Thumbs down for Peter’s coalition strategy

Alan Trench points out the wider implications of Peter’s offer to Dave.

The price would be to shelter Northern Ireland from budget cuts through the Barnett formula.

Such a policy, if the Tories were to adopt it, would seriously undermine the idea of a Union. It would reinforce the existing (and huge) disparity in levels of public spending in Northern Ireland and in other parts of the UK, which has been declining in recent years. It would reduce the incentives for the devolved government to reform public services (which have largely missed out on the reforms of the 1980s, never mind those of the 1990s or under New Labour), or to bolster other aspects of Northern Ireland’s economy. And it would be impossible to reconcile with the needs-based approach to funding that Cameron has promised in Wales (though, curiously, not in Scotland), reported in the Western Mail here.

Twisting it that far for Northern Ireland simply invites further twisting elsewhere, and rewards those who can shout loudest and act in the most aggressive fashion. For a party committed to a strong defence of the Union who boast in their manifesto ‘we will not put the Union at risk’, it’s a high-risk strategy.

Actually Dave threw in ” based on need ” as one of the soothers in the La Mon speech. Can it be that he doesn’t know how Barnett works? Not that I’d entirely blame a former Treasury special adviser from the Home Counties for that.


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

  • Cynic

    Haven’t you noticed that all these policies are Peter’s and that Cameron aint listening? The clue may have been in Cameron’s cutting remarks yesterday about Robinson, probity and the swish factor.Nigel didn’t like them on Radio Ulster…but then it doesn’t do to remind the voters

  • show’s how unrealistic the local parties ‘strategies’ actually are.

    Meaningless window dressing the day before the vote.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    How embarassing for the nearly-dead-thing that calls itself UCUNF, I cant honestly think of any party anywhere that was launched with so much fanfare and proved to be such a disaster so early.

    The only people in Ulster that dont believe that the DUP and the Tories will get it together if the arithmetic is right is the bewildered supporters of the UUP who made the usual Unionist mistake of believing a single word uttered to them by a British PM – the poor UUP feckers must be absolutely dreading the election.

  • Driftwood

    Gordon (well, Peter Mandelson, but Gordo’s signature) has written to PR today (according to the DUP) offering not to cut the block grant…this year.
    All fair in political gamesmanship, but desperation is now hitting all parties. Labour are just sinking.

  • dundonald voter

    i wonder who labour or tories will actually end up talking to, i mean the punt could possibly get the boot from westminister come friday morning