Rattling the begging bowl one more time is a bankrupt strategy

Why are Executive leaders squealing together “fight the cuts”  in this fashion when it’s so divorced from reality? It’s just the sort of loser’s strategy that produces panic in the system and bad cuts as a consequence when it fails, as Oxford Economics have warned. Times really are a- changing, why don’t they recognise it? Have they really no other shots in the locker?

It’s one thing to use Keynesian arguments in NI’s favour, quite another to try to convert the St Andrew’s Agreement of 2006 into a legal charter guaranteeing at least £18 billion capital funding over 10 years. It’s so left field it’s out of the park. In any case the capital funding is in the budget already if the Executive so chooses to designate it.

Adds  In  an interview with UTV’s Ken Reid, David Cameron dismisses claims that pledges to NI weren’t being honoured.

“We are honouring the budgetary support for Northern Ireland. If you take specifically for instance the issue of security and policing, I agreed from Opposition with Gordon Brown a very generous package to make sure we supported the devolution of policing and justice matters.”

“People in Northern Ireland should know that I believe in the UK and I want to keep the UK together. I will support Northern Ireland and have talented ministers there and I will always listen to the representation of the parties there. I want to make sure the Northern Ireland economy is a success.”

 Very politely  this prime minister seems to be refusing to give into the old version of  NI exceptionalism. Yet  he has surely given all the assurances he can here,  in advance of the comprehensive spending review on October 20.

The only case I can think of for such hopelessness  from FMDFM  is that the cuts for NI may turn out to be more manageable than trailed as I’ve suggested here,  and that local ministers will then disingenously claim whatever credit is available.  But let no one be fooled. However measured, NIs share of UK public spending is better than fair and the comprehensive spending review is unlikely to change that. But if local ministers spend the next few months of campaigning in a holy alliance of Blame the Brits for everything, they’ll all be regressing even further into political cloud cuckoo land.

Adds  More from the Cameron interview.

“It’s going to take 25 years to move Northern Ireland from the position where the state is such a large part of the economy to a position where it is a more reasonable part…. 

“We have to be flexible. Northern Ireland is a special case because the state takes up such a large share of the economy”, Mr Cameron said.

“But I would say to the people of Northern Ireland that they know and we all know that we have got to have a transition so the private sector gets bigger and the commercial sector gets bigger and we get proper economic growth and over time the state takes a smaller share of the economy..

If we put off these decisions, if we decide to do nothing, if we take Labour’s advice and do it all later, the interest bill mounts up and the debt gets worst and the cuts would have to be worst”, Mr Cameron said.

It would be a false choice, for Northern Ireland included, if we were to put off these difficult decisions; like your credit card bill the longer you leave it the worst it gets; the deeper the cuts would have to be.”


  • HeinzGuderian

    Just the shinners squealing…..as per usual !!! 🙂

  • DC

    From BBC:

    The secretary of state has said the NI Executive must address the cost of segregation if it is serious about saving money and providing better public services.

    Owen Paterson was speaking at a Conservative Party fringe meeting on Tuesday.

    He said the “British taxpayer should not continue to subsidise segregation”.

    Wonder if Martin McGuinness will be able to look from within for once rather than from without? I’m sure this sort of matter-of-fact-pragmatism being encouraged by Owen Paterson will go down like a fart in a spacesuit to Mssrs Robinson&McGuinness. Our little fair weather friends?

    The SoS does have a point – a bit of reciprocity wouldn’t go amiss between NI Executive and Westminster: perhaps if you guys and gals in NI can save and we at Westminster will consider maintaining levels of investment. The old New Labour formula, no investment without necessary reform.

  • Kathy C

    It’s time sinn fein realize they’re not special. They wanted politics…and british politics is what they got…now they have to deal with it and be just like everyone else in line.

  • Brian Walker

    DC Thanks for your valuable comment – must inquire further..”No investment without necessary reform?”

    Now that woud be interesting if Westminster were to attempt such a strategy. It would be a radical departure from the existing option of the Barnett formula, the alternative of needs based transfers, greater devolution
    ( tax raising powers) or finally independence through the exercise of self determination by the Scots. A conditional grant would be somethnig new indeed.

    A block grant conditional on Westminster’s idea of good government – if Paterson’s ” the British government should not continue to subsidise segregation ” – is to be taken literally, would imply direct involvement in setting Assembly policy. As such, a clawback of devolution. However tempting, it’s surely unlikely and much more than he intended. On the other hand what did he mean?.

    Very intereresting and worth watching. Thanks again.

  • Seymour Major

    Following on from DC’s comment, Paterson’s suggestion might have originated from a suggestion by Ian Parsley on this post


    If the idea sprung from Ian, I say well done to him.

  • aquifer

    ‘Why are Executive leaders squealing together “fight the cuts“ in this fashion’

    Because it is easier than managing their departments.

  • wild turkey


    this is one of the first tangible expressions of CSI in action. regardless of political party allegiance, etc etc, norn ironland, well at least its putative political leadership, must persist in presenting itself as entitled and deserving MOPES.

    oh yeah, “fight the cuts”. ho ho. ever experience a four year old threaten to hold their breath until they got what they wanted? the adult response being…..?

  • joeCanuck

    Given the lack of any real political talent or innovative thinking amongst our wonderful leaders on the hill, does it surprise anyone that holding out the begging bowl is the best they can come up with? They are about to get a rude awakening. Banging drums and waving flags ain’t gonna cut it.

  • Munsterview


    “……. Banging drums and waving flags ain’t gonna cut it…….”

    Ah come on…..the marching season is over…..give the OO a break !

  • Framer

    Attwood is quivering with rage at the end of child benefit for higher tax band earners. All those public sector dinkies up the Malone Road must be torturing him.

    But has he the cochones to do it differently here? Social security law and benefit rates are devolved and in his hands.

    Would he break parity on this or any other one? He must be tempted to start the process of detaching us from the mainland.

  • barnshee

    He must be tempted to start the process of detaching us from the mainland.

    Also detaching from the UK cheque book ? I think not

  • Critical Alien

    Forth.ie carried a piece about the cuts to come back in early June. Apart from its over-optimism on Invest NI as a means to reinvigorate the private sector, it suggested the way out was through action and creativity. NI used to be a world leader in various fields. Shipbuilding, aviation, textiles, etc. Those industries aren’t quite so hot these days, but there are still capable people around. There is raw capacity to be exploited. Somehow.

    Maybe not on the hill, though. It really underlines the incapablilities of the lot in government that the situation that June article commented upon has changed only in the degree of whinging coming from Stormont. That’s their action taken in the face of a world recession. Their creativity has come in the form of… well…