A financial support package which shows why Northern Ireland is fortunate to be in UK
The Conservative Party has in recent years turned political convention on its head by becoming a ‘big spend’ movement.
What was once a party of sound money has shown a willingness to spend today, worry tomorrow.
That was apparent again yesterday when the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a huge support programme to help people cope with the massive increase in the cost of living.
The package involves discounts on energy bills or payments worth hundreds of pounds. This sort of freeness with public money is a further move away from the austerity that was introduced by the 2010 Tory government, and even supported by their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, to tackle the huge debt pile they inherited.
It comes alongside massive fiscal stimulus that has been running in some shape or form since the financial crisis of 2008.
It is not surprising that attitudes to spending changed radically in the Treasury in the Covid pandemic, when government subsidies were essential for individuals and businesses.
It is not surprising either now that a number of global factors have combined to cause an alarming spike in inflation.
It is curious, though, that the government is making money available in the economy when the Bank of England is trying to tighten the money supply via increasing interest rates, which are now one of the few levers against inflation — which ruins the savings of prudent folk.
These are complex economic debates. But in the meantime, Northern Ireland should be thankful that it is part of a United Kingdom that has such financial firepower, and is one of the largest economies on earth.
We need both to deploy such arguments in defence of a Union that is under relentless and almost hysterical verbal attack, and to hold out against a protocol that throws into doubt whether we will in future be eligible for aspects of UK support, rather than buckle to moral blackmail about immediately ending the current delay to the restoration of Stormont.
• Other comment articles:
• Stephen White May 27: On 100th anniversary of policing in NI, there is an effort to blacken name of RUC
• Jim Allister May 26: It is deluded to think red and green lanes will neuter the protocol
• Samuel Morrison May 26: The idea that ‘Planters’ don’t belong here was a pretext for murder
• Editorial May 26: Least unionists can do is show contempt for Congressman Neal’s pro-Irish bias
• Jeffrey Donaldson May 25: The UN condemns colonies, yet Northern Ireland has become one
• Brian John Spencer May 25: Thank goodness for those voices who challenge the anti British imbalance in Ireland
• Jeff Dudgeon May 24: Anglican church won’t call Cork massacre of Protestants sectarian
• Owen Polley May 23: Many culprits are to blame for Irish Sea border
• Ben Lowry May 21: There’s been a shift in London towards sympathy for NI over protocol
• Ben Lowry May 21: I do love Bangor, but it is hard to think of it as a city