Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Party’

The Great British Economic Miracle is an Illusion

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 31st 2016

Something is wrong with the British economy.

George Osborne seems to be experiencing his own ‘Boom and Bust’. Just before Christmas he was singing the joys of the British economy on the mend.  Yet a few weeks later he changed his tone talking of the uncertain economic times.

He hasn’t had to look too far for his troubles – from the tax credits’ chaos where he had to do a U-turn, to this week’s judgement that the bedroom tax was illegal and discriminated against domestic violence victims and disabled people.

If that wasn’t bad enough there was his ‘deal’ with Google where Osborne reached an agreement that they pay £130 million in lieu of taxes over the last ten years. This is a paltry 3% corporate tax rate – the lowest in the developed world.

The ghost of a former Chancellor hangs over Osborne – Gordon Brown – the man who said he ‘abolished Boom and Bust’. The similarities are two-fold: political and economic. Both have positioned themselves as the heir apparent behind their more electorally appealing colleague, David Cameron for Osborne and Tony Blair for Brown. Read the rest of this entry »

The Europe Debate will tell us much about the state of Britain

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 24th 2016

2016 will be a turbulent year for Britain and the world.

One issue will dominate the UK political classes beyond economic and financial worries or anxieties about immigration and security, and that is Europe.

Europe will connect with all of the above and more. Cameron’s main impetus is to have a quick referendum, to win it and get on with the rest of his Prime Ministership. It won’t work out that way.

To have the referendum relatively soon (meaning before Scottish school holidays start) a number of pieces have to fall into place. First, Cameron has to go to his EU summit in February and win some semblance of a deal. Then he has to be able to come back and present it to the House of Commons and country as an honourable agreement – more substantive than Harold Wilson’s fig leaf in 1975. Read the rest of this entry »

The Phoney War in British and Scottish Politics Will End Soon

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 10th 2016

The big news this week wasn’t the Corbyn re-shuffle of people no one had heard of. Nor was it Cameron’s retreat on the Euro referendum over Cabinet collective responsibility. And it certainly wasn’t Donald Trump threatening to pull future investments from Scotland.

Nor was it the hostile words between Saudi Arabia and Iran or continued anxieties about terrorism. Instead, it was instability in the world economy, Chinese economic wobbles, their currency devaluing again and stock market falling by 7%, contributing to a mind-blowing £2.5 trillion being wiped off world markets in a matter of days.

While these turbulent economic storms blow over our heads, British and Scottish politics are strangely becalmed, focused on the small stuff, and seemingly unaware of choppy times ahead.

The Conservative Party has mastered the art of success for more than 150 years. George Osborne this week emphasised that austerity wasn’t over and people couldn’t just start spending the proceeds of growth.

In the real world, the economic recovery is fragile and unbalanced based on personal consumption, spiraling household debt, property prices and the biggest Balance of Payments deficit in UK history. London house prices sit at an ‘average’ £531,000: more unsustainable than the Blair/Brown ‘bubble’ of fantasyland Britain. Read the rest of this entry »

The Tories are shrinking the state while Labour go back to the 1980s

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 29th 2015

These are tumultuous times.

Chaos in Syria. Complex and shifting alliances. The Turks shooting down a Russian plane. There is disarray in the Labour Party on Syria and Trident. And all in the week of George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on public spending.

The Tories appear dominant in British politics only six months after they won their surprising majority: based on 24.3% of electors and a narrow parliamentary majority of 12 seats.

Osborne cleverly positioned himself retreating from his own unpopular positions. Tax credit cuts were abandoned, while police cuts were reversed. A number of popular looking policies were giving priority such as a business tax for apprentices, £27 billion ‘magically’ found, and soothing rhetoric used about the importance of social justice.

None of this can hide the fundamental shift taking place. ‘Never waste a crisis’ is a political truism. Osborne has used the bankers’ crash and ballooning of public spending from the banking bailout to make the state the problem, and to embark on an ambitious strategy to dramatically shrink and reframe what it does. Read the rest of this entry »

The Appeal and Vision of Tory Britain shouldn’t be underestimated by the left

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, October 11th 2015

The Tory conference gathered this week in good spirits after unexpectedly winning an overall majority in May, and with all their main UK political opponents in disarray.

One rather significant anniversary passed unnoticed this week. This was the 65th anniversary – the day after Cameron’s speech – of Harold Macmillan’s ‘you’ve never had it so good’ election victory in 1959 when the Tories won a third term and overall majority of 100 seats.

Britain and Scotland have changed dramatically since then. Tories and Labour were national parties; neither is now. In 1959 the Tories won 47.2% of the Scottish vote and 31 seats, whereas this May they won 14.9% – and a solitary MP. Read the rest of this entry »

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