The Great Debate UK

from UK News:

Taking Twitter’s political temperature

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Britain's first live television debates between the leaders of the three mainstream political parties are not the only new feature to add spice to the upcoming general election, which Prime Minister Gordon Brown today announced will be held on May 6.

The 2010 vote is also the first time politicians and their strategy teams have had to factor in the micro-blogging site Twitter.com. The social media tool, which did not exist at the time of the last election in 2005, now has over 75 million users who between them sent four billion tweets in the first quarter of 2010.

It is also home to a vibrant -- and often vitriolic -- political community that is certain to go into overdrive in the run-up to polling day and beyond.

But whose side are they on?

To answer this question, Reuters commissioned market research company Crimson Hexagon to conduct a detailed assessment of opinions expressed by the UK public about the political parties on Twitter.

Tories panic with tax cut pledge

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NeilCollinsNeil 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.

Electoral future shrouded in mystery

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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.-

Barring a huge surprise, it seems most likely that the general election will be held on 6th May 2010 — the same day as the local elections.

from Breakingviews:

Brown’s financial tax call falls flat

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OUKTP-UK-G20Brown's bid to depict himself as the saviour of the world economy and champion of Joe Taxpayer against Big Finance fell flat at the weekend.

So keen is the British prime minister to airbrush out his decade as a "light touch" finance minister that he embraced the heretical idea of a levy on financial transactions as one way to make banks pay for future bail-outs -- the so-called Tobin tax.

It is up to us, not politicians, to clean up politics

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guy123- Guy Aitchison is a contributing editor at openDemocracy and writes regularly for its UK blog, OurKingdom -

The Labour politician and intellectual Richard Crossman once described the British constitution, with a sovereign Parliament at its centre, as a “rock” against periodic “waves of popular emotion”.

Tories on collision course with EU

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

Pacta sunt servanda. For centuries international law has rested on the Latin principle that agreements must be kept.

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.

Don’t confuse good journalism with the grubby

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john_kampfner- John Kampfner is chief executive of Index on Censorship and former editor of the New Statesman. His new book, “Freedom for Sale”, will be published by Simon and Schuster in September. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The news could not have come at a worse time for free speech campaigners. Revelations that private detectives have been paid large sums by the tabloid press to hack into the mobile phones and other records of public figures will cause damage to the newspaper at the heart of the practice, the “News of the World”.

Put your questions to David Cameron

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OUKTP-UK-BRITAIN-CONSERVATIVES-CAMERON

(UPDATED Dec 18 – This post is now closed for questions)

Conservative Party leader David Cameron will be speaking on the economy and the credit crunch at Thomson Reuters’ Canary Wharf office on Monday, followed by a question and answer session.

The Tory leader has argued that two main problems face Britain at present – a recession coupled with a record level of government debt, and that the government is trying to tackle one while ignoring the other.

from UK News:

A profound shift in party politics

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David Cameron's decision to ditch a major Conservative pledge to match Labour spending plans pound for pound was hailed by commentators as an important step in the politics of the recession, opening up a clear gulf between the two main parties' economic policies but exposing the Tories to considerable risk.

Labour is expected to cut taxes, accelerate public spending and announce more borrowing in Monday's pre-budget report. Now their supporters can revive the spectre of "Tory cuts" to funding for schools and hospitals which helped the Conservatives lose the last two elections.

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