Triumph of tactics as OFMdFM parties extend their ‘paternity leave’ from partnership government

So, in a rush so here’s a few garbled thoughts on the departure of David Cameron at 10 of the Clock this morning.

  1. On first face this is another triumph of tactics over strategy. We (and nor, clearly, is the NI press pack) are not privy to the conversations that persuaded a Secretary of State who expressed herself sceptical of the possibility of a deal and change her mind and bring in the head UK’s head buck with his ‘fat wallet’. But someone clearly did. Was it just to show they can still pull in the PM at will? If it was, then they’ll find the next time they want to pull a stunt it will be a little harder.
  2. The little reliable information Slugger has is that Sinn Fein are still not moving on Welfare. That has always been deal breaker. It was clear from the get go this was a deal breaker. So was this a last minute switcheroo their idea? We don’t know for sure, and nor does anyone else outside the negotiating chamber. The sheer lack of information has fueled a lot of uninformed speculation.
  3. Much of the talk of progress has been founded on such speculation. I suspect that’s informed by comparisons with previous more successful negotiating process. There is no sign here of a linear progression of any sort, just the long continuation of gridlock in government. And neither of the two establishment parties can expect to suffer by the increasing disengagement of voters.
  4. There are precedents for what we are seeing here. Forget all the intangible stuff around the past, parades, etc. As Tommie Gorman noted that all relies on money. And money here is the central issue. Why did the state of California go bust? Very simple. Political deadlock and inability to agree on money bills. The blockers in that case were small state Republicans who found themselves semi permanently excluded from power by voters.

Only thing is that here even after such ‘a catastrophic fiscal event’ both parties will be sustained by the continuing refusal to deal with sectarian conflict and (just as importantly) the causes of the sectarian conflict)… Can’t argue with Micheal Martin’s take on the matter…

The latest failure to make progress in the North will be greeted with frustration rather than any great surprise.  As I have repeatedly said over the last number of years, the combination of Governmental disengagement, Northern Ireland Executive dysfunction and Northern political party cynicism is a mix that is undermining public confidence in the process on a daily basis.

“The inevitable blame game and recriminations have already started, but what the principle players in this latest failure do not appear to appreciate is that the public in the North and the public throughout the country are losing faith not only in the performance of the current structures but in the structures themselves.

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