Will manifestos move the UK election dial?

April 13, 2015

Labour leader Miliband speaks at a joint news conference in Edinburgh

Britain’s main political parties will publish their election manifestos this week after what seems likes weeks of campaigning already, none of which has significantly shifted the polls putting the ruling Conservatives and opposition Labour party neck-and-neck.
Labour will launch its manifesto today with the Conservatives following on Tuesday.

So much is known about their respective policy slates that it is hard to see them moving the dial much either.

The advance of UKIP and the Scottish Nationalists makes this a particularly tough election to call but it’s a massive one in that the unity of the UK and its place in Europe are at stake.

All the betting suggests no party will command an overall majority. As a result the manifestos — written on the basis that one party will rule supreme — are probably best viewed as an opening gambit in what is likely to be a bout of haggling between two or more parties to form a durable coalition after the May 7 election.

If anything, the Conservatives seem the slightly more nervous that their poll ratings haven’t improved on the back of an endless mantra that they offer economic competence rather than chaos, pointing to solid economic growth and a fervour for cutting the budget deficit. If that strategy is to bear fruit, it hasn’t yet.

On the other hand, Conservative leader David Cameron’s personal ratings remain well above those of Labour leader Ed Miliband. In this multi-media age, “optics” count.

The Greek Easter break stretches until tomorrow so it’s unlikely that any significant developments will happen today. Greece’s finance ministry dismissed on Sunday a report by a German newspaper which said euro zone officials were shocked at Greece’s failure to outline plans for structural reforms at last week’s talks in Brussels.

EU Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis will be in Rome to meet Italy’s economy minister, central bank chief and labour minister. Dombrovskis could say what the European Commission thinks about Italy’s economic reforms and indicate what chances there are for Rome to get fiscal leeway in 2016 in exchange for further reforms.

Italy will auction up to 7.5 billion euros in three-, seven- and 15-year bonds and will also open a 4-day offering of new a 8-yr BTP Italia retail bond. No problems likely there with the European Central Bank’s money printing pushing bond yields down and down.

Ukraine, Russia and the European Union will hold a new round of gas supply talks in Berlin at which they will discuss price and quantities of gas as well as financial support for Ukraine.

Kiev has signed an interim deal for cheaper supplies of gas from Russia for the next three months, providing a breathing space for both sides in their protracted wrangle over pricing. Ukraine’s Naftogaz said it would seek progress on a deal to secure gas from Russia for the next 12 months.

Saudi Arabia dismissed Iranian calls to end air strikes on neighbouring Yemen on Sunday as Saudi-led attacks hit a military camp in the Yemeni city of Taiz, killing eight civilians according to a medical source.

Riyadh said Tehran should not interfere in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies began air strikes against Iranian-allied Houthi militia fighters over two weeks ago to try and prevent them making further advances.

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