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.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London