Trouble ahead at Stormont?

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Here we go; here we go; here we go-o.

Here we go; here we go; here we go-o.

The latest crisis at Stormont is to kick-off today. Some of the players could be red-carded for refusing to play by the rules laid down by the big referee in England.

We’ve been here so many times we could be forgiven for refusing to get caught-up in the drama. Yet this time it could be different. Things can spin out of control. Trouble on the pitch can spill over into the crowd. Spectators could be dragged into the fight.

You can be certain that the referee will be afraid of the consequences of sending anyone off but it looks like their hand will soon be forced. The London government will be painfully aware that if they have to intervene it will be seen as a policy failure and they will know too that if they try to implement big welfare cuts there could be trouble ahead.

In the first instance Secretary of State Villiers will try to manage the situation by getting civil servants to impose a budget on Stormont ministers. If that’s too tough for ministers to live with, as looks likely, then the ‘good’ ship devolution will be in uncharted waters. If the ship is still heading for the rocks then Cameron will have to take the helm. Will he be able to steer through harsh welfare cuts? It could get rough.

The bottom line is that the north remains the failed political entity it has always been.