Guest blogger St Etienne considers that an end to what he describes as ‘the immature and irresponsible behaviour’ of devolved politicians is the one cut that could command popular public support in the post-CSR period…
“Both the SNP and Labour have huge opportunities to tell a story not just about standing up to London and for Scotland, but taking national leadership, and telling a narrative which is about the kind of public services we want. And central to this is challenging trade unions to be constructive, proactive and imaginative in a way they haven’t been about work, jobs and organisation since the heyday of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders nearly forty years ago. Whoever can dare to move out of a bunker mentality could position themselves well for years to come, long after recession and ‘cuts’ have become part of our national folklore like the 1980s and the poll tax.”
As Scottish commentator Gerry Hassan broke ranks last month to call on their regional government to display a sense of leadership in the ensuing government cutbacks, on our own Northern Irish politicians should display a similar sense of leadership.
As it stands however the regional fiefdoms are awash with non-revenue raising politicos telling us how the Westminster government is penalising our poor souls with unnecessary cutbacks, pertinently without giving any form of solution to the deep rooted issues themselves.
It’s easy to glibly shout ‘NO CUTS’ to your budget when all you do is sign off on where the money goes without thought for where it is coming from i.e. we the taxpayers. If the dire straits exhibited by Greece earlier this year weren’t reason enough to mobilise the forces of austerity, you’d think the latest in a series of economic beatings our neighbours down south have endured since would have concentrated minds on the threat lurking just under the surface.
One of the largest party’s at Stormont initial reaction was to behave with all the statemanship of a child who wants their ball back, while the other remains ambivalent at best (Sammy Wilson excepted). As we have come to expect SF later came out with a last minute PR exercise in ‘pretendonomics’ that gave the papers something to write about for all of a day. The usual pie-in-the-sky waffle a few days before the decision was to be announced, one that was likely already made. A cynical move? An immature one more like.
Hassan as I understand it is a respected figure among those Ostrich-like elements in Scotland who still have the perennial opposition/protest politics mindset of problems always being someone else’s fault. The similarly cringeworthy ‘Say No to Tory Cuts’ spiel wheeled out as an attempted ‘campaign’ by Sinn Fein provides a mirror image in responsibility deficiency.
Refusing to face up to economic realities in a mature manner is far from the sole preserve of the regions. In my opinion it’s a social disease borne out of the dawn of the welfare state and the days of the baby boomer generation, where slowly but surely an inflated sense of entitlement has turned many to be drip fed zombie like by the never ending cycle of government programmes and stimuli.
As spending masters, the executive will have to show leadership sooner or later and decide what fiefdoms will bear the cost. There is an obvious risk that once left up to Stormont the whole thing will descend quickly into farce.
As the devolved administrations belatedly become tasked to earn their keep – who’s to say if they don’t get it right they should not also be in line for the chop?