Businesses (and citizens) face an impossible choice at tomorrow's ballot box

EDITOR'S BLOG: Corbyn's economic lunacy takes on May's hard Brexit protectionism in the battle of undesirable outcomes.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 07 Jun 2017

First things first. Here at MT we would not dream of insulting your intelligence by telling you which way to vote. Politics and especially the election of a government is a deeply personal thing. There’s a reason you are left alone in the privacy of a voting booth - it’s a bit like a confessional. I don't even tell my wife how I vote. I’m not even absolutely sure myself what to do tomorrow. So, we trust your judgment in these things. But what exactly the intelligent, fair-minded MT reader should do tomorrow presents a baffling quandary. The options offered are bleak.

Today The Undecided got the predicted 17 pages of vicious bile dripping all over Labour from The Daily Mail. Nothing surprising about that. This might be Paul Dacre’s final election as editor and he intends to get his way. Most other publications have gone in their entirely predictable directions. But you can tell these are strange and disconcerting times when The Economist endorses the Liberal Democrats, a party without the faintest chance of ascending to power.

I fully understand why great droves of young people are drawn to Corbyn and his message of hope, free uni plus more flats to rent. But he’s a nightmare. Never mind his sincerity - Saddam Hussein was sincere. Corbyn has never run anything in his life, not even a people’s committee in Venezuela. Taking back railways, the Royal Mail and water companies into public ownership, taxing ‘the rich’ until their pips squeak - they don’t: they just work out how to avoid tax in other ways - ramping up Corporation tax. These measures would crash the economy, giving him every reason to nationalise a few banks while he’s at it. Because that has gone so well since 2007.

Over in the blue corner...The truth is that the top team presented by the Conservatives is the poorest it has been for many decades. Few, if any, of the recently-stood down cabinet inspire much confidence. To think that we are entering the most critical negotiation about our country’s future for 70 years with May, Davies, Fox and Johnson at the helm is deeply troubling. There is much of the B Minus about the first three - for ability plus achievement - and Johnson would be up for exclusion to a pupil referral unit. If they have any wisdom and self-knowledge whatsoever they will be very fearful about what is coming to pass when they finally see the whites of the 27’s eyes across the negotiating table on 19 June.

Read more: Election 2017 - What the three main parties are offering business

The Tories lack any coherent vision for Britain’s future economy beyond a vague back-to-the- 50s love of powdered egg, warm beer combined with a suspicion of ‘citizens of nowhere.’ But someone is voting for them. As one Twitter wit said today, ‘The Conservatives are like Mrs Brown's Boys: nobody's admitting to it, but going by the statistics, at least one of my friends must be a fan.’

Although the horrible terrorist events of the last few weeks now dominate the conversation they are a distraction. (For all the mud-slinging about police cuts, I feel very unsure what the police, security services, or anyone else can do to protect us completely from individuals who use rented Renault vans and large knives to carry out their attacks. A deranged and hateful individual can carry out one of these assaults virtually on the spur of the moment having stewed alone in his madrassa room or Barking council flat for years. No internet-acquired bomb-making knowledge or explosive raw materials bought from industrial chemists are necessary.)

The central issue of this election is, and has always been, Brexit. Our economy has slowed and will do so further. Real wages are not moving forward. Mrs May is now committed to the madness of cutting net migration by two-thirds which will damage the economy still further. Still, this will be made easier because there won’t be so many jobs to be taken up - the easiest way to keep foreigners out is to throttle the economy at home. The one honest and halfway decent idea she had - the ‘Dementia Tax’ - was dropped like a hot brick at the merest sense of pushback from the well-off elderly.

The Lib Dems (plus the Greens) are the only party which offers a vote on the Brexit terms. But neither stands a realistic chance of forming the next government - there’s even talk of Lib Dem leader Tim Farron losing his seat. If only Screaming Lord Such were still alive.

Images: Chatham House and UK Home Office


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