Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “Economy”

Disillusioned and still Disenfranchised

What a surprise, the forces of conservatism have won.

The fact that I have not posted for months underlines how I feel about UK politics – I just cannot see the situation changing other than the possible break up of the Union. Read more…

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Late Night Shopping Boosts Economy: How?

The BBC reports (Tyne 7 October 2010) that late night shopping at Eldon Square (in Newcastle)  will bring in an extra six and a half million visitors a year and boost the economy by an additional £246m a year.  This strikes me as “Alice in Wonderland” thinking. Read more…

Universal Benefits from Universal Tax

I can’t help but share some of the concerns expressed about the move away from universal benefits.  However, I am also particularly concerned about the impact of this change when combined with the move to ensure that those earning less than £10,000 pay no (income) tax.  Universal benefits should be matched by universal taxation. Read more…

The Aftermath II (of ?)

So discussions are continuing and the press are baying either for a government or for Gordon Brown’s blood.  They say “the markets” will take it very badly if we have not got a government by the time they open on Monday.

I would rather we took a few days longer to get a government that may last a few months longer – which is what happens elsewhere.  Meanwhile, the press should remember that the Queen’s ministers must continue the government until a new one able to command a majority in the Commons emerges.

As for the markets, they need to seriously chill out a little. Read more…

Outside the Campaign

It looks as if we are only experiencing a portion of the election campaign.

The IFS, quoted on the BBC News Website Parties defend spending cut plans 28 April 2010 15:17 shows that none of the parties have come clean on the economy.

Parties' planned cuts and the spending gap

This would seem to me to say that each party has a massive hidden (or at best unspecified) manifesto, and without sight of it we cannot make a responsible choice as to what is best for the country.  So I guess that we will have to vote according to what seems best for our own pockets.

Just as well outside the marginals that our votes don’t count?  In the marginals I suspect the campaigning will be getting very parochial.

What a lousy system and what a mess will be left after the result; possibly a government without a mandate, a whole lot of unaffordable promises and a massive amount of previously concealed spending cuts and tax rises on the way.  Bound to raise confidence in the political system and the honesty of politicians.

But if a politician was honest enough to tell us the truth, what would happen?

Capitalism: Does it work for you?

We are told that Capitalism is the most effective way to run an economy, but I sometimes I have my doubts.  One of those times is now.

The boss of Ryanair says he does not feel he has to meet his obligation to payout to his passengers stranded overseas – because the fares are so cheap. And he will take on the regulators: “Great opportunity for the airlines to expose this nonsense”.

The Airlines seem to be able to over-ride governments (and expect to be bailed out by them – i.e. us – at the same time).

A bank wraps up a load of dodgy mortgages which it expects to fail and flogs them to saps whilst at the same time allowing someone to lay a bet on them failing – and it takes a cut from which it pays bonuses.

Kenneth Clark says if we have a hung parliament the Bond Market will determine our future – and it won’t be pretty.

Do Governments govern or do markets and the global corporations rule?

Politics is dead, long live economics.

The Elephant in the Room

So another day, another manifesto and still no real proposals to address the fundamental problem: this country is living beyond its means.

Perhaps in a globalised world, individual national parties are actually not able to do anything.  Therefore, offer the modern equivalent of bread and circuses and the party that offers the best circus gets elected.

Perhaps they have decided that we always vote with our wallets. The party that gets elected is then the party that offers the most attractive drink to the drunk.  And the magic of the current system is that “free drinks” only have to be offered to swing voters in the marginals – the rest of us can go hang (other than paying for the drinks!).

If we are living beyond our means we have to address our consumption of goods and services:

  • Private goods: do we really need all the fancy consumer durables (usually imported from those countries that still manufacture); do we still need all the flash foreign holidays (again spending abroad)?  We have an unjustified sense of entitlement to the visible manifestations of the consumer society and we are buying on personal “tick”.
  • Public goods: we have an inflated expectation of the manifestations of the welfare state – particularly the health service where many claim that any treatment, whatever its cost, is justified however marginal its effect.  And the state seems to be fuelling our expectations by paying the mushrooming cost on national “tick”.

So, how do we get acceptance of the problem and start living within our means?

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