The Economist: Vote Labour

There Is No Alternative (Alas),” The Economist, 28 April 2005,

Agreeing with me and Tom Friedman, The Economist endorses Tony Blair for the 05/05/05 British general election.

Most elections are won or lost on the economy, wealth and jobs. In that case Labour should be further ahead even than it is. Britain has enjoyed 13 years of uninterrupted, pretty steady economic growth, eight of them under this Labour government. Much of the credit due to Labour is for carrying on with the pro-market inheritance from Margaret Thatcher, but Gordon Brown, Labour’s chancellor, also deserves praise for having given independent control over monetary policy to the Bank of England in 1997 and for keeping both public spending and taxes under control in his early years in office. For that reason, voters may feel calm about the likelihood that Mr Brown will succeed Mr Blair as prime minister at some stage during the next four years. He is unlikely to change his economic ideas just because he moves his office to 10 Downing Street.

As Tony Blair’s Labour government leads Britain forward, the Tory Party hypocritically falls apart

As the The basic background to this election is that Mr Blair has continued to hog the centre-right ground in British politics, as he has done ever since becoming Labour’s leader in 1994. Michael Howard, the Conservative Party’s leader since 2003, has sought to share some of that ground, at least on the NHS. But he has blurred his party’s own identity by failing to offer a tax-cutting alternative and by his appallingly hypocritical opposition to Mr Blair’s brave effort to ease universities’ financial problems by allowing them to charge fees to British students—a reform that could have been taken from a Thatcherite textbook. Hence Mr Howard’s resort to traditional Tory populism on immigration in order to make his party look distinctive. To The Economist’s taste, this is a terrible move: we favour fluid migration, both on grounds of liberty and for practical economic reasons. The Tories instead favour illiberal limits and a labour-allocation system that smacks of central planning.

Tony Blair isn’t a perfect leader, but he’s far better than the Liberal Democrat (left) or Conservative (incoherent) alternatives. Vote Labour.

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