Voting, lending, and spending


Commons to vote on electoral reform

You've really got to hand it to Gordon Brown. After nearly 13 years in government, and just a few weeks left until a general election he looks set to lose, he's suddenly decided we need to change Britain's electoral system. And yet he chooses to champion a reform that (a) won't win him any more seats, (b) won't persuade the Lib Dems to go into coalition with him, and (c) will do precisely nothing to 'restore trust in politics'. Indeed, by forcing politicians to stick even more closely to the centre ground than before, the alternative vote's main effect would be to empower the party machines and give people even less reason to care about who represents them.

MPs say the banks aren't lending enough

But why do we want bank lending to return to pre-crunch levels? Don't we all agree that that was an unsustainable credit boom, and that Britain has far too much debt as it is? Indeed, McKinsey say we are now the second most indebted industrial nation in the world – turning Japanese, if you like. And of course, isn't it funny how the government always forgets that it is discouraging lending by forcing the banks to increase their capital ratios by buying up lots of government bonds? They really can't have it both ways. Speaking of debt...

Stiglitz says keep on spending

But what does all this 'stimulus' actually achieve? The money has to come from somewhere, and whether it's taxes or government borrowing, that's cash that's being taken out of the productive private sector to fuel the unsustainable growth of a parasitic public sector. That may appear to boost 'growth' in the short term (hardly surprising when government spending is included in GDP stats) but in the long term it will land us with higher taxes, a sclerotic, imbalanced economy, and lower living standards.

The Conservatives' fall in the polls continues

I wonder if anyone at Conservative Headquarters has noticed that their decline in popularity has coincided with David Cameron's declaration that he wouldn't cut spending right away after all, thus leaving people with no real reason to vote for him? Let's face it: unless you are a corrupt African politician or an overpaid NHS bureaucrat, it really is becoming quite difficult to answer the question "what would the Tories do for me?"

And in other news...

Harriet Harman looks set to be nominated for The Sun's prestigious 'rear of the year' award. Well, she certainly has my vote – I'm just desperate to see the back of her.