“cutting their own pay and numbers is more for the optics than the effect”

The BBC reports that the Northern Ireland Assembly has passed a motion, proposed by the NI First Minister, DUP leader Peter Robinson, wearing his East Belfast MLA hat, calling on the independent Assembly Commission “to reduce its running costs in line with the level of reduction faced by Executive Departments.”

The Belfast Telegraph report notes,

On Monday [Peter Robinson] outlined a range of further cost-cutting steps including the voluntary freezing or reducing of ministerial or Assembly member costs and ending the subsidy of Assembly meals. He also said steps should be taken to ensure there was no rapid rise in Assembly staff.

I can think of one Executive Department, in particular, that could do with reducing its “running costs”.

But as Jim Fitzpatrick pointed out, it’s hardly a Tea Party proposal…

It’s popular, in the current climate, for politicians to beat themselves up.

Sinn Fein has shown an almost masochistic streak by arguing that MLAs pay should be cut by 15% but rejecting the proposal that civil service pay should be frozen.

But cutting their own pay and numbers is more for the optics than the effect.

Fewer politicians will not significantly reduce the cost of Northern Ireland’s big government.

But as the cost of our big government is currently borne by English taxpayers and the benefits of it are currently enjoyed by citizens in Northern Ireland, there is no incentive for local politicians to cut there.

That is another key difference with the US where individual states must balance their own books on an annual basis with precious little help from the federal government.

For that reason it’s hard to see a Tea Party movement gaining ground here for, unlike the United States, the majority is strongly in favour of big local government so long as central government continues to foot the bill.

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  • iluvni

    Must be great up at Stormont where they can vote on proposal after proposal but never have to take any tough decisions.

  • pinni

    it’s hard to see a Tea Party movement gaining ground here for, unlike the United States, the majority is strongly in favour of big local government so long as central government continues to foot the bill.

    True, but if central government was planning large tax hikes and increases in healthcare costs, like the Obama administration is in the US, we might well have a Taxed Enough Already movement.

    We, of course, have become used to handing over at least 30% of our earnings + VAT to the government. When Americans look at us and see the horrendous amount taken by the government, and the poor value we get for our money in return, they obviously don’t want to get caught up in the same mess. Hence the current huge support for the Tea Party.

  • joeCanuck

    Of course cutting MLAs and expenses won’t save us from the financial mess. But the symbolism is important. Optics can be good.

  • Munsterview

    Stop Press: RTE 1 tv news just announced a newspaper opinion poll based on 1,000 people for tomorrow

    Brian Cowen Taoiseach for leader 11%

    Eamonn Gilmore for leaded 39%

    Says it all !

  • Alan Maskey

    One of our Unionist friends posted the incredibly high percentage of people. PSF voters presumably, on (mostly fraudulent) disability benefit in West and North Belfast, as well as West of the Bann.
    If those figures are correct, and i am sure they are, no one should pay any heed to the Right Hon MP for West Belfast.

    Buisnesses in trouble get rid of middle management. Get rid of Stormont. It serves no economic function. And claw back payments to the sponger communities.

    Pinni: We get poor value for our taxes because of the spongers, the military, the NHS gangsters and all the others who neither reap nor do they sow.