Why are FMDFM not ready to decide on cuts?

David Cameron has met leaders of all three devo areas at No 10 and told them to start preparing for cuts.  Alex Salmond has decided to defer this year’s £332 million cuts for Scotland although a further £1.3 billion are expected next year, reports the Times. By contrast Peter Robinson said they were still waiting on the Treasury to provide details of the breakdown in the cuts between capital and resource expenditure.

“We are unable to take our decisions as to whether we defer our cuts until the following financial year until we get that information, so we need to improve the consultation that there is between the Treasury and the devolved regions.”

Robinson has a fair point that Whitehall’s links with the devolved areas have been poor ; it’s hoped that the joint ministerial committee will strengthen them.  Even so, how come come Salmond knows enough and Robinson doesn’t? Martin McGuinness would be unwise to put much faith in lowering corporation tax.  In any case, it’s no substitute for cuts. Does his slighting talk  about a ” cabinet of millionaires” suggest that SF may be preparing to cast themselves as the forlorn hope  in  a populist campaign against them?  Robinson will know that’s a mug’s game.  Is the Executive deadlocked over what to do?

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