It all over..?

British general election is now over, with the most corrupt governing party of my life-time booted out. It was a heavy but well-deserved defeat although it was still towards the better end of expectations. Nevertheless I cannot think of anything they did right.

The Conservatives remain the second-largest party and they did not fall below double-figures, but to pass these two milestones would be into &dquo;existential” territory. However the milestones they did pass include some pretty devastating ones going back almost two centuries. Rishi Sunak did not have the indignity of losing his seat like Arthuf Balfour did in 1906 but his predecessor Liz Truzz did, and the seats of the two prior leaders Theresa May and Boris Johnson were also lost. Watching her declaration live it looked like Liz Truss was going to be absent, and the way she turned up and then left showed a complete lack of dignity.

Overall Labour got close to a 1997-style landslide but it was only on 34% of the vote which is a shockingly narrow support base, and they lost several MPs to Gaza-related independents. This is a function of the voting system rather than a roaring endorsement of the Labour party, which could mean trouble down the line when the going gets tough.

Greens getting four seats is way above anything anyone expected. The LibDems got what the most optimistic of MRP polls predicted but it is clear they did ruthless targeting of mainly southern seats.

At time of writing Inverness, Skye and West Rossshire has yet to declare which is a close call between the LibDems and SNP, but the SNP being down to single-figures is Scottish Independence dead in the water. The SNP were in no fit state to campaign properly but this result is far worse than anything I dared to predict. The huge loss of seats also means a lot less Short Money which means they might now be in a finance doom-loop.

Reform managed to get four seats and the big story is how they tore huge chunks out of the Conservative party voter base, but had Farage not screwed up by praising Vladimir Putin the 2-3 percentage points they lost in the last week or so could have done a lot more damage. Nigel Farage in Westminster is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable.

So it is Labour for the next 5 years. It is time for them to prove themselves.

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Can’t make it up

They say timing is everything and this advert from the Conservative Party is about as bad as timing can be. Did their campaigns department not notice that such a theme was a bad idea right as a gambling fraud investigation was kicking off?

For content gambling companies are obliged to report suspicious betting patterns, and in this case it was a huge spike in bets related to a July election the day before it was announced. In short the suspicion is the gambling equivalent of insider trading although the laws themselves are targeted at match fixing.

So far four Conservative staffers are being investigated — in other words the sort of people who if they did not know about an imminent election they really should have. In normal circumstances this would be very embarrassing but after all the Covid-era rule breaking this points towards endemic malfeasance within the Conservative hierarchy.

The advert itself could be put down to apathy-related carelessness. Such is the fatalism among Conservatives there are reports that candidates are being diverted from campaigning in their northern seats to seats in the south. With a week and a half to go all the talk is now what will be left of the party.

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Taxes will rise

Labour have matched the Conservative party by promising not to increase National Insurance, Income Tax, VAT, Capital Gains tax, VAT, or Corporation Tax. Together these account for a shave under three-quarters of all government revenue and as a result I expect this pledge will be broken, either literally or via some fiddled that are a rises in all but name.

Tricks like fiscal drag are to be expected so by ‘fiddle’ what I have in mind is changes to the scope of taxes, such as removal of exemptions/reliefs and reclassifications of which tax things fall under. Reducing the number of things that attract lower rates of VAT and moving some things from Capital Gains to Income Tax seem the most likely targets.

With national debt interest payments already at 10% of government spending there is not much scope for extra borrowing, and history has shown that savings from things like fraud crackdowns never materialise. With the economy being stagnant since 2008 extra revenue from growth in GDP is complete wishful thinking. Significant portions of new money will only come from upping tax rates.

As for spending there are some big ticket items in the pipe-line. Like it or not the government will have to pick up the tab for the railways and Thames Water because they are bankrupt, the Horizon and Hepatitis C compensation payouts will both be multi-billion, councils going into Section 114, a huge maintenance back-log, and the gorilla of the health budget is exploding.

This is not specifically about Labour. The Conservative manifesto talks about reduced spending but the only way to cut that steeply is to abolish entire departments overnight Javier Milei style, which clearly they will not do.

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