Could Stormont collapse over non implementation of welfare reform?

So, at Stormont the DUP and Sinn Fein have informed the ministers of the other parties that they will have to take the brunt of the spending cuts which follow on foot of the OFMdFM parties to come to terms with the relatively generous terms offered Northern Ireland by the Chancellor of Exchequer…

The Finance Minister Simon Hamilton was scathing over Sinn Fein’s lock down on a settlement they presumably had some part in negotiating…

They are living on another planet economically and fiscally. I don’t like the realities of this any more than they do but you have got to accept the reality; you cannot stick your head in the sand and just hope they will go away, they are not going to go away. Reality will bite.”

While Adams has urged the Executive to unite against a “Thatcherite agenda”, Hamilton says the reality is that British chancellor George Osborne isn’t for turning.

Adams insists that welfare cuts can be resisted but Hamilton produces a letter from Osborne’s number two in the Treasury, Danny Alexander, advising the Minister that “costs associated with non implementation will escalate . . .”

Nevertheless the Finance Minister’s talk of ‘collapse’ over a core policy issue is an interesting departure. As Newton Emerson has pointed out collapse to an election is not the same as collapse into a void.

I prefer to test these matters against delivery, but its an intriguing thought that policy rather than culture war matters could trigger an early election. Staying with the hypothetical though: who’d win, and who’d lose?

[Hard to imagine how such a fight benefits anyone but OFMdFM, but what exactly would they be being re-elected to do?]

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty