By St Etienne
Having a read through of various responses to the Barnett report (all Unionist parties conspicuous by their lack of opinion btw). A disparate range of issues seemed to be targeting various interest groups.
Anyway, a notable section to take in:
NI Political & Media Leadership
- NI has 11 Government Departments, 26 Councils and over 80 Quangos
- NI Government has 92 press officers and more advisors than the White House
- NI has more community, voluntary, advocacy NGOs per capita than anywhere else in the World
Getting anything done within NI often requires significant political and political skills matched by bucket loads of persuasion and patience. Our government central and locally are devised not on economic or governance principles but on political lines. The recent employment of not one but four victim’s commissioners on full pay provides open evidence of political expediency winning over economic efficiency.
Our politicians and departments are well versed in generating strategies, grand visions and using buzzwords but behind the gloss – what are the leading political parties’ economic policies? How do they suggest we improve our productivity and economic sustainability?
The unwillingness to make hard choices over water rates (revenues £400 – £900m) haunt us now that £370m needs to be found, providing further evidence of playing popular politics over unpopular budget balancing. Is anyone willing to bet that we will get a single Department of the Economy?
Which politicians can ideologically or publicly support wealth creation (e.g. serial entrepreneurs) in the few as opposed to short-term mass job creation (with limited long term prospects)? Can our politicians really win over conglomerates willing to move where the labour cost, tax incentive, grant inducing host country wind takes them?
What of our media – surely they will hold NI to account on economics? Yet with more press officers (ex-journalists?) than existing journalists and with many hacks looking towards the future (newspaper industry trends v potential lucrative govt press officer post plus pension) who will stick their head above the parapet?
But what of editors, publishers and printers surely they will push the economic argument… given the massive public advertising (jobs, notices, adverts) and lucrative publishing (how many updates, newsletters or annual reports are not on full colour gloss), who with one eye on their very own balance sheet won’t pick personal economics over national economics every time?
Liam McGarry, McGarryConsult opinion on Barnett Report
The limited insight I have into the world of the NI political hack has given me few ideas on how their obsession with towing the NIO thought-stream has come about. In the Belfast Telegraph’s case it is generally assumed they wish to keep a tight hold of civil servant job adverts and the like, when in reality they are an expensive luxury that is already accommodated by catering to the two tribes’ News Letter and Irish News.
The local BBC, who have come under scrutiny recently from all sides for their handling of the Adams scandal vis-à-vis “Irisgate” (maybe it’s the rotten secular core speaking here, but was it really that big a deal?) – and that’s not counting the rumours circulating regarding a politically imposed blackout on Beeb reporters going after Adams stories – are in a similar position. But they don’t get advertising so apart from ‘for the cause’, what gives? I’ll repeat the most prescient line above for effect:
with many hacks looking towards the future (Newspaper industry trends v potential lucrative govt press officer post plus pension) who will stick their head above the parapet?
In the cosy world of local politics/media, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to agree with this thinking. Even those allegedly impartial observers are funded by the taxpayer, as well as more forthright abominations. It is difficult to ascertain who is on the take and who is ‘republican or otherwise, has his or her part to play’.
What is certain is no matter how much faux lamenting our hacks do over that predictably drawn out charade at Hillsborough, they themselves have just as much to prove as the politicians to the Northern Irish public.