A marriage is about partnership however the UUP – Tory marriage seems to have been anything but it. In fact one could say that it has entered a rocky course less than two weeks before an election.
David Cameron’s comments with Jeremy Paxman on Friday night have caused quite a storm but are not exactly surprising.
In December of 2005 I, working for a small student newspaper, was invited to go and meet the new Tory leader on his first visit to Northern Ireland. At this show of strength at Lagan College, Belfast I overheard Mr Cameron ask his advisor: “We want devolution here, yes?”
His latest gaffe does not surprise me to be honest. He is a man with a lot on his mind but when it comes to Northern Ireland he has really put his foot in it this time which the local UCUNF will find hard to defend.
Some blame the media, others say his interpretation was an accurate one. Eamon Maillie has described it as similar to Harold Wilson’s infamous ‘Sponger’ speech – directed at the people of N.I. protesting against the 1974 Sunningdale Agreement. The day after these comments people ran round protesting with sponge lapel badges. It was a classic two finger salute to the late Prime Minister. We should remember of course that Reg Empey, David Trimble and Co. were part of this protest against Sunningdale under the banner of Vanguard led by Bill Craig.
Cameron’s comments therefore represent a major gaffe on his part. His comparison of N.I. to a former communist state was damaging. His point was of course about the large public sector we have here in N.I. but why single out N.I.? Why not other parts of the UK?
Much of the population around London funds the entire UK given the concentration of private enterprise there. After Thatcher dismantled the machine of what was left of British Industry back in the 1980’s Britain was left with high unemployment. Thatcher created a vacuum in parts of Britain as people hit the dole queue and the easiest thing for Government was to give them public sector jobs as the service industry couldn’t sustain those who were left unemployed. Many young professionals left for London to find work, including many from N.I.
Cameron’s comments therefore highlight the unbalance of private investment across the UK. Much of this is down to the individual companies who having the choice want to be where the epicenter of business is.
His comments highlight the problems we face in the UK and something other N.I. parties have argued. However it is unsure what he meant by this: is he suggesting cutting the public sector in N.I. and slashing the budget? Or is he simply stating a well known fact? But then why single out N.I?
These comments will only go to dispel the feeling: can we trust the Tories?