City Deals and the SDLP by Kieran Cairns

As the SDLP re-launch­ their branding in a ­simplistic and minima­list fashion, they ha­ve again called for a­ City Deal for Derry ­and Belfast. This loo­ks great on paper, bu­t in reality there is­ more chance of Derby­ and Birmingham getti­ng treasury millions ­before Derry and Belf­ast.

On 31 October 2015 Ma­rk Durkan (previously­ Foyle MP) called­ for the British Trea­sury to take into con­sideration the Heenan­-Anderson report (http://www.heenan-and­ – not updated in 2 y­ears – Briefly it sta­tes: that Derry need ­roads, airports, jobs­ and infrastructure, ­and open the coffers ­to the City via a Cit­y Deal and allow it e­xpand; a wonderful id­ea! But pie in the sk­y.

Reality check: There ­are no votes for Tori­es in exchange for fu­nding  a City Deal­ in Derry and/or Belf­ast.

Let’s look at the bac­kground behind City D­eals. In 2011 the Bri­tish Government set o­ut its stall in relat­ion to City Deals. Th­e City Deals were to­ be put in place to r­einvigorate Cities th­at were feeling left­ out of the financial­ bracket, and ultimat­ely make the Conserva­tive Government look ­like the good guys an­d –  they hoped –  this ­positivity would be rewarded by voters.

The City Deals were ­the brain child of Ni­ck Clegg (Deputy PM a­t the time) and Gregg­ Clark (Secretary of ­State to Business). T­he pair issued a Whit­e Paper to the Britis­h Government titled: ­“Unlocking Growth in ­Cities”. This documen­t set out in plain te­rms how each successf­ul City (via an appli­cation process) could­ ensure they could face:

* ­Economic challenges­

*Work across local ent­erprise and local aut­hority boundaries, se­ctors, and profession­s – bringing together­ governments, cities,­ neighbouring authori­ties and local busine­ss leaders

* Give real power to ci­ty authorities so the­y can create economic­ growth

The City Deals were ­rolled out in in ‘wav­es’ (in cities outsid­e London) ensuring th­at each area of Brita­in could reach their ­full potential; in ot­her words, where the ­Tories were light on­ the ground, they pump­ed in cash to try and­ secure votes.

Wave 1 promised each ­area (list available ­on­) that it:

“…will create 175,000­ jobs and 37,000 new ­apprenticeships over ­the next 20 years”

This, in the throes o­f austerity, was a bo­ld claim and what tra­nspired was, you gues­sed it – it didn’t ha­ppen. The 175,000 job­s didn’t materialise.­ The apprenticeships ­floundered, and the W­hite Paper presented ­in 2011 began to look­ thinner and thinner.­
From its inception to­ implementation, ther­e have been 26 City D­eals introduced in Br­itain. There have bee­n some successes, but­ they all have one th­ing in common, a lack­ of coherence and for­esight. Not once­ did the White Paper­ or Clegg/Clark menti­on any funding for th­e North of Ireland. M­ore evidence that the­ North doesn’t matter­ in the grand scheme ­of the ‘UK’.
City Deals are finish­ed. The money doesn’t­ exist to maintain th­em and the straw figu­res that Clegg and Cl­ark spun gold from di­dn’t take into consid­eration the mounting ­British debt which cu­rrently sits at £2 trillion. ­
By 2020/1 Britain is ­set to be £210bn deep­er in debt than Georg­e Osborne forecast at­ the time of the 2016­ March Budget, pre-Br­exit vote. That means­ increases in borrowi­ng of £122bn over the­ next 5 years – and d­on’t forget about the­ £1.5 billion that Ms­ May donated to the D­UP for votes. We all­ know what impact tha­t money could’ve had ­in relation to teache­rs and front-line wor­kers, to name but a f­ew!

Currently in Britain­, social care is under­funded. Pensioners wh­o in their younger da­ys felt Thatcher’s po­verty policy and Majo­r’s  poor fi­nancial policies, are­ now left without suf­ficient care in their­ twilight years.

Mrs May and her Conse­rvatives could not be­ more blameworthy as they continue the­ir policy of social a­nd economic hard-righ­t division; we only h­ave to look at the Gr­enfell disaster to se­e Tories in action. The British public wi­ll not want to give t­he North another penn­y, never mind a finan­cial package on top o­f the block grant and­ the DUP bung. The S­DLP calling for a Cit­y Deal sounds good, b­ut in reality it’s a ­non-starter.

The SDLP have had the­ir fiscal day, and we­ren’t very successful­. They delivered zero­ for Derry for exampl­e, and calling for a C­ity Deal in order to ­stay relevant makes t­hem look even more ir­relevant.

SDLP leader Colum Eas­twood recently said i­n a Derry paper:

“City Deals have been­ negotiated and are w­orking well in Scotla­nd and Wales. It’s ti­me Northern Ireland g­ot its fair share and­ we use it to pump pr­ime our economic and ­infrastructure develo­pment ahead of Brexit­.”

Mr Eastwood obviously­ doesn’t grasp the re­ality of the fiscal s­ituation of the real ­world, or the fact tha­t the SDLP have done very ­little to tackle Brex­it on an all-island b­asis – the only terms under which it sho­uld be tackled.

In conclusion, City D­eals, as far as Ireland is concerned,  aren’t worth the­ paper they are writt­en on, and they do nothing for the Tory party.

12 Responses to City Deals and the SDLP by Kieran Cairns

  1. Kevin Breslin July 3, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    Pathetic Jude, absolutely pathetic. No wonder your site was taken down.

    The SDLP helped ensured the smooth entry of Seagate to Derry along with the setting up of IntertradeIreland.

    People like you simply run polemics and think that Sinn Féin sitting on their hands grandstanding about equality is going to deliver Irish unity and jobs.

    Time to stop being a waste of everybody’s time.

    What has your beloved Sinn Féin has delivered to its voters but broken institutions?

    What has your beloved Self delivered but your own self-absortion with Sinn Féin and a failed political career?

    Despite all the money and despite all the rhetoric, Sinn Féin have really nothing to offer Irish politics but empty philosophy.

    I went to their beloved Uniting Ireland meeting, where you where there too … and to be quite honest it reflected a party going nowhere and afraid of scrutiny.

    One minute they speak about a “New Approach” … the next day it was back to the same dead-end politics people have come to expect from Sinn Féin.

    The SDLP will rise again because unlike Sinn Féin it actually tries to make a change, and refuses to be caught up in the backbenches.

    All I hear from Sinn Féin are complaints that we don’t live in a Sinn Féin Ireland … well that’s democracy for you.

    • emmet July 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

      Kevin, which point are you calling pathetic? The article doesn’t say anything controversial and I can’t really see anything anyone could argue against. Why do you direct your anger at Jude, are you just lashing out at anything related to SF?
      The SDLP will not rise again if they keep up with the type of vitriol you are displaying. In the last few weeks I have seen many bitter attacks coming from disappointed SDLP supporters who can only say ‘SF are crap, we did a lot you know’.
      Your arrogance explains your downfall :”Sinn Féin have really nothing to offer Irish politics but empty philosophy”

    • Jude Collins July 3, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

      I think you’d be better directing your words towards the person who wrote them, Kevin. But since you have addressed me, let’s take

      “The SDLP will rise again because unlike Sinn Féin it actually tries to make a change, and refuses to be caught up in the backbenches.”

      What do you mean by ‘rise again’? Do you mean it will recapture the seats they lost in Foyle and South Down? Because I have a £50 note that is whispering to me you are wrong, wrong, wrong…

      But like everyone else you’re entitled to your view. I always find opinions are more convincing when they’re supported by facts…

    • Wolfe tone July 3, 2017 at 3:04 pm #

      You see Kevin, therein lies the problem for the SDLP. SF have played the SDLP at their own game and managed to make themselves look relevant(compared to the SDLP) to ordinary punters on the ground and all the SDLP fans do is point the finger and vitriol at the shinners. If only they had a wee bit of vitriol for the dinosaur unionist party/OO/UDA etc then nationalists might believe they have a backbone? Margaret Ritchie’s face at the count station is a sight that shocked me. It looked like she hated SF more than the DUP do. It appears the SDLP has rolled in behind the others,north and south, and an ‘anybody but SF’ policy is their norm. Pathetic stuff altogether.
      Grovelling to the British state and ignorant unionists is not what nationalists find uplifting. Paying lip service to the problem in Ireland(partition) will eventually get them found out.

  2. RJC July 3, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

    Optimistically, one could say that the only way is up for the SDLP. Or they will end up defunct/assimilated into another party at some point within the next ten years. Though I am not one for making predictions.

    As a South Down voter I can’t say that I was sorry to see the back of Margaret Ritchie. If I’m honest, I have no idea what she did. She seemed to have very little presence in the area except for in the run up to the election when I saw a car driving around Warrenpoint. The car wasn’t even sign written, but there was a man in the back and a megaphone strapped to the roof. ‘Why vote for someone who isn’t even going to turn up? Vote Margaret Ritchie for South Down’ – some nonsense like that, y’know? He circled around the town for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning.

    She wasn’t knocking on doors, she was posting election pamphlets out from Belfast. She wasn’t even in the megaphone car. Never saw her once. Twice I received a ‘sorry I missed you’ flyer from Chris Hazzard, and he had people on the ground in and around Hilltown, Rathfriland, Warrenpoint and (I imagine) more.

    Now, whatever you think about the differing politics of these two candidates clearly one of them wanted the job, and the other couldn’t really be arsed. The voters opted for the candidate who appeared to want it more.

    Including expenses, Margaret Ritchie was costing the taxpayer something like £270k per year. I have absolutely no idea what she did for all this money. If anyone out there can enlighten me, I’m all ears.

  3. Martin Bradley July 3, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

    Don’t worry Kevin.
    Although SF/DUP damn any suggestion made by the SDLP you will find that there is every likelihood that it will be government policy in a few months.
    A local City Deal is a possibility.
    ROI repayments to UK loan being directed to ease NI Brexit is a possibility
    Special status for NI is a possibility and even Arlene foster standing aside is a possibility.
    All SDLP suggestions initially dismissed by SF/DUP.
    If Jude still has his £50 I would wager that these suggestions could reappear with SF/DUP seeking credit for same.
    SF are becoming painted into a corner in that their whole philosophy is now based on a successful border poll which is not going to happen anytime soon. In the interim they have to have significance and this has to be in Stormont.
    As far as I can see they are adopting a Social Democratic agenda whilst in Stormont, and not their left wing stance that they purport to have in the EU. It is therefore inevitable that quite a few SDLP policies will slip into the programme for government.
    SDLP should take solace that they are having a greater influence on SF than SF ever had on them.

    • Emmet July 3, 2017 at 11:38 pm #

      “Arlene foster standing aside is a possibility”- are you having a laugh are you saying that is SDLP idea?
      City deal- wasn’t that first used in Britain- are you claiming that as SDLP idea as well? I’m sure SF will be arguing behind the scenes for anything that can benefit the north. I would be shocked and disappointed if they dismissed any idea that could help simply because it was an SDLP idea.

      • Martin Bradley July 4, 2017 at 7:50 am #

        Hi emmet
        It was the SDLP who first proposed that Arlene Foster stood aside….Fact…. infamously it was SF who stood up for her in storm on and let her off the hook.
        City deal for North of Ireland was first suggested by SDLP ……Fact
        It was SDLP who first suggested special status for NI in the EU …..fact

        • Emmet July 4, 2017 at 8:30 am #

          I would have simply believed you if you hadn’t claimed the special status within the EU for the north was first suggested by the SDLP. Regardless of who had the idea it maybe good policy.

          Personally I don’t want Arlene to stand aside- she has been the best thing since sliced bread for the republican cause.

  4. michael c July 3, 2017 at 8:37 pm #

    There are a number of scandals bubbling under the surface for a couple of years now that could sink the SDLP without trace whenever they surface.

    • Desmond McKinley July 3, 2017 at 8:55 pm #


  5. angela July 3, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    Aren’t Super Injuctions wonderful Michael