Tory warnings hung parl will lead to chaos fail to materialise

Ken Clarke recently suggested that if a hung parliament were to emerge, voters will have acted in a 'ridiculous' fashion. His warnings have proved to be false.

The electorate has been subject to repeated threats from the Tories that a hung parliament would immediately result in an equity market collapse, a run on sterling, the end of the UK’s AAA credit rating and an eventual desperate resort to the IMF. Ken Clarke even suggested that if a hung parliament were to emerge, voters will have acted in a ‘ridiculous’ fashion.

Left Foot Forward has argued that though of course a prolonged period of uncertainty regarding economic policy would be dangerous, these warnings from the Tories lacked evidential justification and were primarily made to help usher in a Conservative majority through fear.

This morning’s result allows an immediate, initial assessment of Mr Osborne’s and Mr Clarke’s statements, and there is no doubt that markets have reacted. Equities and the value of sterling have fallen, while the cost of government borrowing has risen. But the key question is by how much?

The equity market is down by around 2%. A significant fall, though entirely in line with global markets given the international circumstances, and certainly not the market crash that Mr Osborne predicted. Sterling is marginally down versus the dollar and the euro but again, the drop has been in the region of 0.5% – 1%. No sensible observer would describe this as a run on sterling.

Though gilt yields have risen, 10-year bonds are still trading below 4%, an historically low cost of borrowing. And it is extremely important to remember that these movements are happening in the midst of an independent, global financial sell-off that at one point yesterday knocked 10% off US equity markets. So beware those who try and create an impression of causality where none exists.

It appears therefore that financial market catastrophe has not materialised – for now.

Given the relative congruence across manifestos in cutting public spending, it is clear that markets are prepared to afford our politicians some time to work out a sensible approach to governing, coalition or otherwise. Both of the main ratings agencies have this morning made clear that a hung parliament does not threaten the UK’s credit rating, though of course if political clarity does not emerge in the next few days then the situation may change.

Three conclusions can be drawn.

First, Mr Osborne and Mr Clarke were playing politics in a manner that should be beneath them.

Second, markets do not appear to mind whether tough decisions are taken by coalitions or by single parties – the important piece of that equation is that decisions are taken. It is down to the politicians to act like adults, and at the very least all three leaders’ statements suggested a recognition of this responsibility.

Finally, the electorate should not be frightened to vote for what it believes in; contrary to Mr Clarke’s argument, democracy should never be subservient to financial markets.

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12 Responses to “Tory warnings hung parl will lead to chaos fail to materialise”

  1. Shamik Das

    Surprise bloody surprise! RT @leftfootfwd: Tory warnings hung parl will lead to chaos fail to materialise: http://bit.ly/dbn6vY

  2. Gareth Partington

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory warnings hung parl will lead to chaos fail to materialise: http://bit.ly/dbn6vY

  3. James Ryan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory warnings hung parl will lead to chaos fail to materialise http://bit.ly/dbn6vY

  4. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Tory warnings hung parl will lead to chaos fail to materialise: http://bit.ly/dbn6vY

  5. Vegan Panda

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory warnings hung parl will lead to chaos fail to materialise: http://bit.ly/dbn6vY

  6. Sevillista

    Interesting market response to the widely-predicted hung parliament likely to lead to Cameron as PM and Osborne as Chancellor. It’s as if there are worries that ignoring IMF advice, taking the axe out now and causing a second recession is not the best thing to do. Thatcher tried this approach in 1980s and all it did was give us an increasing LT structural deficit.

    And a “Greek-style” situation of public riots due to extreme austerity for the working class is infinitely more likely under Prime Minister Cameron

  7. Hugo

    You can’t base this argument on a single day’s trading. The market had probably priced in a while ago a couple of days horsetrading with a Lib-Con coaltion the expected result (note instant rally in GBP after Clegg’s announcement yesterday). If there is a scent of a messy Lab-Lib-Nationalist coalition, I think debt markets will smell blood. I can’t imagine investors would react favourably to a country that appears (eg on deficit / GDP metrics) to be a much larger version of Greece, but without a functioning government. Let’s wait and see what happens next week.

  8. Richard T

    How different is a hung parliament with a coalition from the coalition between a growing number of foaming mouthed europhobes who look increasingly like the US Republican party, particularly with a louder leitmotif of religious fundamentalism and the old Tories. The former seek the minimalist American state with the abandonment of any form of social benefit. If Cameron tries to rule as a minority government this sector will exert its influence; we’ve already seen the sort of damage in can do in major government. Cameron, if he is as he appears on the surface a throw back to the MacMillan style of Tory, may actually be quite keen on a working arrangement with the Lib Dems to keep the loons in check. He may also fo course wish re-election.

  9. Mark Stephenson

    As Hugo says the market’s been pricing this in with an increasingly high probability over the last few weeks (and even months), as indicated by Sterling’s collapse from 1.67 down to 1.47. I think there’s a couple of hurdles over the next month or so, primarily whether a coalition can be put together by the time the markets open on Monday morning, and then later, what the shape of the emergency budget looks like. To early to be breathing a sigh of relief, even if the Tory claims of chaos were a touch alarmist.

  10. Mike

    Ashcrofts millions
    5% swing nationally to tories
    only 2.5% in marginal seats with Ashcrodt money (glad to see at least the vast majority of Tory/Ashcroft posters were redisgned during the elction – well done comrades.

    However millions went into telephone banks calls to votes and direct mail

    The Tory bankers, hedge fund , derivative sellers, newspaper and TV supporters tried to buy this election, they nearly did

    The same people who now say the “markets need” a stable governmnet quickly and large cuts

    Final note
    Tories share of vote up by less than 1% on last election

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