The DUP is clearly very, very worried by the Alliance Party. Having in fact been on the receiving end of a revolt by working class inner-city Protestants on the back of its decision to prioritise flags over real issues, it is now trying its hand at attacking the Alliance Party on real issues – and tripping itself up again.
One DUP MLA tried to mock the Alliance Party because of its policy of introducing water charges. The problem is, faced with the question of where he was going to find the billion quid necessary to fix our water infrastructure without introducing them, he was left, well, high and dry…
In fact, his answer was literally unbelievable. He was, in fact, going to raise a billion by, er, “reducing the number of government departments”. Let’s just see where that takes us…
Reducing the number of government departments is, of course, a very good idea (as it would encourage better governance) – but it would not save a penny. The same units, agencies and grants would continue to exist.
No, the savings could only be realised if you actually made civil servants redundant. To raise a billion, you would need (taking Sammy Wilson’s figure of 8,000 for 260 million) to dismiss around 30,000.
To be clear, therefore, the indisputable logic of the DUP’s stated position is that to avoid implementing water charges, it is prepared to make 30,000 people redundant.
It may be time for clarification from the DUP: if you don’t plan to make 30,000 people redundant and you don’t want to introduce water charges (which, of course, are paid by the rest of the British population), what exactly are you going to cut to find your billion?