UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Breakingviews:

UK’s politicians race to the bottom on policies

By Ian Campbell

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

The next UK general election is in 2015, and the country’s politicians are already engaged in a classic pre-electoral sport: the race to the bottom. They are desperate for policies which please voters and the competition is fierce. Popularity is the aim, populism is the method. None of it is going to do the economy any good.

The opposition Labour party started out with a stunningly bad idea. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, proposed a twenty-month cap on volatile energy prices in a free-market economy. That is folly, as it ignores the economic reality that energy bills reflect the elevated global price of oil. It discredits Miliband and his economy guru, Ed Balls.

The coalition government didn’t take that foolish blow lying down. David Cameron, the Conservative prime minister, came back with a daft idea of his own - to bring forward the second part of the Help to Buy plan, which provides a government subsidy for buyers of existing houses. The main result will be to increase the price of already expensive housing.

from Hugo Dixon:

Cameron, UK hurt by Syria vote fiasco

Rarely has a UK prime minister done so much damage to himself in a single week as David Cameron has with his mishandling of a vote authorising military action against Syria. Cameron may cling onto power after his stunning parliamentary defeat on Thursday night, but he will cut a diminished figure on the domestic and international stage. In the process, he has also damaged Britain’s influence.

Cameron’s litany of errors began with his decision to recall parliament from its summer holidays in order to give the green light to British participation in a military strike designed to punish Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons against its people last week. The decision to get parliament’s approval was right, even if not constitutionally necessary. The mistake was to rush things before all the evidence of Assad’s culpability had been gathered and published. In France, which is also contemplating military action, the parliamentary debate is scheduled for next week.

from Breakingviews:

UK’s big build dreams still dogged by past binge

By Ian Campbell

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

The UK government wants austerity to pave the way for bold modernisation of Britain. In reality its cuts don’t reverse the previous explosion in government spending and there isn’t much money for its big infrastructure dreams.

from Breakingviews:

Memo to UK’s new air strategists: let numbers talk

By Robert Cole

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

After years of make-do-and-mend, the UK is once again arguing about the London’s airport capacity, and the possibility of a third runway at Heathrow. Most people seem keen only to rubbish plans they dislike. The right approach is to give airtime to all ideas - and then make a firm decision.

from Breakingviews:

UK’s problem: it’s the best in Europe

By Ian Campbell

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

UK GDP stalled in the fourth quarter, contracting by 0.2 percent. That’s bad. But which major west European economy will perform best in 2012? It’s the UK again, the IMF predicted this week.

from FaithWorld:

Ireland attacks confessional secrecy after Catholic sex abuse scandal

(A Roman Catholic Croat confesses to a priest during a pilgrimage in Krasno, some 150km (93 miles) south of Zagreb August 15, 2009/Nikola Solic )

Ireland's prime minister has said Catholic clerics would be prosecuted if they failed to tell the authorities about crimes disclosed during confession, the latest blow to the prestige of the once-dominant Church. A report this week found that the Church concealed from the authorities the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, and that clerics appeared to follow Church law rather than Irish guidelines to protect minors.

from The Great Debate UK:

Will Nick Clegg’s government “suggestion box” work?

-Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’.The opinions expressed are his own.-

If Thomas Paine were around today he would be a blogger, writing virtual pamphlets that shake a fist at the machinery of government.

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.

from The Great Debate UK:

Send your questions to George Osborne

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.

Should BNP be on Question Time?

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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

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