-Elliott accuses DUP of backing Labour spending spree resulting in deep recession.- “With the Assembly now just 15 days away from its finish, and the prospect of a six week election campaign kicking off the next day, I want to take this opportunity of relative calm to raise our heads above the here and now, and remind ourselves of what devolution was supposed to achieve for Northern Ireland, and propose a way to get back on track.
At last month’s Breakfast Briefing, I made clear that theUlster Unionist Party would not tolerate another four years like the last four at Stormont. Since then, the public have been speaking and have made it crystal clear they won’t either.
The 2007 Assembly has achieved little more than its own survival, and while I accept that is an achievement, it has come at a cost no one can possiblycontemplate paying twice.
We need to do business differently, and last month I proposed my Game Changer. It’s as simple as swapping around the two things that follow the Assembly Elections.
Last time, we ran the D’Hondt system that allocates the government ministries among the parties of the mandatory coalition. Then they tried to agree a Programme for Government.
I say, do it the other way around. Agree the broad Programme for Government first.
It’s not rocket science.
In fact, not only did the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats do it last May after the General Election ….. Fine Gael and the Irish Labour Party have just done it following the Elections in theRepublic of Ireland.
We, on the other hand, have not managed it in four years!
We are surrounded by Best Practice! How many more hints do the Sinn Féin / DUP axis need before the penny drops?
Is the Sinn Féin / DUP axis so insecure, so immersed in petty party self-interest, they cannot agree to do the right, sensible, practical thing?
If we stick with what we have, we’ll continue to operate government as a series of 12 discreet departments. To judge how well that works, look no further than Caitriona Ruane in Education. On her watch, the state has quite literally lost control of state education, as the ideological rush to abolish the 11-Plus leaves state-funded schools running not one, but two replacement transfer tests, despite her express wishes to the contrary.
Yet recently, Peter Robinson said that if there was any extra money for the budget, education, not health, would be top of his personal queue. Never mind the waste and mismanagement on her watch.
Peter Robinson also said if there was any extra money for the budget, Regional Development, not health, would be top of his personal queue. Never mind the waste and mismanagement on Conor Murphy’s watch.
Meanwhile, Peter Robinson’s Double-Jobbing, Double-Speaking Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, blames it all on Conservative cuts, and tries to lump us in with them.
This is not about Conservative cuts. This is about Labour overspends. Labour-DUP overspends. Go ask the DUP when they warned Gordon Brown he was bankrupting theUnited Kingdom.
The Labour Government borrowed one pound in every four they spent on our behalf, and the DUP did not raise a hand to stop them.
One pound in four borrowed. Think about that. Could you get away with that?
Our country couldn’t, and the price we are paying is a dailyinterest debt of £120 million …… 120 million pounds a day.
Michael McGimpsey asked for £200 million next year to keep the Health Service right.
If Sammy Wilson hasn’t endorsed the Labour-DUP overspend, and we had that 120 million a day to spend of services instead of servicing debt, the Health Minister would have his annual £200 million by 4pm on the 2nd of January. That’s how little he wants in the context of Labour-DUP overspending. And it’s not for himself. It is for you, and your mother and father, and sisters and brothers, to keep you healthy.
“…I and my Party have not joined in the siren calls to ‘resist the Tory cuts’ and to ignore what is reality.”
The reality is the voters will soon have the opportunity to have their say. To choose between Double-Jobbing, Double-Speaking Sammy, and the Ulster Unionist Party, who even the DUP acknowledge were honest on the doorsteps last May in warning Government spending was out of control.
This Party will defend public services. The Health Service cares for you, and we care for the Health Service and those who work in it.
This Party will defend our education system. Our teachers care for the education of our children, and we care for our schools and their staff.
If Caitriona Ruane and Sinn Féin really cared, they would do the decent thing, and step away from the Department of Education.
The Ulster Unionists would be honoured to put right the mess of the last 12 years.
But first, we must address the mess that is the current Budget –
When they were over in London, the DUP supported the Coalition Government’s Programme for Government with their votes atWestminster.
Yet back here inBelfast, they accuse us of Conservative-Unionist cuts.
That is the sort of Double-Jobbing Double-Speak that has turned the closing days of this Assembly into a shambles.
The Ulster Unionist Party wanted devolution because we wanted to see better government for all the people ofNorthern Ireland. We still do.
We share the people’s frustration at the lack of delivery over the last four years. But we have not shirked our responsibility to defend two of the most important departments of government, particularly Health, because that really is a matter of life and death.
As soon as we finish here, I am on my way to Stormont, where the Ulster Unionist Party will deliver our position to the Assembly on this shambles of a Budget.
I will honour protocol and deliver our message in the first instance to the House.”