Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spending cuts

In order to tackle the UKs budget defecit Chancellor George Osborne has set out a four year plan to introduce budget cuts of £4 billion in Northern Ireland. This will significantly reduce the block grant paid by the British government to Northern Ireland which currently stands at between £9 billion to £9.5 billion.
While these cuts will lead to 30,000 public sector job losses and will undoubtably be very painful, it does bring the block grant to a more realistic and sustainable level.

The reason for such a staggering block grant is simply that the public sector in Northern Ireland is much too large (believed to be around 66%).

Every party agrees that the private sector needs to be grown and the public sector reduced accordingly. This dependence on the public sector dissuades potential investors, causing relative poverty in Northern Ireland.

Now that the public sector is to be cut, the next stage in a self sustaining Northern Ireland is to grow the private sector. This is unlikely to happen within the UK. For one thing it would necessitate a reduction in corporation tax to match the Republics 12.5%. No UK government will do this for the North of Ireland. They are more interested in what is right for South East England, and besides could you imagine the reaction in Scotland and Wales if a concession like this was given to Northern Ireland.

Senior economists predict that (at least) a massive 90,000 jobs could be created if the North was allowed to adopt the economic policies of the rest of Ireland.

With the reduction in the block grant through spending cuts and the potential to eliminate it all together with growth in the private sector through All Ireland economic policy, the claim that the Republic of Ireland could not afford Northern Ireland is turned on its head (not withstanding the current economic difficulties south of the border). Also when there is an upturn in the global economy and Irish economies, the economic argument will further no longer wash as a valid excuse as to why there should not be a United Ireland.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Election date set

Despite earlier reports that the Assembly and Local elections would be held earlier than the May 5 date of the Alternative vote introduction referendum, it has been confirmed  that the date for all three elections will indeed be held on May 5.

The main issues which are likely to dominate the elections include the strong possibility of Martin McGuiness becoming First Minister, the impact of the cuts to the Northern Ireland budget, the economy, the Irish Language Act, the issue of parading and the possible reduction in the number of MPs.

The impact that the TUV will be of interest (Jim Allister has stated that he intends to stand in most of the constituencies) as will the effect of Tom Elliots take over of the leadership of the UUP. It will also be interesting to see what form of "Unionist Unity" measures are put in place and how the three main Unionist parties split of the votes pans out. What will be the effect this will have on Martins McGuinesses chances of becoming head honcho?

On the Nationalist side, can SF continue to gain ground on the SDLP or will Margaret Richie be able to costruct a SDLP revival?