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Could 2018 see another general election?

For me, the most iconic moment of 2017 politics was the reaction of Brenda from Bristol to the news that Theresa May had called a snap election. “Not anor-ther one”, wailed an exasperated Brenda, echoing the sentiments of almost an entire nation. And yet, according to some pundits, it’s possible that we could be heading off to the polls for a third time in four years. Economists at US-owned Morgan Stanley predict it happening if Conservative disharmony in Westminster over Brexit continues. A few other financial and public policy bodies also echo that view. Then there’s the enticing odds quoted by bookmakers Paddy Power who were offering 6/4 on a 2018 general election. They reckon just one pa

No reason for celebration

You ’ll have to seriously scour the news feeds to find it, but something fairly significant happened last week. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) handed over a report to the Treasury select committee. Nothing particularly special about that – until you learn how accusations have been flying around that the regulatory watchdog had previously misled MPs with selective information. The report is question is about the “systemic” mistreatment meted out by the tax-payer owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to thousands of its small business clients after the 2008 banking crisis. We know this because a leaked copy says so, in uncompromising terms. The allegations centre on the highly questionable

We can’t afford austerity any longer

Ever wondered whatever happened to the UK budget deficit? No, me neither - until recently that is. Just to explain, a budget deficit happens when what the government spends is more than it collects in tax revenues. This means a build-up of public sector debt. I won’t bore you with all the figures and trends but the headline is that while the amount of borrowing has been falling, it currently stands at £45 billion and is forecast to increase to £58 billion next year. In other words, any ‘savings’ gained from cutting back public spending in the last few years will be wiped out. But let’s face it, austerity is entirely incidental to tackling the deficit. The successive wave of cuts we’ve suffer

Making plans for more housing

Just like health, housing is one of those big social agenda items where everyone knows what’s broken but can’t get a handle on how to fix it. That might change though. According to national newspaper reports, Labour is looking at plans that will force landowners to part with sites at below market price in an effort to cut the cost of council-house building. Landowners currently sell at a potential price that takes into account the so-called “hope value” associated with possible development. This means factoring in how a hectare of farming land worth around £20,000 could sell for £2m if designated for housing. Labour wants to see the creation of a Sovereign Land Trust with powers to buy sites

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