When is a budget not a budget (hint: when it involves Sinn Fein’s cuts)?

Here ya go, just over half way in to the Nolan Show this morning (with Nolan running rings around him re the Budget settlement)… Mitchell McLaughlin who said the budget was not really the budget: ‘there will be options available to us that are not available to us today’.

And his riposte to Nolan: “If the same proportion out of the budget of the ‘biggest show in the country’ you’d be struggling in the morning.”

John Simpson was even less impressed, “It is not a budget, it is generalised in the extreme…. it is a vision that it is so abstract as to be an insult to the public of Northern Ireland.”

Mitchel: “John, fair enough”.

But you really ought to listen to the whole thing…

  • PACE Parent

    Mitchell McLaughlin and Sinn Fein want to sell the idea of local tax raising powers in order to tie citizens of Northern Ireland fiscally to the corpse of the Celtic Tiger. Their anti-British, anti-Tory rhetoric is tiresome.
    Sammy Wilson expecting the public to consult on an abstract draft budget over the Christmas and New Year holidays comes a close second in terms of jokes. The DUP & Sinn Fein deserve each other – the public deserve to be lumbered by neither.

  • pippakin

    Not exactly a glowing example of SFs ability to produce a budget or even a draft budget. As for the interview, thank goodness Mr McLaughlin is staying in the north. Er, he is staying up north isn’t he, the south has enough ‘troubles’.

  • andnowwhat

    And what did the UUP do?

    They have to be the thickest party in terms of tactics by alligning themselvgesd to this tory goverment while all over the UK are angry at the coalitions proposals.

    On the upside for unionists. Marty won’t be getting the top job as the DUP will have sod all competition. Only the very traditional suopporters will be voting for the UUP in May.

    Frightfully unfare. Poor Marty had some sample letter heads printed up with FM on them and all.

  • thethoughtfulone

    “the public deserve to be lumbered by neither.”

    But surely it was “the public” who put them there.

  • Tweedybird

    Yes I listened to the Steve Nolan show this morning; between Nolan running rings around Sammy ( you know when Sammy is getting it tough, he starts to splutter and get agitated), then Mitchell McLaughlin and John McAllister putting there penny’s worth in, the budget became as clear as mud. I couldn’t believe how they all contradicted themselves, John Simpson even ended up baffled. God help us all, and to think we voted these people in…..

  • andnowwhat

    I really cannot condemn SF or the DUP and Sammy in particular/

    It would be hypocrisy of meas I also used to do my homework on the bus to school. Actually, I think they stole my history essay technique. Put in loads of waffle and avoid facts and numbers at all costs.

  • DC

    Well if I were the first minister I would have fought to the bitter end with the treasury (perhaps even resigned) to get a 12.5% corporation tax rate brought in – and then introduced water charges to cover the money that would be taken out off the block grant by the treasury to cover the lost revenue from having the new corporation tax rate.

    Water charges are a bitter pill of course, but it could cure the disease of economic stagnation.

    Local politicians just want the easy life and seeking solace in delivering as much status quo as is doable may save a few seats, but as for long term private sector growth, who knows?

    Where are the risk takers? Are there too many social conservatives and yesterday’s men in Stormont, in government?

  • Mick Fealty

    You can do that DC, but as Martin made very clear yesterday, it’s not as simple as that. The NI Assembly is a subsidiary body, not a government.

    And it is getting it easy compared to some English councils, some of whom are being given 14% cuts to administer and being told (along with the press) that it’s really only less than one per cent off what Westminster *thinks* they should have been spending.

    Bleating on about money promised by the previous government is a poor cover for the political reality.

  • DC

    A BBC report said:

    The Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has said a cut in corporation tax in Northern Ireland would be ‘totally unattractive’ if it meant a cut in the block grant of around £310m.

    Mr Wilson was speaking after Secretary of State Owen Paterson told MPs that a cut in the tax could mean a cut in the block grant of £310m.

    Now, I’m not sure if this is over the whole 4 years or a cut in the block grant on per year terms – even still water charges could help get round that shortfall.

    Unpalatable in the short term, but you have to take risks you can’t complain about no growth and then kick up a stink over a policy proposal of reduced corporation tax simply because for electability reasons it could be too risque and ergo – ‘unattractive’.

    Well worth a risk given:

    There has been a rise in the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Northern Ireland.

    The number of people claiming benefit has risen to 58,500, a monthly increase of 100 in November.

    This is a jump before the public sector cuts bite.

    Salaries could be cut more – in my view next to no one in the civil service should be paid more than a teacher (mind you – I have a biased opinion – I’ve been on below average wage for the guts of 8 years, it’s kept the weight down and kept me healthier for that, unlike some of the managers working around me!).

  • andnowwhat


    This morning’s Nolan Show. Samy came off well (cough)

  • andnowwhat

    I do lo9ve the bit when Sammy infers that Nolan ios a bit of a saddo for reading the budget report in bed.

    No Sammy, it’s not being a saddo. It’s doing your job. You should give it a go

  • Mark McGregor


    It is ludicrous to call this a ‘budget’, they have told us how they will raise funds for 25% of their deficit and which Departments will endure the cuts making up the other 75%.

    However, they have provided no detail on how those Departmental cuts will be implemented. That’s not a budget – it’s the starting point for making one.

    It also makes a mockery of the ‘Public Consultation’ they claim is on the budget – the bulk of which conveniently falls during a holiday period.

    How can the public or anyone else respond to planned cuts across services when all they know is that cuts will happen and none of the detail on how they will be targeted?

    If Stormont treats the outcome of consultaton on this partial budget as legitimate all that will be proven is they are totally signed up to a con job together.

    Shameful and anyone intending to vote for any of these snakeoil salesmen either side of the border should reflect on the contempt they all demonstrate towards the electorate.

  • DC


    Annex 4.1 and 4.2 is the closest you get to an inkling of where the cuts will kick in.

    For instance OFMDFM budget will be cut down by 6-7 million in 4 years, apparently a certain percentage decrease year on year, but what area, is the Assembly staff to be cut?

    So generally yes you can see the proposed amount to be cut, but in terms of cuts to specific services etc – you may as well play pin the tail on the donkey with it.

  • Mark McGregor


    I may be too cynical but I feel the drawing out of this and failing to present a true budget, while being willing to detail some capital raising powers and populist measures is about teasing this out by SF until after the election in the south.

    No detail on actual cuts they will surely implement while this draft ‘budget’ (who seriously can call it that?) works its way through consultation into early Feb. Then amendments, before they agree it and start to detail the very real cuts of 100s of millions across the whole of the local British administration. None of it detailed in advance of SF fighting an anti-cuts election in the 26 counties – convenient or what.

    I’m sure they’d all love to hide where the guaranteed cuts will fall until beyond the Assembly election too – and who would put it past this bunch of charlatans?

  • DC

    Oh I don’t disagree with you Mark on that – for sure.

  • Cynic2

    “if I were the first minister I would have fought to the bitter end with the treasury (perhaps even resigned) to get a 12.5% corporation tax rate brought in ”

    ….errrr its illegal under European Law

  • Cynic2

    All this is just nonsense. It is a budget. Departments have their spending limits and cannot exceed them. The real issue in different areas is now how they choose to live within those limits

    This is what is called ‘governing’

  • DC

    errrr its illegal under European Law

    Then why are there reports about doing it on the BBC news?

  • Mark McGregor

    Cynic number two, or shinner number 1;

    “The real issue in different areas is now how they choose to live within those limits”

    Still trying to tell us that crap is a ‘budget’ then?

    Saying a department will reduced spending by x with no detail is not a budget. We have no idea where the cuts you are committed to will fall.

    A consultation on that nonsense is just nonsense.

    Selling the positives while refusing to give any detail on how the 75% part that involves cuts will transpire is just bullshiting everyone.

  • Alias

    “Then why are there reports about doing it on the BBC news?”

    As Mick pointed out above, Stromont is a devolved administration and not a government. To have quasi-sovereignty over taxation powers in the applicable ECJ ruling requires that the region take on a greater degree of independence from its central government, i.e. foregoes the subvention.

    Good luck to you if you think you’ll ever see a well-fed pig vote to throw away a well-stocked trough…

  • DC

    Alias normally I would agree but the anomaly across Europe in terms of deficit busting budgets and the on paper bankruptcies makes me think that maybe, just maybe – the window of opportunity is there.

    Not so much trough this time but just lack of balls by the administration to give it a shot. And for what, they need to realise their time is pretty much close to up – they are yesterday’s men – awaiting a challenge – and when it comes, they’re out.

    Much like the vanity of Mohammed Ali thinking he could do it again in the 80s and on and on and on, same thing – our MLAs are old and on borrowed time, go down but go down fighting – take some risks.

  • Rory Carr

    Are you suggesting, DC, that water charges should imposed as a form of general taxation to be used for other than the delivery of water and the upkeep of the water delivery infrastructure?

  • 241934 john brennan

    I agree with Mitchel. For SF, Sammy’s budget is irrelevant.
    Don’t you know the real game is all about about power? – and you can’t lose when you have an Armalite in one hand and a ballot box in the other – at least if the Brits think you’ve still got the Armalite.

  • DC

    It could be seen that way Rory as it would be taking the water costs out of the block grant, and rather than pay for water charges out of the block grant the money would go on subsidising a reduced corporation tax – starting off low say at 12.5% and then rising once growth and industries have been embedded into the economy. If at all possible.

    Or are you happy with NI having no jobs and its biggest industry one of state-side legal services and min-wage retail work?

    It’s a bitter pill, but frankly I’m fed up losing people to bigger economies because ours stagnates and actually is in recession.

    So what of it?

    But I’ve also said I would look at salaries and set to work on reducing them in the NICS and throughout other public sector jobs.

    I wont be lectured about salaries either from NIPSA whenever both General Secretary and his Assistant are on more money than myself.

    Fredrick the Great had a saying – he who defends everything, defends nothing – NIPSA should bear that in mind.

  • DC

    Oh yes and not forgetting we share a land border with the bro-business Republic with similar rates and that NI is emerging out of post-conflict period in need of private sector investment.

    All of these things should weigh heavily when considering what to do next, but short term electoral concerns should not be one of them, particularly whenever our MLAs are past their use by date in my opinion.

    Give the next generation a phoenix from these ashes.

  • Rory Carr

    I should be careful, DC. UUP Councillor, Ronnie Crawford, has been asking if it is possible that UUP Deputy Leader, John McCallister can be hanged for his audacity in proposing a £100 household levy on top of existing water charges. On that basis your proposal that every householder have their water bill increased in order that corporation tax can be accordingly decreased would merit drawing and quartering as well.

    You surely cannot be seriously proposing that water charges be hiked up without any reference to the quality of supply, the security of deliverance, investment in improvements, infrastructure and research and all the other aspects necessary to provide a water service and that instead the revenue be set against a reduction in corporation tax.

    How would you sell such a proposal to householders? Or do you think that public approval would not be neceasary? That it would be enough that it strikes you as a good idea and that anything that reduces taxation on profit is a good thing whatever the cost in misery and hardship for the greater public?

  • DC

    I know Rory no one likes extra taxes, but I’m one of the younger generation here and all I can see around me is public sector jobs and a lack of anything else.

    Trouble is most of your arguments can be levelled at the Republic as well in terms of why keep it so low – in terms of business – why bother doing business in NI whenever you can get a better deal in the republic?

    But water charges are not the answer to the question of this spending review and its cuts, but they could be an answer in part to a bigger question – what sort of future do you want for NI? An economic backwater with public sector work and block grant transfers?

    Or to use this post-conflict opportunity to NI’s advantage and try and win a better deal and get this place working again?

    One thing is for sure – a cut in corporation tax will not come without a cut in the block grant. So it’s either rise and fall with the London-centric economy – falling we are now – or get serious about government and look for ways to generate a little micro economy of our own here. At least attempt it.

    If you’re happy with the status-quo fine. It’s a socially conservative administration we have here, the status-quo seems to be acceptable – low risk strategies all round, a cut here and snip there and hush up everyone else who complains.