The Great Debate UK

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Why breaking up Britain could tear apart the EU, too

A bunch of 'Yes' balloons are seen as Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond campaigns in Edinburgh, Scotland

While recent opinion polls have swung slightly back toward the "no" camp, there remains a distinct possibility that Thursday's Scottish referendum will trigger a previously unthinkable breakup of Britain.

If this were to happen, the biggest risks for global businesses and investors do not lie in the economic problems created by Scotland’s choice of currency or the inevitable arguments about sharing North Sea oil revenue and the British national debt. These are crucial challenges for Scotland and have been much discussed in financial institutions and think tanks. But the crucial issue for the world economy and financial markets is about the resulting impact on the European Union -- and especially on Britain, which would remain the world’s sixth largest economy even if Scotland departs.

These political risks, which I discussed here last week, can be broken down into four questions: What would Scottish independence, if it happens, mean for British politics and economic management over the nine months, until the May 2015 general election? What effect would it have on the election results? How would all this turmoil affect Britain’s fraught relationship with Europe? Would Scottish independence act as an inspiration for secessionist movements in other European countries?

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a visit to the Scottish Widows building in Edinburgh, ScotlandThe answers to all four questions promise to be more destabilizing than almost anyone would have predicted a month ago.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Fighting for the future of conservativism

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech to placard waving Conservatives during an European election campaign rally at a science park in Bristol

Establishment Republicans have been delighted by the victory of Thom Tillis, their favored candidate in last week’s North Carolina primary. After expensive advertising campaigns by establishment bagmen like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, mainstream conservatives believe they have a candidate who can beat Democrat Kay Hagan to win a valuable Senate seat in November.

Some commentators see Tillis’s triumph as a sign that other impending GOP primary races will also deliver electable candidates. Having watched the Senate slip from Republican grasp in 2012, as Tea Party candidates such as Todd Akin in Missouri, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Richard Mourdock in Indiana depicted the party as too extreme, they say the Tea Party is in retreat.

from The Great Debate:

Thatcher: Master of the ‘unexpecteds’

The passing of Margaret Thatcher comes at a time when the great theme that shaped her years as Britain’s prime minister – the frontier between government and the private sector – is again the focus of serious public debate. Her historic achievement was to widen the frontiers of the “market” and, as she said, to have “rolled back the frontiers of the state.”

There is, however, a pendulum in this relationship between government and private sector. The role of government in the economy has expanded greatly since the 2008 financial collapse, along with government debt. So we will likely again see a struggle to rebalance the respective realms of state and market. And it will again be a battle.

Nothing is certain but death and taxes

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-Rachel Mason is public relations manager at Fair Investment Company. The opinions expressed are her own.-

If there is one thing in this life you can be sure about it is that you are going to be taxed a lot. You can’t escape it.
You are taxed on your income, then you are taxed on the money from your income that you have already been taxed on when it becomes savings, then you are taxed on your pension, which is made up of cash that you have already been taxed on, and then there’s road tax, car tax, council tax, VAT, stamp duty….the list goes on.

Full-time results: they all lost the election

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Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Could there have been a worse outcome to Britain’s General Election?

The result was disappointing for all concerned. The three main parties all did worse than expected, as did the nationalists. On the lunatic fringe, only the Greens have reason to rejoice – none of the others were anywhere near winning a seat.

UK political parties take mixed approach to social media

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RachelGibson- Rachel Gibson is a professor at the Institute for Social Change in the University of Manchester. The opinions expressed are her own. -

The three main parties have clearly moved into full battle mode since the UK election campaign starting gun was fired on April 6th. And while the pounding of pavements and pressing of doorbells will no doubt be crucial in producing the swings needed in key marginal constituencies, the online technology driving these targeting efforts seems to have advanced a step or two since the last election.

Old traditions die hard in UK election campaigning

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number10A study of constituency-level campaign techniques undertaken by Brunel University ahead of a general election expected in early May shows that direct mail is by far the most common method of contact used by politicians to reach potential voters.

Of the 27 percent of the electorate contacted by one of the three main political parties in February, about 90 percent received some form of communication through the post via direct mail, the study shows. Some 92 percent said they had been reached through mailings from the Liberal Democrats, 89 percent from the Conservative Party and 81 percent from the Labour Party.

Tariq Ali on how unions fare under Labour rule

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Amid a stand-off between British Airways and the Unite union, the Labour Party’s main financial supporter, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a planned strike by BA cabin crew workers “unjustified and deplorable” last week and said both sides should return to talks.

Rail signal workers in the RMT union are also threatening to strike, but haven’t announced a date.

Will the Tories come clean on public sector cuts?

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LaurenceCopeland

- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -

In the movie “The Untouchables”, the cop played by Sean Connery brushes aside his sidekick’s assertion that he really does want to nail Al Capone with the response: “Yes, but what are you prepared to do?”

Fraser Nelson sets an agenda for David Cameron

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BRITAIN-EXPENSES/Some political observers fret over the paucity of policy initiatives emerging from Britain’s two main political parties ahead of a general election expected on May 6, as pre-election rhetoric turns its focus toward the possibility of a hung parliament.

Such a scenario raises fears of further economic instability if financial markets react badly to the uncertainty the result might bring to the political arena.

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