Strange sort of election…

I watched Ferghal McKinney on UTV’s election debate struggling manfully with a panel of five politicians trying to argue over policy detail they were quite clearly not entirely comfortable with . Most striking was the degree of consensus on a range of policy issues, and the relative non appearance of the constitutional issue. However Maurice Hayes reckons that the real terms of reference that people use to slect their vote will remain the same:

This electoral rhetoric about bread and butter issues is shadow boxing, and everyone knows it. The parties espouse populist issues to get people to the polls in the knowledge that once there, nature will triumph over nurture and they will vote by instinct rather than by reason.

The real political battle will commence, when the DUP on the Department of Finance:

There can be no consummation of the marriage, they say, until a substantial dowry has been paid.

Whether George Brown will play ball, or simply regard it as an impertinent bit of opportunistic blackmail, remains to be seen.

There is an argument for a once-off capital injection for infrastructural developments, to make up for under-investment under Direct Rule, but putting the North on a drip-feed of increased public expenditure flies in the face of all economic orthodoxy.

This is an economy which is chronically and unhealthily dependent on the public sector, which needs to encourage entrepreneurship and inward investment, yet the only thing all the parties seem to agree on is that there should be a massive increase in public expenditure.

  • I think Maurice meant to say Gordon Brown would be paying the bills. George Brown’s term as Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer has long since drifted from most of our memories and poor old George is six feet under the ground.

    The freudian slip gives an interesting take on Maurice’s frame of reference, though.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    The homogeneity of the parties when the border is taken out of politics is remarkable.

    They are a dishonest bunch when it comes rates of whatever type. Intead of saying we need £x billion to run NI and this is what is available. They promise to cure all ills in health, education etc. etc. whithout telling us where the money is coming from except for the gold frankincense and myrrh from our beloved chancellor.

    It shows how much the DUP know about negotiation when they put up an impossible situation and claim it to be tenable. E.G. we will not go into government without billions of pounds – easy answer – well don’t bother we will handle it from Westminster. The Labour party know the DUP cannot afford not to go into Government in NI and still remain credible.

    What a stupid negotiatiing tactic when you show all you all your cards in advance and you only have a joker in your hand!

  • Greenflag

    Sammy M –

    Ye beat me to it 🙂

    ‘the only thing all the parties seem to agree on is that there should be a massive increase in public expenditure. ‘

    Or in plain english the patient is dying . The NI parties considered rational opinion is that more of the same medication that’s killing the patient is just what any doctor would prescribe ( at least a doctor specialising in euthanasia 🙁

    One can only hope that Gordon Brown if/or when he has to deal with these ‘idiots’ does take to the bottle as the aforementioned George did or indeed that other poor English sod/sot -Sir Reginald Maudling when confronted with the ‘bloody awful country’ ! Both Brown and Maudling departed this mortal coil through the cirrhossis of the liver route !

    The Belfast Telegraph in a last bid attempt to drum up electoral interest, reported a couple of days ago Bertie Ahern is now the politician on this island who is most favoured by the NI voters 🙂

    There is hope yet . Only 40% of Prods have a favourable view of Paisley and 53% of the population view Paisley -unfavourably . Paisley’s ‘unfavourability ‘rating with the Catholic NI population is a massive 75% . Not a good omen . Wonder should the D’Hondt convolutionary mechanism not take this into account . Perhaps if it did Bertie could end up as NI’s First Minister ? At least the poor voters might get a return on their electoral investment 🙂

  • Greenflag

    Error above

    ‘does take to the bottle ‘

    Should of course read ‘does NOT take to the bottle’

    Not that the abstemious Gordon would mind you !

  • May I be the first to point out that Danny Kennedy’s performance on the UTV Debate was absolutely abysmal. The others wiped the floor with him.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Does anyone have the experience ( non political) and qualifications of the candidates who want to lead us – even for those with a realistic expectation of being elected would be good to know.

    I seem to see a lot of dead wood about.

  • Elvis Parker

    I know what you mean – esp UUP – name 5 ‘leading’ UUP people

  • Aaron McDaid

    Maurice Hayes in the article: “nature will triumph over nurture and they will vote by instinct rather than by reason.

    He’s trying to say that a vote on constitutional matters is devoid of reason and a vote on day to day issues can be only reasonable.

    This is nonsense, and another sign of the ignorant assumption by many people that it’s impossible to have an opinion on the constitution which is based on reason. The reality is that reasonable arguments for and against a UI will become more prevalent in future, not less so. In this more peaceful context every issue, including the constitution, will be subject to more sensible debate by everyone. Everybody, from politicians to lazy pundits, will have to update their thinking.

    And anyway, with the constitution being the only major policy difference among the parties a ‘reason’able voter has no option but to concentrate on the constitution and apply reasoned thinking to it. Choosing a party based on their water rates policy in this election can be based only on ‘instinct’.

    This article was based on instinct rather than by reason.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    “I know what you mean – esp. UUP – name 5 ‘leading’ UUP people”
    I suppose it depends on the meaning of “leading” a wild stab though:
    1. David Trimble
    2. Sylvia Hermon
    3. Esmond Birnie
    4. Alan McFarland
    5. Oh crap!!

    It’s nice to note that politics is at least trying to embrace normal issues but it will be some time before it beds down or we get politicians with a firm grasp of policy making or formulation. The policy departments in most parties are a joke. The UUP was anyway, few if any people with serious ideas are included its mostly a rehash of your average Tory party member. Knee-jerk right wing crap but without a commitment to liberal capitalist ideology. Pretty sad I reckon.

    One hopes however that over time the poor performance of the government will lead to the public’s desire to place serious competence ahead in its choices. At this stage parties will need to adapt (in the case of the UUP very very slowly with lots of foot dragging) and promote those in their organizations who can provide this. I have great faith that the political marketplace will ultimately lead to an improvement of our candidate quality but I am perhaps pessimistic about how long its going to take. Still as Confucius said “man who move mountains starts with small stones”.