“From now until polling day I will travel the length and breadth of Britain with one clear message: Britain is now on the way to economic recovery. And now is not the time to put it at risk.”
The quote above comes from the Labour Party’s official website, and is noteworthy insomuch as it appears Brown’s only real chance of winning the General Election (which he called today for May 6th) is to convince the people to stay the course his government has set out to revive the ailing economy. In contrast to Brown is the much younger conservative David Cameron who, like US President Obama, is promising a change of guard and policy to fix what he’s named “broken Britain”.
While Brown and Cameron don’t differ substantially over social issues, on the economic front Cameron has firmly stated that the Tories would cut spending now to address the country’s record budget deficit and federal debt, while Brown and Co. say they won’t reduce spending until at least 2011 to prevent a “double-dip” recession. Brown has anchored his call on the economic improvement he’s seen in recent months, noting the technical end of recession with an upward revision of GDP to 0.4% in Q4 quarter-over-quarter (a “victory” of sorts after the UK lagged peers like Germany and France who saw quarterly GDP expansion in Q2 ’09), unemployment holding steady around 7.8% over the last months (ILO), and CPI that has abated to 3% Y/Y (target = 2%).
Suffice it to say, Brown’s economic creds don’t stack up to “victory” in our book, but maybe stale is the new normal.
Already political experts forecast the strong possibility of a hung parliament or one that lacks a majority, in which case Brown’s best hope would likely be to form a coalition (last seen in 1964) with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. As Brown and Cameron ramp up their respective campaign tours, recent polls suggest inconclusive results:
The Sun/YouGov Poll sees the Tories leading Labour with a 10% spread, (or 41% to 31%), an increase over the last weeks, while the more liberal Guardian/ICM Survey shows the Conservatives with a 4% lead over Labour, or 37% to 33%, with Labour enjoying a forward push over the past week.
In the coming days we’ll have more out on the implications of this election. For now, the UK has not yet voted!