So, the 2010 election campaign in which no one talks about the issue has started. We know it has because expensive poster sites have been purchased. It’s going to be a tiresome few months while respective campaigners batter glossed messages back and forth and the potential voters look for something more enlightening, or productive to do.
The essential issue, which will be avoided as much as possible, are how the cuts in wages, public services and the rises in taxation made inevitable by the gift of money to the insolvent financial houses will be managed.
The ‘emergency’ budget following the election will be brutal whoever wins. Social distress (a euphemism for further unemployment and mass protest) may come in the wake of wage cuts and job losses in the public sector later in the year.
On the party political front, Labour are a mess, unable to ditch Gordon Brown, a massively unpopular (and probably unhappy) leader. They seem to need an argument and a leadership election about what they are for. The Tories have a ‘flawless’ front man in David Cameron they appear to neither particularly want or like, but they will be loyal while he holds the prospect of a general election victory after 12 years in opposition. (The launch of the first Conservative poster may reveal an explicit Cameron not Conservative sale.) After the election and probably in office, the internal party loyalty will be more prone to fracture, perhaps even under pressure from business interests lobbying about the need for entry to the Euro, especially if sterling continues to be devalued to inflate away the enormous national debt.
Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib Dems and the other minority nationalist parties will find themselves courted as potential partners in any possible coalition or minority government should the result be as messy and close as some predict.
More unpredictable general problems are the after effects of printing money to prop up the economy during 2009 (quantitative easing), the collapse in sterling relative to the Euro and the Dollar and the price of interest payable (yields) on UK government debt (gilts). The Chancellor (of the Treasury) and the Governor (of the Bank of England) have to try and sell record volumes of gilts to finance future national spending.
When asked for something optimistic to add to this speculative post, a close collaborator said, we may not need an election for another four years. Some people also hold out hope for Fabio Capello’s England team in the World Cup. (Labour are bound to roll out the old line from Harold Wilson about only winning it under a Labour government…)
Perhaps the weather will also improve. Please add reasons any more reasons to be cheerful in the comments below if any spring to mind. Happy 2010.