The Great Debate UK

What European election campaign?

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Richard Whitaker- Richard Whitaker is a lecturer in European politics at the University of Leicester, UK. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Europe rarely features highly in European election campaigns in Britain. In the 2004 campaign the word Euro more often than not referred to a football tournament rather than the single currency. And for at least two reasons, we shouldn’t expect European integration to be much discussed.

First, parties have little incentive to campaign on Europe because it features a long way down the list of issues British voters consider important, well behind Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s leadership, expenses, the economy, immigration and crime. Second, to the extent that parties are internally divided on the question of how far Europe should go, they are less likely to push the issue up the agenda.

In the current campaign we might have expected what little talk there was about Europe to cover the Lisbon Treaty on which the Conservatives, in contrast to the two other main parties, have called for a referendum, and the question of whether Britain should remain a member of the EU amid calls from Eurosceptic parties on the right and left, for us to withdraw from the organisation.

German Opel rescue tests EU road rules

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paul-taylor– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Mon Dieu! Are the Germans starting to behave like the French?

Berlin’s efforts to salvage carmaker Opel from the wreckage of U.S. auto giant General Motors pose as big a challenge to Europe’s single market as French attempts earlier this year to tie loans to its carmakers to keeping jobs and factories in France.

from Luke Baker:

In for a penny, in for £175 billion

It may not be tax and spend exactly, but it's definitely tax and borrow.

For the best part of 12 years, Labour has pursued essentially conservative (with a small 'c') economic policies, steadily underburdening itself of the 'fiscally unreliable' tag that some earlier Labour administrations were (wrongly or rightly) saddled with.

And for most of the past 12 years, as the global economy steadily expanded and Britain's along with it, with aggregate wealth rising smoothly, Labour looked strong at the helm each time the budget came around.

The devil will be in the Budget detail

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fay– Fay Goddard is chief executive of The Personal Finance Society. Any opinions expressed are her own. —

Though it’s a cliche to say that a budget is eagerly awaited you can be forgiven for saying so this time around. This year all eyes and ears will be focused on the Chancellor’s economic figures and forecasts. The big question is how will he balance the books – cut public spending or raise taxes? In the run up to an election cuts are ideal but needs must. What will it mean for personal finances?

from The Great Debate:

UK suffers from banks’ Darwinian hibernation

James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Britain's banks are fulfilling their Darwinian role, to survive, rather than their economic one, to lend, and there is no easy or painless way out.

A glance at the latest Bank of England Credit Conditions Survey makes grim reading, with yet another marked tightening of lending conditions to households and businesses. Loans are harder to get and more expensive where available, which is hardly surprising given rising defaults and a hardening view that the UK will suffer a long and deep recession.

from The Great Debate:

Fighting deflation globally ain’t easy

James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

With the U.S., Japan and Britain -- nearly 40 percent of the global economy -- facing the threat of deflation, it's going to be just too easy for one, two or all three of them to get the policy response horribly wrong.

The global economy is so connected, and our experience with similar situations so limited that the scope for error is huge.

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