The Great Debate UK

Eerie calm before Britain’s election

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– James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

To look at sterling and gilts, you would hardly know that Britain is sailing into a general election which will likely deliver a weaker government with a diminished ability, if not will, to grapple with high debts, an uncertain role in the global economy and an aging population.

It is impossible to say what will be the result on Thursday, nor what deals may be made between the surging Liberal Democrats, a bedraggled Labour party which will still have a significant wodge of votes and the Conservatives, who must be both hoping that their hour has arrived and that that hour does not prove to be Monday morning at 8 a.m., pouring with rain and all the trains are late.

There is a huge range of scenarios — a weak minority or majority government or a coalition of some form — but the common denominator across almost all likely outcomes is that all raise the risk of a weak government unable or unwilling to push through aggressive deficit-reduction measures.

The race for the premiership: high tension, low quality

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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 most exciting race in years”. “It’s going to go down to the line.” “The old order has truly been upset.”

UK should resist temptation to dump bank stakes

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– George Hay is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The UK’s forced investments in the banking sector are in rude health. The 41 percent holding in Lloyds Banking Group and 70 percent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland are comfortably above where the government bought the equity. But that doesn’t mean whoever wins next week’s general election should charge into a sale.

from UK News:

Budget for votes riskily delays UK debt pain

BRITAIN-BUDGET/-- 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.

Afghanistan challenge is not to create “western-style” democracy

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Ahmadshah.1

- 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.

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 UK News:

Should BNP be on Question Time?

Nick GriffinOn 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

Send your questions to Alistair Darling

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darlingDo you have a question you would like to ask Chancellor Alistair Darling? Now is your chance.

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:

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.

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