It's the Economy, Stupid—But Not in Britain

Here then is the hidden truth that none of the established political parties will tell the electorate in this, the penultimate week in what is fast proving to be one of the most unpredictable General Elections in modern times. Whichever party is elected, or whatever coalition may have to be assembled, the respected and independent Institute for Fiscal Studies say that deep public expenditure cuts—of between £47 Billion to £56 Billion—will have to be made over the next four-year cycle.


Loosely translated, this means that Britain is about to enter into a period of austerity not witnessed since the OPEC-induced economic meltdown of the 1980s. But Britain will enter this new age of austerity with add-on handicaps. For one, the gap between rich and poor has not been this great since Victorian times. London is now the most unequal city in the Western World. Yes, that means London is more divided and unequal than New York. To this may be added the unpalatable truth that our manufacturing base is wizened, and our industrial base virtually disappeared. And just before we move on from this cocktail of gloom, Britain’s North Sea Oil is about to run out, and the banking crisis has left the de-regulated City of London reeling like a Highland dancer.

In the heads and hearts, most Britons know this to be true. They also understand that they, rather than the greedy bankers or many of the tax-avoiding, money-laundering super-wealthy, are about to catch it in the neck. Not surprisingly, the main political parties who are keen to paint themselves as representing "hope over fear" have manifestly misread the national mood, which veers from contempt to outright fury.

Hence the fluidity in the polls, most of which have some pecuniary attachment to a vested interest allied to various press barons. Although there has been at least a degree of consistency over the fact that the first televised debate put the least unsullied of the political leaders, Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats, in the lead. But overall the Conservatives just have it, followed by the Liberal Democrats, with Labour—the ruling party—in third place, potentially facing a squeeze.

Since the main parties have only one more week of trying to keep the lid on the great debate that should have been taking place—the economy—my guess is that the Conservatives will claw back some support, as voter begin to fret over what a "hung Parliament" and a coalition Government of back door deals might mean in practice. My prediction, for what it is worth, is that the Conservative will achieve a small overall majority, Labour will be reduced to its heartlands, the Liberal Democrats will do well and there will be some major local upsets, not least in Buckingham where I live. Here the Speaker of the House of Commons, sullied by his expense claims could yet go down in flames.

But if I am wrong, and no overall party emerges the winner, then it could be partly due to the fact that all three will have ignored that famous dictum from President Bill Clinton: "It’s the economy, stupid!"

Related Articles

Why Japan's hikikomori isolate themselves from others for years

These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.

700,000 Japanese people are thought to be hikikomori, modern-day hermits who never leave their apartments (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images).
Mind & Brain
  • A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
  • This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
  • Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less