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A forum to discuss new ideas and perspectives on Unionism…

Devolution: Learn How to Lead…

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…

Reproduced from HM Treasury flickrstream

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.

Not so.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: business, Coalition Government, devolution, economy, guest blogger, , ,

Danny Alexander’s day in the trenches…

This video has just been uploaded to the HM Treasury youtube account. It tracks Danny Alexander across the best part of 12 hours during the CSR announcements. He starts off perky enough but the realisation that a Paxo interview lies in wait starts to dawn on him at about 3mins 50secs. It’s an alternate view to CSR day which I found a little more interesting.

I’ve also uploaded the full CSR doc into the box.net widget.

bobballs

Filed under: business, Coalition Government, Conservatives, economy, finances, liberals, , ,

TUV’s turn to publish economic proposals…

By thefreshthinking

The TUV are the latest party to publish proposals on how to cut spending, their effort published by Economics Spokesman David Vance certainly kicks the pants off the UUP’s effort.

The proposals mostly either don’t make sense or look a bit familiar though….

1.  Expensive North-South Bodies costing £100m per annum must go. This will yield Half a Billion Pounds in savings over the next five years, a massive contribution.

Getting rid of them won’t save all their costs, in a lot of cases it would mean that seperate bodies would have to be set up in both juristictions to carry out their functions.  Certainly there are potential savings though, so it’s a fair suggestion on Vance’s part, nothing like £100m though.

2.       Northern Ireland’s Quangos cannot be afforded any longer and it is time that they too were thrown on the financial bonfire. This will save further millions, as will curbing squander on overuse of consultants.

The DUP having been moving to reduce the number of quangos for some time.  Sinn Fein thought of getting rid of quangos last week.

The curbing of the use of consultants is already underway.

3.       TUV would seek to provide a shield to people in low paid jobs by insisting that a pay ceiling of £100,000 must be accepted by Management before any jobs cuts are even considered.

Is this in the private sector?  If so how is the state going to intervene in the activities of private companies?  It’s certainly not within the remit of the Assembly to implement such a policy.  If it is the private sector it’s a bit rich Jim criticising SF for being Marxists earlier this week.

If this is the public sector Sinn Fein proposed something similar last week.  They were in favour of a pay freeze for civil servants paying the top rate of income tax.

4.       All abuse of Welfare, including DLA, needs to be scrutinised as a priority and offenders weeded out.

Re-assessing those on DLA is a coalition government policy

5.       Bloated costs of Government here need to end. Cutting 108 MLA’s down to 60, reducing their expenses and their generous allowances would also make a meaningful contribution.

Robinson says he wants to reduce it to 75 MLA’s, so the TUV thinks of a different number?  60 MLA’s works out at 4 MLA’s per constituency over 15 constituencies, Robinson’s proposing 5 per constituency over 15 constituencies.

Filed under: business, Coalition Government, economy, finances, TUV, ,

An opportunity to reinvent government

The below has been reposted from The Dissenter. This offers a really useful insight into Northern Ireland’s ‘Soviet style’ economy…

The posturing, positioning and indignant defiance over impending reduction in government expenditure is rife. But it is not just David Cameron who thinks Northern Ireland has a command economy that matches anything once boasted by the Soviet bloc.

In the rent-seeking economy of Northern Ireland, it is deemed politic to blame others for the withdrawal of funding across the economy.  It is also an indictment of both the poverty of aspiration and lack of imagination among the political class.

Much of  Northern Ireland government spending is decided in Whitehall, for example social security spend, or Europe, the bulk of DARD’s money pot. Much of the discussion will be placed on efficiency of Departmental administration of those funds.  The range and scope of much of health expenditure is also directed from Whitehall, though there is a great deal of scope to review how that money is managed and spent.  Similarly, education could be reviewed in the context of building and deepening academic excellence at all levels rather than political polemic. More importantly, as the political class seems increasing remote for the electorate, perhaps it is time to think how government could be devolved back to the individual. Northern Ireland government requires a total rethink.

The thinking has to start somewhere. thedissenter asked Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute for some basic pointers our politicians might take on board when considering ‘cuts’ in a wider dimension. Five questions in almost as many minutes. Eamonn is keynote speaker at the Agenda NI seminar Rethinking Government on 26th October at the Grosvenor House Conference Centre, Belfast. It will be interesting to hear how the politicians, social sector and business community respond to his thinking.

It is not time to cut government in Northern Ireland: it is time to take the opportunity to reinvent government in Northern Ireland.

Eamonn Bulter is Director and co-founder of Britain’s leading free-market policy think tank, the Adam Smith Institute, and a leading author and broadcaster on economics and social issues. Westminster insiders look forward each week to his wry online commentary on politics and politicians.

via An opportunity to reinvent government. « The Dissenter.

Filed under: academic, business, economy,

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