Friday, 30 April 2010

Election 2010: The Economist calls it for Cameron

One of the best British newspapers, I was curious to see who The Economist would back for Prime Minister. Having supported New Labour for 13 years, The Economist fell out of love with Gordon Brown's 'old-fashioned statism', turned off by Labour 'concentrating ... on scaring people about the Tories' plans'.

But, The Economist has never given David Cameron an easy ride and, given its liberalism, was evidently tempted by Nick Clegg's charm. In the end, it found him wanting on the substance:

"But look at the policies, rather than the man, and the Lib Dems seem less appealing. In the event of another European treaty, they would hold a referendum not on that treaty but on whether to stay in or leave the EU; odd, given that they also (wrongly) want to take Britain into the euro. They are flirting with giving up Britain’s nuclear deterrent. They would abolish tuition fees for universities, which would mean either letting the quality of British higher education slide still further or raising the subsidy to mostly well-off students by increasing state funding. They are worried about climate change but oppose the expansion of nuclear power, which is the most plausible way of cutting emissions. Their policies towards business are arguably to the left of Labour’s. A 50% capital-gains tax, getting rid of higher-rate relief on pensions and a toff-bashing mansion tax are not going to induce the entrepreneurial vim Britain needs. Vince Cable, the Lib Dems’ chancellor-in-waiting, recently dismissed the bosses who argued against the government’s planned National Insurance increase as “nauseating”; that feeling might well be reciprocated by the nation’s wealth creators if the Lib Dems came into power."

The Economist is equally quick to criticise certain Conservative policies - on Europe, or the perceived lack of detail on spending cuts. But, it judges that they are the most serious about cutting the budget deficit, and concludes:

"[M]ore than their rivals, they are intent on redesigning the state. They would reform the NHS by bringing in more outside providers; their plans to give parents and teachers the right to set up schools are the most radical idea in this election. Centralisers under Margaret Thatcher, they now want to devolve power to locally elected officials, including mayors and police chiefs ... Mr Cameron is much closer to answering the main question facing Britain than either of his rivals is. In this complicated, perhaps inevitably imperfect election, he would get our vote."

You can read the full article here.


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