Hain putting NI on a fast track?

Quite a few years ago, I remember chatting to a British official who was clearly frustrated with Northern Ireland’s politician’s general incapacity/unwillingness to think creatively about the future. He refered to a little bag of containing Northern Ireland’s dirty secret: ie the size of the annual subvention from HM’s Exchequer. For the most part, S of S Murphy’s ‘administration’ played it softly softly. As Brian Feeney points out, that is not Mr Hain’s style. He draws heavily from a New Statesman piece that goes into detail on Hain’s further ambition at Westminster. It also deals with what he’s done in the last nine months:

…Hain has abolished the eleven-plus, introduced Brownite schemes such as the Sure Start programme and dawn-to-dusk schooling, and brought in private health companies to reduce waiting lists for routine operations. He has also slashed the number of quangos from more than 70 to 42 and replaced Northern Ireland’s 19 health trusts and five education authorities with one body looking after health and social services and another with responsibility for education. At the same time, Northern Ireland’s traditionally toothless local councils will be given new powers over planning decisions and regeneration.

In his zeal for change, Hain has made himself unpopular by raising local rates by nearly 20 per cent to bring them in line with the rest of the UK, and by introducing water charges. Exemptions for the poorest house-holds are designed to soften the blow, and Hain insists that the millions raised will go straight into health, education and new sustainable-energy projects. “When you look at what I’ve done here, you see a consistent theme of reforms which is not driven by any dogma from across the water, but a radical agenda to make sure Northern Ireland’s people enjoy equal opportunities, driven by the values of social justice.”

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  • Belfast Gonzo

    Feeny has correctly identified Hain orange permatan. Now he’s identified his brown nose.

  • Mick Fealty

    Gonzo,

    Ball please! Even Minister McDowell is trying to play by Slugger rules these days. We have standards to set and keep up!! (And seminars to run!!!) 😉

  • BogExile

    ‘…Now, you knew our proconsul plans to abolish the Housing Executive and hand housing over to sectarian councils like Lisburn and Ballymena.’

    At least I now know who writes Direland’s editorials.

  • Pete Baker

    What’s interesting about the NewStatesman article, and the subsequent Politics Show trailing of Hain as he glad-handed his way announcing “more funding for everyone” and the Jon Sopel interview[scroll down] – as Brian Feeney correctly notes – is that it’s indentified in all three as a campaign trail.. the focus is on the Deputy Primne Minister’s post, but realistically there would be a number of posts Hain would grab.. Foriegn Secretary, say?..

    It all assumes, however, that Brown is a shoe-in. That may not be as cast in stone as some may want to believe.

    As Jon Sopel said in his opening comment to Hain –

    No lack of ambition in what you’re doing over there.

    None indeed.

  • heck

    way to go Brian!!!

  • aquifer

    Hain is doing fine. The ritual humiliation of our own political eunuchs continues apace. They needed a reminder of what politics should be about, and so do their less well to do constituents. The no deal without us brigades are trumped by no deal-big deal.

    Trouble with this so far is that direct rule is a preferred unionist option, and the traditional route for introducing progressive social legislation has been the westminster one, without a local bowler hatted head in sight.

    I look forward to Hain II, the Irish dimension.