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What does the future hold?

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Here we are close to 12 months to a general election, the government possibly trailing the opposition in the polls and UKIP coming up on the outside, threatening to knick votes from the government. So the prospects for us, as a nation, are intriguing. The opposition promising a frontal attack on "the cost of living crisis" and one suspects the senior party in the coalition intent on "steady as she goes". Throw into this contest the LibDems who having tasted government are probably prepared to join with either of the two major parties to remain in government and the joker in the pack, UKIP meaning that forecasting who will govern us is a complete guess.

The electorate's memory is a short one so the melt down of our economy in 2008 to 2011 as a result of the machinations of Gordon Brown et al may not be the major issue that perhaps it should be, particularly bearing in mind the leaders of the current opposition were themselves so involved in the latter days of that government. Whether it is the effect of a coalition but the Tories seem to have been far gentler than might have been expected in government. Whether this is due to the calming influence of their coalition partner or a deliberate intention to soften their image, or a reflection of the nature of their current leaders could be the subject of a lengthy debate.

So what are the likely outcomes? History suggests that an outright win for the Tories or Labour is most likely. But we have the prospect of another coalition involving either of the major parties with the LibDems. It is just possible as an alternative that we could have a minority government supported by either the LibDems or UKIP, if they can make their break though to actually having MPs.

Are the LibDems going to be able to wield the power that they are currently doing in a new parliament? It is very much dependent on whether their support remains. There are those who have supported them in the past who regard the compromises to create the coalition (after the exhilaration of actually being in government) as being a step too far and the polls certainly show a loss of support.  Are these voters going to desert to Labour and give them the leg up to reach government?  The permutations are many which makes that general election so intriguing.

What are the issues? We will hear endless economic theory propounded by all sides. The gentle building of the economy whilst keeping a firm control on costs undoubtedly will be the mantra from the right and almost certainly spending money to build up the standards of living of "the working man" will almost certainly come from the left. Both Labour and LibDems will threaten us with a variation of a mansion tax, working on the principal that increasing the burden on those perceived as wealthy will cost them few votes but show they are on the side of that "working man".

With the LibDems being blindly in favour of our membership of the EU, UKIP seeing their stance as being their big vote winner and the two major parties uncertain of whether the subject will win or lose them votes one suspects that the messages will be both very confused and confusing.

What will happen? We cannot tell ; the joy of democracy. For the major parties the issues will be between profligacy and support of the working family against good economic management and support for the wealthy in society. Which you chose will depend on your inclinations. There will be a lot of shouting, name calling, gossiping and attempts to mislead us, the electorate. But we have the right to vote and the worst thing we can do is not to go to the polls. I know that my grandfather and great grandfather's generations saw universal suffrage become a reality and I believe that failing to vote (however I do) is dishonouring their sacrifices and battles. So I will have to listen to the arguments from all parties and make up my mind or perhaps I already have.

David Ingall

Past President

UK200 Group

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