Archive for the ‘Election’ Tag
The flag has been dropped, the light has gone green and the crack of Black Rod’s mace on wood has heralded the start of the labour party election campaign. The economic crisis has prevented the usual election bribe of tax cuts being waved around so we are now being treated to lots of nice warm feelings as the elderly are served tea and sympathy in warm comfortable surroundings, children are cosseted in loving families and the energy companies hand back lots of money to their customers.
This will probably be the longest and most boring election campaign ever, it will be like no other. The parties will sling mud like a muck spreader stuck in fifth gear, they will criticise each other, deride each others policies and paint the future under the opposition so black we will think global warming is the best thing to ever happen. Throughout all this the one thing that will be missing will be honesty.
Political parties will never tell the whole truth, never say sorry, they know if they do they will be pilloried in the media for being weak and inadequate, even though the same media continuously criticises politicians for not being honest and not saying sorry. There will also be a whole bunch of new candidates with little political experience who will largely rely on the party machinery for their spiel and thus be entirely on message. Prepared to be bored, totally and utterly bored.
At the start of July Peter Mandelson said the public spending review will not take place until after the next general election, this position was confirmed by Gordon Brown a few days later. Now we have Chancellor Alistair Darling saying that all the political parties would have to make their public spending plans clear before the next election. Quite how the Labour government can do so without reviewing public spending is a mystery.
With public sector borrowing soon to pass £800 billion, which equates to over 56% of the gross domestic product of the country, there will be an undeniable need to cut public spending while the economy slowly recovers. Some commentators believe the process may take five or six years to complete, preventing the political parties from offering the usual mix of tax bribes and investment in health and education to get the public’s vote.
A greater problem for the Labour party is the need to not just offer something attractive to the electorate but to be able to excuse all the current problems as not being of their making. The latter is by far the hardest and based on the recent by-election results probably impossible. The public have become fatigued by the economy, the expenses scandal, the infighting and unwillingness of politicians to listen to their views and give honest answers instead of the continual spin. They are far less willing to vote, a fact thatt will only help the opposition into power.
I am always amazed at our political parties, when ever the public gets a bit uppity they say if only we understood what they were doing they would get more respect and support. When they do criticise themselves its because they have done a bad job of getting their message across to the public. Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears has warned the Labour Party may face an electoral disaster as it is not connecting with voters.
What a cop out this is, we know what the government is doing and failing to do, and we hate it all. Its not the messenger that’s getting it wrong its the message. Labour has become complacent, overbearing and drifted too far from its socialist roots, in some respects its more right wing than the Tories. Gordon Brown and his cabinet should face up to the fact they have lost the plot and are loosing the public’s confidence.
Some of the economic downturn may have been beyond his control but their response was stupid. Cutting VAT by 2.5% cost many businesses more than they recouped in increased sales. Most prices have been unchanged, most things still end in 99p. Loans to help small companies have been a complete waste of time. And the banks are giving away some of the money the government gave them as bonuses to their over paid staff. Labour has distanced itself from the voter by its policies and actions, they are what must change if they are to be re-elected.
As the credit crunch rolled over the western world and headed off to the east, financial pundits, economists and politicians got out their tarot cards, crystal balls and tea leaves to try and out do each other in the predictions stakes. There has emerged two general camps, those who say it will all be over in less then two years and those who predict four or five years of slowdown and financial turmoil.
At some point in the future a few clever, or more likely, lucky individuals will claim their ability to understand the financial markets has meant they were able to predict the end of the credit crunch. A few will also profit by judicious investment in the high risers on the stock market and currency exchanges.
The more intriguing prediction is who will win the next general election which must be held by June 2010. That’s just 14 months away and well before anyone expects the current financial downturn to end. The UK’s national debt will pass the £700 billion mark sometime this year, almost half the total earnings of the whole country. Such figures may not mean a lot to most voters, but the impact on financial policies and tax rates will make for one of the more interesting election campaigns of the post war period.