The Great Debate UK
from UK News:
-- The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --
Alistair Darling promised no election "giveaways" and in one sense he delivered. The UK finance minister's budget is about not giving away the election. It might have been worse -- if Darling had acceded to his boss Gordon Brown's even more populist instincts. But there are vote-seeking swipes at high earners and banks, as well as a crowd-pleasing but misguided tax cut to first-time house-buyers. The UK's budget-balancing pain is being postponed and concealed. And that's risky.
The headline measure is a tax cut. First time buyers of properties costing up to 250,000 pounds won't have to pay anything to the government. Many voters will like that. They will like it, too, that people buying million pound properties foot the bill. A further bout of bank-bashing was part of the electioneering approach. Given the scandal of City rewards, few will blame Darling.
The economic impact, however, will be limited. The wobbly housing market may be helped slightly. But the UK economy needs to be buoyed by production and exports, not house price inflation.
- Ahmad Shah is a Afghan social entrepreneur and human rights activist living in London. He is currently studying MSc in International Business Economics at the University of Westminster. The opinions expressed are his own. -
An oft-heard refrain holds that Afghanistan is a “graveyard of empires” where corruption and violence are endemic; a land that never had a strong central government, and cannot be democratised. While perhaps flattering to Afghan pride of strength, these half-truths bear little relation to reality.
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 UK News:
On Thursday night, BNP leader Nick Griffin will appear on the BBC's leading current affairs programme "Question Time", an appearance that has provoked much anger and debate.
Griffin is no stranger to the airwaves or TV screens, regularly appearing this week alone after four leading former generals attacked his party for using military imagery as part of its campaigning
At 1:30pm British time on Wednesday, October 21, Reuters is hosting an exclusive Web 2.0 interview with Darling and we want you to send us your questions to put to the top man from the Treasury.
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.
Almost alone on the democratic world, we British have no written constitution protecting our basic civil and political rights. We have no constitutional charter defining the scope of the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government or the relationship of these branches with the European Union (EU). Parliament struggles to assert its power while the government uses its ancient monarchical authority — that is the prerogative power vested in the Queen — to exercise its executive powers.
- Rupert Darwall is a guest columnist. The views expressed are his own. A London-based strategist, he is author of Reluctant Managers, a study of Whitehall performance (KPMG, 2006) –
If April is the cruellest month, then July can be awful for people using Heathrow. Business travel is still humming and the holiday season is getting into full swing.
In the midst of an economic crisis, we have a crisis of trust in politicians. But it is not through their lack of activity. Over the last ten years, layers of government have multiplied, more regulatory bodies have been put in place, thousands of new laws have been passed and greater powers of surveillance have been accorded to the State.