At Unionist Lite O’Neill looks at possible nationalist responses to the government’s deficit plans. His assessment is that Plaid Cymru and Sinn Féin are beyond help in their analyses, but there is a chance that the SNP and SDLP could, to some degree, embrace opportunities to promote leaner enterprise economies for their respective regions.
The SNP’s ’pork barrel’ tactics are, at least partially, a separatist irritant aimed at London. So Salmond’s party has a decent opportunity to tacitly accept that Scotland’s economy will benefit from substantial rebalancing. Although the SDLP has shown signs of original thinking on growth, its dependency culture is more deeply ingrained.
Take Alex Attwood’s response to proposed coalition welfare reform and its effects on Northern Ireland, where we have the highest level of economic inactivity in the UK.
The government’s view, which will be developed in a report by Ian Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice, launched today in Belfast, is that welfare dependency drives poverty and, therefore, it must be made worth claimants' while to get off benefits and into work. The Social Development Minister’s view is that Northern Ireland is so dependent on welfare provision it should be exempt from any reform!
In other words, our addiction to benefits is so bad that measures designed to combat that addiction must not apply. It is a remarkably hopeless philosophy, indicative of a mindset which the SDLP should ditch.