NI Conservatives Try Viral

The local version of the Conservative Party, the NI Conservatives (formerly the Conservatives in NI), have come up with an “infographic” that presents Martin and Peter as Laurel and Hardy. The two hapless leaders, the image suggests, have caused the population of Northern Ireland to be £864 per head worse off than people in the rest of the UK.

Part of the reason for this, of course, is local dependence on benefits rather than high paying jobs. Also the stock of jobs tends to be relatively low-skilled and focused on industries in decline – such as retailing and telephone call-centres. Too many big jobs announcements are still about new call centre jobs that tend to employ relatively high numbers at near minimum-wage. And the jobs are often transient – lasting merely the duration of a client contract (from mobile phone companies and the like).

The situation is likely to get worse – regardless of who forms the next UK government. Northern Ireland is still not creating enough high paying jobs, largely as a result of the ‘crowding-out’ effect of the public sector. The local economy is still grossly dependent on relatively highly paying public sector jobs (relative to the private sector) with very low levels of associated productivity.

The local political leadership has done very little do address this problem – apart from tramping around the world seeking ‘inward investment’.  Peter and Martin have been photo-op’ed in Brazil, China, New York etc. – accompanied by hordes of OFMDFM/DETI hangers-on.

But the real work needs to be done here. Few of our local companies achieve scale i.e. become the types of major employers we need. We simply don’t have enough indigenous firms (like Wrightbus and Norbrook) that are created by locals and built by locals and succeed in becoming major exporters and significant employers. And a key reason for this is that too much of our talent leaves and never comes back. Another reason is that we have next to no political stability – and the fact that our political parties and ‘leaders’ have negligible business or commercial experience.

It’s unlikely, of course, that the Conservative Party will make much progress here in the upcoming elections. Turnout will be poor and those who vote will vote, as usual, for the usual suspects. Also the Conservative Party nationally doesn’t really convince anyone of its business-friendliness when it comes out with policy announcements like yesterday’s from Eric Pickles, that it planned to force employers (private and public) to give employees three additional days off to do ‘volunteering’. Such piffle policies make it look no better than Peter and Martin.

But drawing attention to the vacuousness of our political leadership is no bad thing.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    This is just burning cash for no good purpose. Without an organization on the ground, no party can win elections or even accomplish an uptick in their vote.

  • Turgon

    In terms of the NI Conservatives their leaders have tended to me at least as comical as those from the other parties. As Catcher in the Rye notes above the NI Conservatives have never had much on the ground presence. They tend to have had lots of people who fancied being MPs, MLAs and the like but fewer who wanted to be local activists or even councillors. That inverted pyramid has always been a major disadvantage for them.

    On Peel’s point about not favouring local industry his views have much more merit though of course one might argue that the Thatcher government should have done more to keep the likes of Harland and Wolff afloat: it was after all an indigenous industry.

    However, I am always struck by the fact that at my (and separately my wife’s) country town grammar schools in the 1980s business was so little promoted as an option. It was seen as the local shops, quarries and farms: running one of those was seen as much lower status than professions etc. The very cleverest children were directed towards medicine and law etc.; the almost as clever to teaching, accountancy etc.

    Sorry it that is offensive to anyone but the problem seemed to be that the idea of going into business as a good (possibly the best option) would have been regarded as bizarre. That lack of business kudos and importance may have changed but I fear not much.

  • babyface finlayson

    “Hmph! Hard boiled eggs and nuts!.”
    Whether Martin and Peter are hard boiled or just nuts is not for me to say.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘…one might argue that the Thatcher government should have done more to keep the likes of Harland and Wolff afloat: it was after all an indigenous industry.’
    But just like all the UK’s nationalised industries, the short-sighted exercise of trade union power combined with weak management rendered H&W completely uneconomic. ‘However, I am always struck by the fact that at my (and separately my wife’s) country town grammar schools in the 1980s business was so little promoted as an option.’

    Indeed, our grammar schools have not served us well by encouraging entry into the higher echelons of state dependency instead of productive activity. How much income do our oh-so-worthy doctors generate from outside NI? Well short of the cost of a BMW, I suspect

  • Old Mortality

    ‘And a key reason for this is that too much of our talent leaves and never comes back.’

    That sounds intuitively correct but off the top of my head, I can’t think of any major businesses that have been created or built by NI expatriates. There may be a lot of them in senior managerial positions, but these people, however able, may not be natural entrepreneurs.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Lawrence Kennedy managed to build a Conservative organization in North Down that almost clinched success. But when he bowed out it effectively disbanded. In NI you have to have some kind of local focus.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    I’d tend to agree with your point that the Grammar schools have traditionally routed the best students into the professions rather than business. However, that also applies to England’s independent schools (and many American Ivy-League colleges). The best businesses are often built, however, by people with limited education but considerable vision and work ethic. As much as possible I think we’d like to encourage such people to stay at home rather than to leave. I’m not sure we’re going about it the right way.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    It just occurred to me that it’s rather silly to target devolved issues in a Westminster election, and particularly to target two people who aren’t even candidates in the election. It’s as if the Tories haven’t quite thought this one through.

  • aor26

    If the N.I Conservatives perceive Martin and Peter as equally guilty for N.I’s poor economic performance then why have they not fielded candidates in every constituency in N.I for the forthcoming election in order to take votes away from both men’s parties ???

  • Pasty2012

    Yes and the Conservative answer, backed by the DUP and UUP, is to reduce the benefits being paid to people in need and those with disability through their Welfare Reforms package. Doesn’t seem to mention that people on benefits will lose around £3000 a year if the Welfare Reforms are introduced and the knock on affect will see some retailers closing and jobs being lost.

  • duineodhoire

    I see the Tories had to bring in most of their candidates from thon slightly bigger island across the water. Do you think those candidates will have the slightest clue about this place? I can imagine them wishing subtitles were available when talking to their potential constituents: ‘I’m sorry, what did you say there, old boy?’
    The only good thing you could say about that crowd is they are slightly less loony than Ukip.

  • tmitch57

    As I remember the Conservatives were only competitive in one parliamentary constituency: North Down, and only in the early 1990s. After they lost a couple of elections the novelty factor wore thin and voters went back to the old unionist parties.

  • murdockp

    Business rates and car parking charges are more likely to close retailers. We need evidence based policy not what we think might happen. Welfare reform has to happen regardless.

  • Framer

    Their problem remains that they are instinctively integrationist while the London NIO and FO view is and will be ruthlessly devolutionist. They are a party worth joining and influencing from within but not worth voting for. They talk nonsense trying to hide the fact that Villiers would betray them without a moment’s notice.

  • OneNI

    The majority of the population think the Assembly is a hopeless waste of money – so the Conservatives are wrong to target the leaders of it? Au contraire! If you think people fully differentiate between elections youre more of a geek than I thought

  • OneNI

    Yes but lets also remember that 100,000 people on welfare would receive on average £38 a week MORE if welfare reform was pushed through. The Executive is going to spend £565m over five years topping up benefits while cutting the grant to Sentinus and other organisations aimed at ensure local people have the skills to access IT jobs. Its scandelous and obscene

  • Old Mortality

    Oh yes Patsy
    Forget high-tech or exporting industries, wee shaps are the cornerstone of any modern economy. And we must continue to neglect our health as that might lead to hospitals closing and nurses being put out of work.

  • OneNI

    Apart from being borderline racist your comment is specious. These approved candidates are politically committed people who understand national issues such as the economy, the deficit/debt problem, taxation and indeed welfare better than any of the current MPs judging by their pronoucements.
    But you are so right – they wont understand why certain people feel the need to march down certain streets or why some think there are such things as ‘Catholic’ areas – and without such blinkered thinking how could they possibly represent their constituents well in Westminster!

  • aor26

    People refer to them as ‘Catholic areas’ for the simply fact that either everybody or the vast majority of people who live there are Catholic. Referring to a place like Ardoyne as a ‘Catholic area’ is simply a reflection of reality in this divided society. Much like people would often refer to Tigers Bay as a ‘Protestant’ or Unionist area. It is referred to as a Catholic area in the context of a sectarian anti-catholic organisation called the Orange Order demanding to parade past this Catholic area while their bands play musical classics such ‘no Pope of Rome’ and ‘the Billy Boys’.
    What is astounding is that many who consider themselves to be middle of the road people (stand up Alliance) think the residents are just as bad as those organising the Parade who for some reason known only to them and their God perceive it as a human right to parade along the Crumlin road.

    Anyway that is the context in which people would (quite accurately) refer to Ardoyne and such places as ‘Catholic areas’. It is not an attempt by people in those areas to suggest that one must be Catholic to live there. However, it is the reality that the vast majority of people are Catholic and that is the main reason why the area has been subjected to a enormous campaign of violence by unionists for nearly a century. I noted last year Nelson McCauseland attempted to spin it in such a way that people who call Ardoyne a ‘catholic area’ are sectarian

    .I think people like yourself need to drop this ‘one side is as bad as the other’ stuff and call a spade a spade. Furthermore, Ardoyne is an area which experienced a large amount of violence and murder at the hands of Unionist paramiltaries because they were Catholic. Perhaps these parade disputes would be easier resolved if self designated moderates all over Northern Ireland (stand up Belfast telegraph readership) put aside their obsession with ‘one side as bad the other ideology’ and recognised that residents who endured much more than most in Ardoyne are quite entitled to have a parade by a proudly anti-catholic organisation rerouted away from Ardoyne.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The majority of the population think the Assembly is a hopeless waste of money

    The majority of the population vote overwhelmingly for devolutionist parties.

  • Floreat Ultonia

    JD Wetherspoon?

  • Pasty2012

    Yes Mort there has been a few high tech wee shaps in Belfast closing, just look at Castle Court, High Street and Ann Street. A Lot of wee town’s high streets are a collection of boarded up wee shaps that once employed people. There is a number of High Tech firms operating in the north but the fact remains that there is not the people with the right skills or training and removing the Welfare that some receive to help them through University is not the smartest thing in the World or the best way to invest in that high tech silicone valley NI you crave.
    At the same time turning your back on people with disability may one day come back to haunt you should you befall an accident or contact an illness that requires long term care.

  • Pasty2012

    The Tory’s are apparently running a candidate in every seat – oh except the ones that have been designated for a Religious agreed one with the DUP. The Tory’s are fully supporting the Religious Headcount and promoting that as acceptable politics.

  • Pasty2012

    Welfare Reform is designed to save money and cut people’s benefits by an average of 20% not pay them £38 a week more. The money to ease the effects of the 20% cut to benefits is what Sinn Fein has been trying to achieve while the DUP and UUP want the savings to be introduced IN FULL Tomorrow. The result of a 20% cut in Benefit payments will be felt by everyone but especially those on disability benefits who need the extra due to extra costs of disability such as arthritis and the need to fund extra heating. Families on low wages will also be impacted due to rent increases and reduced housing benefit payments. However those families receiving payments from MP/MEP salaries and Expenses – the DUP Children, will no doubt be getting increases while telling everyone else they have to play their part so that their higher earnings aren’t taxed so much.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Tories are the shame of Britain

  • OneNI

    Indeed and today’s Ulster Bank economy report shows that these parties are economically illiterate. I think this Tory ad is an insult to Laurel and Hardy

  • LordSummerisle

    Building a pub empire on slave labour ? One does not need an MBA surely ?

  • Davros64

    Hardly much of an empire plus Martin is a Eurosceptic so not much of an advert for anything. Beyond sometimes very cheap beer.