The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Britain’s Liberals flex their muscles, a little

Every marriage goes through its bumpy patches. Just ask British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his Liberal Democratic coalition partner, Nick Clegg. They have just gone through the most serious spat since they cobbled together their civil union two years ago, when British voters removed Gordon Brown’s Labour government but didn’t give the Tories a clear mandate. The coalition is a marriage of convenience, a dynastic coupling where neither side is under any illusion that love or affection is involved.

The pretext for the current very public disagreement was a Labour motion in the House of Commons demanding an investigation into whether the minister responsible for deciding whether Rupert Murdoch could buy the 58 percent of broadcaster Sky he does not already own broke the government’s own strict code of conduct. Jeremy Hunt, the man at the center of the fight, has been shown to have made up his mind in favor before being given the job of impartially adjudicating and to have been ultra-cozy with the Murdochs, sending Rupert’s son James a high-five text suggesting that the deal was a fait-accompli. The Murdochs admit bombarding Hunt with no fewer than 788 exculpatory emails. Despite this, Cameron saw no problem with Hunt’s lack of objectivity, and Hunt has defied endless Labour calls to resign.

Clegg, who before the coalition was not deemed important enough to warrant even a Christmas card from Murdoch, spotted an opportunity. With the British public furious at how Murdoch has made a mockery of democracy by bullying and buying his way to business success, he declined to support the Labour motion. The Lib lawmakers were told not to back Cameron and Hunt. The Tories won the Commons vote anyway, as they have a few more lawmakers than Labour.

So, what was the point of Clegg’s rare display of independence? He is highly aware the Libs have suffered from putting the Tories in power. If Cameron succeeds in turning the British economy round within the next three years, Brits may well reward his party with a working majority. If the economy, which coalition policies have driven into a double-dip recession, fails to recover, the Libs will be blamed for aiding and abetting a painful experiment in austerity. At the general election in May 2010, the Libs won 23 percent of the vote. Since then their support, according to every opinion poll, has been cut in half. If an election were called tomorrow, they would suffer a profound collapse.

Tuition row: The beginning of the end for the coalition?

BRITAIN-POLITICS/

- Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’. The opinions expressed are his own. –

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is on a mission to shore up support within his own party for the tripling of university tuition fees. The Liberal Democrats campaigned with a manifesto pledge claiming they would axe fees if they ever got into power. They got the power, but only via a coalition with the Conservative party, and though they claim that some Lib Dem pledges survived the coalition talks, the policy on tuition fees actually went the other way.

UK high-flyers should brace for bad news

– Neil Collins is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Election first, manifesto afterwards. While there may be a Conservative prime minister in Downing Street, quite a few among the millions who voted for David Cameron will have a shock when they see the price they are paying for his pact with the more left-leaning Liberal Democrats.

New UK coalition deserves 7 out of 10

– Hugo Dixon is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The new UK coalition deserves 7 out of 10. The pact between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, led by David Cameron as the new prime minister, seems determined to address the country’s most important problem — the deficit. This is vital given that the euro zone debt crisis could still prove contagious. It should also be positive for sterling.

Cameron tasked with changing Brits’ expectations

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– Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’. The opinions expressed are his own –

After thirteen years, it’s all over. The New Labour project is dead. Or is it? Tony Blair brought British politics to the centre-ground and ensured that a single party could support free-market economic policies as well as social justice.

The Disunited Kingdom

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- Paul Henderson Scott has written numerous books on Scottish history, literature and affairs, including ‘A 20th Century Life’ and its sequel, ‘The New Scotland’. He has been Rector of Dundee University, President of the Saltire Society and of Scottish PEN and a Vice-President of the Scottish National Party. The opinions expressed are his own -

BRITAIN SCOTLANDThe recent election has revealed more clearly than before the profound divide between Scottish and English opinion. The Conservatives have 297 seats in England but only one in Scotland (plus eight in Wales). As Joyce McMillan said in The Scotsman, “Our pattern of voting increasingly marks us out as a nation apart”.

from Matt Falloon:

Brown soldiers on

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If a car slams into a bus stop just yards away as you launch a last-ditch election offensive, you might be forgiven for thinking that the gods are
not on your side.

But even after the nightmare week British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has had, such portents of doom have little visible effect on the self-proclaimed underdog in this, one of Britain's most closely fought parliamentary elections for 25 years.

from UK News:

Will a hung parliament create a serious hangover for British business?

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parliamentElection day is fast approaching and with the poll gap narrowing between the Conservatives and Labour, there is a very real probability that the UK will end up with a hung parliament. For the first time since 1974, the UK may be left without clear political leadership.

- What will this really mean for British business?
- How will the markets and sterling react?
- Will a hung parliament scare off international investors?
- Could the economy survive a second general election within a year?

Leaders’ debate could play out in favour of Libdems

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MarkHillary- Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’. He is participating in the Reuters Election 2010 politics live blog during the leaders’ debates and on election night. The opinions expressed are his own. -

It’s time for the second leaders’ debate on Thursday evening. This one will focus on international affairs, so it’s likely Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be on the defensive when talking about Afghanistan, Iraq, and the continued need for cold-war era nuclear weapons, such as Trident.

Tight UK election is bad news for bankers

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– Peter Thal Larsen is aBRITAIN/ Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Britain’s bankers were already braced for an uncomfortable election. But the U.S. fraud allegations against Goldman Sachs, combined with the rise of the Liberal Democrats, have given bank-bashing renewed impetus. The popularity of the attacks means they could resonate well beyond the current campaign.

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