Peter Robinson was on the telly last night, emphasising how economics (i.e., the money from Britain) was tied to our Shared Future. Makes sense, I suppose. You’re more likely to look kindly on your neighbour if both of you aren’t scrabbling to survive.
So the thing is, where would we be without British money, eh? Down the plug-hole, into the depths of financial Hades with that lot south of the border. And although Peter didn’t say that, he certainly highlighted the link between the support we get as part of the United Kingdom and the ambitious plans for tearing down peace walls inside the next decade.
But hold. Did you catch that speech made by Conor Murphy the other day? No? Well he said a few interesting things. Sammy Wilson had made the declaration in the Assembly that we are billions better off because we’re in the United Kingdom - a kind of precursor act to Peter Robinson’s UK money/Shared Future bit on TV last night. Conor Murphy raises a point that not many people know - or if they do, they’re keeping very quiet about it:
“Every time Sinn Féin questions the veracity of the claims we are fed a diet of guestimations that even the British government’s own Office of National Statistics or Treasury do not accept as correct.
Sinn Féin has requested figures from the Finance Department regarding the 23 revenue streams that are generated within the north and the 17 expenditure streams, without success. Rather than provide this valuable information which is in the public interest and crucial to our ability to engage in economic planning, Sammy Wilson has opted to politicise and personalise the debate.”
Did you know that? Me neither. I’d always sort of assumed that we knew how much we were getting and how much we were paying out in taxes, but it seems that notion is all based on the kind of book-keeping that Arthur Daly would have been proud of.
Of course, it’s in Conor Murphy’s interest, as a Sinn Féin representative, that the figures show that we aren’t nearly as dependent on Britain as we’re led to believe. Maybe he’s wrong. On the other hand, maybe he’s right. The only way we’ll ever know is if we get the facts and figures about how much Britain puts in here and how much we pass into the British Treasury as tax-payers. Otherwise it’s like making decisions about the family budget while your bank manager acts all vague and talks about the weather when you ask him how much is in your account.
The Russians in the days of Gorbachev had a word for it:”glasnost”. (Yes, Virginia, it does mean ‘openness’ - top of the class.) Let’s all have some glasnost and end the fantasy finance.