Hearts and Minds: Hain to pull ‘legitimacy plug’ in November

Some of you may have seen this already, but if not try and catch it after Let’s Talk tonight. But Peter Hain tells Noel Thompson that if the parties cannot agree to a deal by his deadline of 24th November, then the 2003 Assembly will be suspended (ie, killed off). That effectively means that not only will the MLAs not get any money, but they lose their status too. Watch the party reaction to this development very closely. The two big parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, have been preparing assuduously for the financial wilderness a suspension pay/expenses would bring. The SDLP, at least have not incured major losses, and the UUP may still have some excess equity to re-mortgage in Cunningham House.

So, in theory, all parties may have the wherewithal to withstand the desert conditions coming up. But, this move by Hain intimates a scrapping of the whole of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement. No elections need take place again in Northern Ireland: not in May, or indeed ever. After the displacement activity of the last eight years, effectively there may be no need for local politicians for the foreseeable future.

New Labour populist instinct at its sharpest? Or (another) bluff?

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry guys, struggling to multitask there for a while… Any wiping of posts was purely accidental!!

  • Fanny

    “That effectively means that not only will the MLAs not get any money, but they lose their status too.”

    Works for me.

  • Brian Boru

    No point in endless talks. The 2 govts should run the Six Counties if the Unionists refuse to play ball.

  • Occasional Commentator

    This is an excellent way to show that the deadline means something. How exactly will he do it? Does he just need to sign something, or does he have to get something through Westminster. When exactly will it be complete – could it all be done by lunchtime on the 25th?

    I’m guessing this move was a bit of a surprise? Nobody was calling for it as far as I know and we all just assumed that we’d continue with the status quo.

    Obviously it’s not particular final because he could just rush something through Westminster to undo any killing-off, but it’s as good as it gets to showing he’s serious.

  • heck


    Call the unionist bluff and bring in Joint Authority. Ratchet up Dublin involvement every six months until the DUP and their ilk recognize that they must share Norn Iron as equals with their catholic neighbors—and if they don’t then we will eventually reach a united ireland.

    to quote a phrase used by over paid business consultants “A WIN WIN situation”

  • Mick Fealty


    ” – and if they don’t then we will eventually reach a united ireland”.

    Is that what you wish for, or do you know something the rest of us don’t?

  • DK

    BB: “The 2 govts should run the Six Counties if the Unionists refuse to play ball”

    where have you been – it’s been that way ever since the Anglo-Irish agreement.

  • Butterknife

    If the government actually sticks to their deadline and stops MLA saleries will this affect their pensions?
    Also should there be an apostrophe in Let’s Talk?

    I loved it when an audience member told Bob to go back to work as it will ‘give him something to do’ lol

    If MLAs are morally empty enough to accept saleries for not attending the Assemby or in the case of a certain DUPer ‘travel allowance’ too then why are they not able to attend the Assemby for a few weeks for a ‘false dawn’ and reverse the NIO Minister’s decision?
    I am sure I am misquoting my management teacher but she told me that power is as much sought, as its complement, responsibilty is feared. Alas its now obvious that this state of affairs is to true in this country. MLAs get elected to make as much an unpopular decision as a popular one: if only the latter was true I would stand for I’d get one hell of a pay rise!

  • It’s an outrage that these MLAs are getting paid for doing nothing. The sooner this gets sorted out the better.

  • Rory

    Yes, Butterknife, there shoild indeed be an apostrophe in Let’s Talk just as there should have been another “o” in your “to (sic) true”.

    Still you make a good point about moral vacuity but I am afraid that broaching that subject to the politicians would be met only with eyebrows raised in puzzlement.

  • Clearing it up

    I think the word is ‘dissolved’, both the Hain and Northern Ireland Assembly will be dissolved if a deal does not materialise before 24th November.

    Hain is of a mind to do this immediately i.e. the monday morning. I know we have had deadlines before, but I believe this one, because Hain cannot be seen to be defeated on this, he is a politician on the way up, with current aspirations to be deputy leader of this country…he cannot afford to be seen to back down.

    The DUP need to realise that while they have been politically powerful since the last election and continue to be so, every day up to and after November 24th their stock is falling. Its now a judgment call on their part when the deal should be done but hesitation costs them and unionism.

    Whoever asked about pensions is dead on, if the assembly falls the pensions will be effected, as their length of service will be broken. Lots of MLA’s will be sweating about this (all those not MPs or with other roles i.e. about 23 DUP MLA’s) they will be becoming a substantial lobby as not many will want to return to their day jobs.

    There are now no reasons for a deal to be avoided just excuses.

    *disclaimer all but the last sentence is fact, the last is personal opinion 🙂

  • barnshee

    “The DUP need to realise that while they have been politically powerful since the last election and continue to be so, every day up to and after November 24th their stock is falling”£

    Au contraire– the DUPERS cannot fail while SF are out– who gives a fuck about the assembly apart from the MLAs? The DUPERS have arisen on a “fuck off” policy to SF and co – if they change this the OUPERS will stage a comeback– so bye bye assembly – keep up the “joint authority” fairy tale and help the DUPERS eliminate the OUPERS totally

  • Ian

    By threatening to formally dissolve the Assembly, Hain is depriving the DUP of the chance to wipe the floor with the UUP in a future Assembly election.

    This could be the deciding factor in persuading the DUP to do a deal by Nov 24th, since their antipathy towards the UUP (and their desire to defeat them utterly) seems to be even stronger than their distaste for SF. (Hence Peter Robinson’s evident glee when the UUP/PUP pact was ruled out of order, despite the fact that that ruling promoted SF in the pecking order.)

  • Ian

    surely if the DUP was motivated by a desire to kill of the UUP they would want the Assembly closed down. With no regional legislature and a worthless single seat in the commons the UUP need Stormont to keep in the game. After all, if the thing folds on 25th Novemeber Sir Reg signs on whilst the Rt. Hon. Ian K. Paisley MP remains the leader of the fourth largest party in the House of Commons.

  • The Dog

    While the backwoodsmen may delight in the DUP head in the sand approach I supect that many of their new pals (such as Lord Rana who stood for Wallace Browne when he went to the Lords) will not be particularly impressed.

    There was a quote from the Chair of the Institute of Directors, Frank Bryan in the News Letter earlier this week who said that he was sick of the crocidile tears of politicians and that the parties work together on local councils so why won’t they get on with it and get the Assembly and Executive back up and running because BUSINESS NEEDS IT.

    This is a sign of the frustration that people feel pissed off very specifically with the DUP.

  • Business needs another smothering level of government? I don’t think so.

    The punters in the real world are indeed pissed of with the whole circus and will shed few tears when the shutters come down.

  • Bushmills

    Sorry, The Dog, if I’m the CEO of a muti-national corporation looking to invest my money somewhere, how is the fact that 108 duffers are sitting up at Stormont going to make me more or less likely to invest. I’ll invest where I make a return. I really wish these UUP desperadoes would stop behaving like snake-oil salesmen. Stormont will not be a panacea for all our ills.

    November the 25th will come. There will be no devolution, but you know what, the sunn wil still be in the sky! Grow up and stop your whinging.

  • Bushmills

    The Dog

    The only people that I have detected who are pissed off are UUP MLA’s and staffers pis*ing their knickers about loss of income.

  • BooBoo

    Some points worth noting:

    1: The UUP is absolutely desperate for the Assembly to roll on. A party with an overdraft as large as it has, and a cashflow problem as pisspoor (read their accounts on the Electoral Commission website), is a party which needs the financial lifeline which comes from the Electoral Commission grants it is entitled to as an Assembly party.

    The UUP had its loss of all political and electoral credibility confirmed by the General Election of 2005. Its financial viability is in tatters and the pact with the UVF removed its moral credibility. The fact that the CunningPlan House Typing Pool resorts to non stop abuse of the DUP; as well as warning of doom and gloom if the Assembly collapses, is a sign of the intellectual and strategy bankruptcy at the very heart of their party.

    To be honest, the DUP isn’t any more credible in some senses. The grim reality is that both the UUP and DUP have been atrocious performers in terms of negotiations.

    2: There is absolutely no evidence of a unionist clamour (from either the UUP or DUP bedrock votes) for a deal to be struck with Sinn Fein.

    3: The notion that a fully restored Assembly would be a pancea for some problems (education, water and household rates etc) is a nonsense. The Assembly may be in a position to tinker here and there, but it still has to come up with the dosh from somewhere. Apart from the begging bowl held out to Brown, none of the parties actually has a credible, let alone a coherent economic strategy.

    4: Just how bad would permanent Direct Rule be? During the last Assembly, or those brief periods when it was running, devolution consisted of the Executive Committee producing “apple pie” policies, while individual ministers were controlled by their Civil Servants. The MLAs and the local parties didn’t come up with one radical or original policy between them. What we had was mediocre government and non-existent accountability. The purse strings were still held by London and the MLAs were clearly out of their depth on everything. Why the hell would we want that back?

    5: The Assembly should be closed, dissolved and pensioned off.