Monday, May 11, 2015


An apt line from the hauntingly beautiful "Cats" from the musical of the same name might best describe the situation in the UK today.  My friend, Gordon, said it best and I don't think he will mind if I quote him a bit.

"You cannot imagine the political earthquake this represents.  People normally completely uninterested in politics are dazed.  It will be a decisive five years.  Labor lost to the right in England, and to the left in Scotland.  By the time they figure out which way they are facing, it may be all but over for them."

Mind you, this is in a nation where two dominant political parties have shared rule for nearly 200 years, far longer than the Dems and the Repubs Over Here.  In speaking with a number of Brits this weekend there is a certain amount to fear of the unknown given the extent of the political slaughter which took place.  The Tories have it all and given the speed in which they have reorganized the entire government they are well aware of what lays before them.  Yes, the SNP will be pests from the git-go, but there now exists no real organized opposition.  UKIP won only one seat but got four million votes...twice the number of the SNP.  Their showing in the north was particularly strong, displacing Labor as the number two party in many districts.  Yes, they are anti-Europe but more than that as well as they are attempting to appeal to the working man as the alternative to Labor.  The next big issue will be whether they can do that to any extent or whether they will simply fade away as a choice for only a moment in time.  If they succeed, the world will once again be turned upside down.

Of course the Tories will have to deal with the "Scottish Question" as it is now being called.  At the end of the day, however, 56 seats doesn't scare anyone especially with Labor in tatters and a considerable increase in home rule will probably be granted but with that will certainly come a reduction of the dole passed up north with which the English had reached the point of disgust.  It was no small point in the Tory victory.  The choice will be made clear; more independence or the cash?  And next comes the issue of Europe.

Cameron has promised a referendum on continued membership in the EU by 2017.  He will keep that pledge, but before so doing he will attempt to renegotiate the UK position within the body from the standpoint of enormous domestic political strength.  Enough has been said lately as to importance of maintaning Greece as a member; the thought of a Brexit would surely raise concern to the state of paranoia for there is considerable agreement that without the Brits the Union would cease to exist.  To be honest, there is probably more support for remaining in Europe--even among the Scots--throughout the UK than to leave but Cameron, who has proven to be not only a cunning politician but a brutal one as well, is certainly capable of keeping the opinion polls on a knife's edge as the moment becomes closer unless he gets the sort of deal from the Euros that he demands.  My bet is he will.

In the end, this election may well be the precursor to the American election of next year.  The differences in political philosophy Over There can be boiled down to the contrast of big government, social spending and higher taxes vs. limited government, fewer regulations, lower taxes and a rejection of the European nanny state...just like Over Here.  Oddly, the players were even the same, with Labor relying on the economics of Paul Krugman and uncle Joe Stieglitz and the political acumen and class warfare of David Axelrod who was paid over $500,000.  They were soundly rejected but the battle will be joined again in a year.  In the meantime, the UK will provide an excellent test tube for the continued experiment of Mr. Cameron's policies which can be equated closely to those of the more centrist wing of the Republican party who will certainly be cheering him on.  A new day begins, the dogs bark and the caravan moves on.  Only this time the destination is not yet known.

Greece paid the IMF today...a day early.  They are lighter by 700 million.  Nothing has changed.

Correction:  The level of employment in the work force dropped below 64% not 70% as had been stated.  My apologies for the error.

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