On the silence of the backbenchers…

Given how our local parties seem to have an iron grip on their backbenchers these days, it’s worth seeing how it is done elsewhere. Dan Hannan, a descendent of an émigré from Randalstown, is a Tory MEP for SE England, and apparently has no problem with criticising the leadership of his party, when it even looks like departing from a previously charted course. It’s impossible to imagine that many DUP backbenchers were happy with Arlene Foster’s decision to retain the deeply unpopular PPS14 rural planning measures (though at least they were careful enough not to mention it in their manifesto). But it went through without a whimper.This is how Sinn Fein described it back in March:

The disastrous PPS14 rural planning policy will severely restrict new-builds within rural communities, further increasing demand for housing in rural towns and urban centres, and inflating house prices.

Though it doesn’t appear to have made any rash promises to get rid of it…


  • kensei

    Worth pointing out though that infighting and backbench criticism have been a strongly contributing factor to keeping the Tories out of power for the past ten years…..

  • Mick Fealty

    Fair point ken. Probably one worth making directly to Mr Hannan.

  • fair_deal

    It isn’t being ‘retained’ permamently. There has to be some policy in place otherwise it become a even bigger mess than it is now.

    Also one of the contributory reasons for PPS14 being ruled unlawful was the bad handling of the process/non-existence of the process of its introduction. If Arlene Foster had announced an immediate repalcement for PPS 14 without the proper consultation etc her decision would have been as open to challenge as Rooker’s was shown to be. AFAIK The ruling of PPS 14 as unlawful didn’t demand its immediate replacement either, it allows for the Deptartment to follow its proper processes to introduce a new one..

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Does it not seem bizarre that PPS14 is illegal because, under direct rule, the wrong department issued it? It’s almost like it was designed to be done away with under devolution.

    In fact, there seem to be a few direct rule initiatives started during Hain’s tenure that were designed to fail or unravel under devolved government.

    My, what a strange coincidence!

  • The reason PPS 14 was done away with was because the judge didn’t like it.

  • interested

    I think the use of PPS14 as an example is a pretty poor one. No party in the Assembly supports it as the best form of rural planning policy. However, were Foster to scrap it and go back to previous policy whilst a new one was being brought forward then you’d simply invite tens of thousands of speculative planning applications and end up with the countryside concreted over before a new policy was developed.

    Bringing back PPS14 on a six month temporary basis was really the only option she had. F_D makes many of the points re legal challenge. You might want to read the minutes of the Preparation for Government sub-committee which all the Parties laid out their opposition to PPS14. Maybe at least on this occasion most politicians have had the maturity to realise that the change will take some months to be brought in through the proper legal channels and haven’t been leaping up and down in mock anger that the Minister hasn’t simply waved a magic wand to change things overnight.

    You might have a fair point about control of backbenchers Mick but PPS14 was a terrible example to use in highlighting it.

  • No party in the Assembly supports it as the best form of rural planning policy.

    Er, that’s not true. Alliance does.

    Even though I, personally, don’t! 😉

  • interested

    Apologies – I stand corrected.

    No serious party in the Assembly supports PPS14… 😉

    That any better?