sammy Wilson wanting to cut everything to Sinn Féin wanting everyone to go on a sponsored walk against the cuts.”

And Diana Rusk’s article ends with this pertinent point

But our time-travelling politicians, tempted to oppose the cuts outright, blame everything on Whitehall and stall on a budget, face another dilemma.

“The difficulty is that they are going to have to cooperate because if they don’t we will have gridlock and that is one thing they need to avoid ahead of an election,” Dr [Alistair] Clark says.

“It’s fairly clear people are sceptical of the ability of politicians to agree and if there is no way forward on this, or a mood that somehow they have avoided making decisions, it will just feed their scepticism.

“And that will add to voter apathy.”

And we know just how sceptical the public already is.

, , , , , , ,

  • Rory Carr

    Dr Clarke might wish to consider that voter apathy is most likely to caused by a sense of powerlessness over the decisions made by politicians once elected. That would certainly include a feeling of helplessness as welfare and social services suffer and jobs are lost as a direct result of our elected representatives meekly surrendering to this butchery in order to cushion the City friends of the present Westminster government from the consequences of their financial nefariousness.

    If anything is likely to shake that apathy it would be a strong, well-led resistance to these cuts and in that regard the demonstration by trades unions in Belfast is to be welcomed.

  • Reader

    Rory Carr: …as a direct result of our elected representatives meekly surrendering to this butchery…
    If Stormont doesn’t set a budget within its means, then a year down the line pay cheques bounce. Will you watch from London, or will you move over here for the aftermath?

  • Big Bad Bob

    What ‘resistence’?

    NI raises £7bn less in taxes than it spends on public services – the English taxpayer makes up the rest.

    So what precisely are you ‘resisting’? Perhaps they should just withdraw the £7bn and spend it where it’s actually earned?!

  • maehara

    Another reason for apathy: we can’t actually vote a party out of power here, can we? Whatever the outcome of the Assembly elections, all that will happen is a slight reshuffling of the deckchairs to reflect the poll percentages of the 4 main parties, but ultimately they’ll all still be there, and still making arses of themselves.

  • The essential issue is whether we peasants should meekly accept diktats from our betters, or do something. So I’m with the demonstrators here.

    Every single Tory government since time immemorial has set out with intent to “roll back the frontiers of the state” (i.e. restore the ancien régime when the system worked for the few and against the many). It’s happening again: the cuts announced on Wednesday were remarkably on the same scale as the bonuses announced by just one bank. The more we look at the small print, the more it becomes clear just how regressive and discriminatory these cuts are. Who thought commitment to cancer-care would be quietly shrugged off in the small print? That the overwhelming majority of school pupils would be worse off to pay for the nonsensical experiment of a few “free schools”? That the cost of commuting would be hiked by anything up to 72%, that the bourgeois of West London could be excused congestion charge? That unsavoury characters, such as school staff and nurses, should be decanted from the inner cities?

    It is therefore the duty of the victims not to accept sheeplike the fleecing they are about to suffer.

    Macmillan in July 1962 sacked his Chancellor of the Exchequer and half-a-dozen of that faction in “The Night of the Long Knives”. That was a direct result of popular pressure and by-elections.

    Heath in 1970 was going down the route of the Selsdon Park compact, until three years later, under popular pressure, the Tory government did a hand-brake U-turn.

    Thatcher, eighteen months into her first government, was about to be defenestrated. She had to appeal to the grass-roots Tory Conference over the heads, literally, of her own Cabinet, with the “Lady’s not for turning” speech. That bought her enough time for the Argentinian Junta to come to her aid.

    The barriers are already installed, on a permanent basis, around Parliament. I note than in my area new lamp-posts have been installed, too high for nooses to be attached. Can’t think why.

  • Perhaps Peter Robinson could lead by showing us all how to grow the private sector……. which incidentally would have the private sector then leading government, rather than the present abortion of a program which the Executive delivers, which then warrants that Public Monies be made available for private sector programs, when shared with government bodies.

  • The key thing which I think Sammy has grasped is that the Tories don’t care what the people think. They hold the purse strings, and they are showing it – no matter how unjust the proposals, no matter how all the measures they have introduced or proposed since May fail to reflect the proportions in which people benefited from the “good” times, no matter how many people turn out to speak against them, no matter the consequences for the private sector in Northern Ireland, they will do whatever they like. and there is nothing our politicians can do to change that. The Treasury will simply refuse to give any more money.

    My reflection on the whole situation has constantly been that the Tories and their allies were ignored and rejected in Northern Ireland, they were trounced in Scotland, and only a minority in Wales ever vote for them. Their political strength is in England, and they can do what they like to the other constituent parts of the UK because it won’t affect their chances of being re-elected.

    The reality is that Sammy is going to have to put up the Regional Rate. He and his predecessors should have done so years ago in order to fund the services the people demand and they have promised – or the front line will be decimated, because all the “efficiency savings” have already failed to save money. Hopefully he can avoid selling off assets at unacceptable prices (including Belfast Harbour, NI Water etc) – I agree with those who argue no price is acceptable, but it looks like privatisation, never mind how stupid, is on its way.

  • Dr Concitor

    It’s the English swing voters that the Tories need to, and will listen to. We, in the Celtic fringes, are onlookers in this game.

  • Cynic


    Its more like cutting a rasher off a very large pregnant bloated pig

    Do grow up and stop reading what Kevin Maguire write in the Daily Mirror.

    As for Unison – frankly let them strike. That will really get the public behind them. Every days wages saved is a blessing – and a proof just how over staffed our services are and how civil servants seem to have forgotten the second word in that job title

  • Cynic

    By the way, for all the anti-Tory rants here you need to realise that Labour planned just the same thing. They just lied about it before the election

  • Coll Ciotach

    Walk till the soles of your feet are red raw. It will not matter. The SDLP are there and they changed nothing. Wee Sammy will do what unionists do best – implement British policy. It is utterly futile. The Overlords in London do not need you. The will call the tune and you will dance. Stormont is nothing. When will you learn that you have no power and will just have to do whatever you are told. The price of the union.

  • Munsterview

    So we now we finally get to see who really rules the roost !

  • Glencoppagagh

    Let’s have a bit of sympathy for the politicians. Probably more than half their voters depend on the public sector from DLA addicts in West Belfast to surgeons in North Down so they have to make at the least the appearance of opposition.
    Public sector unions from the BMA downwards exist to protect their members’ interests so lets tolerate their impotent outrage but not the self-serving guff which they deploy to justify their stance.

  • These are the deficit deniers, protesting against economic reality, in pursuit of sustaining that which is unsustainable. Great to see on-the-make politicians also posing with them.

  • pippakin

    The cuts in the south will be as bad if not worse than those in the north. The cuts in parts of Europe will be as severe. It seems it is time for everyone to pay for governments ‘mistakes’ and bankers greed.

    I’m not sure at this stage that there is anything different any government can do.

  • Only if you’re a fully-signed up member of the Cameroonie conspiracy.

    Of course there’s another way: it might be too complex to explicate in this little dialogue box.

    So let’s start with Paul Krugman’s op-ed piece for the New York Times:

    Britain, like America, is suffering from the aftermath of a housing and debt bubble. Its problems are compounded by London’s role as an international financial center: Britain came to rely too much on profits from wheeling and dealing to drive its economy — and on financial-industry tax payments to pay for government programs.

    Over-reliance on the financial industry largely explains why Britain, which came into the crisis with relatively low public debt, has seen its budget deficit soar to 11 percent of G.D.P. — slightly worse than the U.S. deficit. And there’s no question that Britain will eventually need to balance its books with spending cuts and tax increases.

    The operative word here should, however, be “eventually.” Fiscal austerity will depress the economy further unless it can be offset by a fall in interest rates. Right now, interest rates in Britain, as in America, are already very low, with little room to fall further. The sensible thing, then, is to devise a plan for putting the nation’s fiscal house in order, while waiting until a solid economic recovery is under way before wielding the ax.

    But trendy fashion, almost by definition, isn’t sensible — and the British government seems determined to ignore the lessons of history.

    Both the new British budget announced on Wednesday and the rhetoric that accompanied the announcement might have come straight from the desk of Andrew Mellon, the Treasury secretary who told President Herbert Hoover to fight the Depression by liquidating the farmers, liquidating the workers, and driving down wages. Or if you prefer more British precedents, it echoes the Snowden budget of 1931, which tried to restore confidence but ended up deepening the economic crisis.

    The British government’s plan is bold, say the pundits — and so it is. But it boldly goes in exactly the wrong direction. It would cut government employment by 490,000 workers — the equivalent of almost three million layoffs in the United States — at a time when the private sector is in no position to provide alternative employment. It would slash spending at a time when private demand isn’t at all ready to take up the slack.

    Why is the British government doing this? The real reason has a lot to do with ideology: the Tories are using the deficit as an excuse to downsize the welfare state.

    And so one, down to the punch-line:

    Never mind that British debt as a percentage of national income is actually below its historical average; never mind that British interest rates stayed low even as the nation’s budget deficit soared, reflecting the belief of investors that the country can and will get its finances under control. Britain, declared Mr. Osborne, was on the “brink of bankruptcy.”

    What happens now? Maybe Britain will get lucky, and something will come along to rescue the economy. But the best guess is that Britain in 2011 will look like Britain in 1931, or the United States in 1937, or Japan in 1997. That is, premature fiscal austerity will lead to a renewed economic slump. As always, those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

    Were that my just view (and it is, writ minuscule) it would be unimportant, except for some troll to snipe at. When it’s that of the Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics, and 2008 Nobel laureate, it deserves a longer consideration.

  • mopphead

    So resistance is futile, artist formerly known as Red Sammy? So why is the Executive – of which you are part – seeking a meeting with Cameron? For the tea and scones?

  • Your opinion of Krugman is one you are welcome to hold, I prefer to endorse that of Milton Friedman, Von Mises, Hayek.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yes, I wish we were in an independent Irish republic like our friends to the south where they don’t have to make any cuts and everything is just peachy ..

  • Mrazik

    Is that the European Union Coll?

  • Mrazik

    Keeping up appearances as Mrs Bucket might have done.

  • Munsterview

    No that is not the real situation down here !

    Totally mis-informed on the South as usual I see. You should try reading the occasional newspaper, even the English ones carry coverage of Southern financial affairs.

  • Halfer

    Yet offer no insight as to why David.

  • JAH


    The Comrade was being ironic…

  • Alias

    Sammy Wilson is coming out of this latest episode of Cry Me A River with a political stature above that of the First Minister and his Deputy (which isn’t actually saying much for him).

    The cuts inflicted on NI were considerably less pro rata than the cuts inflicted on the rest of UK so the central government is continuing its policy of making that region state dependent irrespective of the new economic reality.

    Sammy, unlike the other two muppets, knows how lucky they are.

  • Alias

    Krugman has the old big government mentality that a reduction in government spending takes money out of the economy whereas the reality is that the money is taken out of the economy via the taxes that pay for the government spending. Therefore, a reduction in public spending leaves money in the economy.

    It is better for the economy that the money should be spent on goods and services by those who have a real need for its goods and services as demonstrated in the free market by that consumer demand for them. It is also better for the economy that its wealth should be reinvested in more wealth generation projects by those who created that wealth rather than taxed and squandered by those who only know how to squander that wealth but who have no understanding whatsoever of how to generate it.

    So the government can squander the wealth that others have created by taxing it and spending it, and it can also by that process squander wealth that hasn’t been generated. By borrowing money and spending it, what the government is actually doing is reducing demand for goods and services in the future by removing the purchasing power of consumers. The money that would have stimulated the economy in the future is instead diverted into taxes to repay the borrowing.

    How bad Gordon Brown’s Keynesian shenanigans will prove to be for the economy will depend on how much of it was borrowed externally. Since all of Ireland’s borrowing is external (being a member of the Eurozone), every cent plus interest they borrow for fiscal stimulus will be exported from the state via taxation and debt repayment with none of it ending up within the state.

    Keynesian only works within closed economies, not economies like Ireland that are wide open. For example, the Scappage Scheme that the Irish government operates for cars simply cases wealth to be exported from the state since Ireland does not manufacture cars. That stimulus package therefore simply serves to stimulate employment for the German and French car makers, having a wholly detrimental effect on the Irish economy by exporting billions in consumer purchasing power from it.

  • Munsterview

    Really !

  • Friedman died in 2006. Ludwig von Mises in 1973. Hayek in 1992. Krugman is still with us.

    Spot the odd one out. Consider which might offer relevant, practical and pragmatic observation rather than an abstract theory.

  • Alias

    Incidentally, Krugman, if he bothered to pull his head out of his backside and actually peruse the number rather than waffle on about Osborne’s supposed ‘ideology’ of small government versus Krugman’s own backward ideology of big government would discover to his delight that Osborne isn’t cutting the size of the state at all.

    UK state expenditure is £696 billion in the current financial year, and is projected to be £701 billion in 11/12; £713 billion in 12/13; £724 billion in 13/14, and £739 billion in 14/15. So public spending (and the size of the state) will in fact increase by 6% over the next five years.

    What Osborne is actually doing is cutting 17% from the proposed increase in public spending under the previous government in the financial year 14/15 which will still be an increase in public spending of 6% over the current year.

    So all that is actually proposed is that state spending will grow by 6% instead of the 8% as previously planned, so the ‘cut’ is 2% of an increase and not in any way a decrease, as the hysterical Krugman and his chums on the left claim.

    Big Government is alive and prospering under the Tories.

  • Cynic

    Look I am not a banker but I am fed up with the bankers greed argument.

    Who inflated the house price bubble? We did.

    For the last 15 years – not wanting to move – I have watched my house quadruple in value and laughed. I have seen friends buying second, even third homes and raking in their theoretical gains while quietly suggesting to them that this wouldn’t last and they needed to get out …..and getting looked at as though I was mad.

    So no. It weren’t the bankers what done it. They let us. But we did a lot of it all by ourselves.

  • Cynic


    Lets see if they get one. If they do it will involve the insertion of a rather large flea in their ears

  • Cynic

    To twist a phrase

    Standing on the shoulders of pygmies

  • Cynic

    There’s an important difference in all this. Krugman is entitled to his views but Cameron put his up for election and collectively we voted for him (and the other one).

  • pippakin


    Yes we did it too, but we were led to believe we could! We were not told governments were running on borrowed money, that banks were not just lending to foolish home owners, they were also lending to some of the most unsavoury characters ever to apply for a mortgage never mind loans the size of the national debt!

    Yes the housing bubble here was unrealistic but the bubble burst everywhere. The UK has a real housing shortage and their houses have lost value too.

  • Murphy says NO:

    ““The Tory government, though Owen Patterson, has said that they received an endorsement for their platform of cuts from the electorate and that people knew what they were voting for.

    “Let us be clear. That mandate was rejected whole-heartedly at the last election in the North of Ireland with not one conservative candidate being elected. We said no then to cuts then and we are saying no now.”

    Murphy’s handling of the NIW fiasco may well lead to additional VAT charges.

  • There are several points to be made re Krugman so let’s deconstruct him for entertainment and education, shall we?

    1. His neo-Keynsian proposals have been shown to have failed as Obama will discover in little under a few weeks time. He continues to believe you spend your way out of a spending induced recession. His fellow Nobel Laureate Hayek shows you can’t.

    2. His endorsement of Obamacare demonstrates an enthusiasm towards socialised healthcare which anyone on the UK can see does not work but costs plenty to prove it.

    3. Krugma is a BIG GOVERNMENT man who seems to think all problems can be solved if enough tax-payers cash is thrown against them. I can see how that might appeal to leftists who indulge the same nonsense but it really is the road to ruin.

    The essential point to grasp is that the State must learn to live within it’s means. The Coalition cuts are mild but the hysteria from the Trade Unions and assorted socialist loon fringe are extreme. I suppose they are not used to concepts like efficiency? .

  • Dr Concitor

    Deconstruction is an approach, introduced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, which rigorously pursues the meaning of a text to the point of exposing the supposed contradictions and internal oppositions upon which it is founded – showing that those foundations are irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible.
    Can you show how you have achieved the above, or are you just offering unsubstantiated opinions thinly veiled as ‘intellectual rigour’

  • Actually, that’s incorrect. GDP is defined as the total of private Consumption (on domestically-produced items) (C), Investment (in plant, business etc) (I) and Government Spending (G). GNP is the same plus net exports (X-N)

    It is certainly true that as you reduce taxes, C and I will always increase. The problem is that as each individual reaches the threshold where they no longer wish to spend their extra income, they will stick it in the bank – and that very much takes money out of the economy. The same ones who save their money are the least likely to be affected by cutbacks during a recession, and their money is therefore likely to remain outside the economy.

    The classic example was when the UK Government reduced the higher rate of tax to 40% when I was in Sixth Form. Only reducing it to 50% would have had broadly the same effect on GDP in terms of C and I increasing, but the desire to tax and spend less could have been then realised in reducing the basic rate of tax further, or reducing indirect taxation – and these would have had a more positive effect on at least C, in turn making money available for entrepreneurs to invest.

    Pure market economics will fail. For example, the British Government seems set on leaving the Construction industry in Northern Ireland to collapse altogether, because the housing market is stagnant, private businesses can barely afford to expand, and work from Government, be it new buildings or refurbishment, or even more than the most basic maintenance to meet Health & Safety requirements, is going to dry up. The Market would decree that the construction sector should be allowed to die for lack of demand, but realism requires that it live on as the skills cannot afford to be lost.

  • I’m missing something here.

    Surely a nominal increase of 6% in Government spending over four years is a considerable cut in real terms by the time you take out inflation?

  • Reason being that a construction industry is required to provide construction services for the rest of the economy, and there is no other way to provide them.

  • Cynic

    …and Murphy needs to realise that he’s a county councillor while other do the big government in London.

    So stop wining Connor. You are beginning to look as strong an option for SF leader as Tom Elliott is proving for the UUP.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Krugman’s prescriptions might be more valid were it not for the fact that the UK’s ‘structural’ deficit was already too high before the crisis struck and, as Krugman himself acknowledges, the transient but bountiful revenues from financial services disguised the problem.
    The government should have been cutting spending three or four years ago instead of throwing money at the public sector. If they had then Krugman would be right.
    Labour were also irresponsible in permitting devolution to NI before doing anything to tackle the size of the public sector.

  • bob wilson

    Conor the General Election in May was fought throughout the UK of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – a state affairs you accepted when you acquiesced with the Belfast Agreement
    The governing coalition had the support of 59.4% of the population including over 100,000 voters in NI. Sinn Fein had the support of 0.6% or 170,000 voters
    The Westminster Govt is exercising that mandate.
    Time you exercised yours and made some decisions at Stormont (btw that will require you to reach agreement with the other parties)

  • Which, Cynic @ 7:48 pm is why Cameron & Co are desperately rebranding themselves as “progressives”, because so many of the “views” propounded before 6th May have been ditched. Even Tories are becoming embarrassed by that.

    And, no, “collectively” only 36% of “us” voted Tory (and a further 23% for your other mate). Which doesn’t give a majority.

    Why not admit that Cameron is a hypocrite? A PR man who’ll say anything, and then recant?

    Politically that’s the case with so many “pledges”.:

    I like child benefit. I wouldn’t change child benefit. I wouldn’t means test it. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

    Which then has to be smuggled into a disastrous announcement to the Tory faithful, while even his Cabinet colleagues are wide-eyed at such a volte-face.

    Let’s quickly skip over “details” like abandoning cancer-care, hidden away in the small print of the CSR

    And for personal “morality”, what about the ringing commitment justifying a “few days” in Cornwall because:

    I love going on holiday in Britain. I’ve holidayed in Snowdonia, South Devon and North Cornwall, the Lake District, Norfolk, the Inner Hebrides, the Highlands of Scotland, the canals of Staffordshire — to name just a few.

    Then he jets off to the Turkish islands to spend his quality time on a £21,000 a week luxury yacht? Oddly, no press were invited on the latter jaunt.

  • Glencoppagagh @ 10:50 am:

    Which misses the point. The money “thrown” in recent years has been at the private sector.

    And your last sentence is ludicrous.

  • <bob wilson @ 10.56 am:

    The governing coalition had the support of 59.4% of the population

    Where does that come from? I search in vain for any indication that the ConDem coalition put up for election. In fact, were the Sales Descriptions Act applied to political posturing, both Tories and LibDems would be explaining themselves to Consumer Protection.

  • Dr Conqitor

    Yes, I always think of JAcques Derrida when discussing how to shrink the State. I am sure Krugman regularly discusses the “metaphysics of presence” in his works and binary oppositions are always on his mind.

    Now – lesson 1. Keynesian policies have never worked and will never work. Krugman et all need to get past that point. You DO NOT spend your way out of a Spending induced recession.

  • The Impartial Observer

    In relation to the Republic it should be remembered that their economic woes from the late 70’s were mainly caused by FF trying to bribe the voters with the big giveaways in the 1977 budget that led to soaring inflation, mass unemployment and Dublin being likened to “Gaza with added rock festivals.” What got them out of the mess was when Haughey actually implemented his belt tightening rhetoric of 1979 with austerity measures that laid the foundation for the Celtic Tiger. Of course the economic picture today is much bleaker than that of 1987.

    In relation to ourselves, it’s been accepted for years that NI was too dependent on the public sector and the economy needed to be rebalanced yet instead of addressing the issue our politicians have preferred to engage in childish squabbling and tried to deal with issues by throwing money at it. Now the day of reckoning has arrived and we’ve been left horribly exposed.

  • Well, last I looked, the recession was caused by the deficiencies in the market economy, in the banking crisis and housing bubble.

    That leaves us with the question of how do you get out of recession in your model? If consumers don’t have money to spend, and those who do decide to take it out of the economy, where do investors get money to push into development of business etc? If consumers are scared of losing their jobs, they are going to reduce their own consumption and take more money out of the economy, and once the bottom line of the Tories’ plans bites, I predict consumer confidence will collapse. That will happen in NI well before it happens in any other region.

    The point has been well made that the UK’s structural debt is considerably better than the economies in real trouble, because of the repayment periods and interest rates on UK bonds. As such, there isn’t the same urgency to put the finances back in order at the cost of the economy, much as I agree that all other things being equal, we should tax and spend in such a way that we are making a net repayment of Government Debt – the Public Sector Debt Repayment rather than Borrowing Requirement, which I recall we had in the early 1990s. I will certainly accept that the “good times” are and very much should have been the time to repay Government debt, not to take out more.

    Unpopularly, that means more taxes, and neither Labour nor the Tories have the guts to make it hurt where it should – by distributing the tax increases and spending cuts to hit people in the proportions in which they benefited from the “good times”.

    All this leads us to the next lesson in your series:

    Lesson 2. Nor does monetarism. Can we please get rid of this false dichotomy?

  • Halfer

    I’m sorry…..who voted the conservatives in?

  • I’m going to bite on this one. How do you plan to rebalance the economy? How much of the public sector can in fact be done away with or privatised?

    Based on the years since the first ceasefire, are foreign investors going to set up businesses here in the necessary numbers? How far will what private sector we have shrink due to loss of public (and private) sector business in the meantime (including supermarket chains closing stores and/or laying off staff as there is less money to spend in their shops)? Are the obstacles (cash, demand (have you any idea how many photographers there are out there now?), skills) for potential local entrepreneurs surmountable?

    Mind you, I agree our politicians are too interested in not being everyone else to actually do the job they are paid to do!

  • I wish I was occasionally as confident of and unquestioning of anything, as these doctrinaire free-marketeers are of everything. Dearie, dearie me, Mr Vance: you may not understand the use of the apostrophe, but the ringing absolute of that Keynesian policies have never worked and will never work! Wow! No half-measures there!

    Montagu Norman lives!

    Winston Churchill harrumphed that he knew little about economics; but he did know that shooting Montagu Norman would have been a good idea.

    As Governor of the Bank of England, Norman believed in the kind of masochistic deflation that Mr Vance ordains as the universal panacea. Gosh! it certainly worked in North-east England and South Wales (see other thread). Golly gosh! the gold standard really put Britain back to work.

    As Norman’s domestic constraint put 3 million Brits out of work (OK: to be accurate only 2,979,000), he was lending British money to Vickers Armstrong to fund German rearmament. Now, as I recall, the Nazis were none too strong on monetarism. I wonder, in retrospect, whether or not Mr Vance would take exception to Francis Williams (30 Sep 1933) denouncing Norman for giving support to the Nazi régime. A nice opportunity for Mr Vance to apply his absolutism?

    A bit later, Norman was asked to give reasons for his strict monetarist policy: “I do not give reasons. I have instincts.” Sound chap: in fact sounded just like Clegg this morning assuring us of his confidence the UK economy will rebound faster than expected. Aw, bless!

    But surely Norman’s finest hour was clamouring for peace/surrender terms in 1940, else Britain faced bankruptcy. Fortunately the non-economist Churchill didn’t listen; and Britain borrowed and pledged everything.

    So, Mr Vance: who in that case was proved correct? The monetarist or the squander-bug?

  • Halfer

    David, on point 1. WRONG
    The recession is not public spending induced but rather a more profound slump in the normal boom, bust cycle of capitalist free market economy. The public spending deficit is a result of state intervention in free market failings.

    Point 2. WRONG. Socialized healthcare does work as the millions, perhaps billions who have been covered by it here alone can testify. Were you born in a private hospital David?

    On Point 3. If you don’t like “big” government, go live in Yemen or Somalia.

  • Cynic

    A lot of the problems here were never lack of capital for investment – they were lack of viable ideas to invest in profitably!!!! So we do need indigenous development as well as importing companies from abroad who will use us only while we are competitive.

    Large chunks of the public sector can in fact be privatised and made more efficient along the way. Why is the state running the buses and trains with a de factor monopoly in many areas? the water supply? Belfast Port? the motorways? many council services from bins to leisure services and even, gawd help us, dog licensing where I am sue the fee barely pays the cost of cashing the cheque these days (they wont take electronic payment online)?

    Why do we have 26 councils? Why do they need 26 Finance departments? 26 HR Departments? 26 web sites? 26 sets of committees and all the support staff for each? 26 different procurement teams working to different standards and buying goods in penny packets? Then there are the 26 annual audits and all the reports from the like of PWC commissioned by Stormont Department to carry our VFM studies, evaluation’s etc.

    Why do they and Stromont post all those adverts in the papers rather than just on-line where the marginal cost per ad would be almost zero? Why run that website in house?

    And at the end of it all, when there is a failure, noone is to blame, the responsibility is suffused away among the layers. This is not democratic accountability and is not good Government. Its ripe for change

  • Cynic @ 4:31 pm:

    Is this only the second retread of your list of rhetorical questions?

    The answer to most, now as then, is that the private sector will not take the services on without a major public subsidy.

  • Privatisation in general: because the Assembly parties don’t believe in privatisation for its own sake. They don’t have the ideological attachment of Labour or the Tories, and nor do their electorate.

    Ulsterbus/Metro/NIR: it’s not buyable at the moment. All three companies need state subvention, and rely on capital grants for their new vehicles. Splitting up Ulsterbus may not be attractive as bundles would have to be built of profitable and unprofitable (but socially necessary) services – and privatised companies which cancel buses and trains cost votes. Plus you would get more examples of penny packet goods purchases (otherwise known as losing economies of scale).

    Council services: cheaper to do bins in-house. Leisure services: leisure centres pay for themselves and for parks for the public. Motorways: unless you toll them, there’s nothing to gain from owning them. Water supply: do you want another several hundred pound bill on top of your regional rates, because they’re not going to go down?

    As for council numbers, no we don’t, but on the evidence, the DUP Environment Minister couldn’t bear to lose the unionist majority in Belfast. Reality check someone?

    Adverts in papers: accessibility for the many who do not use computers at all or don’t care, plus legal obligations to publish in print (some of which are european rules and cannot be overriden – large tenders must be advertised in print in the Official Journal of the EU).

    Council audits: same as any business, so they have to be done. NIAO may contract out, but they have the legal responsibility for the audit of the 26 councils.

    And finally on websites: you’ll almost certainly find the design is commissioned externally in all cases.

  • barnshee

    Here here

  • barnshee

    “Leisure services: leisure centres pay for themselves”

    What!! where ? FOI request so far show operating at a loss

  • Hmm. I’d forgotten that the figures for Leisure Centres no longer has to be broken down in Council Accounts. I could have sworn though that Castlereagh at least made sure it made a profit, being pretty tight on its rates. Apologies if I’m wrong…

  • Andy

    You need to look harder. Our recession was caused by politicians perverting the free market. It was caused by the State seeking to control and it has been perpetuated by the State seeking to buck the free market.

  • Glencoppagagh

    (1) You must be referring to the amounts deployed to shore up the banks. The state will see a profit on this in due course although it has bloated the national debt temporarily. It is already reducing the PSFD.

    (2) No it isn’t. It was plain to see that the public sector had grown so large that it would be politically impossible for local politicians to rein it back. The enforced necessity to do so now could well cause Stormont to collapse.

  • David, you are making no sense whatsoever. It is obvious that the free market caused this entirely due to the banking crisis and housing bubble – and it is generally recognised that the banking crisis arose due to a total absence of state control and regulation.

    If you are so in favour of the free market, I assume that you have private healthcare, private schooling, and therefore don’t recognise the principle of socially necessary services that the free market will not provide for those who cannot pay (as distinct from those who will not pay or can’t be bothered earning the money to pay!)

  • The state MIGHT see a profit from the banks eventually. Once it has been reduced by the bonus culture of course… are you not aware that the Alex cartoon in the Daily Telegraph is actually far closer to the truth than the bankers would like to admit? All the Alexes will continue to milk the system as much as they can on a scale unseen even in the Senior Civil Service – which, I may add, is not where they are making cuts even though it would save money and preserve services, but rather in the junior ranks where the hard work is actually done.

  • Driftwood

    Translink may not be worth buying, but then why bother?

    Just allow competition like the rest of the UK. Prices will come down and commuter services will improve.

    As an aside, why do we have dog licences?

  • Just in case I missed it: which bit of that wasn’t delicious irony?

    I would ask the same question: since dog licences were abandoned in GB, why does NI have an exemption? The only (official) answer is sheep-worrying.

    House of Commons Research Paper 98/6:

    The dog licence was abolished in 1987, at which time it stood at it 37½p and was held by only around half of dog owners. However, the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 continues to provide for a licence system in Northern Ireland, where it is felt there is a greater problem of stray dogs and sheep worrying.

    That is foot-noted by a reference to a Commons debate of 12 December 1996.

    I guess the researcher could have worded it a bit better: good to know that half the dog-owners were licensed (007s?). Doesn’t say anything about the proportion of dogs.

  • Andy

    The meme by the MSM is that it was the banks wot done it! (Malcolm can correct the linguistical inexactitudes) However in the US, it was Carter, then Clinton who lit the torch paper via the CRA which exploded as one would have expected. Here in the UK, it was McDoom and his reckless property bubble fuelled by easy money that caused the problem. Yes the Banks behaved abysmally but they did so because McDoom encouraged them to spend spend spend.

    Politicians interfering in the free market distort it, cause dysfunctionalism, and one only has to listen to the gibberish talked by our local political proles to appreciate this.


    Montagu Norman is soooo last century, I’ll come back to him in a moment however. I’ll also let Keynes role in the Nazi-appeasing Bloomsbury group pass.

    It’s really quite simple. Keynes is so flawed that it cannot work and never has worked. Government cannot create jobs out of thin air and Government. Government spending OUR money is a fraud and cannot generate economic success. Ol’ Montagu did not believe that the State is the enemy of economic success so whilst I know that leftists use him as their coconut shy, I’m not bowled over.

  • David Vance @ 8:18 pm:

    * April 2004: the US SEC relaxed the net capital rule.
    * The US housing bubble peaked around 2006.
    * The TED spread, effectively measuring credit risk, hit a high in July 2007 and then went even higher in October 2008.
    * Paulson and Bernanke hit Congress with an ultimatum in mid-September 2008: TARP was signed up in early October 2008.

    * 2002-2007: eight US banks failed;
    * 2008: twenty-five failed;
    * 2009: one hundred and forty failed.

    Yet Carter (Jan. 20, 1977 to Jan 20, 1981) and Clinton (Jan 20, 1993 – Jan 20, 2001) were to blame. And, sure they were honourable men. All honourable men.

    Certain. Indeed. Of course. We must be blind. There are no glaring [Republican] gaps in that historical perspective.


    David Brin, Heaven’s Reach (1998): On all other dimensional planes, memes could only exist as parasites, dwelling in the host brains or mental processes of physical beings.

  • Driftwood

    So we (NI) have dog licences (£5) to keep (council) people in jobs, Soviet style. When the rest of the UK sensibly abandoned them.

    We (NI) have a state transport system (Translink) with the highest fares in Western Europe, yet we dare not unleash competition in case -obviously- the state system crumbles.

    over to you Owen, unleash the dogs of competition, despite the cries of ‘hands off our little goldmines’ from the public sector unions.

  • Local Government Officer

    Cynic, you keep re-hashing the Council argument, and you never get anywhere with it. Let me put this down for you one more time, so you know where it stands:

    Stormont fluffed RPA. No one else. Stormont. There’s your blame.

    The costs of it were higher than £118m. The savings were far less than £450m. They just don’t like to tell you that.

    If you think Councils are even close to the financial answer, you’re a mile wide of the mark. Do I need to tell you again why? Oh probably. Councils cost sweet F.A. squared compared to the big cost centres here. RPA would have left Councils costing more once it was implemented. Refer back to other posts as to why.

    The biggest expenditure for Councils is waste disposal. Where does that waste come from? And the fines for not recycling? Where? And who pays? And why? Work it out. Again.

    Oh and whoever down there said Leisure Centres pay for themselves? Wrong. They don’t pay for themselves because they’re priced for those who can’t afford Lloyd’s and Fitness First. That might not be very many on this site.


  • Translink train fares are actually significantly cheaper than walk-on fares in GB, and before you talk about Advance Purchase fares, commuters pay walk-on fares there, just as they do here. Fifteen years ago, NIR fares were comparable to railcard off-peak fares, and that has improved in our favour. There is a strong case to have cheap Advance Purchase fares on the Derry line, just as they do on the Enterprise, but they wouldn’t exist for any other journeys within NI.

    If only the buses were a decent price… (and the situation has massively improved for smartlink card holders in all fairness – we’ve gone from less than 25% discount to over 40%, and the cards now last for twelve months between updates rather than three – very good for occasional travellers).

    I wouldn’t be so sure about competition doing any good. Competition would only happen on the popular routes, forcing fares down there, but at the same time fares would rise on quieter routes without competition to make up for revenue lost and services withdrawn to reduce costs, especially late night even on the busier routes.

    Dog licences: I would doubt that doing away with the licence would save any money. The staff are probably doing it inbetween their other duties, so it wouldn’t even save part of a member of staff, and it contributes towards the cost of their statutory obligations for dog control, ie saving the rates bill.

  • Dr Concitor

    Andy, the net cost to the tax payer for running Translink is in excess of £180m. The final oversight appears to be the responsibility of DRD core so the fares are probably set as a matter of policy by them. If past performance is anything to go by(e.g. the Bangor line upgrade fiasco) I doubt if either organisation could run a piss-up in a brewery.

  • As far as I can tell, DRD tell Translink what revenue subsidy they are getting, and it’s up to Translink to change their fares and services to live within those means. Translink also have to face the Consumer Council’s directly contradictory pressure to reduce fares, and we have already seen DRD step in to make them review a planned fare rise in the last year or two due to Consumer Council pressure – at the same time as DRD is pressurising them to raise fares. DRD mandarins of course have no interest themselves in cheap services, since they drive. Unfortunately for the Consumer Council, the reality is that reduced fare increases have to be paid for by reduced services.

    DRD have probably realised that just as in England, privatising Translink will probably cost them more. You think that competition or privatisation will REDUCE the £180 million revenue subsidy?

  • “NI Finance Minister: “they are probably delaying or seeking to delay the whole process of trying to make a budget.”

    Methinks that is something which Sammy and the Executive are desperately trying to avoid making public, for we are still waiting on their collective wisdom and decisions.

    Some would tell you that that is all they are good for ….. putting off decisions while they feather their nests and try to cover their tracks.

  • heatherb

    Trojan Horse Trade Unions

    I think that there is a lot of rubbish being written about cuts. The budget deficit is increasing every minute and everyone agrees that this must be curbed and reduced if the economy is to be salvaged.

    Apparently, the only people who don’t agree are Trade Unions, but can their analysis be trusted? Most of the unions are nothing more than a Trojan horse for the lunatic fringe. Take UNISON for example which can be seen to be taken over the extremist anti-peace process group called Eirigi. While in England I saw a leading Eirigi member carrying my union banner and when I came home I was sent a newsletter with that person being praised in it. ( page 10.

  • Local Government Officer

    “So we (NI) have dog licences (£5) to keep (council) people in jobs, Soviet style. When the rest of the UK sensibly abandoned them.”

    Sigh. No one is kept in a job over dog licences. Who do you think is in a full time job for dog licences in your AVERAGE council?

    In our’s, you give your fiver to the receptionist. I am sure it is just a part of someone’s job in most places.

    This site is heading towards Daily Mail proportions of screaming outraged.

  • StringFellow

    There are alternatives to the cuts, but the con/dem government has absolutely no inclination of examining them as it would mean getting some money out of their big business buddies. How can the millionaire boys club making these decisions claim ‘we’re all in this together’? Trade Unions may have a certain lunatuc fringe that I don’t really want to be associated with, but when it comes to how this CSR has been gandleed they’re absolutely right. The ‘ordinary’ members of Nipsa, Unison et al need to make their way to the front to show clearly that these aren’t some leftist anti-establishment led protests. We’re the ones who will feel the bite of osbornes cuts, we have to ensure that republican rhetoric and a marxist agenda don;t cloud the facts of the matter.

  • barnshee

    Leave the union tell them whiy you are leaving