The Great Debate UK

What European election campaign?


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.

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


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.

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.