Thursday, October 7, 2010

Expecting England to pay

Seems the devolved nations of the UK have decided to oppose the current UK government plans for spending cuts as "too fast and too deep" No doubt an English Parliament might have said the same thing, though as said parliament would likely be Tory dominated, perhaps not. Problem being of course, who represents England? Nobody as far as I can see, we're the forgotten nation of the Union beset by other nationalities with their own parliaments and subsumed under the all encompassing term of "British" we even get criticised by our own "Brits" when we dare to fly our own flag and support our team as apparently it's racist except when its anyone else flying their flag and supporting their team of course.

The first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have issued a joint declaration attacking the UK government's spending plans.
The leaders of the three devolved administrations said the coalition's cuts are "too fast and too deep" and may put the economic recovery at risk.
Alex Salmond, Carwyn Jones and Peter Robinson want cuts phased in over a longer period.
The prime minister said that approach would worsen the debt problems.
In his speech to the Tory conference on Wednesday, David Cameron said only Labour opposed to the UK government's deficit reduction plans.
But the rainbow alliance of parties which run the three devolved administrations, which includes the SNP and DUP, says frontloading spending cuts over the next two years is "entirely the wrong approach for the economy" and risks stalling any recovery.
They say: "The devolved administrations believe that the proposed approach to public spending reductions by the UK government runs the risk of delivering significant economic and social harm and urge the UK government to reconsider its proposals."
 In other words they see the bribes to keep them sweet drying up as the government struggle to get spending under control and reduce the sheer amount of debt and waste the previous administration left them with.
Personally I believe the UK government will ignore them, that means they can play the victim of "English" hostility to the outer regions and use it to pick up votes. Though I doubt they'll call for independence, that would leave them high and dry save possibly for Scotland with its oil, but as they'd be trying to get into the EU, I doubt they'd keep their oil for long.

Sooner this unequal union breathes its last the better as far as I'm concerned. I see no reason at all for the leaders of the devolved parliaments representing only 5% of the electorate to be telling the UK government what it can and can't do. Bit like the tail wagging the dog, but under Labour they did, Labour need the votes of their nations to keep a majority in Parliament because without them the Tories would dominate an English parliament.
So, Alex Salmond, Carwyn Jones and Peter Robinson, you get to share our (the English) pain and hand it down to your own people. Don't look for sympathy, you wont find it here, not any more, we're going to do our part, time you did yours.

11 annotations:

Bucko said...

Maybe the UK government should suggest they cecede from the union and go it alone if they don't like it. I think they all understand that without the tax take from England they wouldn't stand a chance.
Trouble is Labour have been hading it out on a plate for so long, people don't know how to do without. Delvolved parliaments and citizens alike.
I wish I could declare independance for my house. No public sector workers here. Me and Mrs Bucko would be comfortably well off without the British government demanding their take of our hard-earned.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but in regards to Northern Ireland, the First Minister Peter Robinson is not being entirely unreasonable. Unlike England, Scotland or Wales, Northern Ireland is currently a post-conflict society – in which the economic and civil infrastructure was quite literally destroyed throughout the duration of forty years of a savage civil war and sectarian conflict – and is presently facing a significant and concerted terrorist campaign by extreme dissident Republican’s. Peter Robinson has, within the Northern Ireland Assembly consistently stated that although the executive in Belfast must remain realistic in relation to the forthcoming cuts, he is nevertheless deeply concerned about the economic fragility of Northern Ireland and the corresponding impact of such deprivation upon the current Republican terror campaign, evidence of which was vividly demonstrated by the Real IRA car bomb in Derry/Londonderry earlier in this week.

When the ‘Troubles’ erupted in late 1969, the economics of the era had a huge impact upon the violence and the ‘legitimacy’ of the IRA justification for conflict – many here are concerned that drastic cuts to the Northern Ireland budget, which includes ‘cuts’ to the Police Service of Northern Ireland and security will endanger lives and threaten the stability of the Peace Process. Perhaps people in the UK mainland may be unaware but the dissident Republican campaign of violence has actually been quite severe in recent years and there is a real possibility that the Peace Process will now come under renewed attack by the Real IRA, continuity IRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann. Terry Spence, the head of the Police Federation in Northern Ireland has consistently called for ring-fencing of the security budget in Belfast and whilst the government is intent upon cutting the budget of the PSNI Mr Spence strongly believes that the budget should actually be increased, because if it is not then people will invariably die given the intensity and expected rise in dissident Republican activity. This situation is wholly unique in terms of the domestic political environment of the UK. Let us not forget that Northern Ireland has contributed much to the social, political and economic life of Great Britain and it is not a mere ‘sponger’ – the arguments put forth by Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness are not only concerned with protecting Northern Ireland’s fragile economic infrastructure, which is the weakest currently in the UK, but they are also keenly aware of the potential ramifications for internal security and the possibility that cuts in security could lead to failings and due to the rise in Republican violence deaths in both Northern Ireland and the UK mainland.

Anonymous said...

No one is asking for ‘special treatment’ but what they are asking for, is sheer common sense. For example, there are many areas of bureaucracy which could be cut in Northern Ireland, if the executive was actually given the power by Westminster – for example, many politicians in Northern Ireland have identified possible cost cutting measures against various NGO’s and governmental bodies, including those belonging to the Good Friday Agreement which are no longer required in post-Agreement Northern Ireland and yet the government will not grant permission. Prior to the ‘Troubles’ Northern Ireland was actually one of the most peaceful regions in the entire world, and within the UK it had one of the most robust economies in the British isles, contributing much to the UK mainland but when the ‘Troubles’ began, one of the reasons why the country suffered such devastation to its economy and regional market is because the strategy of the Provisional IRA was actually to deliberately attack the economic infrastructure and to assassinate leading businessmen in the country hence creating disharmony and anger, thereby drawing in young recruits into its campaign of relentless violence. As a consequence, following the Good Friday and the St. Andrews Agreement (the latter of which was also an internationally binding political agreement which contained the promise that the British Government as well as the Irish Government would provide substantial economic aid to Belfast in order to rebuild the economic environment so as to ensure political stability) the economy took an unprecedented position of importance within domestic politics – mainly because so many people, including politicians and civil society representatives, recognise that the economy in Northern Ireland is innately tied to the political security of our country. The politician’s in Northern Ireland are not stupid and they accept that we, as well as everybody else in the UK must take a share of the forthcoming economic cuts but here, unlike anywhere else in the UK, we are confronted with more complex, greater and quite literally life and death issues inherently connected to our economy – none more so than security, which not only impacts upon the population of Northern Ireland but indeed the entire UK. Let us not forget also, the political and economic fragility of Northern Ireland – for example, our government and entire power-sharing institutions came to the very brink of devastation in January merely because the First Minister’s wife had an affair with a teenager. Many people in the UK mainland do not see or hear of the daily intimidation and sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland today – this week alone there has been a significant car bomb attack in Derry/Londonderry, several shootings in Belfast, pipe bomb attacks, intimidation and sectarian violence. This is not a ‘normal’ society, it is a post-conflict society and people need to realise that in such an environment, which is still incredibly fragile that the government must be sensible – as Peter Robinson has said, the cuts proposed by Westminster are indeed ‘too fast and too drastic’ particularly in regards to Northern Ireland, which whether you like it or not is indeed a ‘special case’ which requires special consideration.

Anonymous said...

We are not asking to be exempt from cuts, we are however asking for the government to be sensible and to recognise the depth of the Republican dissident threat against not only the people of Northern Ireland but also the UK mainland – it is in the best interests of us all. Make no mistake, Peter Robinson is not saying that we will not take our fair share of the cuts, but he is asking that people recognise the ‘special’ consideration of security in Northern Ireland. Peter Robinson is one the best politician’s in Northern Ireland, perhaps the greatest of his generation and when he previously served as Minister for Finance, he had an outstanding insight and incisive knowledge of the economic infrastructure of Northern Ireland and the UK, and I sincerely believe that he is speaking pure economic and political sense. Do not forget also that as a Unionist, Peter Robinson and his party, the Democratic Unionist Party believe very much so in the Union between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland and would not deliberately seek to damage the economic alliance between both countries. We are not ‘spongers’ and we have consistently contributed to British society, and we do not wish to be demeaned, only to be understood. We are not looking for ‘sympathy’, we are not looking for England to bear the brunt of the cuts – we are, however and I reiterate seeking only to ensure sensible political and economic policies from Westminster and if our politician’s feel that the economic policies of Whitehall are not beneficial, particularly in terms of security, then our politicians have not only a political but also a moral imperative to make our concerns known. Peter Robinson and the devolved institutions are not telling the British government what it can and cannot do, on the contrary, the devolved administration’s are making their concerns known to David Cameron and are seeking alternatives which will ultimately be of benefit to the entire UK. Do not forget that the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also members of the UK and many, such as myself, deeply value the Union of our countries and we have just as much a valid opinion as the people in England. Northern Ireland has an extremely small population, no greater than some English cities and yet Northern Ireland will indeed suffer a disproportionate attack upon our economic and security budgets – this will not be advantageous to Northern Ireland or the UK, particularly in terms of security. Indeed, many academics and political observers in both Ireland and the UK have echoed my views in relation to Northern Ireland and the forthcoming cuts – but ignorance is a terrible thing and it is unfortunately pervasive in regards to this issue. No one is suggesting ‘English hostility’ but certainly people are suggesting a lack of political and economic foresight on the behalf of the Conservative government. And in regards to your belief that it is ‘time’ for the devolved administration’s to do our part in relation to helping clear the recession, you clearly are unaware that we – just as much as you – have suffered for the ‘cause’ as we are also citizens of the UK and subject to the same conditions as English citizens.

Conan the Librarian™ said...

Aye right.
England pays for everything, heard it all before.
So why have all the vari-hued British Governments since the seventies have desperately tried to cling on to the Union?

Obligato said...

Mr Salmond has a simple solution at hand - the Scottish parliament has tax-raising powers (within limits) - if he feels that spending must be maintained he can raise Scottish taxes....

Quiet_Man said...

I'm not saying England pays for everything, just that if there are cuts, everybody shares them equally.

As for the Union, most Scots when polled wanted to stay in, go figure.

Indy said...

If Scotland really was the subsidy junkie that people like to portray it as then why would successive Westminster Governments (both Labour AND Tory) be so determined to prevent Scottish independence?

Doesn't make sense does it?

PS: The people of England have had exactly the same opportunity as the peoples of Scotland/Wales and N Ireland to demand their own parliament. Don't blame us if that hasn't happened. You have to make it happen yourselves.

Quiet_Man said...

It's all about power Indy, most Westminster political parties deem that the UK alone is stronger than England, so they try to keep the union. It only started to unravel when Labour allowed devolution and suddenly the English realised they were being left out. The Scots/Welsh nats have at least 50 to 60 years on the English nationalists building up a party and cause. The English still have a problem with various people believing English = British when it's quite clear that it doesn't.

As for Subsidy junkies, a large percentage of the civil service is based in the outer nations, they will be hit hard, almost 70% of Northern Ireland is in public service, the numbers are high for Scotland and Wales too, no wonder they are worried. But expecting the UK government to go easy on them will only stir up resentment elsewhere so a level playing field for all is still the best way.

Indy said...

It's partly about power however if you look at the Tories for example it would actually benefit them if Scotland was no longer in the Union. Yet they are very strongly opposed to Scottish independence.

As regards your other points. Around 25 per cent of the Scottish population works in the public sector. That is not particularly high. And very few of them are civil servants - the big UK government depts are based south of the border, not north of the border.

We do not expect the UK Government to "go easy" on us. What all the devolved legislatures are saying is that they have strong concerns about how far and how fast the UK Govt is cutting. These concerns are not unique to the devolved governments. It seems even some of the Coalition's own supporters and members are starting to assess whether they should be more flexible about their programme.

Of course it would be true to say that the Scottish economy is in worse shape than the economy of the south east and that is why we have greater concerns about the cuts agenda - we don't have the same level of resilience.

But why is that? It's not because Scotland is inherently poor or inherently incapable of managing its own economy. It is because Scotland operates as a branch line economy of the UK instead of being able to compete against the UK.

Quiet_Man said...

The answer to the Tories keeping the union going is in their official name. "The Conservative and Unionist Party" There's an inherent drag to losing something that they see as natural to the UK even if it wont vote for them.
Scotland would probably do ok, if they don't vote in a Labour government to squander all the oil revenue. The SNP would need to diversify very quickly though (tax breaks for international companies) But then you might end up with a flood of Englishmen heading north to take all your jobs.