30 April 2010

Reykjavík on the Thames: Hard Times Ahead for Britain

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

W. B. Yeats, The Second Coming

The UK had another debate last night, and the polls shows the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in a surprisingly close race, with Labour under Gordon Brown continuing to slip. We will be looking for more polls (not connected in any way to Mr. Rupert Murdoch thank you) over the weekend after yesterday's televised debates.

The election seems likely to result in a 'hung Parliament' with no clear majority for any party, suggesting the possibility of a coalition government.

As a reminder to American readers, most of whom do not even know that the Brits are holding an election or how their governments are formed, the Liberal Democrats would be considered the 'reform party' in this election, what the Yanks would call a 'third party.'

And to put an edge on it, the New Stateman reports that Mervyn King suggests that the coming austerity to be imposed on UK citizens to support the City Banks will ensure that the next party in power will not be elected again for many many years.

Of course that is what the US newspapers said about the Republicans ahead of their last election, but in a short period of time Mr. Obama has managed to alienate a large share of his election base by acting more like a moderate corporate crony than a reform Democrat.

This election is important in any number of ways, but for the US it is a peek into what the future may bring in their own midterm elections in November. It is unusual for a people to go all out for a third party when they are frightened. There has not been a viable third party in the states for almost a century. But the manner in which the elections are settled in the UK brings forward some interesting possibilities.

New Statesman
Mervyn King: next government will be voted out for a generation

30 April 2010

Governor of the Bank of England warns that austerity measures will be so unpopular that the next party in power will not be voted back in.

Mervyn King's comments were revealed just hours before the final leaders' debate.

The American economist David Hale, who has known King for many years, said in an Australian television interview: "I saw the governor of the Bank of England last week when I was in London, and he told me whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be."

The Bank of England declined to comment, but confirmed that King and Hale had had a private meeting in early March.

His comments come amid growing concern that none of the three main parties has been open about the scale of spending cuts and tax rises that will be necessary.