So is it a good idea that the government is helping low-income families to get onto the property ladder? Or is Help-to-Buy going to cause a new property bubble? Listen to this debate between me and Sammy Wilson of the DUP.
Tags: Northern Ireland, Property ladder, Real estate bubble, Sammy Wilson
A Panel discussion organised by the Northern Ireland Government Affairs Group on the impact of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition’s economic policy in Northern Ireland.
Date: Thursday 05 December 2013
Time: 12:30 to 14:30
Location: RICS, 9-11 Corporation Square, Belfast BT1 3AJ
Nick Thornsby is a leading Liberal Democrat blogger. He writes his own blog and contributes to Liberal Democrat Voice blog. He has also written for the Guardian and the New Statesman.
He has been a member of the Liberal Democrats since 2007.
Jeff Peel is a Northern Ireland based businessman, blogger and commentator. He is a former Conservative Party member and was a founder of the Conservative Humanist Association.
He is a regular guest contributor to radio and TV programmes in Northern Ireland on social and economic issues.
Boyd Black is a former Lecturer at the School of Management and Economics at Queens University. He is campaigner for the Labour Party to fully organise in Northern Ireland, including contesting elections.
He is Secretary of Labour in Northern Ireland. http://www.labourpartyni.org
Most of the attendees were young. Most were well educated and middle class. Most, unfortunately, were men. And several were from NI21, Northern Ireland’s newest political party. However, there were also one or two Alliance peeps, at least one from Fianna Fail and some who were merely curious. Oh and a Canadian. About 30 or so people attended. Although, to be fair, the event was only trailed on social media a day or two ago. And the venue was not exactly easy to find.
It wasn’t supremely well organised. Although that was part of its charm. Most people spoke – not just the panellists. Pretty much everyone was impassioned. Each and every one was sickened by what passed for politics here. All felt there had to be an alternative to the tedium-discourse of Green/Orange. Most agreed that we needed a counterbalance to the sectarian parties defining the political agenda – because the net result is a disenfranchised electorate, a sham democracy without opposition and a lunatic fringe (personified by Jamie Bryson) jamming the airwaves.
It was encouraging for all the reasons you might expect. Young, eloquent people who detest violence and want to get involved in real politics are always to be admired. John McCallister turned-up and pitched the case for NI21. But the event didn’t spiral into a planning session for John’s Party. Rather there was a resolve that this might just be the start of something a bit more fundamental – a group of people working together to say enough is enough.
I wish them every luck and success.
Organised by Brian Spencer the talks will focus on the emerging political discourse here that isn’t fixated on the tribe.
Brian and I have chatted via Twitter and face-to-face and we agree that the emerging secular perspective often doesn’t get a look in. The media defines everyone here as being a member of one tribe or another. And yet, there’s a massive section of our society that sits outside this discourse of Green and Orange and has real difficulty finding any local political party that speaks in an appropriate voice.
One could be forgiven for thinking that the enlightenment missed Northern Ireland. But, fact is, some of us have no desire to define ourselves nationalistically or religiously or tribally.
I call myself a Classical Liberal. I think that we should reach conclusions based on reason rather than seeking solutions that suit our group or tribe. And hopefully, tomorrow, I’ll meet some other minds that think in a similar way.
I was on the Nolan Show today commenting on the most recent PwC economic survey. This implied that Northern Ireland’s economy was growing – although applied the caveat that few would notice.
My fellow commentator was Ian Collins, a “commentator and broadcaster” based in London.
He rather got the wrong end of the stick. I was suggesting that public spending here was the most fundamental reason why the NI economy was not growing enough – that, and poor wage levels and massive levels of economic inactivity. It turned into a bit of a slanging match. Apologies.
I was on the Nolan Show this morning arguing against the idea from “think-tank” Reform that NHS patients should be required to pay to visit the doctor or hospital.
Here’s the interview in full (via AudioBoo). Tell me what you think.
I’ve always been quite fond of the idea of the United Kingdom – fond of it in the same way, I’d imagine, as David Cameron. I have a romantic notion that the Union is a good thing. We’re four nations together – and better together than apart.
But, let’s think about it. Does that really make any sense? In fact, the Union only really makes sense for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Because without the British exchequer we simply couldn’t function. Without the block grants we’d be useless. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are dependencies. Our tax take is massively lower than our expenditure. That’s why, increasingly, we need the Union.
However England, and especially London, doesn’t need us.
If the people of Scotland are silly enough to vote for independence next year, the rationale for the Union will be massively undermined. England will save the cost of the massive Scottish block grant of around £30bn. But it will also lose, potentially, revenues related to North Sea oil. But, in the case of Wales and Northern Ireland, there are no clear benefits to London. Both represent huge drains on Whitehall budgets. In short, the English pay the bill for the Union. And it’s a big bill.
It’s likely that if Scotland goes independent this will engage the interest of Northern Ireland Unionists who, ironically, see the Union as more about their cultural affinity with Scotland than England. Moreover, Sinn Fein may be persuaded that a self-governing Independent Northern Ireland might be a useful stepping-stone towards Irish unification. There could be greater economic ties between the two parts of Ireland, while DUP would be attracted to the idea of wee Northern Ireland having its own voice. Both parties might be foolish enough to negotiate a phased independence. But once that independence would be won, of course, there would be no going back. Bye, bye block grant. Hello to being masters of our own destinies, balancing our own books, reducing our own monstrous deficit.
But, in many respects, that might be no bad thing. The UK treasury prop would be removed. Then real politics might just begin.