Category Archives: Public Relations

Unionists fall into Sinn Fein’s trap on parades/past

Nelson McCausland said violence after Friday’s “Republican” parades in Belfast was inevitable. Mike Nesbitt opposed the Castlederg IRA parade with constant reference to, and I quote exactly, “our own PUL community“.

They have fallen – hook, line and sinker – into Sinn Fein’s trap through which history will be re-written to the benefit of the IRA. They may both be Oxbridge-educated, but when it comes to parades and the past their innate sectarianism makes them fools.

Here are a few facts which it doesn’t suit populist, sectarian Unionists (or “Republicans” for that matter) to point out:

  • as a result of the “Troubles”, more Catholics were killed than Protestants;
  • during the “Troubles”, more Catholics were killed by the IRA than by anyone else; and
  • at the end of the “Troubles”, more Catholics were unemployed, in poor health and on low incomes than Protestants.

In other words, a terror campaign for which the IRA was primarily responsible resulted in hell for all of Northern Ireland - but particularly for Catholics.

Thus, Sinn Fein is engaged in a long-standing campaign to make all Catholics believe that the IRA’s terror campaign was not only justified but even glorious. It accepts that Protestants will never believe this, but by pushing this view among Catholics it can then include acceptance of the justification of IRA terror as part of an “equality agenda”, whereby Protestants are generously “entitled” to believe the IRA campaign was unjustified for as long as Catholics are entitled to believe it was justified. Mike Nesbitt is one of many foolish Unionists who fall into this trap by suggesting that the only people opposed to IRA terror, and indeed implicitly that the only victims of it, were Protestants (or members of “our own PUL community“) – thus reinforcing the very dichotomy Sinn Fein is attempting to pursue! This is where buying in wholly to the blinkered sectarian approach gets you.

At the same time, Sinn Fein is also engaged in an attempt to reduce the number of parades and bonfires – an outcome which will gain it kudos in its “own community” with the added benefit, for some at least, that this will predominantly annoy Protestants. After all, Protestants do over 80% of the parading in Northern Ireland and nearly all the bonfires, so any blanket restriction to either will particularly affect Protestants. It just so happens, this summer, that “Republicans” have started pushing the limits on both, particularly parades, causing Unionist politicians both to call for the parades to be banned and to blame the parades for subsequent violence. Thus “Republicans” can very neatly tie parading to violence and move gradually towards a position where there is growing public support, particularly outside the inner cities (among all communities), for parades to be banned altogether or at least severely restricted; a useful by-product of this is they can attempt to tie the Orange Order to Loyalist paramilitaries to the extent that this becomes part of the accepted narrative, even though it is no less ludicrous than tying the GAA to the IRA. By coming out and presenting (presumably paramilitary-inspired) violence as an inevitable consequence of parades, Unionist politicians foolishly enhance Sinn Fein’s narrative. Indeed, we now have a precedent for a parade being diverted from its route by the PSNI due to a violent protest - such a precedent will now be expected to be matched by future parades organisers, very few of whom will be “Republican”.

All of this is beneficial to Sinn Fein because it serves to make it the natural follow-on of the Civil Rights Movement rather than of a needless terror campaign which cost thousands of lives; it has the additional benefit of making professional Protestants, essentially aware of what is going on, give up on Unionist leaders as the fools they are for falling into all these traps, with the consequence that suburban Unionists increasingly stop voting.

This is indeed a calamitous failure of Unionist leadership. Why? Mainly because good leaders listen, but Unionist politicians don’t.

Attwood’s laws will make roads no safer

I have long suspected the Department of the Environment’s proposed various legal changes – particularly around “graduated driver licensing” and reducing the drink-drive limit – were a complete waste of time.

Wesley Johnston is too polite to say it directly, but his excellent analysis confirms my suspicion.

Yet again, as in yesterday’s post, we have: a) a misreading of the evidence; and b) proposed solutions which are neither practical nor viable.

Firstly, proposals were brought forward by the previous DUP Minister for “graduated driver licensing”, because obviously young people are at more risk on our roads.

Or are they…?

2012 NI road fatalities per billion km travelled (Credit: Wesley Johnston)

2012 NI road fatalities per billion km travelled (Credit: Wesley Johnston)

Well, er, no, not any more. In fact, males over 60 are by far the most likely group to be killed on our roads. That is not to say that the bleedin’ obvious does not apply at all – young drivers are marginally more likely to cause accidents than the above would indicate. However, what was once a clear case of young and inexperienced drivers causing significant numbers of casualties no longer applies anything like as markedly as it once did – and that, with no change in the law.

Secondly, my particular bugbear is the proposal to reduce the current drink-driving limit to, in effect, half its current rate – effectively from typically two glasses of wine to typically one glass of wine. Let us ask the simple question: why?

We do not yet have the figures for 2012 but we can reliably predict them: the total number of fatalities on Northern Ireland’s roads where drugs or alcohol was a prime factor was, in all probability, just two. Two more than the objective, of course. But still two. They were a significant factor, in all likelihood, in six or seven. Now, let us ask another question: how many of those were caused by someone having had two glasses of wine rather than one? And how many were caused by someone completely ignoring the law and driving way over the existing limit and/or with drugs in their system?

Even recently, tens of people were being killed each year on Northern Ireland’s roads by drunk drivers alone. That is now single figures, and probably low single figures – tragic, of course, but a vast, vast improvement. And this, with no change in the law.

As I noted last week, Northern Ireland’s road fatality rate has dropped dramatically – much faster than in neighbouring jurisdictions and to a level which may be the lowest anywhere in the world. And this, with no change in the law.

Too many politicians are inclined to come up with changes in the law for the sake of change. In fact, Northern Ireland’s relative success in this area – and in others, frankly – was down to a change in attitude brought about by campaigns and, frankly, civic common sense. There were changes to enforcement (the police have moved more to enforcement on more dangerous single carriageways, which have become comparatively safer than any other road type as a result), and even changes to departmental policy (albeit in DRD, not DoE, through the adoption of a policy where possible to build all new major dual carriageways “left exit only”, i.e. with no turns across traffic and thus no risk of head-on collision – such as already on the A1 Newry Bypass and A4 Ballygawley extension, and soon on the A8 Belfast-Larne and A5 through Tyrone). But there was no change in the law.

We often see politicians as needing legal skills. In fact, what they maybe need most prominently are leadership and management skills. There are other areas where this applies too – tackling binge drinking, for example. Subtle changes in priority or policy can often achieve much… with no change in the law.

NI road safety record a staggering achievement

It is difficult not to enter 2013 with a sense of foreboding – both in Northern Ireland and globally (the two being more interconnected than anyone here cares to admit). There are, nevertheless, reasons to be cheerful.

My own Christmas was somewhat overshadowed by news of cancer diagnoses from various quarters. However, NI has the highest cancer survival rate in the UK.

It was also overshadowed, as are many now, by my father not even knowing which day Christmas was on. However, NI has the highest dementia diagnosis rate in the UK.

It was further overshadowed by the tragic loss of a toddler, killed by a parked car in Dundonald. It will come as no solace to the tens of families involved, but he was nevertheless the 48th road fatality in Northern Ireland this year – a truly staggering decline.

At the beginning of the century, one person was killed every two days on Northern Ireland’s roads. In 2012, that was fewer than one a week. Having falled from 171 to just over 100 at the end of the last decade, the last three years have seen figures of 55, 59, and now 48. Some entire months now pass with no fatalities at all.

Figures are not yet in from across the world, but there is a fair chance that Northern Ireland’s road fatality rate per person is now the lowest in the world.

Vehicle safety is one of the main reasons for the reduction in fatalities, of course, but that does not explain why Northern Ireland’s particular reduction has been so marked.

So here’s a thought for 2013: we may actually just be quite good at some campaigns, at some policy initiatives, and at some aspects of basic common sense.

Census – the 48%…

It is plain from recent exchanges that they still don’t like to admit it, but the census showed clearly that Unionists are now a minority in Northern Ireland – as this blog put it a fortnight ago, we are all minorities now.

Interestingly, in 2011:

- the first-preference Unionist vote at the Northern Ireland Assembly election was 48%;

- the number self-identifying as British (at all) in Northern Ireland was 48%; and

- the number claiming Protestant background in Northern Ireland was 48%.

The Unionist share of the electorate (i.e. working-age and retired population) has dipped below half; and those in the entire population from whom it can reliably draw votes has also fallen below half. And all the trends are downwards.

Ultimately, that is what the riots are all about. In the history of Ireland, Unionists have always been able to rely on artificial privilege – initially marked by religious background; subsequently by land ownership; since 1921 in Northern Ireland by virtue merely of being the “majority”. They are no longer the majority, and they no longer have any artificial privilege. They just have to use persuasion and compromise like everyone else now. It’s called democracy – and it has to be said, it is made more difficult by the fact that the largest non-Unionist party in Northern Ireland is anything but responsibly democratic.

As warned last week on this blog, Unionist Leaders have not shown even the slightest hint of reacting to the new demographic. Their first move (they act together these days) was to try to get the issue raised at Stormont – this failed due to a boycott, but if they continue to push it they will find, as will ever now be the case, that they lack the numbers to do so anyway. Their second was to hint that perhaps a bit of “Unionist Unity” would help deliver something – but the protests kept going on, not least because everyone knows it can’t deliver anything because they are not the majority and they don’t have a case that makes sense to anyone but themselves. Their third was to call for the protests to stop – a call not even their own elected representatives heeded.

In the midst of all the 48% figures, however, there was a far more significant figure – 29%.

29% is the number of people in England and Wales who regard themselves as in any way British (a staggering 71% do not).

29% is also the number of working-age people in Northern Ireland who have no educational qualifications whatsoever.

Unionists may begin to take account of the 48% figure in due course. But it’s the 29% figure that should worry them most. That it doesn’t, is the very reason Unionism is in such obvious crisis.

Belfast On The Move – Credit where it’s due…

I opted to leave most of the comment on the Belfast On The Move project (i.e. the new bus lanes) to Wesley Johnston, who universally talks sense on transport issues.

My instincts were always identical to his, and indeed I tweeted on one occasion in early September: “We want our public sector to take risks; then, when they do, we condemn them for it“. In fact, I was able to tweet it because trains now offer free WiFi (a real triumph). Few were prepared to give either of those points much space at the time, though…

I think two months on, we can now call it – it’s worked reasonably. Is Nolan covering the fact it’s worked out ok? Will the Belfast Telegraph give front-page billing to the point Belfast is moving pretty much as well as it was beforehand? Are we likely to see columns full of people praising civil servants? I doubt it – but you know, sometimes we need to give credit where it’s due.

Is it perfect? Of course not. I accept on some routes commute times have increased – but then, there was no denying they would for car users. My own main quibble would be simply that the lanes themselves are not adequately enforced; to be precise, stopping restrictions all over Belfast are not adequately enforced (only yesterday I was forced to veer clear of a van on a double yellow line outside the University of Ulster). Where before the consequent loss of a lane because of some eejit with hazard lights forced you from an easy four lanes to a still manageable three, now it forces you from a tight two lanes to an impossible one.

I would add that the communications of the whole thing were poor. Timing is tricky in NI, and sometimes you wonder if people follow the news at all, but too many people were caught completely unawares. What baffled me most of all was that the evident purpose of all these bus lanes – to make space for the Rapid Transit System – was never stated.

However, the fact is our officials took a reasonable gamble with our traffic system, and on balance it worked. We like complaining, so no one else will bother declaring this success after two months the way they revelled in declaring failure after two days. So I thought I’d better risk doing so…!

Save the Children’s campaign only proves need to define poverty

Save the Children has launched a campaign within the UK, effectively suggesting that absolute poverty now exists here and that some parents cannot afford to give their children a hot meal every day. This is not the most ludicrous campaign I have ever heard of – indeed, it has some merit – but it is still deeply flawed because of our ongoing refusal to deal properly with poverty (or even to define it).

Firstly, the notion that some children are going without  a hot meal every day is presented as if it is something new. If you have had a cushy existence all your life, perhaps it is – for most people, it is no surprise at all. However, is it because parents “cannot afford” the hot meal, or because they do not place a high enough priority on producing one (and I have phrased that very politely)? After all, significant numbers of parents do not ensure their child gets to school; do not ensure their child does their homework; so why would they ensure their child gets a hot meal? (By the way, this is not remotely a class issue or an in-work versus out-of-work division).

Secondly, we are now frequently hearing the line that “half of those in poverty are actually in-work” – as if this counters Iain Duncan Smith’s argument that work is a fundamental route out of poverty. This is misleading; put the other way around: “Everyone who is out of work is in poverty; whereas a relatively small proportion of those in work are”. And, to add some detail: in-work poverty is indeed on the rise, which makes me wonder why politicians concerned about issues such as welfare reform concern themselves only with those claiming benefits of various kinds, as if those are the only “vulnerable people” in society. In fact, those on benefits have seen very little material change in their circumstances over the past five years (likewise those working in the public sector, by the way) – but those (typically professionals) running construction firms, estate agents or management consultancies have seen their incomes collapse; and those in the retail sector were often doomed anyway. Those (and their children) are the true “vulnerable” – yet I never hear them even spoken of.

Thirdly, the underlying idea is that Save the Children will raise money and then, presumably (this is not clear), will pass it on to parents living in poverty. But how is that going to help? It is not sustainable for them to rely on hand-outs from Save the Children for all eternity. In fact, charities like Save the Children need to group together with others and state clearly with one voice: the way we have been attempting to tackle poverty (i.e. by chucking incredible amounts of public money at the problem in an entirely untargeted way) has not worked for decades and will never work because we can tell – both from logic and experience – that it is fundamentally flawed.

After all, other than with reference to inequality, we haven’t even defined poverty yet…

Public Affairs: Avoid losing control, avoid disingenuous arguments

I am not sure who is ultimately behind the campaign to lower VAT on the hospitality sector, but whoever it is has committed many of the sins of such a campaign – not least, losing control of it.

Firstly, the campaign is disingenuous from the outset, for two reasons: a) it is making the case for a reduction in VAT rather than rates (or equivalent) on the grounds that a VAT reduction would not be perceived to cost money from the public purse (nonsense, of course); and b) it is arguing the case on the grounds of “tourism”, yet in fact the main beneficiaries would be restaurants serving local people. To be clear - any tax break means less revenue to the Treasury and thus lower public spending; and, in particular, a tax break to the hospitality sector would not create wealth but would serve in fact as a subsidy for eating out (but remember, only in direct proportion to the amount customers spend, thus rich customers gain more than poor ones – note all Assembly parties supported this, and only one had any reservations).

Secondly, the campaign makes the old mistake of failing to understand, or even attempt to look at, political reality; in particular, failing to grasp the inherent motivations of those in government. Don’t forget, this is the government (in Whitehall) which raised VAT in the first place; this is a government committed to cutting the deficit (and already failing to do so, before any further tax breaks); and this is a government which was keen on specific tax differentials for NI yet failed to deliver them (remember Sir Humphrey’s “all kinds of administrative reasons and legal difficulties”).

Thirdly, it is my understanding that all three devolved Assemblies are being targeted to pass motions. This may be disingenuous too (it is easy to look tough on issues beyond your control), but is also almost certainly foolish since none of those Assemblies is controlled by either of the parties in the UK’s governing coalition. This makes the whole issue confrontation- rather than consensus-driven.

Fourthly, most obviously, control has been lost of the campaign. It has been presented in the media as a specific attempt to cut VAT for a certain sector in Northern Ireland; yet my understanding (see above) is the campaign is UK-wide and devolved Assemblies are only being used to make the point. In NI, it was presented as a means to match the lower rate in the Republic of Ireland – but that is hardly an issue in East Anglia! This is where the tangle of “tourism” versus “hospitality“; “devolved” versus “UK-wide“; “VAT” versus “rates” all goes a bit wrong.

This is to leave quite aside the point that representations have already been made to the Treasury on the issue – and were rejected. This is hardly surprising. Such a tax break would cost a lot of money (increased further when we remember that it would also delay repayment of the national debt and cost at least another 2p for every pound not recouped), it would not create any wealth to make up for this (because really it’s about “hospitality”, not “[foreign] tourism”), and most relevantly of all it would lead to whole host of other “sectors” (and even actual “industries”) demanding similarly favourable treatment.

Unionist over-exuberance Part I – “Team GB”

Unionists in NI can appear, to the external view, a quite impenetrable lot. They spend most of their time emphasising how British they are – more so than any other British people – but when the Olympics come around they seem to argue suddenly that they are not!

Even Zoe Salmon – one of those lovely NI celebrities who is so proud of her homeland she chooses not to live in it [churlishness off] – got in on the act, demanding a change of brand to “Team UK”, thus removing any hint of “Brit” from the title.

Strictly speaking, of course, NI is not part of Great Britain. But this is precisely why the team is formally called “Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. The brand “Team GB” is merely that – a brand.

There are other reasons Unionist protestations seem bizarre, beyond the simple fact that “Great Britain and Ireland” and subsequently “Great Britain and Northern Ireland” have always been the name of the team but are somewhat too long to say most of the time!

Firstly, they of all people should be aware that “Team UK” does not solve the “problem” (even as they define it), as the UK does not include a number of territories included within the British Olympic Association’s team. A Manxman was part of a gold-medal-winning cycling team; an Anguillan reached the women’s long jump final; there were no doubt others – representative of British territories but not of the UK. In fact, therefore, it makes more sense for the word “Britain” (hence “British”) to be hinted at in the brand than for it to be omitted.

Secondly, to be brutal, NI did not in fact contribute to Team GB’s position on the medal table, since this is determined by gold medals and NI didn’t directly win any. It hasn’t, in fact, since 1988. Perhaps if politicians spent more time working out why that is than they do arguing about a name, that may change – and thus strengthen their “case”! Aside from a swimming pool (and even that greatly delayed), NI has delivered very little in terms of appropriate facilities for a start, a point of much more relevance than a couple of initials in a brand name.

Thirdly, “GB” does remain the official identifier for the whole UK in a range of contexts such as vehicle registration plates (and is also the origin of other identifiers, such as “GBM” for the Isle of Man). There are a number of reasons for this, from straightforward tradition (see above re the original name of the Olympic team) to language (“Great Britain” also works as “Grande-Bretagne”, “Grossbritannien” and so on; but the “United Kingdom” does not translate so neatly). In other words, it is just the way it is.

Finally, “Team GB” has in fact proved an astonishingly successful brand since it was first introduced. If it ain’t broke, just get on with it!

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Olympics and Media

Once I had read the wonderful Clive James’ article on the prevalence of the words “absolutely” and “phenomenal” in BBC Olympics coverage, it because apparent to me that they were both used by a vast range of correspondents an absolutely phenomenal number of times! The Olympics revealed much about modern London, and about modern Britain – and also about the modern BBC. It is a mixed scorecard – but one which provides evidence we should be very thankful for a quality independent broadcaster.

Firstly, on the language point, even Mr James implicitly accepts that a larger number of commentators and interviewers inevitably means a decline in the average level of language skill. Words such as “absolutely” and “phenomenal” did become somewhat en vogue, but at no great cost. Of course, our own Colin Murray’s plain incorrect use of “have went” did become excruciating within minutes, even to a language liberal…

Secondly, some questions were raised, including apparently internally, on the BBC’s bias towards home athletes – indeed, it was alleged that this amounted to straightforward jingoism. I personally found this, if anything, less the case than it had been in the past (I had taken to watching major athletics championships on Eurosport rather than BBC in order to find out who actually won as opposed to who gallantly came seventh), if only because covering the British athlete and covering the winner coincided more often than it usually does! In my own experience it was in fact ITV Daybreak which went overboard with an appalling line of questioning to foreign journalists on the final Friday morning to the extent that they may as well have asked the poor Frenchwoman “Don’t you agree this Olympics was the best ever and it was specifically because we beat you to host it?”

Thirdly, questions were also raised specifically about BBC NI’s coverage of local competitors. There should be no doubt that it was entirely legitimate – and indeed specifically helpful – for BBC NI to cover competitors from NI who happened to be competing for the Irish team; it was perhaps less legitimate for this to extend on occasions to covering other Irish competitors, to the extent of appearing to favour one to win against a British opponent in one of the boxing finals (I think this was a desperate attempt at justifying coverage of the Olympics on local news upon the elimination of all NI competitors rather than anything “political” – but this in some way only makes it worse, for there was plenty of other news to cover locally). In a time of cutbacks elsewhere, I am not sure why we needed two correspondents of our own, although they were probably better in London than South Carolina. Yet as far as I am aware, some really interesting pieces of genuinely local interest were missed – was it mentioned that the wonderful showjumping barriers were assembled by people from Northern Ireland, for example?

Fourthly, questions were raised about the BBC’s decision to place its newsreaders within Olympic Park. Here, I agree entirely. I am a mammoth sports fan. But the last thing I wanted to do upon watching the news was to re-watch what I had just watched on the sports coverage. I could watch as many re-runs as I wanted via red buttons, internet links and highlights shows (the latter meant this was the case even when I was restricted to analogue TV for nearly a week), I did not need them repeated on the news as well. It was as if nothing else happened in the world while all 7 billion of us apparently became enamoured with “Jess Ennis” (see below). I suggest that is unlikely!

Fifthly, there was some comment on the level of familiarity shown towards British competitors, from openly hugging them through to naming the outstanding star of the British track-and-field team “Jess” rather than “Jessica”. I must say I was relatively untroubled by this most of the time – part of the point of the whole thing was the emotional outpouring of a country proud to have hosted the games so well and competed so well within them. Nevertheless, I do wonder if the formality pendulum has not by now swung too far; it was as if the BBC correspondents were claiming a share in a success which, to be clear, had nothing whatsoever to do with them.

Finally, I was surprised at the number of careless errors which crept into the coverage, particularly on the radio where accuracy is all-important. Leads were assigned to the wrong person; “hours” were referred to as “minutes”; periods without a gold medal were referred to as periods without a medal. My own view is that there is a clear distinction between radio and TV broadcasting and a different set of skills required – it is not always appropriate to shift presenters directly from one to the other.

For all of that, the the Olympics amounted to a return to form for the BBC after a difficult summer. It is worth noting the true scandal of Olympics broadcasting was the failure of NBC to show the 100 metres men’s final live in the United States. That was an outrageous example of commercialism gone completely barking, with public interest scurrilously tossed out of the window. This should tell us one thing which should stand out above all: there was good and bad about the BBC coverage, but long may we be thankful for it.

Public Affairs – What happened to the Welfare Reform Bill?

From over at ULTONIA COMMUNICATIONS:

One of the peculiarities of devolution is that it operates subtly differently – both in theory and in practice – in different jurisdictions. One area where this is most obvious is social security, and thus Welfare Reform.

In the UK social security is, in theory, devolved only to Northern Ireland. However, a long-standing principle of “parity” – aimed at guaranteeing the same level of social security and welfare support to all citizens regardless of where in the UK they live – means that any shortfall in funding for social security in NI will be met by the UK Treasury provided NI retains roughly the same social security system. Precisely what this means, however, is open to debate.

Already there are areas of welfare provision which are done slightly differently in NI, usually due to different systems elsewhere – for example, as NI retains rates where the rest of the UK has moved to Council Tax, housing support is necessarily different. In NI, the system is also administered slightly differently, run as it is by the Department of Social Development (DSD) in Belfast rather than the Department of Work and Pensions in London. Although in practice DSD uses many of the same systems (IT, management etc), in some areas practice and outcome are subtly different (for example, DSD has in fact been significantly more successful in tackling fraud).

Welfare Reform would necessarily involve some differences in NI, where areas such as childcare provision and government-sponsored training are markedly different – thus, some of the assumptions behind welfare reform in Great Britain do not necessarily apply to NI. There is a legitimate debate about whether this requires NI to come more into line in areas such as childcare and training, or whether it provides reasonable grounds for a difference in welfare reform policy (still falling within the spirit of ‘parity’ on the grounds it ultimately seeks the same outcome).

For all that, Great Britain’s Welfare Reform Bill achieved Royal Assent on 7 March. “Parity” dictates that roughly the same reforms are necessary in NI, and thus that roughly the same legislation is necessary, and according to all Assembly scrutiny on the subject (most notably in the Social Development Committee), this was due at least to have been published by the end of June. Why wasn’t it?

Ultonia Communications makes great play of understanding not just the structures but also the culture of the devolved institutions, and therein lies the answer. Ultimately the NI Executive is driven by two parties – the DUP and Sinn Fein – and things only happen once they agree. However, as one correspondent puts it: “There is no ‘bank of goodwill’ between the parties“. In other words, decisions can only be made which may be seen to favour on party’s position at the same time as a decision favouring the other party’s position – regardless of the issues involved or even whether they are remotely consequential. Hence, earlier this month, we saw decisions announced on the Maze Regeneration and the Victims’ Commissioner at the same time, with the rest (including welfare reform) relegated to a sideshow – or, specifically, to a trade-off at a later date.

This “culture” does not just impact on NI’s Welfare Reform Bill (which cannot be delayed too long otherwise NI will be left with a huge tab to pick up, likely running into billions, for social security). It will also surely come to impact implementation by the Health Minister of Transforming Your Careimplementation by the Education Minister of the two Education Bills (and broader reforms), and a whole host of other policies. Welfare Reform has been delayed by the lack of a “Bank of Goodwill” - and, in public affairs, it is always worth having contingencies in case the same happens in other areas.

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