It was too good to be true…

After the bail out, new problems emerge – wouldn’t you know it. It was too good to be true. First the Peston version. “ Treasury may have to abandon its stipulation that no dividends can be paid to shareholders in RBS, HBOS and Lloyds until these banks have repaid preference shares which they are selling to the state… The prohibition on dividend payments has spooked our big investing institutions. It’s wreaking havoc in particular on Lloyds TSB’s share price, because … Read more

Obama gives Ireland his full attention (not)

What a glorious piece of parochialism from Irish Voice: “With less than a month to the presidential election, the question of where Senator Barack Obama stands on Irish issues is still up in the air.” This almost reaches the level of the famous Skibbereen Eagle headline: ” Skibbereen has its eye of the Czar.” We recall the row over the (non) appointment of a special envoy.. The penny must surely have dropped by now that such interventions are tokenism. Bertie … Read more

Salmond on the defensive as Scottish banks humbled

Just taking another look at how the financial crisis is affecting Union politics… With the Scots reeling at the scale of the crisis that enveloped their once proud banks, the tartan editions of the London heavies have renewed their attacks on Alex Salmond. The Daily Telegraph: “Alex Salmond was counting another likely cost of the unprecedented action – the body blow it delivers to his hopes of achieving an independent Scotland. The Times: “There has never been a more opportune … Read more

Ireland looks like being hit harder than the UK

While Gordon Brown and the British economy are far from out of the woods yet, there’s a striking difference between the cautiously favourable comment on the British bank rescue and the previews of tomorrow’s Irish budget. Searing criticism of the Ahern and Cowen regimes pours out of the industry website Finfacts which rounds in the government for years of improvidence. “The results of political failure will be thousands of damaged and destroyed lives while in or out of office, the … Read more

Gordon Brown’s eyesight causing concern

The Sunday Telegraph has broken a long suspected story which could alter the shape of politics in the medium term as much anything else. For such a workaholic to cope with failing eyesight must be a terrible strain. Brian WalkerFormer BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution … Read more

Lay off Peston

Adds 2 I’d completely forgotten about this until Ben Brogan Pol Ed of the Mail’s blog reminded me. (Had a CRAP moment – can’t remember a fucking thing). Peston was sort of blamed because one of the bank chiefs who met the Chancellor last Monday night blabbed the fact to him. This caused the markets to tumble to their lowest yet and precipitated the whole £400 billion package. Quite the most expensive leak in history. It gives you a good … Read more

Gordon for Glenrothes

The ill wind of the financial crisis blows kindly for the political fortunes of Gordon Brown at the moment. The news this week that he is to break convention and campaign in the Glenrothes by election is a straw in the self-same wind. Only two weeks ago, it was in Glenrothes that he was supposed to meet his nemesis, but now Labour may have a chance, as Andy MacSmith once press handler to the late John Smith opines in the … Read more

Nationalise Santa

Saturday’s a day for catching the mood, so how are you bearing up? Apart from the petrol queues at Tescos, thanks to their ”price war,” not too badly in my case, assuming the pension funds holds up. A backlash against all the solemn stuff nobody can do anything about is inevitable. Naturally somebody has to blame the media and it’s Cranmer’s turn. The financial crisis in the new bird flu. “Christmas itself may be cancelled because Santa banked in Iceland. … Read more

Nobel questions

I hesitate just a moment before applauding the award of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the international negotiator Martti Ahtisaari. He flitted across our screens for trying to jump start decommissioning before going on to greater things. Nothing personal or ideological, just that as the headline says: “ Got conflict? Mr. Ahtisaari is your man.” He’s a professional negotiator and as such, he’s above the fray. If you’re not involved in the conflict, it’s pretty easy to transcend it. … Read more

Abortion reform latest

The abortion reform campaign doesn’t look like a dead duck by any means. I can’t find any press coverage yet, so important exchanges are below the fold. From Pro Choice press release, Thursday 9 October Yesterday pro-choice supporters flocked into the Commons to launch their campaigning ahead of expected votes at the Report stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill now likely to be on the 22 October. Diane Abbott Labour MP who has tabled New Clause 30 to … Read more

Northern Bank murk

Update. Here is an impressive account by Jonathan McCambridge in the Bel Tel of the reasons for failure in the case and others, minus the conspiracy theory. “In the end, the problem was the same as in the Omagh bombing and Robert McCartney murder trials – how do you solve a crime without evidence?” Our old friends the dogs in the streets will have a complete theory about the Northern Bank robbery and I doubt if Chris Ward is central … Read more

If sales are drying up at home, flog it abroad…

In these tough times, it’s good to know that a Northern Ireland small industry is flourishing abroad, even if it’s not doing so well at home. The DFM was unable to attend due to the death of his mother . Not all the nuances were quite right The Right Honorable Martin McGuinness, MP House of Commons United Kingdom (via videoconference) Continuing with the theme of former enemies, protestant Jeffrey Donaldson is on hand. Donaldson, a lead negotiator of the Good … Read more

Were you bovvered?

Did you feel like heading for the hills or did you just shrug? A Times poll taken even before yesterday’s mega rescue plan suggests that “on the brink ” panic was held at bay. “56 per cent in Britain, and 51 per cent in America, say they are not worried. Women are a bit more worried about the safety of their savings than men, 41 to 33 per cent.” Judging from the near-zero response to the crisis from Sluggerites, I … Read more

The voice of the region must be heard

On today of all days, just about the most unlikely campaign imaginable is the Guardian’s “ Save the BBC” blog. Defending the £3.4 billion a year corporation may seem absurd but a closer look shows what the Guardian is arguing for is the need to protect the BBC in tough times like today, when it’s tempting to milk it as a cash cow. The argument goes that the BBC acts as the guarantor of a great part of British journalism … Read more

Titanic rescue bid

Some things are almost beyond comment, like what it felt like on a Titanic lifeboat waiting to be rescued by the Carpathia, but here goes. How “real” is this rescue, how will it affect you and me? “It will cost every man, women and child sixteen hundred pounds,” I hear them say. On the BBC News last night they faithfully included Belfast in a regional roundup of the effects on the “real” economy. We saw a Belfast butcher, a real … Read more

Abortion campaign moves into action for Commons move

The last time I blogged on the abortion campaign in Northern Ireland in June, it dropped like a stone. I’m glad to say that the campaign is full of life and is carrying the cause to London. This effort will almost certainly fail and may not even reach the floor of the House of Commons. Much depends on Harriet Harman who is minister for women as well as the organiser of Commons business. It made waves at Westminster in July … Read more

What next to save the world…?

Update WOW! This certainly gets Ireland out of jail and anyway– “There has been no stampede on the part of UK businesses to transfer savings to Irish banks, a BBC poll suggests. In a survey carried out with the consultants Unicom, 91.6% of the 312 small businesses quizzed said that they would not consider moving deposits.” Peston adds: “The decision by the German federal government to guarantee all private savings in German banks is momentous. In a globalised banking market, … Read more

It was forty years ago today…

It wasn’t Bunker Hill nor Bastille Day nor yet Easter Monday because there was no victory, not many were hurt nor was there a clear outcome. But October 5th 1968 has to be the landmark day of the death of a kind of innocence when the civil rights march in shabby little Duke St in Derry was batoned by the police, launching more or less continuous violence that never really stopped for thirty years. It was too an early example … Read more

Mandy is back and the “Celtic Secretary” is put off

Remember him? The Secretary of State who tilted back towards the Unionists after the love affair between Mo and the Shinners? Mandelson is back, “third time lucky”. No more popular south of the border than among nationalists in the north – “ Trade commissioner Peter Mandelson strongly criticised the Irish guarantee plan” and the enemy of Irish farmers, his returns seals off one of the oldest feuds in British politics. Fortunately for Mandelson, an interview he gave to the New … Read more

Irish bank guarantee scheme: now the devil is in the detail

As far as I can make out the Irish bank guarantee saga has reached somewhere between Pete’s disapproval and my earlier optimism. Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has been explaining himself to the Financial Times: “Mr Lenihan insists Ireland did not want to strike out on its own, but needed to act quickly. “Our government and I would have preferred a European approach to guaranteeing confidence and stability of the banking sector,” he says in an interview with the Financial Times. … Read more