The Great Debate UK

Are the markets right to fear a hung parliament?

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-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.

But let’s look at the problem facing the next government, whatever its colour. It may be blue, it may be red or it may be some combination of red and yellow or blue and yellow. That said, no government can ignore the budget deficit of £175 billion and the national debt of some £800 billion.

Politicians may like to stick their finger in their ears or bury their heads in the sand and pretend the problem does not exist until the election is over. But creditors won’t forget. Following the election, the next government knows that there will be howls of anguish and squeaking of pips when taxes are increased and public spending is slashed.

Why we need a bond market crisis

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copelandLaurence 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:

Has Alistair Darling done enough to revive Labour’s electoral hopes?

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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.

Send your questions to George Osborne

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osborneShadow Chancellor George Osborne will set out the Conservative Party’s strategy for rebuilding the UK economy in an exclusive Thomson Reuters Newsmaker at 11 a.m. on Monday, October 26.

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:

Labour lays down policy gauntlet


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.

Government must deliver on Olympic legacy promise

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robertson1- 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.

Economic priorities of an incoming Tory government

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richard-wellings-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.

from The Great Debate:

Europe frets over crisis exit strategy

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

Higher taxes? Lower public spending? Devaluation? Inflation? Investment in green growth?

European governments are pointing in very different directions as they debate an exit strategy from the global financial crisis. Despite European Union efforts to coordinate economic policy, there are clear signs that the main European economies will charge off in disarray towards separate exits.

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.

Does the expenses row sound the death knell for New Labour?

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justin_fisher- Justin Fisher is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Magna Carta Institute at Brunel University. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The expenses crisis is well and truly engulfing Westminster, with equal anticipation and dread about future revelations. Labour was quite reasonably aggrieved that the initial stories all seemed to be about their MPs.

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