The Great Debate UK

Crisis, what crisis?

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

 Crisis, what crisis? That could be motto for the election manifestos published by Britain’s main political parties this week. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives addressed the country’s fiscal crisis head-on.

Instead, they have sought to bribe the electorate with promises.

There are some good ideas in the manifestos. But there are too many promises to cut taxes and not to touch spending – as well as a general lack of urgency. Once one puts the pledges into categories of good, bad and ugly, there are too few in the former bucket.

OVERALL DEFICIT

The two parties are promising roughly the same fiscal squeeze over the course of the parliament. Labour says it would halve the deficit, which is standing at 167 billion pounds or 12 percent of GDP, over four years. The opposition Tories say they would reduce the bulk of the deficit over five years. But such cuts aren’t deep enough. What’s more, neither party has been prepared to say how they will achieve them.

From rotten parliament to reform parliament?

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tspic- Tony Samphier is a campaigns consultant and organiser of the election policy comparison web initiative DEMREF 2010. The opinions expressed are his won.-

The start of the general election campaign has, thankfully, seen the party leaders fighting over the political reform territory, particularly Gordon Brown and David Cameron, with the Liberal Democrats, traditionally full of reform ideas, slightly overshadowed.

Election may be fought on peak between dips

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campbellBy Ian Campbell

LONDON, April 13 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Gordon Brown says his Labour party will “secure the recovery” if it wins the UK election in May. The opposition Conservatives would kill the upturn, he says. Brown is right in one sense: the “recovery” can easily be broken. But only because it is so fragile in the first place.

The UK’s data looks more encouraging than it actually is. The UK needs exports and production to surge ahead. Trade figures released on April 13 might appear to herald that: February’s trade deficit was its smallest since June 2006.

from UK News:

Will a Hung Parliament create a serious hangover for British business?

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ParliamentElection day is fast approaching and with the poll gap narrowing between the Conservatives and Labour, there is a very real probability that the UK will end up with a hung parliament. For the first time since 1974, the UK may be left without clear political leadership.

- What will this really mean for British business?
- How will the markets and sterling react?
- Will a hung parliament scare off international investors?
- Could the economy survive a second general election within a year?

The UK should not waste its fiscal crisis

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hugodixon–  The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own  –

 The UK should not waste its fiscal crisis. As Britain embarks on its election campaign, this is a perfect opportunity to engage in radical tax and spending reforms designed not just to restore the country’s fiscal balance but to boost its long-term productivity and competitiveness.

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.

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.

from UK News:

Budget for votes riskily delays UK debt pain

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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.

Tariq Ali on how unions fare under Labour rule

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Amid a stand-off between British Airways and the Unite union, the Labour Party’s main financial supporter, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a planned strike by BA cabin crew workers “unjustified and deplorable” last week and said both sides should return to talks.

Rail signal workers in the RMT union are also threatening to strike, but haven’t announced a date.

Tariq Ali on the state of UK politics

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TariqAliWhere is the burning debate on domestic and foreign policy observers might expect from the major political parties ahead of the next general election in Britain?

It’s just not going to happen, says political commentator and writer Tariq Ali, whose new novel “Night of the Golden Butterfly” concludes a fictional series titled “Islam Quintet” he began writing 20 years ago.

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