UK Conservatives unveil budget

The problem:
– $1.3 trillion debt.
– Budget deficit is 11% of GDP

The planned solution:
– Increase VAT from 17.5% to 20% by January
– Axe treasury department looking into adopting the Euro as the common currency
– Public sector pay freeze
– Child tax benefit freeze for 3 years
– SMB tax rate from 21 to 20%
– plan to reduce corporate tax rate to 24%
– bank levy to be introduced by January
– 28% on capital gains

The UK is facing hard times. Its budget deficit to GDP is second only to Ireland in Europe. Its domestic demand was -1% during 2009 while that of Canada was +2.6%. The Harper government also plans to cut the corporate tax rate to 15% by 2012 while Michael Ignatieff has said that he would freeze corporate taxes at 18%. In October 2009, the IMF had predicted the UK’s net debt to increase to over 90% of GDP while Canada’s net debt position stands under 30% of GDP (and debt-to-GDP ratio about 35%). Canada’s absolute debt stands at $529 Billion and this country’s deficit stands at $56 Billion.

Here is the UK budget released today:

Stephen Harper congratulates David Cameron

Just received:

‎​A few short moments ago, Prime Minister Harper spoke with the new British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
 
Prime Minister Harper warmly congratulated PM Cameron on his electoral victory and appointment as prime minister by Her Majesty the Queen.
 
Prime Minster Harper told Prime Minister Cameron that “we will see each other in Muskoka and Toronto at the upcoming G-8 and G-20 Summits. The relationship between our two countries means a lot and I look forward to working with you in the years to come. Give my best to your wife Samantha, Laureen and I look forward to meeting her. Once again Prime Minister congratulations and my best wishes.”
 
Note: Prime Minister Harper has previously met Prime Minister Cameron while he was leader of the opposition.

UK Tory GOTV E-day effort online

We’re still watching the votes come in on this side of the pond and it’s turning into a late night/early morning for our cousins in the UK as votes are counted and a hung (minority) Parliament looks like the outcome of the election in that country.

I spoke to the web gurus over at the British Conservative Party on election day to find out what they did to drive get out the vote (GOTV) efforts online. They revealed a peak into their strategy for mobilizing Britons to the polls.

First, an unprecedented buy of the British Youtube homepage’s ad unit. Cameron’s web team has admitted to me that they received millions of impressions of their video advert on e-day. Advertising on broadcast media is prohibited in the UK on election day and thus the Youtube ad placement is shrewd and effective. Part of the motivation to buy Youtube for May 7th was to keep the same rare legal platform for advertising out of the hands of their political opponents.

The UK Tories also mobilized a simple Facebook application which allowed the user to donate their status update message to a GOTV message for the Tories on election day. We saw a similar tactic used during the previous US presidential election for both McCain and Obama.

An email was sent out from David Cameron to the UK Tory supporter list for election day:

and later in the day, a second GOTV email from London mayor (and Conservative) Boris Johnson:

Finally, but most importantly, the integral element of the Tory e-day e-GOTV strategy has been Google advertising. The Tories have purchased keywords relating to their leader and to their political opponents and have targeted the ads geographically in key ridings.

And now, we continue to watch the votes come in. The magic number to beat a Labour/LibDem coalition is 310 seats, whereas a majority would be won with 326.

BREAKING: Liberal Party of Australia chucks Turnbull, caucus elects Abbott

In a caucus revolt triggered by (former) leader Malcolm Turnbull embrace of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the Australian Liberal causus has ejected their leader, electing Tony Abbott in his place. Turnbull lost his leadership by one vote this morning.

Mr. Rudd’s ETS which will face a Senate vote, and is expected to be defeated in the Upper Chamber. Last week, Turnbull faced the first significant challenge to his leadership over ETS when five of his shadow ministers resigned in protest of their leader’s support for Rudd’s carbon trading bill.

Upon failure of the ETS legislation in the Senate, the bill can be reintroduced by Rudd but this would likely cause a double dissolution election; Rudd cannot pass the legislation due to a majority possessed by the Liberals and Family First party (a party also against Rudd’s ETS legislation). Leadership rival Joe Hockey said that he’d allow Liberal senators a free vote on ETS, however, Mr. Abbott has said this would not be allowed if he assumed Turnbull’s office.

The Liberals would prefer to defer the legislation to committee until the Copenhagen conference on climate change has concluded. Recent Australian polls have shown the Aussies to be unfavourable to a defined carbon trading system before testing the mood at the international conference. About 30% of Australians favour no carbon-trading scheme at all.

Abbott was the former health and industrial relations minister in Prime Minister John Howard’s cabinet. He led the monarchist movement before entering into politics.

This defeat is quite embarrassing for Turnbull having lost his leadership prior to challenging Australia’s governing Labour party on the hustings. A IT millionaire and former head of Goldman Sachs in Australia, Turnbull was seen by supporters to be an important figure ready to rebuild the Liberal Party after that party’s defeat to Rudd’s Labour Party in 2007.

RELATED: In the UK, Conservative Party leader David Cameron is facing grumblings within his own party regarding his stance on climate change. (Read the comments)

UPDATE: I’ve just chatted with some Liberal friends down under who’ve given me some more insight on who Tony Abbott is. Abbott, in the political sense is described as a “conviction politician” meaning that he doesn’t shy away from issues. A staunch Catholic, Abbott once studied to become a priest. He is described as an outdoorsman, a former boxer and rugby player with the crumpled ears to match.

Abbott came into formal politics under the leadership of John Hewson, where Abbott worked as the Liberal leader’s press secretary. Prior to this Abbott worked as a features writer for the Australian Murdoch Daily paper.

Originally elected in 1994, Abbott’s career includes the ministries of health and industrial relations. First, as the Industrial Relations minister, Abbott took a confrontational stance against the national construction union and regulated it. Abbott’s approach with striking workers was often an unusual one; during strikes, he would often go and address the workers himself. As for the federal government’s unemployment services, he deregulated them and privatized a large part of their function.

In Health, Abbott served to “keep health off of the front page” meaning that the portfolio was largely defensive in contrast to his tenure as Industrial Relations minister. However, Abbott faltered in this role when an old speech on abortion surfaced reigniting that debate in Australia. At the time, Australia was debating RU486 and a private member’s bill was quickly introduced stripping the minister of discretion on the issue.

After the defeat to Rudd’s Labour Party, Abbott served as shadow minister for aboriginal affairs.

The defeat of Turnbull is described as a major victory for the grassroots on ETS. Abbott’s preferred track is to defer ETS to the Senate committee until after Copenhagen. This will only be possible with the support of the Greens or via the two independent Senators. However, it is still possible that the government will allow the defeat of the bill. If it is defeated twice by the Senate, this will allow the PM an election where both houses of parliament would be dissolved for a general election.

Regarding Malcolm’s surprise defeat, another insider contact writes to say that the former Liberal leader massively misjudged party sentiment on the issue of ETS. My contact suggests that Malcolm is “intellectually captured by the prosperous urban left” and that he’s a “rich lefty at heart”. Liberals in parliament and street-level Conservatives were upset with Turnbull for ceding ground on the ETS debate to the Rudd government. My contact suggests that Turnbull could have taken the more tenable position of waiting on ETS until after Copenhagen and explained that the party perceived their leader to be handing a gift to the PM to take to the conference. Turnbull took the position that the party should fall in line and needed to be progressive and “give the planet the benefit of the doubt”.

Politically, the Liberals need to take the fight back to the government’s position on ETS whereas the last 8 months of debate have centred around what the Liberals would do instead. Under new leadership, Liberals hope that the party will be able to shift the focus back on Rudd.