What does Mr Obama’s victory tell us about UK politics?

 

          There has been a lot written about this. Reporters tell us some close to the government have briefed that Mr Obama’s victory is a good omen for Conservatives, because he too is an incumbent presiding over difficult economic times. His victory shows a Conservative victory is possible in 2015.

          I am all for a Conservative victory in 2015. If the government does the right things from here such a victory is possible.  However,  we cannot  deduce it from Mr Obama’s win. US and UK politics are very different. The US does not have the overarching problem of the EU and the erosion of its powers of self government, nor does it have our proximity to the Euro and control from Burssels over many important aspects of our economic life. UK Conservatives are not heavily influenced by Christian movements. US attitudes to self help and working are tougher than UK attitudes. If the Conservatives do and say the right things about the EU, about  how they will go about getting a new relationship,they can pick up support. If the recovery gathers pace in the last couple of years of this Parliament the economic position could also be better for the Conservatives.They can get support for good immigration and welfare policies which get more people back to work or in work for the first time.

            The political arithmetic is also, however,  very different between the UK and the US. Mr Obama scored a good victory in 2008. He  attracted 52.9% of the popular vote. This election he merely  needed to hold on to most of that to win. He lost 2.4% of the popular vote which still left him in the lead. Mr Cameron only attracted 36% of the popular vote in 2010, not enough to win. He needs to attract 4-6% more of the popular vote in 2015 to win, so he needs to make himself and his party more popular. He does not have Mr Obama’s luxury of losing votes.

            If the UK is to emulate the US relative success with economic recovery, the government does have to make more progress in mending the banks, and in delivering cheaper energy. The US economy has outperformed ours so far this decade, thanks primarily to going for cheap gas and getting on with sorting out the banks and property values.

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16 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    A Conservative victory in 2015 is very, very unlikely.

    You say “If the government does the right things from here such a victory is possible” – well they have done so few of the right things so far, what makes you think they might start now.

    Cameron has chosen to destroy his credibility, so nothing that he says in the future will now ever be believed. Nothing he promises at the next election will be remotely trusted. Even if he now were to abandon, the absurd expensive quack energy policy, introduce easy hire and fire, get functional banking going, stop pushing cash down the PIGIS/EU drain, sort out the EU and slash regulations it is probably already too late. The mad Libdems would not let him anyway. Furthermore he shows not the slightest inclination to do this. Will he even get the boundary changes in before 2015?

    It is highly unlikely they will increase their overall vote, given the appalling nature of this socialist pro EU, quack energy, tax borrow and waste coalition. Do not forget Cameron was against the sitting duck “some bigoted woman” G Brown last time. Brown was in a huge financial crisis mainly of Labours making and which they were exacerbating incompetently. The Tories have still not won outright since 1992 when, John Major set about burying the party for 20+ years with policies very similar to Cameron’s and the idiotic ERM that he took us into as Chancellor. Now Cameron has the EURO (ERM II) and similar big state tax borrow and waste, quack green attitudes.

    Miliband (Unison’s man) is fairly hopeless and wrong on almost everything too, but he will be far harder to beat than Brown was.

    I see that BBC Director-General George Entwistle has resigned. It seems a shame that Lord Patten has not done so instead. He is the very embodiment of the BBC’s ever bigger state, quack green, pro EU, hugely over paid, dumbed down, propagandising BBC. He also allowed the BBC to pay a fortune to head hunters to find a new DG who was recruited internally and now even Mr Entwistle does not think he is the man for the job. Will they get the head hunter money back?

    Surely George Entwistle has not has time to do much wrong as DG so far. Doubtless he will have a very nice pension and pay off though, rather unlike most of the private sector who pay the vast bulk of the licence fees under threat from the criminal law.

    Sorting out the BBC’s bias should have been fairly near the top of Cameron’s priorities and yet he appointed Lord Patten, the very embodiment of “BBC think” (and Cameron think too it seems).

    • waramess
      Posted November 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Faultless Lifelogic

  2. colliemum
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Obama’s ‘victory’ tells us two things:

    • ‘identity politics’, i.e. politics addressed at specific groups rather than the general population, are now entrenched – politics addressing problems affecting huge swathes of the population irrespective of race, creed or gender, are out;

    • even vaguely conservative principles, of e.g. balancing the budget, reducing debt, not increasing deficit, are out when nearly 50% of the electorate wants ‘free stuff’.
    This goes for our politics here as well, and more than anything needs to be adressed by conservative politicians. We here in the UK are more susceptible to a return to the days of 1974 – 1979 because our metropolitan population forms a far larger part of our general population.
    But hey – what could possibly go wrong when the working people in the middle are squeezed relentlessly, and when politicians are stoking the fires of envy against this group.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

      So many people are reliant on benefits because there aren’t enough jobs for everyone and for many in work salaries are too low to survive on. As long as the companies can continue paying their employees as little as possible there will always be a large number of people dependent on the state.

      It’s ironic that so many right wing politicians reduced their own support by encouraging lower salaries and making more people dependent on the state.

  3. David John Wilson
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    The UK government should be concentrating on policies that improve our economic position in the world. It is all very well trying to manipulate the banks but the government has many solutions in its own hands.

    Start with taxation. There are many actions that could be taken that would improve our import and export position without directly impacting the deficit. For example employers’ NI contributions should be reduced if not removed completely and the revenue found from other sources like corporation tax and VAT.

    The number of overlapping sources of taxation should be reduced. For example VED should be got rid of and the revenue totally gathered from fuel tax. Fuel duty should be imposed on fuel imported in the tanks of vehicles.

    The placing of government contracts needs to be done on a level playing field. Foreign companies are swift to find costs that can be imported when declaring their profits for the purposes of corporation tax. However the potential profits from a contract will be reduced by maximising the potential corporation tax.

  4. zorro
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Yes, apparently No 10′s preferred candidate won it seems……As usual, I suspect that Cast Elastic will draw the wrong lessons and think this vindicates his big government, QE, spray and pray approach to economic restructuring. I suspect that he will be disappointed. He needs to get a lot more votes to win a majority in 2015. That needs to include a reason to vote for him which was rather lacking in 2010.

    As you state, he only got 36% at the election. He didn’t win, but was the smallest loser forced into a most unsatisfying coalition with the Clegglet. As you also state, Obama just needed to hang onto most of his votes as opposed to winning new ones. Cameron does not have that luxury. What chance does he have of winning the 2015 election without a vote winning ‘common ground’ vision when he couldn’t beat deluded, sitting duck Gordon responsible for leaving us unprepared to weather the 2007 crisis and worsening the situation by bailing out banks and increasing debts? I would suggest less than zero….particularly if Europe unravels and he dithers or fails to deliver.

    zorro

  5. Barbara Stevens
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t put to much faith in Obamas win. He disliked the British from their days in Kenya, related to his father, and he dislikes us now. He won’t offend us for he needs us as we need them; but deep down he’ll do nothing to do us a favour.
    Has for the Conservatives winning the next election, a lot of things will come into play before people make up their minds. Welfare cuts have been harsh, and will become harder, we all know we need some, but one cut is particulary nasty. Elderly people who may need to claim Attendance Allowance, now have to wait 6 months before a clain is accepted, they have to have their condition six months prior to their claim. How can an elderly person who may have a heart attack, stroke or accident have that six months prior to a claim. This is a very nasty piece of legislation that has slipped through. Going against the weakest in society and the most vunerable. I would like to hear your ideas on this Mr Redwood.
    I think when people see the level of cuts and how they are pracitced it might weaken the Conservatives on getting into government again. Yes, we can make cuts but its where you cut that is important. Two years is a lifetime in politics and things can change, beliefs can change and aligences. Has for the EU, we all know Cameron will do the least he has to, and won’t get much back from them. They too will resist his calls for repatriation of powers. They want our money and will do anything to hang onto it. Cutting taxes for the well off is not the way to go forward at this time, while so many are near borderline of poverty. Fairness is important, and we should all pay our part, and the well off and the banks should be the main people paying their part. They have been greedy and we all are paying the price, the poor and the well off; government is not helping by it ‘witch hunt’ of the sick and the disabled. It will pay the price eventually, as it did before in the 1980s, and were out of goverment for 18 years. Is this what they want again?

  6. Alte Fritz
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Mr Obama’s victory tells us that he is an outstanding and inspiring campaigner and personality, that the Republicans cannot find an inspiring candidate and that many, especially in the celebrity class, just love to be able to patronise Mr Obama by reference to one half of his ancestry.

  7. Derek Emery
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    The US was found to be bankrupt by the IMF is 2010 see http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-11/u-s-is-bankrupt-and-we-don-t-even-know-commentary-by-laurence-kotlikoff.html

    To close the fiscal gap the US would have to double all taxes. The Bloomberg article author points out he calculates a fiscal gap of $202 trillion, which is more than 15 times the official debt. This gargantuan discrepancy between US “official” debt and actual net indebtedness isn’t surprising. It reflects what economists call the labeling problem. Congress has been very careful over the years to label most of its liabilities “unofficial” to keep them off the books and far in the future. Companies make such liabilities “off balance sheet” and amounts to the same technique.

    Earlier this year:
    Mr. Obama is averaging a debt increase of more than $1.5 trillion a year during his term in office, compared with an average of $612.4 billion for Mr. Bush and $192.5 billion a year under President Clinton (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/nov/16/federal-debt-more-15-trillion/?page=all)

    The US is not tackling its debt problem.

  8. Jon
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    We are subsidising the unions to go on strike to the tune of over £100m a year. When they do strike it costs £100s millions a day and 1/2 as much in tax revenues. I hope in 2 1/2 years time something has been done in this area.

  9. Bert Young
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Apart from pursuing the same interest in low cost energy , I do not think we should look across the Atlantic for ideas . The analysis of how the US electorate responded did nothing to convince me that what happened there had much relevance here , and if Cameron believes that being in situ is likely to be an advantage , then , he has another shock coming .” The quality and strength of the leader ” – as Lord Steele pointed out in Any Questions ” has a lot to do with the outcome “. The Public are genuinely fed up here and demand radical change in our relationship with Europe ; Cameron is not the man who can be trusted to bring this about .

  10. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    America’s electorate is divided into those accepting patronage (including their huge immigrant population) and those paying for that patronage.

    The receivers won an election even though life has got worse under the providing incumbent.

    Mr Cameron should feel a chill running down his spine.

    As child benefit is removed from this single earner, two parent family which is already £4,000 a year worse off than a family earning the same amount with two earners I say “Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne give me my wife’s tax free allowance in the next budget or Europe will stop becoming a nuisance that I like to debate and will become my number one voting priority”.

    If I can’t vote for a party that will look after me financially I might as well vote for one that shares my visions on Europe.

    And yes I got the letter yesterday morning and yes I am incensed.

  11. uanime5
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Given that Obama won because many feared that Romney would cut their benefits it would be wise for Cameron and Osborne not to be seen as attacking welfare, especially when so many working people depend on it.

  12. Posted November 12, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    It reminds you the UK is dead & the USA is dying.

  13. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Above all, the Conservative Party needs to attract votes back from UKIP. To do this, it needs a manifesto that aims for the recovery of substantial powers from the EU and a purge of its candidates list to ensure that all its MPs and MEPs will back the policy when it comes to the crunch.

    The UK banks can only be sorted out within the context of selling them back to the public. Put the government’s shares up for auction. We can only guarantee that gas will remain cheap is for it to come from domestic sources, so just say ‘yes’ to exploratoin and extraction. Property values should continue to drift downwards to an affordable level; that will ensure that new mortgages are affordable by people less than 40 years old.

    As for the US being comparitively successful, I will believe it when its deficit reduction begins and not until then.

  14. zorro
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    ‘sorting out the banks and property values…’…….with all the furore over the BBC, I had not looked closely at this post. Are you saying that you think that house prices (in general) still have a considerable way to fall? I think that they are still overvalued compared to incomes in general and we cannot afford to have unaffordable credit take off again.

    zorro

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    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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