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Showing posts from May, 2017

A small 'c' conservative manifesto

Previously, I wrote that Theresa May’s political instincts are ‘deeply conservative’, even if they don’t resonate with all of her colleagues in the Conservative Party .  The snap general election provides an early, rather unexpected opportunity for the prime minister to articulate her beliefs in a manifesto for government.
The document confirms that Mrs May thinks of herself as a ‘one nation’ Tory, rather than identifying with the more libertarian strain of thinking that animates many modern Conservatives.  Labour and other critics will dispute how specific policies might work in the real world, but we can tell from the tone of the manifesto how the prime minister wants the public to view her party.
At the last general election, Ed Miliband pinched the ‘one nation’ label for the Labour Party, and rather than stealing it back, Theresa May chooses to talk about “mainstream government” and “mainstream Britain”.  The language is different, but the sentiment is the same.  The PM is expressin…

Devolution in Northern Ireland has been a dismal failure.

This article appeared first in the News Letter. When should we admit that devolution in Northern Ireland has so far been a dismal failure?    Even when the power-sharing Executive operated, it rarely legislated and refused to tackle the most pressing problems afflicting our society and economy.   Twenty years after the IRA renewed its ceasefire, is it still enough that bombs don’t explode regularly on our streets?   Maybe the latest political crisis should be the point at which we finally insist upon a system of government that gets things done. The Good Friday Agreement launched a process intended to build a peaceful and successful Northern Ireland.  The institutions it established were supposed to develop into a functioning local government, capable of taking decisions about health, education, the budget and other aspects of policy that comprise ‘normal politics’. Perhaps even more importantly, power-sharing was supposed to create a ‘shared’ Northern Ireland, where the social and financ…