Cuts now or later – decision urgent

Cut now or later? As late as last Friday, Sammy  was uncertain. So were the Welsh,  but not the Scots.  Alex Salmond is clear for postponement as all three sets of leaders meet in Belfast to discuss a common approach to a total of £700 million cuts for all three devolved areas. The other two should beware of getting drawn into Salmond’s cat and mouse politics  For him it may be better to face Scottish voters next year blaming Westminster for hard times. He is now against full implementation of the Calman report.  A recession is no time to introduce 10% tax raising powers for Scotland, never mind independence. This strategy is irrelevant to Northern Ireland’s interests. With much more to come from April 2011 the onus is on the Executive to explain why NI’s share of cuts should not begin now- all the more so, if these cuts turn out to be largely cosmetic and concentrating on quangos,  publicity and a freeze on recruitment.

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