Look Left – Growth returns, Salmond implodes, and US election enters final stretch

Shamik Das looks back at the week’s politics, including our progressive, regressive and evidence of the week.


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• The Jubilee and the Olympics helped the UK economy grow one per cent in the last quarter and climb out of the double-dip recession – though the overall picture remains concerning.

The economy is on course to be exactly flat for 2012; stripping out the effects of this summer’s Diamond Jubliee and Olympic Games shows underlying growth of a more modest 0.3% for Q3. Over the last year, GDP has not increased at all and over the last two years it has increased by just 0.6 per cent. Output is still more than 3 per cent lower than it was in the first quarter of 2008, before the recession began. See our reports here and here for more.

Furthermore, as Richard Bassford wrote on Left Foot Forward, a return to growth alone is not sufficient – of equal concern is the type of growth the economy is generating; encouraging a more sustainable type of growth will require some very difficult choices for governments and the electorate. See here for more.

• For Alex Salmond, meanwhile, the SNP leader’s week lurched from one disaster to another.

On Tuesday, two of his MSPs jumped ship in protest at the party’s reversal of its policy to renounce NATO membership, leaving the SNP with a majority of just one. His “darkest day” then turned much worse, as he was accused of being a “barefaced liar” over the question of legal advice being sought on whether an independent Scotland could join the EU – a “cheap lie” that raises serious questions over the first minister, perhaps fatally derailing his dream of separation. See our articles here and here for more.

And Salmond’s economic arguments continued to crumble this week along with his poll ratings – read shadow Scotland Office minsiter William Bain MP’s analysis for more.

• In the United States, voters go to the polls in just 12 days’ time, with the Presidential race being ramped up and up and up as it enters the final stretch.

In the final TV debate on Monday night, President Obama emerged victorious, at times humiliating Mitt Romney over the Republican’s inexperience and ignorance on foreign policy. While the President looked, well, Presidential, and well up for it (in stark contrast to the first debate), Romney repeatedly flip-flopped and floundered, on the defensive and unable to attack. See our reports here and here for more on the last debate, and check out our latest campaign digests here and here.

As Caroline Mortimer wrote on Left Foot Forward this week, if Romney does somehow win, it will be a disaster for the US’s fragile reputation; following the Bush era, the grudging respect Obama has restored to the White House in the past four years will be erased once more under a Romney Presidency. Small wonder, then, that the world wants Obama to win; hopefully, too, do his fellow Americans.

Progressive of the Week:

Former Tory minister John Gummer, now known as Lord Deben, who this week launched an attack on the Daily Mail for its coverage of energy and climate change, saying that if you read the Mail “you will not learn the facts on gas”. Deben, speaking at the TUC’s climate change conference, called for cross party support to push through legislation on climate change and force the debate, saying it was too important to be derailed by party politics. See our report here for more.

Regressive of the Week:

A4e’s Emma Harrison, giving the world a Haloween fright by rising up from her career death bed to make an appearance on Channel Four News last night – and what a spectacle it was; where Conrad Black succeeded in putting his points across forcefully and besting Paxman and Boulton in his comeback interviews this week, Harrison endured humiliation at the hands of Krishnan Guru-Murthy in one of the biggest car crash interviews of the year. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more honest person… Watch the video in all its glory here.

Evidence of the Week:

The Hardest Hit coalition’s new report, “The Tipping Point”, published Monday, which revealed how disabled people are the worst hit by the Tory government’s welfare cuts. At the same time as the richest of the rich get a tax cut; under David Cameron and George Osborne, if you earn more than a million pounds, you get an extra £40,000 – but if you’re disabled, you’re screwed. See our report here for more.

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