Laura.. have you found that phone number yet?

With the parties heading into what the government hopes will be the final furlong, for now, all the old set-pieces are being deployed. There are the phonecalls from the US President – which, despite what anyone might tell you, will be dutifully received. And everyone gets to meet Gordon, who’ll then announce a multi-billion pound package. In case anyone’s forgotten, they’ve had those phonecalls before. And the last time we had an announcement of a multi-billion pound package it turned out to be a repackaging.. let’s see if there’s anything different this time.

  • realist

    The turkeys will not be voting for Christmas! Watch for a face saving exercise for Big Ian and his gang that will enable him to claim that he was able to face down Hain. I can hear the speech now, “We were not bounced into Government by threats from Tony Blair or any of his leckeys. We let them know who had the mandate in Ulster and they know that we are the boss” I’m not so sure what his reply will be if any of the press can get their nose off the ground and ask him if any of the Northern Bank money has been handed in yet or if the murderers of Mr McCartney have been turned in. These issues seemed mighty important before the election but seem to have been dispatched into the hinderland since!! There really are some brass necked DUP MLA’S sitting up in Stormont. Some of these super prods seem to have swallowed a silence pill over the past three months or is it just the post-dated resignation letters beginning to bite their tongues. If they go into Government with the shinners I want a photo for my album of my DUP representatives shaking hands with their new partners in politics the shinners!! No gain without pain I say!!! A reasonable request, I think, for the big earners to pose for this one.

  • Cato

    I’m not sure we will see the kind of major investment of new money which the parties here agree is imperative for the new Assembly.
    First of all, Brown is a past master at portraying existing expenditure as new money.
    Secondly, I think that anyone who believes that Brown will do anything to secure the legacy of Anthony Blair is mistaken.
    The Channel 4 programme about Blair after he leaves No.10 I think was a fair representation of the relationship between the PM and his Chancellor – mutual dislike to the point of loathing.
    Brown hates Blair for hanging on so long and for endangering his own long-term succession by the madness of the Iraq War.
    Had there been no war I do not think that Labour would be in any danger of not securing a fourth term, due to the relative economic performance since Labour came to power.
    Growth and low interest rates = votes.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Seems that the DUP have painted themselves into a corner. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

    I awaited their decision with interest.

    Will they upset half of their party, with the biggest deceipt ever?

    Will the brown envelopes drop on the mats of every house in NI?

    Will the extra £1,000,000,000 be shunned?

    Either way they have a big problem.


    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told the Democratic Unionist Party’s leader, Ian Paisley, that he will stick rigidly to his government’s deadline of next Monday for power sharing in Northern Ireland.

    As pressure mounted on the DUP to say yes to a devolved government featuring Sinn Fein, Mr Blair was adamant he was not going to introduce emergency legislation to change the deadline at the last minute.

    On the eve of crucial talks between the North’s parties and British Chancellor Gordon Brown on a multi-billion pound financial package to bolster devolution, the Prime Minister`s official spokesman acknowledged there were concerns in the DUP about meeting the March 26 deadline.

    He said: “The DUP clearly want devolution to happen at some point. They clearly have concerns and we will try and address those concerns. But the Prime Minister could not have been clearer that we cannot change the legislation and that means a decision has to be made by March 26.”

    “It is the DUP`s decision, obviously, what they will do on the 26th. The important thing out of the meeting today is the Prime Minister made it absolutely clear that he had come to a settled view which is not going to change which is that the 26th is the deadline and he is not going to introduce legislation to change that.”

    Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has insisted since last October`s St Andrews talks that Assembly members face either devolution or the closing down of the Parliament next Monday.

    However DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson and his Westminster colleague Gregory Campbell have said they will not be forced into an executive with Sinn Fein by a British Government-imposed deadline.

    The DUP has argued that any decision it makes on power sharing will be determined by a number of conditions being fulfilled rather than by a date on a calendar.

    Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has tried to allay those concerns, most recently by fully committing his party to supporting the police and the rule of law.

    The West Belfast MP used an interview with the republican weekly newspaper An Phoblacht to remind unionists that the IRA had removed itself from conflict and that there was no reason or excuse for armed actions.

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