Stratagem Policy Panel: Economy

Fascinating conversation with John Simpson and Jamie Delargy kicking around some of the most pressing issues facing any new devolved administration. Simpson makes the point that what we are voting for is less a government, than a political opposition to the real seat of power, 11 Downing Street. We go on to talk about some of the risks attached to one of the few issues there seems some degree of consensus on, the lowering of corporation tax, and assess the risk of a strategy that could fail as well as allow the two island economies harmonise. We also dissect the variable performances of Northern Ireland in comparison to the Republic and discuss whether we need to embrace the kind of creative distruction of old industries that has created a lot of the wealth there. Is it because we are too risk averse, so that our portion of entreprenuers as a mere fraction of that of the Republic? How are we going to get any substantial increase in Foreign direct investment, at a time when productivity levels are falling, particularly in such companies. And how can we expect politicians to take risks when unemployment is at historically low levels?

Three recommendations:

1 Taxes are good for you! Explain that a hypothcated water tax (and rates) are locally raised and will be locally spent on crucial infrastructure. Jamie noted in particular how strange it is for left wing parties to be so opposed to tax.

2 We now have the means to inject major investment into our infrastructure. But we don’t have any strategic investment plan. Simpson, “we have a shopping list”. Turn the parties’ shopping list into a list of priorities, and tell us what should be done first then start working down through them.

3 Vocational education is a glaring deficit particularly in comparison with the Republic. There should be a merger between education, employment and learning into one ministry and then the Minister should inject a local dynamic into the provision of vocational education.