Blog Archive

Monday, July 1, 2024

Comment te dire adieu? Two General Elections & a Quote from The Economist

Françoise Hardy: Comment te dire adieu?

Paco Rabanne, Françoise Hardy, and Salvador Dali in May 1968

Françoise Hardy born in 1944, died in Paris at the age of 80. A French singer, fashion icon & muse to designer Paco Rabanne. The famed gold Rabanne dress she wore in 1968 weighed 9 kilos, contained 1,000 gold plaques & 300 carats of diamonds. It was the most expensive dress in the world at the time and required four bodyguards.

Here is her 1962 hit Tous les Garçons et Les Filles. The year I was born!

Two General Elections for the price of one!

I don't remember ever having a General Election in the UK and France at the same time. And this time I should be able to vote in both of them!

The UK general Election is boring and is almost certainly a foregone conclusion: after 14 years of Conservative government, the people feel poorer, public services feel worse than ever and trust in politicians is at an all time low. The opposition Labour Party will win with a decent or very large majority. My wish is that during their tenure they bring some trust and respectability back to politics. I think Sir Keir Starmer may be able to do that.

In France things are nastier. President Macron called a very unexpected election after a poor showing in the the European elections for his party and a swing to the far right. It looks as if the far right under the leadership of Marine Le Pen and her protege Prime-Minister-In-Waiting Jordan Bardella, may get the most votes due to voter disappointment and immigration. There is speculation as to why exactly Macron called an election. Does he want to let them win so the country can see what a mess they will make?

FLASH UPDATE: French Far Right at Gates of Power following the first round of voting yesterday

In both countries there is the usual rich-bashing coming from the left. This graph shows that in the UK at least they already pay the lion's share of income taxes. In both countries taxes have been raised by the left to very high percentages for those lucky enough to earn a lot of money. The policy is never successful; the rich either emigrate or find legal ways to avoid it. But it can still make for a popular election campaign.

The richest 10% pay 60% of all income tax in the UK. Let's not frighten them away!

I listened to a speech by Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS, about their independent analysis of the party manifestos. What I found most interesting was his explanation for why, when taxes are higher than ever and spending on public services are at an all time high, do things appear to be so bad? The explanation is a £50bn increase in debt repayments and a growing welfare budget. We simply can't afford our debt at current interest levels and our anaemic growth rates and demographic changes (not to mention the energy price crisis) can't support the quality in services we would all expect to see.

Lower interest rates soon please.

In my view the single biggest issue facing both countries (and most richer countries around the world) is not even being mentioned. It is the demographic time-bomb we face: fast ageing populations and fewer young people in a society that is not geared up for this. It is already having a huge impact on healthcare and social services (as most people can tell) and fewer working people to pay for it all. And it will get much worse. More next time!

Quote for the Month

"If we had a vote on July 4th, we, too, would pick Labour, because it has the greatest chance of tackling the biggest problem that Britain faces: a chronic and debilitating lack of economic growth."

The Economist 

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