“tired old warmongers”

It might seem to be an unlikely meeting of minds, but with the reported comments of Alliance leader, David Ford at the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton, we now have David Ford, the UUP’s Danny Kennedy and Irish News columnist Brian Feeney on the same page.. on one point at least. Adds Nevin, in the comments zone below, points to the Alliance party statement.From David Ford’s reported comments

Addressing delegates at Brighton, he said Alliance was the only party capable of challenging the administration led by the “tired old warmongers” Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.

He said: “The executive is struggling with its own internal contradictions – a right wing populist DUP leading the executive along with Sinn Fein which has barely moved away from its revolutionary Marxism.

“To avoid a breakdown in that fragile consensus between them they are prepared to go to any lengths to avoid making difficult decisions.”

And as I mentioned previously

And that’s all before we get to the serious areas of disagreement.

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  • Nevin

    David Ford and Anna Lo at the Liberal Democrat Conference.

  • páid

    So the ex-IRA man and the man who must have been responsible for more than a few recruits to the ranks of paramiltaries, are now to be condemned for working together – and that most human of activities – laughing together.

    You’d swear some folk would prefer The Troubles back.

    It’s months since I heard of someone dying, some young cop, some fella on his way home from the pub.

    Maybe your son or brother is one of the dead men walking about.

    We had utter shit for way too long.

    Laugh long, hard and loud chuckle brothers.

  • Comrade Stalin

    So the ex-IRA man and the man who must have been responsible for more than a few recruits to the ranks of paramiltaries, are now to be condemned for working together – and that most human of activities – laughing together.

    They’re not being condemned for working together.

    They’re being condemned for being an utterly ineffective administration.

    It is true that one of the main reasons for powersharing is to promote reconciliation, and in this purpose the administration is working, to a point. But the primary reason for it is to provide an accountable local administration that can get things done, that people can rally behind. The present arrangements are failing to make the grade.

    Reminds me of old Soviet Russia. Anyone who criticized the government was a counter-revolutionary criticising the natural path toward communism. Likewise, anyone who dares point out that the current powersharing arrangement is dysfunctional, is a person who opposes peace and reconciliation and wants the troubles back. We need to take a step back and think about this, folks. What’s the Stormont administation for ?

  • Briso

    Why is it dysfunctional? Because they haven’t appointed a victims commissioner? Seriously, what exactly are the hard choices being avoided?

  • IJP

    Briso

    Where to start?
    – academic selection
    – water rates
    – public finances
    – Review of Public Administration (including, not exhaustively: abolishing quangos, removing funding from partnerships, number of councils)
    – stadium

    … you know, all the stuff they said they’d solve on your doorstep in March…

  • fair_deal

    I remember discussing the option of the UUP going into opposition with a friend, who argued that the UUP shouldn’t do it because it is only worth going into opposition if you could be an effective one and he had his doubts. I am beginning to wonder if the same criticism can be made of Alliance. The attacks seem to be ever shriller.

    Some of us also remember that it was Alliance leader who was hammering the door of the UUP room demanding to know why they hadn’t accepted the Belfast Agreement and strongly advocated a yes vote even with the changes secured in St Andrews, Alliance’s finger prints are on this system of governance as much as any other party. Granted they did advocate a change as did the DUP but the others wouldn’t buy it.

    This is only month five with the politically dead month of August in the middle of it all.

    It is not that the Direct Rule period before was some period of nirvana that meant there were no critical/important issues landing on the executive’s desk with no hard choices to be assessed. Or I might add no issues around making a civil service used to absentee ministers adapting to the new order. There was no political game playing with unpopular decisions to try and get an executive up and running oh no.

    It also shows a wilful ignorance on the limitations on a minister’s decision-making. A decision taken too quickly without following the requisite consultations and assessments etc (a la Lesbians in Lenadoon) will be judicially reviewed to death a la PPS14. If people want a discussion about how this can be streamlined fair enough (IMO much needed) but I bet they’d rather prefer the opportunity to demand action while procedures are followed and squeal a lack of consultation/abuse of power if they don’t like the decsion or it is taken forward as quick as possible.

    The victim’s commissioner criticism is a fair one. It should have been sorted by now especially as a public commitment to a decision was given.

    IJP

    “- academic selection”

    The Minister for Education hasn’t produced her plans yet. It is an example of strongly divergent views between all four executive parties. However until the proposals are ready criticise the individual minister but the rest of the Executive isn’t at fault yet.

    “- water rates”

    Yes it was terrible the way the prospective Executive got water bills cancelled this year what utter failures. Obviously DFP has the few hundred million needed if water bills are not to be introduced/or the water contribution taken out of the rates lying in some back office. Maybe they forgot to look down the back of the sofa. There is no need to seriously examine the budgets of the local departments, local taxes and borrowing facilities, Peter Robinson should have just said they weren’t going to happen and sort out the funding for the decision later on.

    “- Review of Public Administration (including, not exhaustively: abolishing quangos, removing funding from partnerships, number of councils)”

    IIRC the Alliance party were not happy with the seven council model but despite this the Executive is to be criticised for looking at it again?

    “- public finances”

    You see there is this thing called the Comprehensive Spending Review and its conclusions haven’t been released yet. Although we have pretty good indications of what will be available (not that the Treasury would play little games with the figures they announce public or anything). Planning on the final detail is possibly more useful.

    Just with water it isn’t easy to find the money needed to keep the cap on industrial rates either nor are the potential savings from a shared future quick and easy to realise.

    By all means sort out public finances but don’t dare take a decision that saves the taxpayer £21m.

    “Stadium”

    Oh dear there has been no rush into building a white elephant. The fact that this idiotic project is now looking less likely is a success of devolution not a failure.

  • I Wonder

    F-D: I think that sums up the argument against this being an “ineffective government.”

    You could also have mentioned the responsiveness to the flooding incidents which would never have been a priority for Peter Hain. Well done.

    “You’d swear some folk would prefer The Troubles back.”

    Quite – I’ve been convinced of this for some time, although I’d have put extreme Unionists into this category rather than Alliance! 🙂

  • fair_deal

    The Lib Dem NI spokesperson wants more reviewing by the Executive not less

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/article2977207.ece

  • páid

    Thanks for saving me a lot of typing, FD.

    Barely 6 months of the Chuckle brothers.

    Contrast and compare the tirty years of Direct Rule nirvana (interrupted only by the stunningly successful Prior Assembly affairs), and fifty years of Stormont paradise.

    Of course, this type of Orange/Green setup doesn’t suit Alliance’s theory of how the world really should work.

    It’s peace, and while we have peace we cement it.

    Then, hopefully, we can move out of the tribe zone.

  • Nevin

    “we can move out of the tribe zone” .. páid

    The ‘process’ will consolidate the tribal zones; the paramilitary godfathers will extend their grip on local communities; the state justice system will wither on the vine – and before we know it we’ll be facing into 2016.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FD:

    I am beginning to wonder if the same criticism can be made of Alliance. The attacks seem to be ever shriller.

    Anything to avoid addressing the argument. The fact is that public confidence in the devolution arrangements is on the wane. It isn’t helped by what appears to be very dodgy activity in two ministerial departments under the control of the DUP. But the biggest problem of all seems to be that so far, there is no indication that the ministers in the executive have been able to agree the same line on anything important. Cabinets are supposed to all sing off the same hymnsheet.

    Oh dear there has been no rush into building a white elephant. The fact that this idiotic project is now looking less likely is a success of devolution not a failure.

    You’re living in some kind of weird fantasy world if you think it’s going to get cancelled quietly. The Shinners aren’t going to shut up about their hunger strike shrine.

  • fair_deal

    CS

    “Anything to avoid addressing the argument.”

    I think you will find I dealt with the general argument in some detail and addressed the specific policy areas raised.

    The criticism is presently wrong because the Executive has had little time, has a number of major decisions to make that cannot be resolved by a ministerial whim, misrepresents the limitations on ministerial authority plus the hypocrisy of Alliance in trying to wash their hands of this system.

    I’m have no desire to die in a ditch defending this system. It is not a good system of governance but the nationalist parties in particular preferred the guarantee of power it provides to worrying about its workability.

    Can the flaws be overcome? I think we’ll have a better idea this time next year but saying we should all run to the hills in despair is premature.

    In the longer run, hopefully the parties who are such keen supporters of a D’hondt execuitve will shift in and use the opportunity of the review of the institutions to allow change.

    “Cabinets are supposed to all sing off the same hymnsheet.”

    The hymn sheet – the Programme for Government – is being drafted. We’ll see if they can write a good tune and carry it in the coming months and year.

    “The fact is that public confidence in the devolution arrangements is on the wane.”

    Maybe it is. It doesn’t surprise me as expectations for devolution were unrealistically high a result of their persistent over-selling by the two governments in particular but the parties at times too.

    “You’re living in some kind of weird fantasy world if you think it’s going to get cancelled quietly.”

    Where did I say it would be cancelled quietly?

    The project’s chance have not reduced through a lack of public comment in fact the reverse. Personally don’t care if the proposal dies quietly or kicking and screaming as long as it disappears.

  • páid

    Nevin,

    that’s your prediction of 2016, nine years hence, time will tell.

    Time has already told of what happened nine years ago in 1998.

    55 people brutally killed.