Sinn Fein Manifesto: Steady as she goes for a third term

Sinn Fein went for the minimalist approach towards their 2016 Assembly manifesto with a list of simple pledges that they hope will be enough to secure a third term in office and remain the largest Nationalist party.

The party went to Derry to launch their manifesto, with Chris Hazzard, Martin McGuinness and Maeve McLaughlin speaking to the media and party supporters.

Some interesting points that grab the reader, the manifesto is equally divided between what Sinn Fein has done in government so far and what it plans to do in the next mandate. Like the UTV debate, it appears that the party is going into a third term doing more to own parts of their record in government as this manifesto is peppered with policies that were agreed in the Fresh Start agreement.

Arlene has five points, Sinn Fein have ten for the next Assembly mandate with the economy as the tSF 10 pointop priority. Perhaps this is a sign that the party are thinking about taking an economic portfolio this time as some of the issues that the party have been identified with in the past are further down the pecking order.

Like the DUP, the party makes an expensive £1 billion promise to increase health spending. They are following this up with another increase in Childcare funding coming to £525 million, £500 million for Welfare (though this is already budgeted for in the Fresh Start Agreement). There is also a £6 billion pledge to improve infrastructure such as roads and other transport services.

Much like the other party manifestos, there is no mention of where this money comes from in the great bulk of spending commitments. However the manifesto goes beyond the ten points in the latter sections of the document.

 

 

Executive Office

SF EO

The one department that we know Sinn Fein and the DUP will take up will be the new Executive Officer (formerly Office of First and Deputy First Minister). Again the party specifies in the Programme for Government an emphasis on economic growth and improving public services.

There is also some ideas in order to secure buy in to the policy-making process from groups like the Pensioners Parliament and Neighbourhood partnerships.

What might cause issues is the need to review all Quangos which when it reports might ruffle some feathers in certain quarters.

 

Economy and other related aspectsSF Economy

In the next mandate, Sinn Fein will seek the devolution of income tax, national insurance and other duties to the Northern Assembly. Though it does not say what it would do with these powers, if they were devolved to Northern Ireland.

There are also policies to tackle the issue of empty properties with a reduction of rates relief for empty properties.

On job creation, the party has set out a higher target than the DUP with a pledge to create 50,000 jobs. Following this up is a pledge to deliver an affordable and harmonised tax by 2018. Martin McGuinness reaffirmed today his belief that he believes cutting Corporation Tax would be affordable and I am assuming that this policy feeds into the party’s job creation figures.

They are also committed to some big infrastructure projects such as the A5/6 and the completion of the Rapid Transport System which will go into the party’s West Belfast constituency.

 

 

Communities and Policing

Sinn Fein have pledged to build a minimum of 10,000 new social and affordable homes over the next five years. This is alongside an anti-poverty strategy and the strengthening of disability legislation.

In policing, the party have committed to ring fencing front line police budgets and to promote representation within the PSNI in regards to gender and community background. They have also made a commitment to fight to protect the Legal Aid budget.

Overall

I found this manifesto to be minimalist, perhaps not wanting to make a mistake of putting in extensive amount of detail, Sinn Fein have set out broad themes with a direction of travel, rather than a beefy policy document with everything but the kitchen sink in it. Although has Mick has noted, maybe politically that is not a bad strategy.

For me, I found the party leaning in an economic direction, which gives some insight into which department they will go for after the election. Although like the DUP, the party is making some broad pledges with little specifics as to how it is all paid for as one package. Maybe the pitch is an Executive that will under promise in some aspects, but over-deliver in others.

This manifesto is very much about steady as she goes, lacking some of meat that was present in its election manifesto in the South. 

 

 

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  • Skibo

    Wages are a good point and yes SMEs do not pay as much but if they were treated as well as the FDI could they pay more. Incidentally what are the pay grades for call centres?

  • Skibo

    The loss of Michelin in Antrim was always going to happen and relates more to the international plans for Michelin than anything.
    They quoted energy costs but we have done nothing to rectify this. How about all island energy rates to allow us to compete.
    Other industries have had problems with the labour costs, how do we compete with Asia. We had a massive shirt industry, Peter England and Desmonds to mention two but other than a few specialists all are gone.
    The majority of jobs lost have been outside the control of Stormont.

  • Skibo

    Fine and noble words Brutus for indeed Brutus is an honourable man. Where is my sword!

  • Cosmo

    Skibo, I assume, with regret that Casement may well have fallen into the role of the symbolic, and so reason and prudence is not to the foremost in its consideration here. Both SF and DUP.

    Sports Lobbies (like builders, property developers and politicos) are exceptionally keen to use public moneys lavishly for their schemes, always need more, and I’m not sure are quite so prompt to demonstrate wider public benefits.

    To return to the lesson of Hillsborough regarding stadium safety and risk: I think the Minister responsible would be wise to show more leadership and respect for the people who ‘piped up’.

  • Skibo

    Having been involved in construction in some of these government spends, I agree with your “lavishly” adjective. How it can be described as value for money is sometimes beyond me.
    The issue of health and safety with regards to Casement, as far as I am aware is the only real exit is via Andersonstown Road with both Owenvarragh and Mooreland leading onto the Andersonstown road. If it is incapable of clearing the 38,000, is 25,000 possible?

  • Cosmo

    Putting my cards on the table, I’ve got to say I would much rather some of these big sports expenditures, were put to more humble practical uses like making the urban environment (at least) possible for children to be able to safely and enjoyably cycle and walk to school; and feasible for adults to actually promenade, rather than always resort to the car. Why can’t we consider the idea that the really well attended, but infrequent, GAA/Rugby/ Football finals are held in Dublin?

    On the lavish expenditure of public money front, I recall Mr Donnelly, the auditor, after the event of course, describing publicly funded £94m+ Titanic Building (Harcourt) as one of the most expensive to build (like for like) tourist buildings in Europe. WHY? It’s nothing that special. Hope it’s safe.

  • Reader

    Kev – like the Vodafone business? There is a bit of recent international effort on taxing multinational companies, but there’s still an issue where countries would rather collect a bit of tax at home rather than watch companies pay more tax somewhere else. I.e. there’s still going to be tax competition.
    And, judging by the BHS fiasco, it looks like conglomerates will dump loss making subsidiaries rather than claim a bit of profits tax back and nurse them back to health. Especially if you make it hard to offset losses.

  • Kev Hughes

    Exactly like the Vodafone business, yes Reader. I work in finance, we come across this all the time. Vodafone is a large example of it, but you may be shocked/appalled/surprised at how prevalent it is for far smaller and and unknown entities.

    I think that your issue for off-setting losses needs to be explored, if I am being honest. I am not against it, it makes perfect business sense, but better minds will need to figure a way of making it a genuine business practice and not a way of gaming the system. You will never get rid of people playing fast and loose with some accounting and tax tricks, especially as tax treatments and accounting treatments create differences which one can take full advantage of, but there are a few things one could do to make life tougher at least (and I’m speaking as someone who lives in DE and works in LUX)

  • Kev Hughes

    And on the BHS fiasco (for that is what it is), we could have a very good test case of whether the pensions regulator has any kind of teeth and what it wants to do here. I’m not against someone like Green selling off something that’s losing money; he’d have been an idiot if he kept it on, losing him money.

    But, I think where the problem lies is in whether he sold it knowing the pensions liability was in a dire straight which he had an obligation to address. We’ve seen his ‘sale of airplane’ analogy bandied about a bit, but it’s akin to him selling that plane to a 4 year old with insufficient fuel to get it’s passengers anywhere (I hate this analogy) and also jeopardising the safety of the passengers. That’s a different tale here, and one that is complicated in a cross-jurisdictional financial world to resolve in so many ways.

  • Skibo

    The specification to that building was seriously over the top. It seems Architects are employed on such projects to win awards not provide a financially prudent building that will carry out its function and be economic to maintain.

  • Cosmo

    well, that Architect’s main claim to fame was a shopping Centre over in Essex, (Bluewater), and some even less prestigious stuff in Aus. He was no great shakes.
    I think the builders and developers, Harcourt, employed him, in truth, just to justify their OTT costs. In this case, it was a Harcourt/DUP/Robinson/and Arlene kind of thing. But money and the peace dividend flowed rather freely without too great an oversight – less freely now I (hope), suspect.

  • LordSummerisle

    50,000 zero hours contracts then ?