Osborne comes out in support of expanding Heathrow

My Mum until recently and all but one of my aunts live in South West London and one issue that is hugely controversial is Heathrow Airport. One of the busiest airports in the world and serves as the main hub airport for most of the UK. Yet for many living around it, the airport is a nightmare with flights landing just a minute apart for most of the day. The airport does have restrictions during the evenings and they try … Read more

Much of the ‘new’ #FreshStart money is now no longer required…

So, no need for that new money to offset the cuts in Universal Tax Credit. George Osborne left it to the last minute and then deemed that the offset cash was not necessary because he wasn’t going to make the cuts anyway (with it goes the illusion of a better Stormont deal)… The Chancellor has said that his previously announced cuts to tax credits will not go ahead. The changes would have meant 121,000 Northern Ireland households losing an average … Read more

Ed Balls takes another mauling despite Osborne’s weak autumn statement

Not a great time for either Labour party on either side of the Irish Sea. Here’s an object lesson in which we learn that channeling anger over the dispatch box at a unpopular enemy with a weak economic portfolio, is not simply not enough… Matthew Engel in the FT… What the statement does do, uniquely, is pit the chancellor against his shadow in a Commons set piece (on Budget Day, the Leader of the Opposition replies). Mr Balls had a … Read more

Comprehensive Spending Review offers to cut Northern Ireland’s budget by a mere 2%…

Odd things Comprehensive Spending Reviews. They are more a statement of intent, than a finalised corporate plan. Thus it is an entirely political decision as to when they are timed. From the Guardian’s round up of George Osborne’s Review (applicable in the first term of the next government, if the coalition are re-elected), here’s the headline figures for the devolved Assemblies/Parliament: The governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are required to find resource savings of 2%, with a budget … Read more

The Welfare Mission

When George Osborne became Shadow Chancellor he made Welfare Reform one of his primary issues to focus on when in Government. Along with Iain Duncan-Smith, they worked on what would become Universal Credit which has had a difficult birth as a Government policy. The past week, more so than ever, with Osborne pointing towards the horrendous Mick Philpott as an example of the ‘monsters’ that are created in the welfare system. This, coupled with embarrassing photos of Osborne’s chauffeur driven … Read more

Budget 2013: A missed opportunity

George Osborne for the first time appeared nervous. No Chancellor in recent memory, apart from perhaps Gordon Brown, in the early years of New Labour appeared so cocksure. For three years Osborne has had to dress up bad news as good news. He cherry picked the statistics that suited him best, of course all Chancellors do this but this was something that Osborne attacked his predecessors for. Yes, the Coalition came into tough times economically but they are now three … Read more

Osborne’s Autumn Hidden Statement

As this goes live the UK Chancellor will have just polished off his briefing to the Cameron cabinet on the Osborne austerity budget. But there are just some things that don’t need to be spelled out as Mr Sammy Wilson explained when speaking to the UTV here. Sammy said that the budget arithmetic under the Barnett consequential will ensure that what’s cut on the mainland will be cut over here in equal percentage measure. That means that some deep cuts … Read more

How a spot of economic revisionism may yet save George Osborne (and friend David)…

Interesting take on what on the face of it look like some disastrous polling for the current Chancellor of the Exchequer from YouGov Supremo Peter Kellner. It’s predicated on the tendency of forecasters to be overly pessimistic about actual performance of the UK economy: The revisions of the 2009/2010 figures came well after the last general election. They were far too late to help Labour. This time, any revision is likely to come well before the next election, in good … Read more

Euro crisis: “I am not sure whether the urgency of this is fully understood in all the capitals”

It would be fair to say that there remains a difference in opinion of the correct response to the euro crisis.   The BBC quotes European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. European governments need to agree urgently on steps to forge a closer union because of the eurozone’s “systemic problem”, the head of the European Commission says. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called for a “vision of where we need to go”. “I am not sure whether the urgency of this … Read more

The omni shambles and Labour’s difficulty capatilising

The omni shambles which is the current government seems to continue. I mentioned the disaster which was the budget and the spin surrounding it recently. Jeremy Hunt and his special advisor have yet again shone a spotlight on the relationship between Rupert Murdock’s media empire and politicians (though of course the Tories were far from the only political party with close links to News International – take a bow Alex Salmond). It has been suggested that Hunt is being kept … Read more

Coalition trials and tribulations over budget

The coalition have been having a few weeks of pretty bad media storms. There was the fuel crisis that never was when the government in trying to make people prepare for a possible crisis managed to create one. The government may have thought they were preparing themselves like a mini version of the Thatcher governments preparations for taking on the miners. In reality the government actually did the tanker drivers propaganda for them demonstrating how bad a strike might be: … Read more

Why the UK Chancellor’s regional pay initiative not a solution to depressed regional growth…

Mark Langhammer disputes George Osborne’s idea (set out in his Autumn statement) that local pay bargaining is the way to go, drawing on a recent report from NIPSA he argues instead that “localised pay bargaining would be inefficient, costly, wasteful and likely to increase pay disputes, a fact well recognised in the private sector.” The Osborne/Cameron ideological initiative is based on a poor grasp of the facts. Osborne argues that “while private sector pay is set in accordance with local … Read more

MERKY Christmas!

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Tory welfare reform, or social Blitz Krieg?

I was struck by George Osborne’s announcement on benefits cuts, but having moved out into the sticks whilst Slugger Central has a new back wall put to it, I missed the opportunity to blog it. Lee beat me to it, and made on of the points I would have made: The idea of capping the welfare levels is an interesting one that has a basis in the principle of fairness.  However, you do wonder if it is a means of … Read more

Growth or deficit: “Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul”

There’s a good piece in The Guardian from Julian Glover who says, yes, the Coalition does want cuts for ideological reasons, but then what of it? Yet ministers, by and large, hesitate before admitting this. Liberal Democrats worry about scaring their voters. Conservatives aren’t sure the country will understand their big idea. It’s easier to take refuge in the alternative truth that cuts are happening because they are needed. Even Ed Miliband issued a press release last week agreeing. From … Read more

After austerity, will Northern Ireland grasp its limited opportunities?

I have to say Brian has it about right when he says OFMdFM cannot afford to continue its newly minted habit of belligerency inside Stormont Castle in its response to the coming demands of the new UK administration. One thing the budget did point out was the degree to which Westminster rather than Stormont sets out the broader lines of social policy. Cameron and Osborne have flagged their intention to shift the emphasis for social action from the state to … Read more