Some are optimistic, even excited about the changes brought about by Thursday’s general election. However, I remain unconvinced about the prospects of a Tory/Liberal coalition.
The blaring reality of the country’s future is the rising national debt. Britain may not be in as much danger of a sovereign default as some European countries, but the budgetary pressures applied by such a high national debt are serious. As debt rises, and growth falters, the chance of an increase in the cost of borrowing rises, further squeezing public finances and reinforcing the whole dismal cycle. This presents an existential risk to health of the UK economy.
Against this backdrop, much of the party debates seem almost trivial. Perhaps some good policies, education and tax reform included, may get through as a result of a ‘liberal coalition’, but the focus should really be on restoring fiscal discipline. None of the parties have exhibited an open or honest stance on the issue, this is a travesty.
An IFS report revealed that none of the parties have outlined more than a quarter of the measures that will be required to restore fiscal credibility. This has not been an election of ‘real change’, I see no justification for the ‘politics of hope’ and we are not entering a new era of a ‘fresh approach’ to governing. Commentators and the media are scrambling to make a narrative out of these confusing events, well here’s a straightforward one:
This was a fake election. Every party failed to take on the central, potentially crippling issue of the day. It was a race to see who could bury their heads farthest into the sand, who could toss the biggest bones to a style-obsessed electorate. Cameron and Osbourne attempted to position themselves as the party of fiscal sustainability, but failed to outline 82% of the spending cuts required.
The hung parliament is a false culprit; none of the individual parties presented the electorate with a credible plan. Many countries manage an economy effectively with coalition governments; the problem for the UK is that the politicians coalesced around fantasy economic plans, not facing up to the real challenge.
To me, the situation points to a Conservative minority government supported minimally by a distant Liberal party, who have every incentive to disassociate themselves from the poisonous cuts to come. A lot depends on Labour; if they present an ‘anti-cuts’ agenda in reaction to the Conservatives, the debate could shift in the worst direction.
I have the feeling we are only at the beginning of the process of coming to terms with the scale of the problem.