The Great Debate UK
— Neil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –
National Insurance contributions make an unlikely battleground for the British election. They lack the sexiness of income tax cuts. But NI is a bad tax and the Tories are right to pledge to overturn Labour’s plan to raise it.
Unfortunately, their timing smacks of desperation as their poll lead melts away. More to the point, it flies in the face of their commitment to cut Britain’s vast budget deficit.
NI provides a strong incentive to employers to make do with fewer workers. It has long since ceased to provide any insurance, and is a second income tax, with different regulations and exemptions, in all but name. Labour proposes to raise the rate by 2 percent to 25.8 percent next year, with 12 percent from the employee and 13.8 from the employer.
As a result, the state would take 40 pounds of every 100 pounds an employee (on the basic 20 percent rate of income tax) costs his employer. The figure for higher-rate taxpayers is 49 percent, and for top-rate payers, 58 percent.
from UK News:
As the three main UK political parties vie for positioning ahead of a general election to be held by June, the Conservatives unveiled their "Technology Manifesto" on Thursday in London outlining the key issues they would address if they form the next government.
Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude presented ideas on everything from improving broadband speeds to making government data accessible online.
Where is the burning debate on domestic and foreign policy observers might expect from the major political parties ahead of the next general election in Britain?
It’s just not going to happen, says political commentator and writer Tariq Ali, whose new novel “Night of the Golden Butterfly” concludes a fictional series titled “Islam Quintet” he began writing 20 years ago.
-David Kuo is director at The Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own -
There is a well-trodden saying that markets hate uncertainty. Elections are inevitably uncertain, so until the votes in the next election are counted we cannot be certain which party will govern the UK.
Currently, there are suggestions that no single party may get sufficient votes to form the next government outright. It is true that the Conservatives have a strong lead over its rivals. However, with a first-past-the post voting system, it only takes a small swing away from the Conservatives to change the complexion of the next parliament.
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. -
The spirit of Britain’s Christmas is looking disconsolate this morning. Santa Claus has failed to deliver what our democracy most needed. No, not a deal to let the French have the 2012 Olympics in exchange for a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. Nor the nomination of Tony Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize. Number one on this year’s wish list was something more realistic, and maybe far closer: a gilt market crisis.
from UK News:
So how was it for you?
Chancellor Alistair Darling threw the dice in his pre-budget report in an attempt to bolster Labour's chances of winning the general election in 2010.
From hitting bankers with a one-off bonus tax to lowering bingo duty, Darling played to the Labour heartlands, while hoping to win back voters who have been telling pollsters that they are done with Gordon Brown.
We will bring you full coverage of Osborne’s speech, including a live video feed and blog, after which we will conduct a short social media interview with him.
from Matt Falloon:
The Conservatives might be wishing they could have held their party conference before Labour.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's address to his party conference in Brighton on Tuesday has thrown down a flood of new ideas, policies and initiatives from faster cancer diagnosis to choosing how Britain votes in what read more like an mini-election manifesto than a speech.
Brown played to his strengths (policy) and avoided trying to overcome his well-known weaknesses (not much of a political entertainer) in public. Trying to be someone else could have been a disaster for a man way behind in the polls to the Conservatives.
Whether it will be enough to make any difference to the polls remains to be seen -- Labour needs a miracle there after all.
But, for now, going for the policy jugular seems to have done the trick -- giving his browbeaten party something to get excited about and hitting the Conservatives where it hurts.
David Cameron's Conservatives have been accused of not giving enough detail on how they would govern the country if the polls are correct and they are to win power next year.
They will have to start showing their hand soon if they are going to convince voters that they have the ideas to run the country and aren't just a vote for change for the sake of it.
- Hugh Robertson is the opposition Conservatives’ Olympics spokesman. The views expressed are his own. -
With three years to go, it is remarkable that London 2012 is going so well.
London’s Olympics were launched with a massive government miscalculation that resulted in the budget having to be increased threefold, were based on a plan that required us to build two Terminal 5s in half the time and have had to contend with the worst economic recession in living memory.
-Richard Wellings is deputy editorial director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and editor of the IEA blog. The opinions expressed are his own.-
If the Conservatives are elected, as the polls currently predict, they will have to tackle the worst fiscal crisis in peacetime history.