What Will the Effect of The Iraq War be in 2015

Despite the ending of UK and US combat missions in Iraq, the country is still plagued by violence and, as has been proven recently, still has the propensity to dominate headlines within the British press. With the withdrawal of large parts of the western military presence from the country, a power vacuum, akin to that created by the removal of Saddam Hussein, has once again become apparent in one of the most turbulent nations in the world. However, the effect of the intervention in Iraq spreads far beyond the country and the region and has the potential to play a large part in the UK general election scheduled for 2015.

The biggest headache that Iraq will cause will come for the Labour party leader Ed Miliband. Prior to Iraq, immigrant communities and their future generations were expected to largely vote for Labour and other left parties, mainly due to fears of Conservative racism and anti-immigration ideals. However, the Iraq War, coupled with Afghanistan and New Labour’s cuddling up to the US and George Bush, has caused huge distrust of the Labour Party within Muslim communities. The Muslim world is one that sees itself as very interconnected and a close knit group, a feeling typified by the worldwide Islamic ummah. The problem that the Labour leader faces is that the Muslim community globally feels vilified by the actions of New Labour governments. Not only do they feel that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were unjustified and perhaps highly illegal, but they also feel that ordinary Muslim citizens now suffer from discrimination from the general public and western governments.

Most of the British Muslim community then still has not forgiven Labour for its actions in the Middle East and at home. Part of the problem is how closely tied to the New Labour government both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were. Ed Miliband wrote the Labour manifesto which resulted in Gordon Brown’s election defeat in 2010 and Ed Balls was a close advisor to Brown at the Treasury. Therefore, Labour risks losing thousands of Muslim votes due to their actions in Iraq and will have to work hard to recapture the trust of Muslim communities (perhaps by advocating a repeal of the impingement on rights and freedoms that followed the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq under Tony Blair), or risk losing voters and perhaps the election.

The Conservative Party also faces a difficult challenge concerning the war in Iraq and current policy concerning the Middle East. Firstly, the Tories generally aren’t trusted by immigrant communities as fears still remain, despite the Cameroon centralist project, that the Tory party is inherently nasty and, at least in some quarters, racist and discriminatory (an image not helped by the demotion of Baroness Warsi in the recent reshuffle). Furthermore, following Conservative support for the invasion of Iraq, their continuance of a failing policy in Afghanistan and the failure to remove detach themselves from the bullying tactics of the US all over the world, the Tories are unlikely to mop up the Muslim voters the Labour Party has haemorrhaged.

The Conservative’s coalition partners are perhaps the only one of the three main parties with the opportunity to take advantage of the Iraq War debacle. The Lib Dems were some of the main opponents of the invasion of Iraq, a principled stand that they have taken and stood by and should be commended for. However, although the Lib Dems opposed the invasion, the votes of Muslims will not rest solely on this point and the Lib Dems are likely to have done enough damage to their image by selling their souls for power to have put off potential voters. They are particularly unlikely to gain Muslim voters over Iraq since 2010 seeing as the invasion occurred prior to the 2010 election and any major gains would have occurred then.

To which parties then are opponents of the Iraq War likely to turn. Social democratic voters, perhaps natural supporters of the Labour party who left for the Lib Dems following Iraq and now feel betrayed by them due to their pandering to the Conservatives in coalition will perhaps look to the Green Party. I believe that the Green Party risks becoming a force on the left, particularly considering their move away from purely green issues to focus on social and economic issues, particularly a radical approach to opposition to the coalition’s austerity programme. If the Green’s new leader Natalie Bennett can motivate voters and get the Green message out to the public then the Greens have the potential to massively increase their share of the vote in 2015.

Another potential winner will be the Respect party, a potential epitomised by George Galloway’s return to politics in Bradford. Galloway ran an unashamedly populist campaign in Bradford and relied on the support and votes of the local Muslim population, which turned out in vast numbers and delivered him victory. Part of Galloway’s appeal was his complete opposition to western fiddling in the Middle East, particularly Iraq, and played on anti-western sentiment within the Muslim community, to great effect. The Respect Party has the potential to replicate Galloway’s victory in other areas of the country.

Finally, a mention must go to the BNP which, whilst imploding via internal feuds and lack of funds, also has the potential to gain a few right-wing supporters who back the policy of withdrawing British interests and troops from the Middle East completely, believing that British troops should protect only British land, views echoed by the English Defence League who have also threatened to run candidates in upcoming elections. However, I think it likely that with the current disorganisation faced by the far-right of British politics that any far-right candidates will largely find themselves losing their deposits.

Iraq, whilst not being a defining issue at the next election, will almost certainly be a tricky issue which will surface sooner or later in the run up to 2015, particularly if the current violence in the country continues. The Labour Party in particular has a lot of ground to cover to recoup Muslim and anti-war voters and I think that the Iraq war and anti-imperialist sentiment has the potential to return some shock results in 2015.


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Two Eds May Not Be Better After All

So, apparently the relationship at the top of the Labour Party between leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is breaking down. This supposed friction between Labour’s top two was reported last week in the media and even if, as has been argued, the account of Miliband snapping at Balls at a shadow cabinet meeting for tapping on his Blackberry is indeed a mere repeat of an event that actually happened and surfaced in the media almost two years ago, a potential rift between Balls and Miliband does not bode well for the Labour Party’s chances of regaining power at the next general election.

At a time when the economy was undoubtedly going to become the most important factor at the next election, Miliband, still not wholly accepted by the Labour Party, particularly those of a more central than left leaning, is in desperate need of a shadow chancellor who can not only expose the Tories mishandling of the economy but also work with him to produce a Labour party with policies that can convince the public that they are a government in waiting. Any rift between the two therefore could be catastrophic.

However, it seemed nigh on impossible that the rift would not occur at some time or other before the election. For starters, Ed Balls was still smarting at his rejection by the party at the leadership elections following Labour’s loss of power. Balls came in a distant third behind Ed and his brother David, and this was a rejection that must have hurt. Furthermore, Balls was then initially denied his second preference job, that of Shadow Chancellor, a position granted to Alan Johnson, only for Balls to be given the job when Johnson resigned a mere three and a half months after taking up the role. Balls was further aggrieved by the fact that he was Miliband’s second choice and it is likely that his leadership ambitions are far from evaporated.

It appears that Balls and Miliband are determined to follow in the route of Labour leaders and their (Shadow) Chancellors falling out and tearing the party apart, an eventuality that Miliband has already had to fight hard against as the party has an innate instinct to enter into a bitter civil war whenever it is removed from power. So far, Miliband has done a splendid job of balancing the needs of the trade unions, Blairites and other Labour factions all vying for control of policy.

The last thing that Miliband needs on top of this is a petulant Shadow Chancellor determined to undermine him. Miliband therefore has two options. The first is to continue with Ed Balls as shadow chancellor, concede ground to Balls and hope to maintain the current level of unity present in the Labour Party. This has the obvious advantages of avoiding disruption as well as being viewed as overseeing the constant removal and implementation of Shadow Chancellors, a sign of uncertainty, instability and potentially weakness.

The second option is to remove Balls and find a new shadow chancellor to take the fight to the coalition. The truth is that Balls isn’t all that likeable. I believe that the general public do not really see Balls as a future Chancellor. After all, this is the man that the Tories jeer delivered us an economic crisis that Labour has to try and distance itself from. So far, Tory insults concerning the origins of the financial downturn are sticking in the mind of the public and the closer they can associate Balls with the crisis the more the insults will stick. Also, Balls appears determined to disrupt the Labour Party, bitter at the loss of the leadership election. Furthermore, the truth is that not much of the Labour Party backed Balls in the leadership election, around 11% of first preference votes, and even fewer would now, knowing the damage it would cause and taking into consideration the promising start of Ed Miliband as Leader of the Opposition.

A problem created by removing Balls however is where Miliband would find his replacement. I believe that the best candidate would be Chuka Umunna, the current Shadow Business Secretary, who is eloquent, intelligent and a good economist. Furthermore, although inexperienced, this means that Umunna is distanced from the record of the pat Labour government. He is a likeable, attractive character and would impress the general public, as well as seeming part of a more approachable top team to the Lib Dems.

Miliband therefore is faced with a difficult decision, to risk splitting the Labour Party and taking the bold move of giving the job of Shadow Chancellor to a relatively inexperienced, yet bright, politician, or to attempt to maintain harmony but appear weak and leave the Labour Party open to Tory attacks. Certainly Miliband cannot allow Balls too much freedom to manoeuvre against him and act in a petulant and undermining manner. If Balls is determined to disrupt the Labour ship on its way back to power, now would be the time to depose him.

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Should Innocence of Muslims Be Banned?

As violent protests continue across the Middle East incited by the anti-Islamic film entitled Innocence of Muslims, many have questioned whether the film and makers should be censored along with other productions designed to incite hatred and offend others. Despite initial reports that the film was made by Zionist Jews who financially backed the project, the film was actually produced by a Coptic Christian amongst others who have made it clear that they were fully aware of the potential for the film to stir up violence in the Muslim world. However, despite the propensity of the film to cause violence and the disgusting aims of the producers, the question of whether the film should be banned is not the only issue. It is equally as important that we explore how to allow the Muslim world to vent their fury through means other than violence, particularly that which is shamefully aimed at westerners with no responsibility for the film.

The question of whether the film should be banned is one that I believe should be met with a resounding no, as a point of principle. Whilst I do not argue that the films contents and aims were despicable, and that everyone involved in the making of the film should be derided in the strongest terms, the hard-fought freedoms afforded to us in democratic countries such as the UK and the US must be both protected and extended so as to allow all opinions to be expressed, so long as they are only views expressed and not acted upon without democratic legitimacy. Peaceful protest, whether in the form of a march, film or piece of literature should always be seen as acceptable no matter what is being protested, including religions, the monarchy and politics. I no more accept Muslim calls for works such as Innocence of Muslims to be banned as I would were a communist to call for Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to be censored. The truth is that if someone or something protests against everything you believe in then the way to combat such insult is not through censorship.

In the face of the lack of censorship forthcoming from western governments and the internet, the Muslim world has reacted angrily to the film, leading to violent protests largely aimed at western embassies, attacks which led to the death of a US ambassador, Christopher Stevens in Libya. Like the film that instigated these protests, the violence that followed must be rebuked in the strongest possible terms. Particularly disgraceful is the manner in which retribution for the film has been handed to westerners who just happen to find themselves in turbulent areas, Christopher Stevens being a perfect example. These people had no role in the making of the film and therefore no protest, let alone violence, should be aimed at these people.

However, violent protests in the Muslim world appear to be becoming somewhat of a habit. We are ritually treated to a bout of rabble rousing, largely by Islamists, who then cause violence to spread and lead to human, material, cultural and political damage. This is a ritual that has to stop. The ritual violence appears to mirror the relations between the western and Muslim worlds: violence, intimidation, offence. It is an unhealthy relationship that has the capability to further destabilise the whole world and lead to sectarian problems in multicultural communities worldwide.

The truth is that the Muslim world, as well as feeling victimised by the west, also feels that the west has a monopoly over intellectual debate. Whereas the Muslim world was previously seen as a very spiritual, prosperous, warm region, there is a fear that the Middle East and Islam is viewed as backward and barbaric by westerners. As such, many feel their voices stifled and often see the resort to violence as a necessary step and the only step available. The Muslim world needs to be afforded the same options as those in the west to reply to offensive material such as the film in question. For the sake of harmony, the western world needs to open its mind to the views of those living in the Middle East. If the west was to allow the Middle East to engage with it on an intellectual level, the Muslim world (apart from a few extremists committed to violence and hate), would no longer feel the need to resort to violence to get their voices heard. The first signs of this shift came earlier in the year with the initial peaceful protest of the Arab Spring. If the west was willing to engage with the Muslim world on this same, peaceful level, I believe that we would see a massive decrease in the seemingly habitual violence that is inflicted on both the western and Muslim world and all its dire consequences.

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We Cannot Neglect the British Far-Right

Matthew Goodwin, an expert on British far-right politics, has written in the Guardian today that the far-right in British politics is on the verge of a generation’s worth of even less support than it currently commands. Goodwin’s evidence for this hypothesis comes in poll results that have asked voters how their voting habits would be affected by variables such as a party emerging that would propose to stop all immigration or pursue Islamophobic policies. The young (those in the 18-24 age range) provided results suggesting that they were far more relaxed about immigration and non-British cultures and Goodwin suggests that the far-right faces a generation gap due to its lack of support within the young. However, the mistake made is that support for far-right parties relies as much on the prevailing conditions of the times as it does the voters and there is the potential that voters will be driven into the arms of the far-right in the coming years.

Goodwin reports that older adults are far more resolute in their support for anti-immigration policies (54% of over 60s) compared with the 18-24 age range (23%). However, we need to look at the underlying reasons for the young generation’s leniency and decide whether they will become just as cynical and right-wing as their parents and grandparents.

Firstly, there is a tendency for youngsters to subscribe to leftist points of view. University students for example are often taken in by the romanticism of Marxism, epitomised by the trend of Che Guevara posters that adorn the walls of students up and down the country. However, this trend tends to die out with age. As work in the real world begins, most university Marxists find their views dulled by pragmatism and cynicism brought on by leaving university and having to make their way in the job market. This leads to a trend whereby former leftists become social democrats in less extreme cases and disgruntled, old conservatives in others. This move into the jobs market is a big contributor to a shift to the right.

As youngsters move into work they begin to experience the pressures that high levels of immigration bring. With both high and low-skilled immigrants moving to Britain in their droves, competition for jobs is higher and in some cases this can lead to unemployment. One common side-effect of unemployment or decreased job prospects is the scapegoating of immigrants and a shift towards anti-immigration tendencies. I think it is quite likely that one of the reasons for the leniency of the younger generation is that they haven’t experienced the changing Britain that generations before them have. Their parents and grandparents will have worked for long periods and experienced wild fluctuations in job prospects and the availability of work. It is at times like these that anti-immigration, populist parties step in.

However, this view can be combatted by the evidence that 18-24 year olds are some of the worst hit in terms of job prospects during the current financial crisis. With massive numbers of unemployed, and university degrees too often seeming useless, the young are often the first cast onto the unemployment scrapheap and often remain there for lengthy periods. However, this same generation has so far avoided the cynicism that has afflicted previous generations and this is indeed promising.

The problem is that immigration continues, despite small populist cuts from the current coalition, and it continues at a high level. This level is unlikely to decrease by a large amount whilst the UK remains within the EU, which seems likely for the foreseeable future. Therefore, without a massive economic recovery and jobs boost, the problems that link unemployment with immigration will only increase and could perhaps drive this generation towards far-right, anti-immigrant populism.

Furthermore, it must be noted that this current generation, ignoring the election of Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons to the European Parliament (something that looks less and less likely to reoccur), has been treated to a very disparate and uninspiring right-wing. Unlike their more subtle European counterparts, the BNP has failed to cloak itself and remains a racist party, a fact that is readily available for all to see. However, the mainstream of British politics must ensure that it does not get complacent regarding the far-right, as things can probably only get better for them in the coming years and those who support respectable politics must be ready to counter any rise in racism and popularity amongst the far-right.

Whilst it appears unlikely that the far-right are about to make any major moves in British politics, I believe that the analysis of Goodwin and others risks being slightly complacent. As we have seen with the current recession (and the accession of BNP MEPs), it is often the times that make the politics, not the other way around, and if Britain fails to find a strong economic recovery and provide prosperity and jobs for the many, then we cannot consider ourselves free from the far-right threat merely by judging the current views of 18-24 year olds.

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Sorry Isn’t Good Enough for Clegg

Elton John once famously sang that sorry seemed to be the hardest word. However, as Nick Clegg found at yesterday, on the eve of a conference of Lib Dems baying for blood, with your job on the line and faced by a public that quite openly hates you, it actually slips out quite easily. And so it was that Nick Clegg decided to grovel to the British public yesterday in a rather pathetic video message on the eve of the Lib Dems annual conference.

The intentions behind Clegg’s message are obvious. Firstly, he probably genuinely is sorry. Not sorry that he’s forcing many of the poorest to reconsider going to university by trebling tuition fees but sorry that he managed to, with one fatal move, place his party on a collision course with voters. Clegg’s shameful reversal struck at the heart of Lib Dem voters, who expected their party to stand tall in coalition, not to be bullied by the Tory party, yet Clegg’s reneging on the Lib Dems’ promise to abolition tuition fees was a reversal too far. It not only hit at the student vote, previously very generous to the Lib Dems compared to the country as a whole, but also moved the party towards the right-wing, whilst Labour moved away from their days on the right under Blair and retook the space that the Lib Dems had filled since Blair dismayed Labour’s core support. In reneging on one of his party’s central promises then Clegg, in one fell swoop, split the Lib Dem vote, losing a large chunk. This explains the real reason why Clegg is sorry.

However, perhaps as some Lib Dems have suggested, Clegg’s apology with be seen as a breath of fresh air within the country? The same Nick Clegg that voters were attracted to, the man who was different to the other politicians, may have proven the validity of these credentials by apologising, a move rarer in the Westminster village than a heart in the Tory party. Well, no. The truth is that Clegg’s apology looks opportunistic and is simply too little too late.

Firstly, the necessity of Clegg’s backtracking over the initial problem simply proves that the Lib Dems were unacquainted to, and unready for, the power thrust upon them by the coalition agreement. The Lib Dems, in a desperate measure to garner support, appear to have been making all the right noises probably presuming that they, once again, would be out of power. Therefore, when they found themselves in the middle of a squabble between the two larger parties, both of whom wished to court the Lib Dems into coalition with them, their policies suddenly became important, and the truth is they didn’t stack up. If Clegg is now admitting (as both the Labour and Tory parties realised prior to the 2010 election) that abolishing tuition fees was unrealistic, the question remains why on earth did he ever commit the Lib Dems to the policy? Committing to unrealistic policy measures such as this when outside of government shows the voters a level of political immaturity that is simply scandalous.

Furthermore, Clegg’s apology looks even more opportunistic when we consider his other reneged upon promises which he is yet to apologise for: one example being from a conference speech a number of years ago when he has this to say: “Will I ever join a Conservative government? No!” He is yet to apologise for this. He is also yet to apologise for the rise in VAT which he promised to oppose. He also promised to protect the NHS and is now standing idly by whilst the Tories happily take it apart and sell it off to private companies. Whilst I realise that the Lib Dems, being the smaller party in the coalition cannot have their way on every policy measure, you would think that there would be some kind of pre-drawn line based on principles such as the protection of the poor and public services such as the NHS. The lack of apology, or even mention of, these further policy failings proves just how opportunistic and deceitful Clegg’s ‘apology’ is. It is not simply luck that the deputy prime minister has chosen to apologise for the one policy change that still really rankles with the public and is particularly blamed on the Lib Dems.

The truth is that Clegg is ruined in the eyes of the voting public and this is most likely an irreparable relationship. Clegg has consistently broken policy pledges and allowed the Tory party to use Lib Dem principles as a welcome mat on the steps of Downing Street. It is time for Clegg to stand up for Lib Dem principles or stand aside to allow someone who will to lead the party. In the same conference speech where Clegg lied about joining the Tories he said that “everyone wants to be in our [the Lib Dem’s] gang”. The sad truth for Clegg is that no-one wants to be in his gang anymore, not even his own party.

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Cameron Must Rid Himself of Mitchell

The saga surrounding Andrew Mitchell continues to rumble on in the Westminster Village as Labour continues to apply pressure to the new Chief Whip, and the coalition continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with a man who has not only shown himself to be bad tempered but also conforming to the public’s image of a Tory party that is arrogant and disconnected. This view of the Tories risks the success of the Cameroon project of moving the Conservatives away from their “nasty party” image to a party that could govern for all classes.

On his way out of Downing Street, Mr Mitchell was asked by the police who guard his own, along with the Prime Minister and other government members’ lives, to dismount his bicycle and leave Downing Street by the pedestrian, rather than the main, gate. Mr Mitchell is then said to have taken offence at the request, calling the officers “plebs” and swearing profusely. Whilst Mr Mitchell denied his use of the word “plebs”, along with other language that was claimed to have been used in The Sun newspaper, the country, twice as likely to believe a police officer as a politician, simply did not believe him. Mr Mitchell did however apologise, presumably in the hope that the event would slip into the past and be forgotten, but evidence since his apology has reinforced his wrongdoing, and Labour should continue to push the case for Mr Mitchell to lose his job.

Particularly offended by Mitchell’s comments were the police force themselves. Following the murders of two female police officers by just a few days, Mitchell’s comments were particularly harrowing and distasteful. Indeed, some police officers not only rejected Mitchell’s apology, and called for his resignation, but also claimed that David Cameron’s public apology to the police force was disingenuous. The truth is that the public feel that Mitchell was not only wrong on the day, but exposes the real heart of the Tory party, a bunch of ex-public schoolboys who feel that they’re born to rule and who have little or no understanding of the heartfelt positivity that the public feels towards their police force.

Whether in a bad mood or not, Mitchell’s outburst seems to show a similar Tory feeling to that shown by David Cameron in the Commons and the smarmy George Osborne the Chancellor. The public feel that the Tory party is out of touch with normal people. Not only is the cabinet packed with multi-millionaires, not only have they been shown to be in connivance with illegally operated corporations such as the Murdoch empire, not only have they cut taxes for the few whilst retracting the vital services that serve the many, now they attack one of the bastions of the United Kingdom in the form of the police force. Time and time again, the Tory party has proved its personal critic, Nadine Dorries, right. The party is led by arrogant posh boys and everything they do exposes the falsity of their words. Cameron’s apology, Mitchell’s apology, Osborne using non-existent deficit-reduction policies to cover up a mass privatisation and break down of the state, all smack of nasty party Toryism. The problem for Cameron is that this image, if it becomes the prevailing image of his party, will undo the work of the Cameroon project.

Cameron’s biggest mistake was immediately backing Mitchell, his second was not sacking him when the police logbook evidence was leaked to The Sun, his third will be not sacking him at all. Mitchell must go. He has abused the police force of this country, a well-respected institution and shown himself to be arrogant and detached from society. If Cameron fails to sack Mitchell, he will be, and should be, tarred with the same brush. Ed Miliband and the Labour Party will rightly continue to press this point harming the Tory party. Perhaps even more worrying is Boris Johnson’s less than warm reaction, in which he has backed the police over Mr Mitchell. If this was to become a turning-point in Cameron’s premiership, and the Cameroon project, this would only be in Johnson’s interests in any future leadership contest. Mr Mitchell has exposed the decrepit face behind the Cameroon mask of the Tory Party, and if the prime minister wants the mask to be replaced, he must remove Mr Mitchell first.

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Hollande’s Importance for Labour

Francois Hollande’s rise to become French president and remove the centre-right administration of Nicolas Sarkozy was a big moment for Europe. Hollande’s accession marked the rejection of technocratic and conservative led recession in favour of a more equal, painless route out of Europe’s woes. Furthermore, Hollande’s triumph appeared to personify the anti-austerity tide sweeping across Europe from the streets of Athens, Dublin, London and Paris. The French elections symbolised the democratic wishes of the peoples of Europe to escape the bonds of austerity in favour of a growth-led recovery in the interests of the many not the few.

The initial triumph for Ed Miliband’s party therefore was simply the impending signs of a turning tide. The people of Europe had realised that it was leftist, growth supportive policies that would drive Europe out of recession not more and more cuts to vital services which starved the economy of oxygen. Hollande gave British Labour supporters a huge boost with his election, even if we have found his early days in office underwhelming. That is we have until four days ago, when Hollande unveiled his first budget, including his centrepiece policy: a super tax on the super-rich. From now on, the richest in French society will pay a tax rate of 75%. Whilst Ed Miliband has done some marvellous work in raising Labour’s ratings in the polls (even if his own are rather less satisfactory), it will be the results of Hollande’s super tax that could define whether Labour can be trusted with the British economy in 2015.

Ed Miliband has long been making moves against what he sees as predatory capitalists and the super-rich. Recently he announced plans to forcibly break up banks if they refused to do so themselves, whilst attacking the Tories watering-down of the Vicker’s report into banking practice. Furthermore, he has dedicated Labour to repealing the tax cut for the rich, which the Tories implemented in George Osborne’s budget, in the interests of fairness and to squeeze those who contributed to the financial crisis that has led to Britain’s terribly recessive economic period. These policies are controversial to say the least.

Whilst the public generally agree with Ed about the need to make Britain a more egalitarian and fair society, they fear that Labour, still blamed for the financial collapse of 2008, cannot be trusted with the economy. These fears are compounded by the Tories, although their economic credibility is dissolving gradually due to the double-dip recession. Another Tory argument, central to the idea of taxing the rich and squeezing the banks, is that if we squeeze the rich too hard they will simply pack up and leave, simply go on strike, in a scene reminiscent of one of Ayn Rand’s sauciest wet dreams. This is why Hollande will be key to Labour’s election chances.

Although the French economy is not based around a rich financial centre such as that in the City of London, the French nation has its fair share of the super-rich, people who will presumably become disgruntled by the notion of having their taxes raised to 75%. The key tests for the Labour party will be the tax receipts of the French treasury over the next couple of years and the number of rich who decide to leave French shores in search of a more generous tax deal.

The Tory argument that a Labour government will push away the banks, the rich, and their enterprises by squeezing them too hard is about to be tested across the Channel and if their arguments are proved wrong not only will the Tories look even less economically credible but they will suffer further humiliation. Furthermore, if Labour are right, Ed Miliband will once again be proved right on one of his main themes (remember Murdoch and the Leveson Inquiry). This would be a major boost to Miliband personally and Labour economic policy and credibility as a whole. The success of French policy could cement Labour’s chances of re-election and consign the Tories to a swift return to opposition. The advantage for Miliband is that, even if he is wrong, the consequences for him are much less severe.

Firstly, Miliband can still take the moral high ground. He would remain the politician who was backing the little people over the rich and powerful. He would still be the one standing up to the banks and their gambling practices. Plus he would still be right to demand the morally and ethically correct route even in the face of a wealth rebellion. After all, even if the wealthy threaten to leave, that would not make it right to simply cave in to their demands. Miliband cannot let himself to be seen selling his ethics away for the concern of money. The public will understand and appreciate this.

However, I really don’t see it going that far. The rich will not leave France on their yachts and private jets. Instead, the French people will be seen to be enjoying a fairer deal, where the rich pay their way and the poor are not used as sponges to be wrung dry so as to pay for a tax cut for the rich. Hollande may just have provided a huge boost to the British Labour Party’s chances of victory

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