‘Stormont House’ deal demonstrates how limited compromises bring limited wins…

I’ll leave some of the detail to others to pick through, so some quick (very quick) on the hoof reactions.

  1. Sinn Fein (and the SDLP) have pretty much swallowed the Tory austerity agenda whole, and with barely a backward glance to their previous [Unsustainable? – Ed] anti reform agenda. The £1.9 million is recouped mostly from increased loan limits, one-off land sales and the wholesale raiding of capital budgets.  Cameron has barely moved on the compensating package. The fines accrued from delayed implementation will still have to be paid.
  2. Most of the legacy stuff looks like another promissory note.  £30m per year for five years to pay for the institutions to help deal with the past was, I think, already promised. Much of the rest is yet another half made bed, which Cameron was either unable or unwilling to force as an issue for cash returns. The Oral History project looks like the most concrete (and possibly the most sustainable) of the proposals.
  3. The additional £350m of borrowing is to help cover the hole left by having to raid capital budgets in order to pay for voluntary redundancies. The Financial Annex rather caustically notes that “Whitehall departments have been expected to deliver equivalent schemes from their current expenditure”.
  4. Where there has been real progress is the review of the way Stormont works. The plan for MLAs to be cut to five per constituency will be popular. Section 59 creates a space for opposition parties with provision for financial and research, and speaking rights guaranteed. Section 61 suggests time be set aside after elections for parties meet to resolve a draft Programme for Government before taking office as ministers.
  5. Corporation Tax was expected. As will the inevitable cut in the block grant. Whether it gets past any future Labour Government remains to be seen. There’s even a promise of more, “including Aggregates Levy, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill Tax”.

All of these measures depend for action on the Executive resolving a sustainable fiscal plan by April next year.

They are interesting for just how little appears to have shifted in the negotiation process. On Welfare, this is pretty much the deal which Gerry rejected, and it appears to have brought him nothing in return.

As I’ve argued before under our rigid system there is no win available without serious compromise. The more limited the compromise, the more limited the win. Not losing sight of the advantage of getting some good work done, the deal smacks of poor strategic vision.

And we now know why no one was keen to break silence around the negotiations.

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  • streetlegal

    Nigel Dodds held the line and prevented Peter Robinson from making any concessions to Sinn Fein. Martin McGuinness was always going to concede the ground on welfare cuts, because he has made it clear many times that he will accept anything to hold on to his office at Stormont. For David Cameron the key concern was to secure the support of the DUP at Westminster in the event of a hung parliament in a few months time.

  • mickfealty

    To be fair to Martin, it wasn’t his idea to make an issue out of what was from the outset a political dead end.

  • Brian Walker

    Mick

    The difference between capital and revenue is often smoke and mirrors in the public sector. For instance school buildings are capital, school teachers aren’t. It’s really about priorities.
    Here the Treasury is steering them to balance through efficiencies and a tight repayment schedule, as I explain. Intriguingly they are being requiring them to analyse the marginal costs of sectarianism as part of making savings. Whether we’l l face a borrowing crisis in a few years remains to be seen. And cuts will still hurt. There’s a smear of jam today and not much more of it tomorrow, But tomorrow is a new day, as all politicians agree..

  • Zeno1

    There is an old rule of thumb that goes, if you’re gonna sell out, make sure you get well paid for it. We did get £700 million to use for putting 000’s people on the dole, not a real £700 million we have to borrow it or sell the family silver.

    We may gain maybe a few hundred jobs by opening new quangos to kick the old problems down the road. But it really looks like they have bent the knee and sold out to be allowed to borrow money?
    Those Tories are just too darn smart.

  • mjh

    What strikes me is just how tightly the UK government intends to manage the NI politicians. Everything appears to be subject to timetables, 6 monthly reviews conducted under the leadership of the UK government, release of monies or borrowing powers being staged so that unsatisfactory progress can lead to the closure of the money taps, individual capital projects being subject to approval, greater tax powers conditional on progress, the continuation of fines until welfare reforms are made.

    To mix metaphors the government now has its hands tightly wrapped around the Executive’s tender parts – and, if it choses to do so, can squeeze anytime progress on the ‘deferred’ matters of flags and parades starts to fail.

    Although it holds out the prospect of more powers, this agreement feels like devolution in reverse.

  • D99

    What you have to understand is that they had a very difficult job to do, and they did it very badly.

  • kensei

    Welfare reform was always going to be implemented, there was no way we could escape. But it’s a political dead end only if you can’t see the value of being seen to resist it, and to hold out against it. Most people are also low information voters. They will not see a scant benefit for holding out. They’ll see the headlines about a deal and compromise. That would be true even if the South wasn’t a factor.

    That’s aside from the fact that if you’ve a small chance of avoiding an inevitability, you take the punt.

    I’ve not seen any evidence this gambit has hampered SFs electoral chances in either jurisdiction. And to be honest, if I had to stake my life on you or Adams advising me about political strategy, I’m going with the scary guy with the beard.

  • kalista63

    Very experienced well educated staff thrown on to the job market our own kids are struggling to get a foothold in.

    Just tell your kids to do nursing then eff off to Australia, USA, NZ or wherever as soon as they’re qualified.

    I’ve just been possessed by the spirit of Alex Kane. I’ll get Stephen Nolan to exorcise me.

  • mickfealty

    Probably a very wise choice… 😉

  • Zeno1

    Good advice. The lunatics have not only taken over the asylum they have sold out.

  • Ian James Parsley

    It can’t realistically be rejected by them because they were all at the table. That’s why those pictures get taken…

  • Ian James Parsley

    Agree entirely. Well put.

  • Ian James Parsley

    Mick is very scary, right enough…

  • Ian James Parsley

    I think, for £700m, most of them will take retirement rather than the jobs market (although expect a few to return as “consultants”).

    I wouldn’t like to be left in the NICS after that really. Those expecting compensatory promotions may find themselves expected to deliver higher grade work for current grade salaries. After all, the £700m is still coming from within NI budgets!

  • Zig70

    It does have that feeling you get when you lend a relative money and you know they have a gambling habit. You want to take them on face value but you know they’ll be back with the hand out. It will just turn more voters away and leave the hardened rump. I’d expect Alliance and the SDLP to suffer in voter turn out. I’m tempted not to vote again myself, but I’m part of the problem and no doubt Robbo will come out with some bile in time to motivate my X.

  • Morpheus

    Some of the thought processes on here have to be seen to be believed.

    Had our politicians all simply rolled over when the Tories clicked their fingers then none of thisl would have been on the table. “Best deal possible” said our First Minister and Nelson McCausland. …evidently not.

    It’s amazing what can be done to help the people they represent when they work together and put up a bit of a fight instead of rolling over in order to save seats/salaries/pensions/expenses

  • Morpheus

    Excellent post

  • Comrade Stalin

    But it’s a political dead end only if you can’t see the value of being seen to resist it, and to hold out against it

    You can only get away with that once.

    The next time SF start with the “we all need to have a united front to force the Brits to cough up” line, everyone will just point and laugh.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Had our politicians all simply rolled over when the Tories clicked their fingers then none of thisl would have been on the table.

    Nothing is on the table.

    IJP pointed out earlier – there is no new cash, whatsoever. We’ve got loans, which will have to be repaid. David Ford added on the radio this morning that Sinn Féin’s promise that nobody will be adversely effected by welfare reform is a lie.

    Silliest of all is the plan to sell off Belfast Harbour. In 2013, the Harbour made an operating profit of £26m (see annual report here). They’re talking about selling it for £500m – a figure substantially lower than a few years ago when privatization of the port was first mooted. What idiot sells cash-yielding land in the middle of a property slump ?

    The £500m returned will be burnt up in no time paying off the money that we owe the Treasury and continuing to subsidize schools and stupid projects like a £30m Irish language secondary school with 13 pupils.

    It’s amazing what can be done to help the people they represent when they work together and put up a bit of a fight instead of rolling over in order to save seats/salaries/pensions/expenses

    I’d love to understand where you’re getting this. Cutting 18 seats off the assembly is a cheap price to pay – and in any case is becoming revenue neutral, as the money will be spent on the plans to fund an “opposition”.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nigel Dodds held the line and prevented Peter Robinson from making any concessions to Sinn Fein

    You’re smoking the funny stuff again.

    Sinn Féin won a whopping concession – the NIO killed the panel that was being set up to look into the Parades Commission decision on the Ardoyne parade. That’s a huge boot in the nuts to Nigel Dodds.

  • Nevin

    “Not losing sight of the advantage of getting some good work done, the deal smacks of poor strategic vision.”

    Politicians are just one segment of our (mis)governance and senior civil servants seem to have done quite well for themselves.

  • kensei

    Not as scary as your performance at elections.

    Unlike Adams.

  • kensei

    If by “we” you mean “all 10 regular inhabitants of the slugger bubble”, sure. They laughed anyway. If you mean the wider populace, dunno. There is inherent risk if you are considered to not be delivering. But you’ll get a way with it until there is an electoral cost.

    The tricky thing is opinion can turn quickly and you can get burned. But that’s a bit different.

  • Gopher

    The reality is SF got a bad deal for Northern Ireland, simply looking at the timescale of this deal there is fundamental acceptance that Northern Ireland is the default position. Instead of getting us hard cash and jettisoning the symantics SF got us loans but still get to still say “the North of Ireland” unless an overpaid Quango agees we are to be called something else in 2 years time . The moment was there for a decisive deal thats now been put off indefinately because we are stuck now with the current clowns. Like I said before if Marty had of pulled a “Jan Smuts” the rest of the parties would have been in serious trouble and Northern Ireland would have been quids in.

  • barnshee

    “I think, for £700m, most of them will take retirement rather than the jobs market (although expect a few to return as “consultants”).2

    Outside some of the “professionals” ( IT and accounts) They (and in particular the “senior” ones ) are largely unemployable. A few might get non exec positions in quangos but that`s it. On to the dole queue ASAP

  • mjh

    The previously announced change in the way that the Justice Minister will be selected after the next Assembly election would mean that whichever party held it would be deemed to have had their first allocation under d’Hondt. So, provided that still stands, Alliance would only get 1 Executive seat under its present level of votes even if it held Justice.

    I may be wrong, but I reckon that the reduction in Departments from 12 to 9 would probably give a second Executive seat to either the UUP or the SDLP – whichever got the greater number of votes.

    It would be interesting to see whether that has any bearing on the level of enthusiasm for Opposition in those two parties.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There’s a chance that the agreement will unravel over parades after the NIO scrapped the forum looking into the parades in North Belfast. If Nesbitt runs for cover over this issue (as he appears to intend to do) it will leave Robinson exposed.

    Alliance is supporting implementation of the agreement but is unhappy that a bunch of issues are left unresolved. It is unlikely that Alliance will step back from the Justice Minister position. On the other hand, the reduction in the size of the executive pretty much guarantees that Alliance will get no seats as part of the d’Hondt allocation.

    For fun, I went through all the seats, using Nick Whyte’s election stats website, and looked at which candidate won with the lowest %, as a rough indicator of which party might lose in each case if the 2011 election were re-run with no changes except with 90 seats rather than 108. Since Alliance always won seats reasonably comfortably, the party does not show up at all. It is the UUP who are hit the hardest.

    SF -4
    SDLP -3
    DUP – 5
    UUP – 6

    Therefore, in 2011 with 90 seats the assembly would be :

    DUP 33
    SF 25
    SDLP 11
    UUP 10
    Alliance 8
    Ind U 1
    TUV 1
    Green 1

    If you run that through d’Hondt with those numbers the departments would have been allocated as follows :

    Stage 1 : DUP (now : DUP 16.5 SF 25 SDLP 11 UUP 10 All 8 )
    Stage 2 : SF (now : DUP 16.5 SF 12.5 SDLP 11 UUP 10 All 8)
    Stage 3 : DUP (now : DUP 8.25 SF 12.5 SDLP 11 UUP 10 All 8)
    Stage 4 : SF (now : DUP 8.25 SF 6.25 SDLP 11 UUP 10 All 8)
    Stage 5 : SDLP (now : DUP 8.25 SF 6.25 SDLP 5.5 UUP 10 All 8)
    Stage 6 : UUP (now : DUP 8.25 SF 6.25 SDLP 5.5 UUP 5 All 8)
    Stage 7 : DUP (now : DUP 4.125 SF 6.25 SDLP 5.5 UUP 5 All 8)

    This arrangement actually makes the SDLP and UUP proportionately stronger on the executive, and eliminates the second Alliance seat.

    However, there’s a problem. The UUP have lost several seats to defectors. In the above calculation, they would not have won McNarry’s seat anyway, so his defection would have made no difference; however, the loss of the Basil McCrea and John McCallister seats would push the party neck and neck with Alliance.

    To account for the possibility that the SDLP or UUP vote collapses, which would cause Alliance to win a second ministerial seat, I’d expect that as part of the legislative end of this deal, a modification will be made to the d’Hondt system so that when a party has ministers appointed by the assembly, this counts as if the seat was allocated by the d’Hondt formula.

  • Comrade Stalin

    mjh,

    See below – before I saw your reply I worked out the d’Hondt allocations. With nine departments, excluding Justice and OFMDFM, you have seven appointed by d’Hondt – down from the present ten d’Hondt departments.

    If they decided to keep ten d’Hondt departments, the next three would go to Alliance, SF and SDLP in that order. 7 departments can therefore be seen as a concession to the unionists.

    Changing the d’Hondt mechanism to count the Justice Minister has not been legislated for yet, to my knowledge, but I think it will be the first order of business as part of any enabling legislation for this deal in Westminster – as it is quite easy to see an outcome where Alliance win a second seat. If the DUP were to lose a couple of seats to small parties such as the TUV – which is possible – it could change the ordering of things around so that Alliance could take a second ministry.

    (my sums are often wrong so please check ’em before you take them on board!).

  • Comrade Stalin

    I wouldn’t call it “enthusiasm”. Alliance did not design the arrangements by which they ended up with two seats. But anyway, it’s a minor detail. The DUP, in particular, won’t allow it to be repeated.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Justice will not be allocated by d’Hondt for the foreseeable future.

    “deserve” has little to do with it. cf Nick Clegg.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why are you blaming SF ? This is a joint SF/DUP/HMG creation.

  • Trap 6

    This is what happens when you go looking for additional money above and beyond what you are entitled to or above and beyond what the ‘rules’ allow for in the context of the Barnett formula and what other devolved regions operate to. The devolved budget in this situation is best imagined as, say, your current account, but Marty and SF want more money to cover welfare but cannot find it within the current account; they have been told that the British government will intervene but it will act like a credit card company and loan additional money to maintain welfare payments at their existing levels, this is now going to have to be paid back using money out of Stormont’s current account at some point. We all know credit card companies demand being paid back a set amount each month or else your house, Stormont House?, gets repossessed or other assets seized. So after all is said and done, it appears that Stormont’s devolved budget will still be raided to pay for this, as it’s becoming clearer by the day that Martin and Gerry were given no new money at all, but previous debt has been lifted off the books for now and over on to a credit card to pay back. The British government seems to have done a balance transfer and said well pay us this back over x number of years from next year going forward, we might drop any further penalties related to welfare, call this an interest free balance transfer, but we the British government still want our money back moving forward. Is that the sound of a can being kicked down the road in order to save a face for today? It’s a bit like you being £1000 overdrawn and having racked up £1000 pounds on a high interest credit card elsewhere, this credit card is about to hit you with 18% APR, but you are saved by another credit card company, an intervention, this new credit card company kindly balance transfers the £1000 of debt interest free, it kindly gives you another £1000 interest free which you put into your current account, voilà you are now no longer overdrawn, you are now back to zero, going forward. But you will still have to pay back the £2k all the same, albeit at a more manageable rate, usually at the point when your next pay cheque arrives in.

  • Trap 6

    To summarise mjh, it’s not really devolution in reverse, it is instead a separate financial / borrowing arrangement, outside of devolution, one entered into with the national government, it could have been any national government or lender if it were possible, but nonetheless it is an arrangement which will have to be paid back out of Stormont’s devolved budget as agreed, as Stormont’s devovled budget is the only show in town or cash cow available to those doing these deals with the British government. The alternative was to cut the cake ourselves which would have seen to it that we as a populace were not forced into accepting terms and conditions outside of our control.

  • mjh

    John and Comrade you are both right. (When was that sentence last written? )

    I made an elementary error Sorry little chance of a second seat for UUP or SDLP.

  • Zeno1

    Maybe he means that the DUP and HMG were in agreement a long time a go and all the SF posturing and delay got us nothing worth talking about. Unless being allowed to borrow £700 million to be used putting thousands on the dole is an achievement.

  • Ian James Parsley

    My performance at elections was perfectly respectable thanks. And all without a private army or allowing family members to be abused!

    Your obsession with elections rather than effective government says rather more about you than it does about me.

  • kensei

    Aye you were brilliant. Most aspire to “good” rather than “perfectly respectable” but each to their own.

    Adams understands that to govern and influence you need to win. Which is why the political stuff matters and SF actually have governmental levers to pull vs your very worthy deliverance of bugger all.

    Plus original point if you read back is on a political dead end. Implying you know, politics rather than governance. Still hilarious you took the bait.

  • Zeno1

    It’s a pity we don’t have a Socialist Party here.

    A Socialist Party wouldn’t be taking money from the public purse to cut the tax bills of big business.

    A Socialist Party wouldn’t be borrowing £700 million to put thousands of Public Servants on the dole.

    A Socialist Party wouldn’t be selling off our assets, like Belfast Harbour Estate, to the Private Sector.

  • Gopher

    SF were the only party left with chips to cash in. The DUP’s only card is to walk away from devolution. Rather than cash those chips in SF have simply let them be removed from the game rather than risk them. In return HMG has loaned some money. Its a bit like playing poker for matchsticks, not much fun. What are SF going to claim now “By 2021 we will have decomissioned 18 MLA’s and 3 executive ministers” The reality dont really match the murals now does it? It’s not really worth all the aggravation now is it? They should have cashed out.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is what happens when you go looking for additional money above and beyond what you are entitled to or above and beyond what the ‘rules’ allow for in the context of the Barnett formula

    To be precise, when you go looking for additional money outside of your own regional tax base. Northern Ireland has the lowest regional tax of any part of the UK. It’s Reaganomics.

  • Trap 6

    Comrade Stalin – my thinking was more along the lines of Stormont MLAs being employed by the people to manage NI’s block grant and budget, call it NI’s current account.

    It would appear that the politicians have got us into debt and mismanaged NI’s current account, this is due in part to not falling into line over welfare payments and accruing penalties, which other devolved regions have avoided thanks to managing their budgets by playing within the rules.

    MJH was complaining that it didn’t feel like devolution more like a diktat, as there seems to be a lot of terms and conditions applied and constraints that come with this ‘agreement’ package, my point is that this is what happens when you don’t manage your own budget properly and go looking for additional help, additional monies to plug the gap. Once you seek help and seek additional monies outside of your own current account budget, you are ultimately at the mercy of the lender, in this case the British government.

    I can understand the need to borrow £700 million to cover the unexpected costs of severing civil servants’ contracts and making them unemployed due to being forced to manage a reduced block grant with a reduced public sector staffing budget; however, there is an additional £1300 million being loaned / borrowed. My analysis would be totally different if I could find any evidence that the British government had ‘given’ Northern Ireland £2 billion as opposed to loaning it to us, if it were given I would say party time well done Marty, carry on spending NI’s block grant as you see fit, well done what a victory. But, not so.

    Therefore, if you borrow more money above and beyond what you are entitled to, say for instance borrow a big lump of interest free money to keep welfare payments propped up this will then have a knock on effect on the NI budget going forward, it places further constraints on the way you can spend the block grant in future, as you need to find more money from it to pay back that £2 billion loan.

    MJH might be best to think of the IMF coming to Dublin and calling the shots and getting Irish politicians to cut the cloth the way it wanted it to be cut, in a way that ensured the IMF got its money back in the end. The British government coming to Belfast with additional money in the form of a *loan* is something similar.

  • Ian James Parsley

    Again, your determination to play man and not ball illustrates a lost argument, as well as an unwillingness to engage in reality.

    The reality is this: Sinn Féin set out to deliver a Socialist United Irish Republic.

    Despite its glorious electoral record, it is now presiding over what it itself describes as “Tory cuts” in a partitionist Assembly, including the full welfare reform package, having secured not a single penny of extra money for the local administration to spend..

    They can win as many elections as they like, they’re now carrying out the policies I advocated anyway!

    Aye, brilliant. And how amusing, eh?

  • D99

    So there’s full agreement then. The best way to punish the bankers is to cut welfare. The best way to tackle unemployment is to make thousands of public sector workers redundant. And the best way to save the economy is to give multi-national corporations a tax cut.

    Thank goodness they came to a deal in time for corporation tax powers to be devolved. I was starting to get worried that all that hard work from the big law and accountancy firms was going to be in vain – worried that the politicians were going to waste more tax income on trival things like training, job creation or health care.

    All we have to do now is listen for the sound of the silver bullet being fired, relax and wait for the economic miracle to come. Shouldn’t take long. I’m sure we’ll start to notice the difference in about ten to fifteen years if it all goes to plan. And if not, well who’s going to be around to blame?

  • Trap 6

    Just to add I am against welfare cuts going by the name of reform, they are nothing to be proud of, I think welfare reform should be less about reducing benefits and more about ensuring those in need get what they are entitled to and those abusing the system are weeded out. The same way in the NI Civil Service, reduced staffing budgets weren’t dealt with by enforcing a universal pay cut of say 10-15 on all civil servants at all grades, instead civil servants will be sacked or let go while those staying on, a greatly reduced number, get paid the same. Welfare payments should stay the same with the exception that less people qualify this could be achieved by weeding out those that abuse the system and by even debarring migrants from accessing benefits until they have worked and paid into the system say for 10+ years?

  • OneNI

    Sounds to me that Iain duncan smith and you are on exactly the same page – dont believe everything you read in the papers!

  • Trap 6

    I know for a fact about the abuse in the Ardoyne area of benefits, I work with lads from Ardoyne and they openly admit about taking part in fraudulent bru drops as they call them, they don’t boast about it just admit it goes on and is common. I know that those on the other side of the fence ‘PUL’ know of these abuses. I am convinced they in general are in favour of benefit cuts (in line with DUP thinking on this) and would be prepared to starve themselves and their smaller families as a result of accepting a reduction in benefits without much of a fuss because they would gladly see those in Ardoyne hit disproportionately, that’s why working class unionists don’t kick up a fuss about cuts in benefits imo. They know the abuse that is out there. I would also encourage politicians to put an end to full sick pay for 6 months for civil servants and place civil servants on statutory sick pay with full pay only being paid as the exception after qualifying for it after a close examination of the circumstances by NICS HR, the money saved could go to keep benefits at their existing level as well. More efficiencies like this need to be sought out as a matter of urgency. I am a public sector worker myself and I know it’s time to reform the system as it is abused and the sick leave is abused and it’s just a waste of money. My view of some parts of the NI Civil Service is that it is nothing other than the Super Bru, welfare for lazy spoilt middle classes, work shy middle classes.

  • kensei

    If Westminster cuts the budget, then Assembly will have to follow. All the talking about Socialist Republic and other nonsense is just trying to get a rise out if SF cutting the original deal. History hasn’t ended either BTW. Not that I represent SF in any fashion, just haven’t seen anyone real lay a glove on them in a good while.

    I can take an interest in the politicking bit of politics while still being concerned about good governance. Mick brought up a point on political strategy ssiso I discussed that there is more to it than just the outcome. You inserted yourself, so I give you a tweak. It’s all up there.

    And yes, I am amused. My amusemwnt ir itherwise will bring zip difference to arrangements between the DUP and SF. Plus I am an idiot on the internet looking for a rise. You diminish yourself arguing with me.

  • Comrade Stalin

    TLDR.

    But briefly, Stormont did indeed mismanage the budgets. My point is they’ve chosen to borrow instead of raising water charges or rates, or looking for other opportunities to raise taxes.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If Westminster cuts the budget, then Assembly will have to follow.

    Everyone has spent the last year or so repeatedly pointing this out to Sinn Féin who put their fingers in their ears and denied it, only to do a u-turn at the last minute and then issue a press statement claiming that they have negotiated to ensure that nobody will feel any impact from welfare reform. It’ll be interesting to see how that one goes down.

    I am not sure that Adams understands anything about government and influence (having taken care to avoid ever being in government himself – it will be interesting if he continues this tradition). The deal on welfare reform was on the table a year ago. If the rumours are to be believed, he rejected it, and SF are now having to swallow their own words.

  • Comrade Stalin

    We have several socialist candidates here. They always lose.

  • kensei

    They really aren’t. They could have collapsed the thing if they wanted. If you think the architect of the entire provisional movement’s direction for 30 years doesn’t understand tactics and strategy then you are a fool. How much resistance to give and when to deal is as much a part of that as everything else.

    But SF aren’t playing the same game as everyone else, or at least the one people here want them to play. The South is clearly a factor. They are also not omnipotent and make mistakes. But my sense is that is if you want to move SF then you need to engage them on their own terns. This is stupid probably won’t register. You need to gain a reputation for competence to move the party and project forward might. If you want to move the electorate away with SF then you need to make arguments that will sway them. There’s no evidence stupid approach works, yet.

  • Trap 6

    Oh right that makes sense now I didn’t get your Reagonomics thing first of all, it may well come to that in the end in order to pay back all of this further down the road. Perhaps another administration maybe one not headed up by SF and the DUP.

  • Trap 6

    Would love to see the justice post go to the Green Party if elected next time round…

  • Zeno1

    But no socialist party.

  • Zeno1

    The silver bullet was fired by KPMG when they formed the lobby group Grow NI.

    “We are closer now than ever to realising the long held aim of gaining the power to reduce corporation tax which can help rebalance the NI economy, grow the private sector and create long term, sustainable, well paid high quality jobs. That is the goal and that is within reach.”

    http://www.northernirelandchamber.com/campaigns/corporation-tax-grow-ni/launch-of-grow-ni/3479/

    The Politicos are mere pawns in the game. The Accountants have the real power.

  • streetlegal

    Not quite – there was another side deal between Dodds and Cameron that will become apparent in the New Year.

  • Kevin Breslin

    By serious compromise Mick, you mean what exactly?

    Personally, I think the compromises have been serious, don’t you know in this place a minor kow-tow would surrender a limited win for an unlimited defeat.

  • Kevin Breslin

    DUP historically walked out of the GFA talks, that might be a precedence

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think the dead end was happening before the talks already, I mean no Speaker, u-turn on the Maze so the unionists could smash the H-blocks, Gregory-gate and various other forms of inertia. Without the issue politics around welfare, politics would still be dominated by dead ends over things a lot less serious than welfare rather than temporailly the Stormont House Agreement.

    I disagree with progress on the opposition bit, that’s been used by the media as a panacea, the same outlets will still encourage non-voting as a means of changing government and complaining as a means of boosting the economy. We really have no hope from local journalists.

    Merry Christmas.

  • Morpheus

    Has any of your Mystic Meg stuff ever come to pass? 🙂

  • Morpheus

    So you think the PUL community and their political leaders are willing to accept the impact the cuts will have on their own families and communities because it might hurt marginally more themuns?

    Reminds me of that scene when the King orders his archers to open fire while his troops are still engaged in CQB on the battlefield:
    “But sire, won’t we hit our own men?”
    “Yes but we’ll hit some of theirs as well”
    “Ah right, ARCHERS….”

  • Kevin Breslin

    If you think they can do any better there’s the Socialist Party and various other groups saying they can avoid these decisions?

    Give these groups a vote, join them and be an activist, let them set a marker … That’s what the main parties have to do to get power here.

    What makes matters worse I guess is that it’s easier to deny their existance than to try to spur growth in these groups.

    Pretty much every malcontent thinks they can chage politics through lamenting it, with the focus of getting all the glory through none of the work.

    I could easily accuse you for not being a socialist for not being in a politically socialist organisation and denying such things exist.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Form one, if these groups aren’t good enough for you, look at the strength of the socialist parties in the Republic when people make the effort. They’re not focusing on all of the glory, which is the mainstay of the militant and the lazy commentator, they are focusing on being the change they want to see put out there.

  • Kevin Breslin

    David Ford didn’t admit that no one would be adversely affected by welfare reform when Stuart Dickson was saying everyone would be affected by the failure to implement welfare reform. We have having your cake and eating it too.

    As for wasting money Alliance have been subsidising industry through funding “ICT skills” places at the behest of the private sector, outside university degrees and have done very little to encourage industries to invest in research and development and skills development themselves. This is corporate welfarism at its finest, plugging holes in companies’s business model at the taxpayer’s expense. What makes matters worse is that Farry actually believes this upskilling dogma, rather than seeing it for what it really is, a nirvana complex by industry looking for the perfect worker while undermining the quality of our universities

    Audit these programs in 5 years and if more than 13 people get relevant “ICT” jobs, then you have my permission to attack Irish language schools in Dungiven. At least that school seems to know what “languages” it wants to teach, can Farry say which computer coding languages are and are not provided by a software engineering or computer science qualification? Or where the skills gaps in other STEM subjects that working with a programmer in the company would not solve? Could he just tell the young generation who have invested so much in peer reviewed study and research why they should even bother going to university at all when local companies with dubious ICT immersion want their own designed courses funded and taught solely at the taxpayers expense instead or on top?

    Could he explain why we need to be upskilling many of our graduates up and beyond university level, when they can find the same work or better in a different better employment cultures easily by emigrating? We have many graduates on the dole who don’t buy the line there are skills shortages.

    My QUB career teacher told me about a company stuck looking for a structural engineer and lamenting the QUB and UU candidates that were available but on further investigation the previous job holder was a mechanical engineer who had designed a straightforward spreadsheet. This is the sort of corporate welfare trap Farry is throwing money at.

    We need corporate welfare reform, not pandering to the financial services companies who lack the competive drive to upskilling their own workforce.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Not really the same thing to compare the British government voluntary coalition with the manditory one of Northern Ireland. In a national government The Liberal Democrats would have seats in a power sharing executive, only difference is Labour would have some too, mainly at the expense of the Tories.
    I think it’s fair to say that both Irish Labour and the Liberal Democrats get a proportionate share of their executive seats based on electoral results while Alliance do not. Nick Clegg is deputy prime minister and Joan Bruton Tainiste but does anyone really see their role in government bigger than say Osbourne or Gove, Noonon or Vardarkar?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Big fan of natural justice then?

  • Zeno1

    FANTASY
    “There is a way to get Ireland back to work. The employment crisis can be addressed if the political will is there. People have a right to work, a right to earn a living and a right to provide for their families. In government, Sinn Féin would make job creation our number one priority”.

    Mary Lou McDonald TD – Spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform

    REALITY
    Borrowing £700 million from the British Government specifically to carry out their wishes and put thousands of public servants out of work.

  • Zeno1

    I was making the point that local political parties who claim to be socialist are behaving like died in the wool capitalists.
    You could say that by joining a corrupt system they have themselves become corrupt.

  • tmitch57

    Alliance also didn’t invent the system in which their MLAs do not have a vote that counts in votes that require a majority of both unionists and nationalists.