The cuts: another straw in the wind?

The Guardian’s most centrist commentator Martin Kettle argues that  the First Minsters’ case  for leniency is one of the signs that the cuts mightn’t  live up to their fierce billing. Or is  being panglossian, as he himself wonders? Extracts  Might it not instead be time for the long expected political hurricane to be cautiously downgraded to a tropical storm? Here are three very current reasons for thinking the answer is yes. The first is this week’s report in the Financial Times that …

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Whitehall ” too busy ” to deal with First Ministers – claim

 The fairly dismissive  Verdict of my colleague, devolution expert Alan Trench, on the rainbow coalition of FMs’ call to scale down the cuts.  But note the flier in the FT that the phasing may be changed in a direction they favour. Adds Friday. Warm words from deputy PM Nick Clegg about the likely impact of the cuts  on a familiarisation visit. Extracts: The First Minister and Deputy First Minister raised with me in very clear terms their concerns about the …

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Tony Blair: “I took horrendous chances in what I was telling each the other had agreed to…”

From Mick’s linked chapter on Northern Ireland in Tony Blair’s memoirs [pdf file] Such tactical manoeuvres were the warp and woof of the Northern Ireland peace process. Again at the last minute, after the negotiation over the St Andrews declaration of October 2006, up popped the issue of what oath would be sworn by those taking office in the reconstructed Assembly and Executive. All manner of permutations were gone through to find a mutually acceptable formula. Naturally the DUP wanted …

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The Assembly is not even in the debate over public funding

In GB, devolution is moving on to another stage. Northern  Ireland  is being left behind. Today the  call has gone out for the Welsh Assembly to take on tax varying powers of 3 %. It comes on foot of a request for law-making powers.  Wales is bidding to follow Scotland, where the coalition government  is legislating  to award the Scottish government new income tax varying powers of 10%, as recommended by the Calman commission. The Welsh report, by economists Gerald Holtham and David Miles, …

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Let`s keep Northern Ireland moving forward

Despite the goings on in East Belfast the election results have seen the DUP claw back voters. The 2009 Euro elections saw the DUP achieve 88,346 first preference votes (18.2%) whilst the election to Westminster has seen the percentage go up to 25% of the vote (168,216). Now this is still down 8.7% on the previous Westminster election but in overall terms considering the recent DUP `annus horribilis` I would think the DUP should be pretty happy with the result. …

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The prospects of voluntary coalition

Video: Peter Robinson on improving devolution Voluntary coalition seems to be a shibboleth connected with Jim Allister and TUV but in reality all three Unionist parties would prefer voluntary coalition with some form of qualified majority voting put in place to enable a more normal form of Assembly inline with Wales & Scotland which would include a formal opposition, compared to the mandatory coalition we currently operate where nearly all the parties are in government and will remain in government …

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