Home truths for chuggers

Liam Clarke’s piece in the Sunday Times is a not so much a wake-up call but a (metaphorical) bomb under the arse of the Executive, who are still living in chugger land, at least in public. The moment of truth will come around Budget Day April 22. You’re in for water rates like the rest of us, guys, and if you’re lucky, a slow-ish increase in rates.

What I wonder are the people’s candidates for cuts? And on what do we keep up spending?

Now huge deficits are projected — £176m in 2009-10 and £435m in 2010-11

SDLP and Ulster Unionist ministers are in charge of high-spending departments with responsibilities for health, housing and employment, and learning. As they see it, the DUP and Sinn Fein are taking the credit for tax breaks while leaving them to announce the cuts. It’s a slow burner, but it could take the executive down.

Mmm… I don’t see what Pete has dubbed the politburo losing any sleep if the two other parties go into voluntary opposition. Only a vote strike in the Assembly could bring the Executive down. Others have got excited about the Third New Force. OK, but don’t OD on too much snake oil. What’s the offer to poor old Wales and the English north east?

Empey told the Guardian he had received a commitment from the shadow cabinet that under a Conservative government, Ulster will be given powers to set low corporation tax in order to attract foreign investment.

  • fair_deal

    “a (metaphorical) bomb under the arse of the Executive, who are still living in chugger land, at least in public.”

    The topic was raised in a speech by at least one Exec member

    “As they see it, the DUP and Sinn Fein are taking the credit for tax breaks while leaving them to announce the cuts.”

    Sorry but the SDLP and UUP were as signed up for those as anyone else.
    “• Working with the other Executive parties to implement the Programme for
    Government Committee’s agreed proposals to delay the Direct Rule Administration’s
    water charges – allowing the Assembly and Executive to consider a fairer, more
    sustainable approach” – UUP manifesto
    “• Capping industrial rates for the manufacturing sector at 25% – allowing businesses
    to grow and invest, while also sharing in the rates burden” – UUP manifesto
    “The SDLP opposed water charges in
    Westminster and will continue to do so
    in the Assembly.” – SDLP manifesto
    “• Place a cap on industrial rates
    with a menu of reliefs or
    exemptions to take into account
    areas of high unemployment.” SDLP manifesto

    The recent fuel poverty payment was initiated by the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie.

    Also the hole in the DSD budget is not a result of tax breaks but the economic downturn – reduction in receipts from asset and house sales. Whether the tax changes need to be reassessed in light of this is a different matter but it is not a case of cause and effect as presented.

  • frustrated democrat

    Fair D

    The DUP can’t bring Enterprise Status and lower C. Tax to NI, the Conservative Unionists could if they win the next election.

    That is the difference between power and picking scraps off the floor, in the case of the DUP a lot less scraps than they promised everyone.

  • dewi

    Missed that CT promise to Empey – that’s a huge deal with vast constitutional implications…I hope he has it written in true blue Tory blood.

  • fair_deal


    “The DUP can’t bring Enterprise Status and lower C. Tax to NI, the Conservative Unionists could if they win the next election.”

    First corporate taxation and the levels of NI public services budget are two different things.

    Second Sir Reg wisely showed a greater care in his choice of words than yourself. He talked of an enterprise zone being agreed and the ability to “start to work on tax issues” but makes no promise nor claims to have one on the corporation tax issue instead talking about a personal ambition “I would harbour that ambition to achieve special tax status.”

    Third after Friday’s debacle and an inability to show basic levels of coherence and agreement between the different parts of UUPCon/UCUNF/ConU whatever it is this morning, I’ll wait for the Conservative manifesto with interest and the EU ruling on any proposals.

    Fourth is that the price offered for looking the other way if Cameron introduces second class MPs?

    Leaving my scepticism of UUPCon and jests aside, I am afraid whoever is in power in 2010 will be in a position to give very little away to anyone even if that is their genuine desire and wholehearted political commitment.

  • ??

    the Conservative Unionists could if they win the next election. ……….

    COuld or would, and will they if the people of NI dont vote for them?

  • Dewi,

    It was referred to right near the end of David Cameron’s speech at the UUP conference on December 6th.

  • fair_deal


    The reference in Cameron’s speech

    “A Conservative Government led by me will look at those issues – such as the shared land border with the Irish Republic – that affect inward investment and Northern Ireland’s economic competitiveness.”

  • ??

    if the tories have promised it then we dont need to vote for them cos they`ll do it anyway,…wont they?

  • frustrated democrat

    Fair D

    ?? is right I said could, I’m not in a position to say, that will that will be for the next Government.

    The point I was making was they are in a position to take a decision on taxation, the DUP aren’t and won’t be, nor will any of the other parties here except Labour.

    With regard to Enterpise Status since we are currently a basket case who will object to trying to reduce the £8 billion subvention, especially if some of the costs could be meet by restructuring existing budgets.

  • fin

    Companies won’t move to NI for lower CT, they’ll move to the eastern european countries who have recently joined the EU.

    Low CT worked lovely for the republic for a decade or so but its all over now, the Tories are flogging a dead horse with this one, think DELL.

  • fin

    There’s a film called the “monkeys paw” about a monkeys paw that grants wishes, it’s central tenent is basically be careful what you wish for. For example an old couple wish for £200 to finally pay of their mortgage, there’s a knock on the and its a manager from the factory where there son works, he’d been killed in an accident and he was there to make a payment of £200 in compensation.

    There is anobvious solution to getting Corporation Tax of 12.5% in the North without it affecting the rest of the UK, so Reg should be careful what he wishes for………….

  • fair_deal


    “they are in a position to take a decision on taxation, the DUP aren’t and won’t be, nor will any of the other parties”

    If the debate is to stay in the realm of coulds, the DUP could get such arrangements if there is a hung parliament situation (although if they did so it would no doubt be condemned as evil Ulster nationalists). Also if I was them I would actually not make seek such measures as NI specific rather a package for the parts of England, Scotland and Wales who are too dependent on the public purse.

    Also care needs to be taken to present central government action as the ‘answer’ to Northern Ireland’s problems. Both devolution and central government have a relevance – the importance of devolution has been stressed by the UUP for decades and Cameron emphasised the importance of devolution too in his speech. Businesses will not invest in an area simply because of low tax, other costs, infrastructure, education and training etc are all part of the mix.

  • ??

    The Tories and UUP can even agree on a website let alone CT for the province.

  • ??

    that should be: the Tories and UUP CAN`T even agree on a website let alone CT for the province

  • DC

    I would be out of the executive, most of all it was the 150 day escapade that was really the time to jump; but from the outset I really hadn’t a clue what the UUP and SDLP were doing in this mand-coal. It is probably too late now, poor judgement and a failure of political alertness will suck them down with the DUP-SF.

    But believe this if nothing else, the only time I’ve seen really tense and very nervous chuckles by the DUP is when the UUP have threatened to leave the executive. The DUP knows that, if the UUP-SDLP left, full responsibility would fall on them, and there has already been some massive failures what with the education sham, the maze debacle, rising unemployment. So if the UUP and SDLP left the largest party would have to shoulder the blame but worst of all have to deal with knuckle-draggingly slow political pace of the ever prickly SF. The Irish language is its key theme and education reform. Is that it? And even still they have failed on both counts. In a world where the cupboard is full of criticism towards government and the flaws with capitalism, SF grinds itself to a standstill for over 150 days because they want ‘equality’ to people in the DUP who quite clearly don’t want to be equal with them. But the ‘equality’ charge means nothing at all and makes SF just look like people with emotional and confidence problems.

    I know the national governments hold the bigger levers and have real responsibility re getting us and the banks out of this downturn, but that still shouldn’t and doesn’t preclude an intelligent and informed debate about just what is about to happen to us and our local economy. Our local politicians haven’t a clue, no debate has occured.

    Take Gerry Kelly for instance, he was on Let’s Talk and he said quite frankly that he didn’t have the solutions to the problems. Killing any notion of even engaging in a debate on the financial markets and billions worth of bonuses paid to bankers etc. He simply didn’t know. And this from a party looking to make in roads in the republic! A junior minister can’t even interpret what is happening yet SF has aspirations to take the reins of fiscal and financial power in the south.

    In my view, we are in for some really tough times, which if as devasting as is made out, the black hole is so big that it could well suck in those age old party names and brands simply because Tories to Labour to DUP to SF have failed to articulate what we know to be true on the street. That the disconnect between our politicians and the views held out on the street is so wide that politicians simply seem to exist just to line their own pockets, to put it over the people without improving our personal lives. Or even being remotely near to understanding what our real problems are in our personal lives that might actually need proper collective action from government. When we have social problems and bad behaviour they come along and criminalise it, sexual addictions to drug addictions, crime etc etc. Just criminalise it, put into writing and clobber us with it, and into jail we go.

    In contrast, why is it that there isn’t a court room in the land that would put a bankman on remand whenever us plebs get dragged into courts for everything under the sun, from missed creditcard payments, missed child support payments, to penalty points, to speeding tickets. This just pales into insignificance looking back at what the bankers have done. The chief executives who have inappropriately accumulated so much illegitimate wealth that turns single persons into multinational powerhouses – themselves alone. Yet us plebs are having to bail out their bad debt, this sludge is running in over our doorsteps. And in the end it was all made up, the debt is unable to be repaid in the same way that those quirky financiers created it. No magic wand can be waved – we cant just make it up. We will need to do real work supported by proper economics. The £5.50 per hour shit. Yea that kind of work, you know it?

    Brilliant piece here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,608993-5,00.html

    So SF want equality, great – how can you be equal in cash terms to something that was just made up out of imaginative credit instruments? I just want half decent answers and proper responses.