经济学人学习笔记:​Who should govern Britain?

Despite the risk on Europe, the coalition led by David Cameron should have a second term Leaders

BRITAIN is a midsized island with outsized influence. Its parliamentary tradition, the City’s global role, the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, membership of the European Union and a history of leading revolutions in economic policy mean that British elections matter beyond Britain’s shores.

But few have mattered more than the one on May 7th, when all these things are at stake. Though you would never know it from the campaigns’ petty squabbling, the country is heading for profound and potentially irrevocable change.

At stake
If something is at stake, it is being risked and might be lost or damaged if you are not successful. 得失难料
The tension was naturally high for a game with so much at stake.

Irrevocable /ɪˈrɛvəkəbəl/
If a decision, action, or change is irrevocable, it cannot be changed or reversed. 不可改变的
例:He said the decision was irrevocable.

The polls suggest that no combination of parties will win a stable majority—which could be the death knell for strong government. May 7th could also mark the point of no return for the troubled union between England and Scotland, thanks to a surge in support for the secessionist Scottish National Party (SNP).

Death knell
If you say that something sounds the death knell for a particular person or thing, you mean it will cause that person or thing to fail, end, or cease to exist. 导致终结的原因 [usu ‘the’ N ‘for/of’ n]
例:The tax increase sounded the death knell for the business.

Secessionist /sɪˈsɛʃənɪst/
Secessionists are people who want their region or group to become separate from the country or larger group to which it belongs.
分离主义者 [usu pl]
例:Lithuanian secessionists.

The Tories have promised to renegotiate Britain’s relations with the EU and put the result to an in/out referendum on membership by the end of 2017. Meanwhile Ed Miliband, Labour’s leader, wants to remake British capitalism in pursuit of a fairer society. If he had his way, he would be the most economically radical premier since Margaret Thatcher.

A balance of risks

If the stakes are high, the trade-offs are uncomfortable, at least for this newspaper. Our fealty is not to a political tribe, but to the liberal values that have guided us for 172 years. We believe in the radical centre: free markets, a limited state and an open, meritocratic society.

Meritocratic /ˌmɛrɪtəˈkrætɪk/
A meritocratic society or social system gives people status or rewards because of what they achieve, rather than because of their wealth or social position.
(社会或社会制度)评功论赏的; 任人唯才的; 以功绩定地位的

These values led us to support Labour’s Tony Blair in 2001 and 2005. In 2010 we endorsed David Cameron, the Tory leader, seeing in him a willingness to tackle a yawning budget deficit and an ever-expanding state. Five years on, the choice has become harder. The Tories’ Europhobia, which we regretted last time, could now do grave damage. A British exit from the EU would be a disaster, for both Britain and Europe.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats are better on this score. But such is the suspicion many Britons feel towards Brussels that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is probably inevitable at some point.

And we believe that the argument can be won on its merits. The Lib Dems share our welcoming attitude towards immigrants and are keen to reform the voting system. But they can at most hope to be the junior partner in a coalition. The electorate, and this newspaper, therefore face a choice between a Conservative-dominated government and a Labour-dominated one. Despite the risk on Europe, the better choice is Mr Cameron’s Conservatives.

Electorate /ɪˈlɛktərɪt/
The electorate of a country or area is all the people in it who have the right to vote in an election. 全体选民
He has the backing of almost a quarter of the electorate.

Our decision is based on the economy, where the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition has a stronger record than many realise and where Labour poses a greater risk. Admittedly, the macro economic signals are mixed. The budget deficit, at 5% of GDP, is still the second-highest in the G7.

Admittedly /ədˈmɪtɪdlɪ/
You use admittedly when you are saying something that weakens the importance or force of your statement. 诚然
例:It’s only a theory, admittedly, but the pieces fit together.

As Britons consume more than they produce, the current-account deficit is a worrying 5.5% of GDP. And although employment is high, living standards have suffered and productivity is weak. Adjusted for inflation, wages have fallen every year since 2009. The Tories have made this squeeze on British living standards more painful, particularly for young people.

They have protected pensioners from budget cuts and showered them with tax giveaways, forcing bigger sacrifices elsewhere. A failure to boost housing supply has led to soaring prices, also hitting the young. Some of the Tories’ election promises—to spare houses worth up to £1m ($1.5m) from inheritance tax and to sell social housing at a discount—are economically indefensible vote-buying gestures that will only add to the unfairness.

Giveaway /ˈɡɪvəˌweɪ/
A giveaway is something that a company or organization gives to someone, usually in order to encourage people to buy a particular product. 赠品
例:Free book giveaway for all who attend.

But three things count in the Tories’ favour. The coalition has cut the deficit more pragmatically than it admits and more progressively than its critics allow. When the economy weakened, the Tories eased the pace (although not by as much as this newspaper would have liked). Though the poorest Britons have been hit hard by spending cuts, the richest 10% have born the greatest burden of extra taxes. Full-time workers earning the minimum wage pay a third as much income tax as in 2010. Overall, inequality has not widened—in contrast to America.

The record on public services is good. Government spending has fallen from 45.7% of GDP in 2010 to 40.7%, yet public satisfaction with the police and other services has gone up. Although almost 1m public-sector jobs have been cut, Britain has a higher share of people in work than ever before.

From extra competition in education (with new free schools and academies) to the overhaul of the benefits system, public services are being revitalised. Some innovations have failed, including a rejigging of the National Health Service (NHS), but Britain’s reform of the state has been energetic and promising. And lastly, in the short term, Britain’s weak productivity is the corollary of a jobs-rich, squeezed-wage recovery.

Wage stagnation, as our briefing explains, is not an exclusively British malaise. It is also preferable, both in economic efficiency and social equity, to the French or Italian disease of mass joblessness. Better to recover from a financial crash and deep recession with a flexible labour market in which wages adjust than through unemployment. Britain will be a model for Europe if the Tories can boost productivity—and they aim to do so by improving schools and infrastructure, giving power and money to cities and investing in science.

Statism masquerading as progressivism

Statism /ˈsteɪtɪzəm/
the theory or practice of concentrating economic and political power in the state, resulting in a weak position for the individual or community with respect to the government
中央集权论; 中央集权制

Masquerade /ˌmæskəˈreɪd/
To masquerade as someone or something means to pretend to be that person or thing, particularly in order to deceive other people. 冒充
He masqueraded as a doctor and fooled everyone.

Labour has a different way to tackle what it calls the “crisis” in living standards. In fiscal terms, its agenda belongs to the moderate centre-left. Mr Miliband also promises deficit reduction, and at a pace that makes more macroeconomic sense than the Tories’ plan—though his numbers are vaguer, and Labour’s record makes them harder to believe.

He proposes a bit more redistribution: Labour plans tax increases for the wealthy, including raising the top rate of tax back to 50%, from 45%, and imposing a “mansion tax” on houses worth more than £2m. Individually, many of these proposals are reasonable. (The annual mansion tax on a £3m London house would be only £3,000, a fraction of the levy on New York property.) But, taken together, these plans risk chasing away the most enterprising, particularly the footloose global talent that London attracts.

Footloose /ˈfʊtˌluːs/
If you describe someone as footloose, you mean that they have no responsibilities or commitments, and are therefore free to do what they want and go where they want. 无拘无束的
People that are single tend to be more footloose.

Labour’s greater threat lies no tin redistribution, but in meddling. Mr Miliband believes that living standards are squeezed because markets are rigged—and that the government can step in to fix them. He would freeze prices while “reviewing” energy markets, clamp down on the most flexible “zero-hour” labour contracts and limit rent rises. Along with this suspicion of private markets is an aversion to competition in the public sector, leading to proposals for, say, a cap on profit margins when private companies contract to provide services for the NHS.

Rig /rɪɡ/
If someone rigs an election, a job appointment, or a game, they dishonestly arrange it to get the result they want or to give someone an unfair advantage. (欺骗性地) 幕后操纵
例:She accused her opponents of rigging the vote.

Mr Miliband is fond of comparing his progressivism to that of Teddy Roosevelt, America’s trust busting president. But the comparison is false. Rather than using the state to boost competition, Mr Miliband wants a heavier state hand in markets— which betrays an ill-founded faith in the ingenuity and wisdom of government.

Ingenuity /ˌɪndʒɪˈnjuːɪtɪ/ 善于创新; 足智多谋
例:Inspecting the nest can be difficult and may require some ingenuity.

Even a brief, limited intervention can cast a lasting pall over investment and enterprise—witness the 75% income-tax rate of France’s president, François Hollande. The danger is all the greater because a Labour government looks fated to depend on the SNP, which leans strongly to the left.

Fated /ˈfeɪtɪd/ 命中注定的
例:He was fated not to score.
例:…stories of desperation, fated love, treachery and murder.

On May 7th voters must weigh the certainty of economic damage under Labour against the possibility of a costly EU exit under the Tories. With Labour, the likely partnership with the SNP increases the risk. For the Tories, a coalition with the Lib Dems would reduce it. On that calculus, the best hope for Britain is with a continuation of a Conservative-led coalition. That’s why our vote is for Mr Cameron.

Calculus /ˈkælkjʊləs/
Calculus is a branch of advanced mathematics which deals with variable quantities. 微积分学


(1969.12.24— ),现任英国工党党魁,戴维·米利班德的胞弟。曾就读于牛津大学(主修政治学、哲学与经济学)和伦敦政治经济学院(经济学硕士)。2015年,参加英国大选。



(David William Donald Cameron),1966年10月9日生,译名甘民乐,是英王威廉四世与情妇私生子的直系后裔,具有纯正的英国王室血统。戴维·卡梅伦是英国保守党的政治明星,2005年在年仅39岁时成为英国保守党领袖,2010年5月11日起成为英国第53任首相,是英国自1812年以来最年轻的首相。 就读于伊顿公学时曾被发现吸食大麻,中学毕业后,通过了牛津大学入学考试,并获得牛津大学布雷齐诺斯学院的录取通知。


General elections of the United Kingdom,英国选举最高立法机构英国国会议员的选举。

英国国会是两院制的,分上议院和下议院。英国的国会议员(Members of Parliament,MP)通常指下议院议员。上议院(House of Lords),也可以叫贵族院,不是选举产生的。

下议院(House of Commons)由庶民选举代表组成。英国目前分割成650个选区(constituency),大选其实就是每个选区的选民选出一个代表,即MP。通常一个选区里会有几个候选人,这些候选人主要来自英国的几个政党。

大选的基本制度是简单多数选举制(First-past-the-post election system),即根据一党所占有的议员数量。

如果一党拥有绝对多数的议员,则此党将组成下届政府,该党党魁则成为首相。如果没有任何党派拥有绝对多数席位,则合计拥有绝对多数席位的两个或多个政党将组成联合政府(Coalition government),基本上其中最大党党魁将成为首相;或者单独一党成立政府,并通过与其他党派非正式的联盟和协议而得以延续。






Labour Party,英国两大执政党之一。英国资产阶级左翼政党。1900年2月27日建立于伦敦,称劳工代表委员会,1906年称工党。工党纲领的传统理论基础是费边社会主义。二战后推行温和的改革政策。推行国有化,主张建立福利型国家。加入西方联盟后,主张打碎旧的英殖民帝国统治体系,废除贵族院。现主要致力于公共住所、职工福利、失业救济、弱势群体、社会保障、公民教育等方面。



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