Friday, 20 May 2011

If you’re happy and you know it…

IT’S getting down to business and, in case you doubt it, Peter and Martin are going to tell you that it is so! The new, shiny face of the Norn Iron Executive is that of an executive ready to get down to the hard work of government.

How long the honeymoon period actually lasts is another matter, for as sure as the sun rises and the day darkens at dusk there will be rows and hissy fits.

So in the meantime, there’s a certain sense of knuckling down to the hard tasks. And who said that our ministers must work together? Well it was the electorate according to Peter and Martin.

There was, however, a hint that a window of opportunity exists in the next 18 months or so to get the really awkward decisions taken. Peter did mention that it is three years until the next election.

Compare that to the last two years – a European election, a Westminster election and then May’s double whammy – and it is easy to see that it was difficult to agree on whether the Executive would have tea or coffee let alone agree a budget!

So, with real politics/bread and butter politics [delete as applicable] on the table can we expect all to be sweetness and light? Well, no.

For a start a clear signal has been sent from Minister of Cuts, Sammy Wilson that the hard times are coming down the road. The warnings have been given over the past year and now the stark reality is coming to pass.

Add into that there is the switcherooney planned by the DUP in two years time, with ministers stepping aside for a new tranche of bright-eyed DUP guys.

Translate this simply: the new squad of ministers will not have to bear the blame for the harsh decisions. In two years time, pummelled by cuts and the harsh decisions, the electorate will welcome with open arms the new set of DUP ministers, as they bring light, beneficence and bigger budgets to bear. And, at the same time they can slag off the rest of the Executive.

No doubt their coalition partners, Sinn Féin, will be immune to the battering, but the SDLP and UUP will be firmly in the sights of the DUP ministers. No real change there then!

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