UK Election 2010 – Third Leaders Debate, Hope & Reality. [Updated]

This article is a before and after look at the third election debate.

Hope – Written 8:00PM 29/04/10

Tonight we are about to watch the third and final of the Leaders debates, this time on the economy, what questions should the three prospective candidates have to answer?

This blog will attempt to ask the questions whose answers will make the difference between a future that resembles either Scandinavia or Romania.

1. Given that the Bank for International Settlements anticipates a UK public debt that will ramp up to 400% of GDP by 2040, and require 27% of GDP to service in debt interest at the same point, what proportion of deficit reduction should come from spending cuts and what proportion from tax increases?

2. Given that the Governor of the Bank of England has said that the necessary spending cuts will be so huge that the government to enact them will be out of power for a generation, and that the economy has been shown to grow faster under low-tax and pro-business regimes, how do you defend the tax increase portion of your deficit reduction plans?

3. Given that the Euro is about to go into melt-down, how do you defend you parties stance over the Britain’s entry into the Eurozone?

4. Given that British business and the Economist have supported the Tory’s economic policies as more conducive to economic recovery, how do you defend an electoral result that will end up with a hung-parliament and a coalition government?

5. Did the top 1% of taxpayers pay more tax in Britain in the eighties under high tax regime or under a low tax regime?

Ask these questions and we might force politicians to give real answers, that will benefit the electorate in their deliberations over the vote.

Reality – Written 8:00AM 30/04/10

So, what actually happened?

First the presentation:

In deference to the publics fetish for image & presentation, here is this blogs take; all three came across quite well with the exception of Clegg looking a little sweaty and flustered.

Second the audience:

What core demographic were they trying to reach with their message?

Cameron: Appealed to middle england – the striving small business owners.

Brown: Appealed to working class england – those who depend on the state.

Clegg: Appealed to Middle Class professionals – those of a ‘liberal’ disposition.

Third the Policies:

Opening statements –

Cameron’s statement had many messages, the strongest of which was a reference to Greece alongside a promise never to enter the Euro.

Clegg’s statement had two core messages;  of honesty over the coming cuts, and a promise of fairness.

Brown’s statement majored on economic competence and his being a known quantity.

Winner = None

Loser = None

Why can’t we have honesty over the coming cuts -
Clegg started off strong by pointing out his deficit plans were the most fully revealed, but then mentioned cancelling Eurofighter which may prove foolish if people make the logical jump and remember that not too long ago he was promising to cancel the Trident replacement. Then Clegg starting talking about a grand jamboree of the Chancellors as a way of helping the economic crisis, at which point things nose-dived.

Brown was doing well promising cuts and protecting health, schools and policing, but then continued with his bizarre message about the other parties taking money out of the economy, as if he really believed that the government is the economy.

Cameron’s answer started off waffley, but then rapidly turned into the strongest message by talking of later retirement and a public sector pay-freeze, in addition to the message that the private sector IS the economy and that supporting the private sector will help create the jobs that will drag Britain out of recession.

Winner = Cameron (+1)

Loser = Clegg (-1)

If you were elected, what would you do about taxes –

Brown was happy talking about tax credits, pointing out that half a million people on short time hours during the recession were being helped by these, and stated that he could never work with Cameron seeing as he intended to cut child tax credits.

Clegg spent a lot of time talking about fairness, bashed Cameron over inheritence tax, and talked of closing loop-holes in income tax.

Cameron talked of aspiration from the point of view of being able to pass on to ones children that which you have earned over your lifetime, and denied that child tax credits would be axed under the conservatives.

Winner = None

Loser = None

Question about the behaviour of taxpayer funded banks –

Cameron came out against retail banks being allowed to operate the riskier forms of speculative banking, and made the excellent point that he would give back the role of oversight of banking to the Bank of England, which is implicit criticism of the failure of Browns tripartite system.

Clegg proposals came across as spiteful tinkering when he talked about banning bonuses for bank directors, and limiting bonuses for banks that are making a loss, as it is unclear how this will actually help so it appears to be nothing more than a punishment.

Brown’s message was pretty strong, talking about his actions to save the ailing banks during his tenure, and with his talk of restructuring banks to get lending going again.

Winner = None

Loser = Clegg (-1)

How to revive manufacturing –

Clegg started well talking about getting banks to lend to industry, and then went off on a tangent about renewable energy, affordable housing and green infrastructure, a distinctly state oriented response.

Brown came out with a similarly state oriented response by talking about regional development agencies and investment allowances, which doesn’t really talk to the heart of the thrusting British entrepreneur.

Cameron did well by talking about increasing science and engineering investment, while pointing out that pro-business tax policy would help manufacturing automatically.

Winner = Cameron (+1)

Loser = None

Politicians not understanding public concern about immigration –

Clegg lost badly on this point by labouring on the gang-masters of illegal immigrants rather than the illegal immigrants themselves, and was attacked by both Cameron and Brown over his proposed amnesty for those illegal immigrants.

Cameron was attacked for his stance on quotas on immigration, as Clegg claimed that 80% of immigration comes from the EU, however the real figure is far less and therefore we must assume the idea of quotes will be more effective than Clegg claims.

Brown failed to make much of an impression on immigration, no doubt hampered by his “bigot” gaffe from the previous day, and simply attacked Clegg on amnesties and Cameron on quotas.

Winner = Cameron (+1)

Loser = Clegg (-1)

Fourth the Conclusion

Scores on the doors -

Cameron = +3

Brown = +0

Clegg = -3

Cameron came across the strongest, Brown failed to make much of an impression at all, and Clegg was certainly the weakest with his continual appeal to newness and the continual light-weight policies that were attacked by both Brown and Cameron.

While these debates have certainly been a success at generating enthusiasm for the process among the electorate, they are a failure at addressing their stated topics.

Why did the true scale of the economic cra-crash we are headed towards not get spelt out?

Why was it not pointed out that if you like social spending; how do you feel about spending 27% of government revenue on debt-interest by 2040?

Why was it not pointed out that if you are a cold fiscal conservative; is it not frankly immoral to engage in a level of public spending that approaches half of the national wealth?

Most poisonous of all, whoever ‘wins’ the election will have to make the deepest cuts in public spending for more than sixty years, it is not going to be pleasant, and none of the three parties will have a mandate from the public to make these cuts because they all refused to admit how bad things are going to have to be. Meryn King is correct, possibly more phrophetic than he knew!

2 responses to “UK Election 2010 – Third Leaders Debate, Hope & Reality. [Updated]

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