EDGE OF A CLIFF Last update June 8th
Editorial - Inherit the wind
Well here we are
in the last gasp of an election in the UK and you can feel the lack
of tension. No one particularly cares it seems , certainly not the young,
who just dont seem to connect with it at all. At least not here
in Cornwall where Hackwriters is based. The sun is out, the beach beckons,
so does study time for finals and putting together final shows. Basically
no one really has time for this lovefest for Tony Blair
and his cronies. Sure we can laugh at Keith Vaz, the minister for Europe
who hasnt started campaigning yet, he is so sure of his majority,
and some feel sorry for William Hague for having to push Anne Widecombe
up a very steep hill, but Im sticking to my guns and predicting
a Tory win and I have put my money where my mouth is (even if my brain
seems have gone awol).
OK On May 29th it look like another Labour landslide to me now.
But who knows. Maybe people will come to their senses and sit on their
hands come election day. A Labour landslide would mean
more corruption in the NHS and Government, more contempt for the individual.Think
VAZ, think Meacher, think Mandleson, are these men honest and true?
It would mean more charges for students, charges for operations at the
point of service, more road taxes, more speed restrictions, more criminalisation
of ordinary people. It will mean will have to look at Cheri Blair for
another five years. Do you really want that?
So what are the big issues?
Right now some might say foot and mouth again. As of today, we now find
out that the Government have been trying desperately hard to hide the
facts that the outbreak is getting worse, 63 cases in North Yorkshire
for example this month. More today. Three million animals allegedly
disease free have already been slaughtered and 26,000 carcasses still
await burial or burning. We now know that reopening the footpaths for
bank holiday tourists was a big mistake. The disease is back and a lot
more animals are going to die.Some farmers cant help feeling that
the Government doesnt care and is in some sort of long term conspiracy
to bankrupt the nations farmers and by so doing destroy the natural
The British economy is living on borrowed time and borrowed money.
Britains trade deficit with the rest of the world ballooned to
£7.7 billion this quarter, exports have plummeted 5.1% in March.
Sure there is a global slowdown, yet right here in the UK instead of
preparing for the worst we are on a huge spending spree. Imports of
consumer goods, mainly automobiles were up 41% since January 2001, according
to the Office of National Statistics. Although the pound has fallen
against the dollar, it has remained strong against the Euro and there
is a continued surge in home buying. In April this year banks and building
societies lent £12.6 billion ( Council of Mortgage Lenders figures).
We now have warning signals on London property prices where lenders
have been granting loans at sometimes 5 times income levels. At any
economic downturn many could become negative equity dwellers or forced
sellers. There are now warnings from Cambridge Econometrics, a leading
think-tank that high prices in property hot spots could rapidly see
a housing boom turn to bust, with intolerable consequences.
It looks all so very familiar. An election, huge promises in public
spending by a Labour Government, only to be retracted in a hurry after
the election when reality and a recession fast freezes the British economy.
The list of Britains best and worst towns for doing business has
been compiled by Oxford Economic Forecasting, an independent think-tank,
and Blue Sheep, a
consultancy. The report highlights what it claims is a growing divide
North and the South, with prosperity increasingly concentrated in London
and the South East.
Researchers compiled a table of 400 towns and 12 regions showing which
are likely to thrive, and which face decline. Ranking workplaces in
ten categories from trailblazing and dynamic
to meltdown and black hole, it indicates profound
national divisions. Oddly enough the Prime Ministers own constituency,
Sedgefield, is listed as an economic black hole. No doubt
they will be properly grateful and return him with a bigger majority.
So long as Mr Brown penalises business success, harasses big companies
and raises business taxes, the UK will stay in deficit and business
will keep suffering. As this would be hidden, however, Mr Brown could
be even more complacent, says Patience Wheatcroft in an editorial
for The Times May 22nd.
Winner inherits the wind
If the Tories win they will hold a poisoned chalice, huge national debts,
an economy that can only fall from a peak, possibly a run on Sterling
since as they are pledged not to join the Euro, the pound must therefore
be discounted to recognise this reality.
Rule One of the Hackwriters new commandments comes into play;
Thou are damned if thy do and damned if thy don't.
Want more gloom? British manufacturing has lost 650,000 jobs since the
start of Labour's reign. The paperwork that clogs UK companies is getting
thicker by the day, compounded by all the paperwork that Brussels imposes.
Companies such as Vauxhall (GM) have lost £200 on manufacturing
their cars in the UK this year and are closing their car plant at Luton.
Toyota have lost £50 million so far (mainly on foreign exchange
dealings) , Honda is running at a loss and just closed the Accord assembly
line down in Swindon. Nissan too are running at a loss in the most productive
plant in Europe, all due to the strength of the pound against a weak
Euro. (The Euro may get weaker as slippage occurs for distribution and
readiness of the coinage and notes before the Jan 1st deadline 2002).
And dont think it is just manufacturing. Banks too are laying
people off. UBS Warburg dispatched 300 bankers this week, and BT (British
Telecom) is in trouble. One might add that there are rumours in the
city that Andersen Consultings new name company Accenture are
going to be laying off people both sides of the Atlantic. The dot.com
economy is still experiencing reality and there is a lot
more pain to come...
POST ELECTION DAY
Watching the UK Election on June 7th night was a lot like attending
a funeral and each new guests who comes in has to come to the coffin
to check the man is truly dead.
That said, the extremely low turnout of just 58 percent meant that either
the rest were sure he was dead, or just couldnt care.
So Friday morning hangovers for British Tories and conservatism. What
didnt play? The Euro for one thing. Far from the pound being something
we love and cherish, as William Hague campaigned on, we are all Europeans
now and the City called it two days before the election when they started
to mark the pound down - sharply.
We are going in, a lot faster than people realise.
Almost every the Tories stood for, Immigration, Asylum, The Pound, Crime,
(There was precious little else) has been rejected soundly. They are
a party with nothing left to say, nothing be skeletons rattling in a
closet, something to scare kids with at Halloween.
There are worries. The size of the vote for the British National party
in Asian dominated cities shows us that the right wing politics can
only go one way to the extreme and the margins of society. We are a
centrist culture and New Labour grabbed the middle ground, as socialists
have done in Europe and there is really nothing between us and virtually
all the dominant political parties in Europe now.
There is debate of who will be the next Tory leader, but it is an irrelevance.
If the British electorate will put up with the worst railways, hospital,
schools, roads and infrastructure in Europe and rewards the Government
for doing nothing about it, then we are set to have a centre socialist
government for a long time indeed. Emboldened you will not have to wait
long for taxes to rise...
So thank God it is over, the UK can go back to thinking about those
waiting lists for operations, burning sheep and cattle and booking holidays
in Spain. Some people say we are a small nation with small ideas now,
few expectations and shoddy values. Our newspapers reflect a rejection
of merit, all is tawdry celebrity. Well if that is so, we at Hackwriters
will celebrate it, we shall write about it, plum the depths of this
shallow society and prise out the meaning, squeeze out the truth and
put it on our pages.
Life goes on, so do we. Let have no more talk of elections for five
years, not four. We have had enough.
Big Issues like this could be discussed. Save the Kit-Kat four. Lets
keep the tradition of silver foil wrapping. We don't want plastic wrapped
Kit-Kat. Write to your MP. Save the Kit-Kat four now
(For those who might be puzzled. Kit-Kat are changing the wrapping after
75 years from foil to plastic. If there is one thing we hate most in
the UK it is change! Write to Nestle, save the Kit-Kat four.)
Sam North Managing Editor www.hackwriters.com
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OUR ELECTION MANIFESTO
Response to the above from John Prohaska in Canada
I believe the biggest problem with globalisation is that it is not a
two way process. Today, the internet is both the most accessible and
most international media in the world. But it is
completely dominated by the US, UK, and Canada; First World nations
of similar ideologies, similar religions, and the same language. While
we may see a postcard-like view of Madras, we
don't learn anything about foreign ideas or methodologies. We project
images of handsome young men drinking Coke in Chinos while fondling
their buxom supermodel girlfriends and the
world thinks that this is their future if they fall into line.
Unfortunately, the true problem lies not in the West leading the way
in globalisation as much as human foolishness. We believe what we see
and read and, most of all, what we want to
believe. We accept things without question. We believe that whatever
makes our lives easier is the "right" thing. (See the Americanisation
of Hawaii and its environmental devastation.) We do not notice what
we give up in order to get what we want. (See the strength of the Third
World family unit in comparison to the divorce rate and treatment of
the elderly in the First World.)
We make no distinction between what we want and what we need. (See human
greed, ie; The history of mankind.) Sadly, that is the real problem
and, tragically, can not be stemmed by the pulling of a plug.