The Great Debate UK

Are the markets right to fear a hung parliament?

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-David Kuo is director at The Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own -

There is a well-trodden saying that markets hate uncertainty. Elections are inevitably uncertain, so until the votes in the next election are counted we cannot be certain which party will govern the UK.

Currently, there are suggestions that no single party may get sufficient votes to form the next government outright. It is true that the Conservatives have a strong lead over its rivals. However, with a first-past-the post voting system, it only takes a small swing away from the Conservatives to change the complexion of the next parliament.

But let’s look at the problem facing the next government, whatever its colour. It may be blue, it may be red or it may be some combination of red and yellow or blue and yellow. That said, no government can ignore the budget deficit of £175 billion and the national debt of some £800 billion.

Politicians may like to stick their finger in their ears or bury their heads in the sand and pretend the problem does not exist until the election is over. But creditors won’t forget. Following the election, the next government knows that there will be howls of anguish and squeaking of pips when taxes are increased and public spending is slashed.

from Breakingviews:

Europe’s banks will suffer less from U.S. tax

-- Margaret Doyle and George Hay are Reuters Breakingview columnists. The opinions expressed are their own. --

European banks should suffer less than their American counterparts from the Obama administration’s proposed bank tax. The president’s proposed levy on banks’ wholesale funding requirements will hit all banks with a big presence on Wall Street. But assuming that U.S. banks will be taxed on their worldwide operations, the levy will hurt them more. This could be a major bonus for European investment banks -- as long as their own governments don’t follow suit.

There’s more to deliberative democracy than deliberative polling

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- John Parkinson is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of York, specialising in democratic theory and comparative democratic institutions. In a previous life he was a facilitator, internal communications and public relations consultant. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Last weekend 200 randomly-selected citizens got together in London for a “deliberative poll” to sort through ideas for transforming British democracy. Judging by the organizers’ blog – at www.power2010.org.uk – the participants were blown away by the experience, as ordinary people always are when they take part in serious discussion on big political questions. It’s brilliant stuff to be part of, and there should be more like it, I think.

from The Great Debate:

American intelligence and fortune-telling

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-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Hot on the heels of  what President Barack Obama called a potentially disastrous "screw-up" by the civilian intelligence community, here comes a devastating report on shortcomings of military intelligence in Afghanistan, by the officer in charge of it. He likens the work of analysts to fortune-telling.

from Breakingviews:

Recovery leaves too many big problems unsolved

ed hadas.jpgThe economic worst is past. But there are many issues left to worry about.

Start with the good news. GDP is now growing almost everywhere, while the unemployment rate is hardly rising anywhere. Businesses and consumers are less fearful. As much as half of the 20 percent decline in international trade has been erased.

Perhaps the best news is what has not happened. There have been no national defaults, countries dragged into political chaos, bitter divisions among the great powers or, with a few tiny exceptions, massive declines in consumption. The global political-economic-financial system is still in business.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan’s political pandemonium

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sharifzardaridubaiA Supreme Court ruling striking down an amnesty given to politicians and officials by former president Pervez Musharraf has created havoc in Pakistani politics.  Among those affected on a list of 8,000 politicians and bureaucrats who were protected by the amnesty are the interior and defence ministers, who are now no longer allowed to leave the country until they clear their names in court.

"Pakistan's interior minister today found himself in the unusual position of being asked to bar himself from leaving the country," wrote Britain's Guardian newspaper.

from UK News:

Opinion poll raises spectre of hung British parliament

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OUKTP-UK-BRITAIN-BROWN-TAXESThe latest opinion poll in Britain showing the opposition Conservatives six points ahead of the ruling Labour party has raised the possibility of a hung parliament with no one party having an overall majority and a return to the kind of political uncertainty not seen since the 1970s.

Kenneth Clarke, the Conservatives' business spokesman, said earlier this month that a hung parliament at this point in the economic cycle would be a disaster, an assertion his boss David Cameron was quick to try to play down after the latest survey.

Parliament 2010

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We’ll be covering live the Edelman debate on social media and UK politics.

from UK News:

Should the BNP be able to use military imagery?

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griffinThis is a busy week for the British National Party (BNP).

Today it was warned to stop using military imagery in its campaign material. A group of former military leaders accused the BNP, which has used photographs of spitfire fighter planes and Winston Churchill, of hijacking Britain's history for their own "dubious ends."

The distinguished generals said this tarnished the reputation of the armed forces and called on them to "cease and desist."

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.

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