“I have heard it from very good authority…”

When is calling for a properly-funded opposition not a call for a properly-funded opposition?

When it’s secret negotiations over compensation for lost ministerial funds

At least, that’s the line the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, has been busily spinning to anyone who will listen.

And it comes “from very good authority”… “within the NIO”.

[Ah, “the securocrats” – Ed]

They’re on ‘our’ side this time!

[They always were… – Ed]

Indeed.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • unionistvoter

    some would say that Martin has taken his line from the NIO for a very very long time

  • Mr Crumlin

    And some say they don’t believe in heaven,
    go and tell it to the man who lives in hell…

    unionist voter – that is possibly the laziest post I have read!!

  • Cynic2

    First sign of strategic “thinking” from Elliott but it also shows his weaknesses

    “We will be hammered at the election, so we wont hold Ministerial Posts, so let’s try an con them into funding us now to ‘go into opposition’ in a system that doesn’t have one and that cannot be changed unless the other parties all agree.”

    Doh! Anyway just why is he grinding to the NIO about this. Funding for parties is devolved isn’t it. Arent they paid by an allowance the Assembly?

  • Financial desperation is driving the political posture of the UUP. That impacts directly on their credibility.

    Putting it another way, the fact that they want to come out of the administration is a sign they should go into administration!

  • “Financial desperation is driving the political posture of the UUP”

    What’s driving you, SM? Should you not be giving the half-decent guys a break? 🙂

    I’ve just had a look at the UUP-SDLP share of the vote in the past three Assembly elections:

    UUP 21.2 > 22.7 > 14.9

    SDLP 22.0 > 17.0 > 15.2

    Both 43.2 > 39.7 > 30.1

    They’ve both dropped dramatically with the SDLP drop coming sooner. London and Dublin support for the extremists has benefited the extremists at the ballot box.

  • dennis the menace

    Nevin, it was the UUP/Tories who publically called for gays to banned from guest houses….they`re the extremists.

  • Nevin,

    This is 2011 – not 12 years earlier. Name one policy area where you consider the DUP to be more extreme than the UUP.

    However hard you might look, you wont find one.

  • I wouldn’t look in policy areas, SM, I’d look, say, in joint ventures with developers and paramilitaries ie in deeds, not words. Ditto for the Nationalist family.

  • perseus

    Joining the ROI is a guaranteed way of an opposition.

  • Nevin,

    Are you seriously trying to tell me that there have been no financial dodgy dealings going on within the UUP?

    I have heard too many accounts of irregular goings on from too many sources not to believe that the UUP has plenty of dirty linen to wash.

    Are you also trying to tell me that the DUP officially supports paramilitaries?

    In reality there are only two significant differences between the parties. (1) They have different origins (2) The DUP is a bit richer. Right now, I’m sure the UUP wish they were swish.

  • lamhdearg

    is it not time the uup sdlp and longs lot got together and formed an opposition, the union Q is closed for now and as the dup and sf are the best of pals, why not, we might get a proper government say 10 years from how

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin:

    I wouldn’t look in policy areas, SM, I’d look, say, in joint ventures with developers and paramilitaries ie in deeds, not words. Ditto for the Nationalist family.

    So go ahead and tell us what ways the UUP are more moderate than the DUP then.

    The sight of an NI political leader going to London to ask for money in exchange for getting out of the political institutions is contemptible.

  • I can’t go into the detail, SM, but my observations are based on good authority from a range of sources. Sorry I can’t be more explicit.

    The DUP and SF are each quite a bit richer than other family members but, despite their limitations and dodgy dealings, I opt for the UUP-SDLP spectrum.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Financial desperation is driving the political posture of the UUP. That impacts directly on their credibility.

    A specific problem the UUP seem to have is they don’t manage their money terribly well. This is interesting given that it presents itself as a party of business.

  • is it not time the uup sdlp and longs lot got together and formed an opposition

    Has Margaret Ritchie promised to go into opposition too?

    It might be a bit more credible for the UUP if she did.

  • CS, I’ve not seen Elliott’s proposal other than the Telegraph reference to the funding of a Stormont opposition. I’ve heard him refer to a DUP-SF carve-up in advance of Executive meetings; others have referred to agendas being given out during the course of meetings.

    I could be wrong but I’d think that the UUP, SDLP and AP would give serious consideration to an informal opposition arrangement. The present fiefdom collective is producing dire governance.

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    The original post is not about the relative extremism of any particular parties.

    Nor, despite the NI Deputy First Minister’s suggestion, is it about their financial positions.

    Neither is it about the relative merits of a properly funded opposition – try here for that discussion.

    If anything, it’s about the briefings to the press by particular politicians.

    And their comparatively selective reading of the information available.

  • Pete,

    You may not like it when a commenter picks up on an angle of the story which you do not want to discuss. That is what has happened. It is not irrelevant to your post. It is public interest debate and it should be respected.

  • “When it’s secret negotiations over compensation for lost ministerial funds…”

    Pete, who or what is your source for this claim? Can you put some meat on the assertion?

  • Pete Baker

    Seymour

    As long as it doesn’t breach the Slugger guidelines I don’t have too much of a problem with it.

    Even if it produces an entirely irrelevant and pointless ‘debate’.

    Although I draw the line at deliberate introductions of tangents.

    I’m just taking the opportunity to remind people that the actual topic lies elsewhere.

  • Pete Baker

    Nevin

    Follow the links.

  • Although I draw the line at deliberate introductions of tangents.

    Except that discussing the impecuniosity of the UUP is not the introduction of a tangent because it flows directly from your introductory question.

    And there is no clue within the body of your post (unless it is very cryptic) that briefings to the press by particular politicians is the actual theme of it.

  • lamhdearg

    two many links, for me,thats why i jumped in with my comment. sorry pete.

  • Pete Baker

    “And there is no clue within the body of your post (unless it is very cryptic) that briefings to the press by particular politicians is the actual theme of it.”

    Seymour

    I do tend to over-estimate the intelligence of the audience…

  • “Follow the links.”

    I did. I was hoping for a bit more meat. The BT refers to compensation from the Conservative party and McGuinness from the Government. I’ve no great appetite for a discussion on the consistency of a particular party viz SF.

  • “I do tend to over-estimate the intelligence of the audience…”

    Perhaps Dale Carnegie can help 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    I did ask that you give examples of the UUP being more moderate than the DUP.

    I think they’re roughly the same, and this view was embodied in the decision to run a joint candidate in FST last May. The principle differences are competence and the commitment to constituency work. Going on a solo run and asking the British government to fund a walk-out from the executive is incompetent and amateurish.

  • snaz

    There has been a lot of mis informed rubbish being said here.

    1. The UUP do not get any money for having Executive ministers. Executive Ministers appoint a Special Advisor and that individual is paid for directly by the department as a civil servant. No money goes through the party.

    2. Assembly funding of political parties is done on the basis of pure numerical strength. Each member equates to a sum of money. The strange thing is that the DFM doesnt know this?? Competent??

    3. Seymour or anyone else who thinks the UUP is so much poorer than the DUP or other parties. Check the Electoral Commission Website to view the different parties profit/loss/ balance sheets and then come onto slugger and correct your ill informed opinion.

    And remember these are only the central party accounts. The UUP have built up many local assets (buildings / halls) over our 106 year history. Check your facts!

    4. These financial results are achieved despite the fact that the UUP are the only political party in Government anywere in the UK to get no Government money. Mr Kelly (of the MPs expenses fame) is conducting a review into political funding of all parties which has not been reviewed since UK wide devolution. It is achieved because the UUP have the most rank and file members who raise this money. No large donations have been recieved for years but as anyone who looks will see, we still compete.

    Were the DUP and SF have a big advantage is in their multiple OCAs but that is as a result of their mandates so its up to others to win more seats to compete with that.

    Comrad Stalin.

    What is the DUP leadership views of Homosexuals? Are they still an “abomonation”?? Or is that another U Turn.(Like all the others I personally hope it is because my Britishness is inclusive to all)

    Did Saint Andrews move N.I. closer or further from governing by mutual respect as opposed to mutual veto and deadlock?

    Was that a more moderate policty than agreeing the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on a Cross Community vote or should we treat our two communities as distinct and seperate?

    Has mutual veto delivered the Shared Future which the people voted for in 1998??

    The UUP is on no solo run and has never asked the Government to fund it seperately. Show me a single quote to say that the UUP has asked HMG for money for the UUP as opposed to starting a debate about funding and structuring a proper opposition.

    What we HAVE said is that N.I. needs both a Government and Opposition and that this requires legislation which by its very nature will require the support of ALL the Executive parties as any of them could be in the Opposition at any time the people might decide to to put them there.

    So if you think that trying to improve a system which was neccesary to get all sides involved in the democratic process in 1998 but that now is in urgent need of reform is “incompetent and amateurish” the UUP plead guilty as charged for as usual we put the good Governance of Northern Ireland first and all other interests after that.

  • “I think they’re roughly the same”

    See my 19 Feb 10:35 pm reply.

    If you strip away the spin from BT article you’re left with the fairly bald claim that the UUP sought funding for opposition politics. Presumably this is set in the context of a voluntary coalition:

    “This is an agenda which most other parties will engage with. The SDLP are already debating the idea of voluntary coalition, while both the Tories and Alliance endorse it.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t see an answer to my question in your 10:36 response, Nevin.

    If you strip away the spin from BT article you’re left with the fairly bald claim that the UUP sought funding for opposition politics.

    The claim which is interesting is that the UUP will only go into opposition if someone pays for it. Which isn’t “bald” by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Comrade Stalin

    snaz:

    1. The UUP do not get any money for having Executive ministers. Executive Ministers appoint a Special Advisor and that individual is paid for directly by the department as a civil servant. No money goes through the party.

    That’s kind of the point. Resigning from the Executive would mean a couple of UUP lackeys out of a job. Sounds like it’s a bridge too far for you guys.

    And remember these are only the central party accounts. The UUP have built up many local assets (buildings / halls) over our 106 year history. Check your facts!

    Why was it necessary for the UUP to obtain a substantial subsidy from the Conservative Party then ? We all know that UCUNF was all about soaking millions from Ashcroft.

    What is the DUP leadership views of Homosexuals? Are they still an “abomonation”?? Or is that another U Turn.(Like all the others I personally hope it is because my Britishness is inclusive to all)

    I salute your tolerant convictions. It’s such a terrible shame UUP representatives like Adrian Watson don’t feel the same way.

    Did Saint Andrews move N.I. closer or further from governing by mutual respect as opposed to mutual veto and deadlock?

    I’m not really a defender of what happened at St Andrews. What I do know is that we have had a relatively stable executive and assembly for five years. The UUP/SDLP were barely able to manage two. I’d argue that keeping the government together longer – especially given that you have a figure like McGuinness as DFM – means that we are further away from deadlock and closer – even if just a little – to mutual respect. No ?

    Was that a more moderate policty than agreeing the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on a Cross Community vote or should we treat our two communities as distinct and seperate?

    Given that the UUP defended this very system when they were in government it’s very hard to take a lecture like this seriously. The lecture is especially ironic given that the UUP acted to uphold sectarian trival politics by supporting a joint unionist candidate in FST, and chose to elect an Orangeman as a leader. The Royal Black Preceptory, which the UUP leader is also a member of, is positively racist.

    Has mutual veto delivered the Shared Future which the people voted for in 1998??

    OFMDFM published a document not long ago. Slight progress. The “moderate” SDLP/UUP administration on the other hand made zero progress on delivering this agenda. Zero.

    The UUP is on no solo run and has never asked the Government to fund it seperately.

    I’m glad we have cleared that up. So given that the clearly feel unable to participate in the collective decisions of the executive, surely the principled decision is to resign from it ? Or are the UUP going to dither and prevaricate the way they always do ?

    Show me a single quote to say that the UUP has asked HMG for money for the UUP as opposed to starting a debate about funding and structuring a proper opposition.

    The “debate” started years ago. Jim Allister has been banging on about it for yonks. The UUP seem to have taken interest in this only recently.

    Alliance tried to build an opposition at the start of this term. The three parties surely could have mounted a united front and, working together, could have made the case for the opposition being properly funded. The whole game could have changed. Neither the UUP or the SDLP were interested. Why is it only suddenly an issue now ? Surely the fact that the health minister is being asked to make some tough decisions is nothing to do with it ?

  • “I don’t see an answer to my question in your 10:36 response”

    Let me repeat, SM: “I can’t go into the detail, SM, but my observations are based on good authority from a range of sources. Sorry I can’t be more explicit.”

    Is there a reputable source for the ‘interesting’/’imaginative’ claim?

  • “lackey: goody-goody – a person who behaves extremely well in order to please a superior”

    CS, my apologies for calling you SM previously.

    You seem to have devised a grand label for an AP minister 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin, ah so you know for a fact that the UUP and DUP are different, but the details are secret. That’s a compelling argument if I ever heard one.

    You seem to have devised a grand label for an AP minister 😉

    The AP minister is an honourable person who signed the Pledge of Office knowing that it made executive decisions binding. The UUP signed the same Pledge and the second a decision doesn’t go their way they are looking for a get-out clause. That’s the attitude of a weasel.

  • snaz

    CS – “we all know that UCUNF was all about seeking millions from Ashcroft” – Check the Electoral Commision FACTS. The entire turn over of the UUP (and DUP and SDLP )was less than 500k. I know its only slugger banter but at least have some creditibility.

    ” given that the UUP defended this system in government its very difficult to take a lecture like this seriously”

    Is this the real level of political debate on here?? The system that the UUP defended was the Good Friday Agreement endorsed by nearly 72% of voters at a referendum. In it the UUP and SDLP enshrined a Cross Community vote. My god if you cannot even agree to vote the First and Deputy First Ministries in together what hope is there to have a cohesive succesful partnership government.

    This was replaced at St Andrews (by the DUP/SF) as no longer requiring a cross community vote. Each side nominate their own but do not have to endorse their new coalition partners. Do you think Ian Paisley and Peter Robisnson and Willie McCrea and Gregory Campbell and Jeffrery Donaldson and Arlene Foster would have looked forward to their power sharing with SF U turn being played out by having to vote in the self confessed Provo terrorist.

    Unfortunately once pandoros box was opened to prevent the DUP having to vote in Martin it was too late.

    But let us all finally nail the nonsense of hasnt this been a wonderfully succesful, NORMAL 4 years of Devolution.

    In any other democracy that I can think the cabinet (Executive) not meeting for 6 months in the midst of the worse economic crises for generations would be called shameful and a disgrace.

  • Just protecting my sources, CS. Anyone can browse NALIL blog and linked material to check the quality of my accounts.

    The weasel has a reputation for cleverness and guile, qualities more usually associated with Permanent Secretaries than Assembly Ministers 🙂

    BTW the AP minister is an old acquaintance of mine of forty years standing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t see why explaining the difference between the DUP and UUP should require referring to information passed in confidence. If you’re not able to substantiate your claim then stop making it.

    I’ve read your “accounts” on here and let’s just say I don’t put a lot of store in them.

  • Comrade Stalin

    snaz:

    CS – “we all know that UCUNF was all about seeking millions from Ashcroft” – Check the Electoral Commision FACTS. The entire turn over of the UUP (and DUP and SDLP )was less than 500k. I know its only slugger banter but at least have some creditibility.

    Yes, let’s have some facts. Please tell us what the UUP’s balance sheet looked like prior to the UCUNF involvement ? This information isn’t registered with the Electoral Commission. Wasn’t the party considering selling Cunningham House at one point ?

    In it the UUP and SDLP enshrined a Cross Community vote. My god if you cannot even agree to vote the First and Deputy First Ministries in together what hope is there to have a cohesive succesful partnership government.

    Not a lot, evidently. The DUP came within a hair of bringing down the government. I don’t like that fact but these changes made it more difficult for someone to use their old tactics against them.

    It’s time you got over the fact that you were marginalized at St Andrew’s. The system that we have is likely to remain that way for some time, as long as it continues to deliver a stable, devolved administration. It won’t change because of UUP solo runs to the NI Secretary.

    But let us all finally nail the nonsense of hasnt this been a wonderfully succesful, NORMAL 4 years of Devolution.

    Who said “wonderfully successful” or “normal” ? Not me. I said “relatively stable”. We’re not going to get far if you’re just going to make up bullshit and attribute it to me.

    In any other democracy that I can think the cabinet (Executive) not meeting for 6 months in the midst of the worse economic crises for generations would be called shameful and a disgrace.

    It was a disgrace, no doubt about that. But it got sorted.

    I’ll not hold my breath waiting for you to answer the other bits. Like the UUP decision to reinforce tribal politics by supporting a joint candidate in FST. Or the fact that homophobes like Adrian Watson feel the UUP is their natural home.

  • Pete Baker

    Comrade

    If you tone down the party political rhetoric you might leave some room for a rational discussion on the actual topic.

    And stability, per se, may be over-rated…

    In the absence of decision-making, for example.

  • ORWELLSPEN

    On Radio Ulster today, Peter Robinson was interviewed by Mr Davenport where Robinson stated that if SF were the biggest party, the DUP may scupper the chance of Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister by refusing to nominate a deputy.

    Hardly the spirit of democracy. It does seem that Stormont/Dail Uladh will only exist if:

    DUP hold First Ministership
    SF remain in government

    thus the normal tenets of democracy do not exist. if the UUP become the opposition, the SDLP might follow suit and if the SDLP have more seats that the UUP, Tom Elliot may have shot himself in the foot for it would mean that the SDLP could be become the Official Opposition reducing the UUP to a rump of 4th part malcontents barking from the shadowy corners of the chamber that the camera misses.

    Perhaps NI should be split into two cantons, a Green western one and an Orange eastern one – neither of which can enact legislation without the other canton approving it. Within each canton, normal politics could evolve. West of the Bann, where there is no danger of unionist power, parties could evolve into left and right. Ditto for the East of the Bann thus we could eliminate unionist vs nationalist politics.

    Who knows, this could ironically be the making of NI.

  • “In the absence of decision-making, for example.”

    That’s one aspect, Pete, another is the quality of decision making and the related potential for cronyism. The other side of the coin that deserves analysis is the ability of committees to hold Ministers to account.

    You appear to be challenging McGuinness on the grounds of consistency whereas, perhaps, you should be praising him or indeed any other senior party figure when there’s a change that leads to an improvement in governance and a reduction in confrontation. For example, when SF toned down its campaign against the Loyal Orders some folks in Dunloy were slow to get the message and McGuinness’ intervention was probably good news not only for Protestants living there but also for Catholics in Harryville. I’m prepared to recognise a change for the better even though I stop short of praise in certain instances.

  • “I don’t put a lot of store in them”

    CS, some do, some don’t; a single view is statistically insignificant. I put the material into the public domain; it’s then up to others what they make of it. For example, when I published the story of Belfast Harbour’s £20,000 sponsorship of a SF-related project no other parties or the MSM appear to have objected. BH recognised the need to be apolitical but a way was found around the stumbling block. If SF makes use of this free PR and benefits at the ballot box then the sleeping dogs in the other parties have only got themselves to blame.

    I’m surprised you don’t see the value of painting a general picture when the detailing of specifics could put folks at risk or curb the flow of information from, say, senior civil servants or whistleblowers. For example, Slugger’s numerous NIW threads, even when they’re short on facts or possibly barking up the wrong tree, have led to lots of new information appearing in the comment zone. There’s a trade-off between the substantiation of facts and the flow of illuminating information.