Lets admit it: most policies that have been tried to fend off the remnants of the crisis have failed miserably: global growth is slow, market confidence is shaky and expectations are hovering around zero. Why is it taking us so much time to realize that a drastic shift in perspective is needed? The reason behind this unresolved puzzle of lack of economic revival is the, religiously fanatic, concentration of policy makers and self-proclaimed gurus of the economy on the “method” rather than the “issues”.
At first glance the Welsh Assembly elections produced little real change. Labour, traditionally strong in Wales, gained the most seats followed by Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives and UKIP with the Liberal Democrats trailing in last. The election of 7 UKIP members to the Welsh Assembly was not entirely a surprise. The party had been active in Wales for some time attracting a small, but not insignificant, level of support.
However Labour, with 29 seats, failed to achieve an overall majority, having lost the Rhondda to Leanne Wood, the charismatic leader of Plaid Cymru. Labour lost 1 and Plaid gained 1 giving them 12 Assembly seats, so after a few days of negotiation it was agreed that a Labour/Plaid coalition will form the new Welsh Government, which will also include the only LibDem. With 42 seats, the coalition has a comfortable majority of 18 over the Conservatives and UKIP. Perhaps, more interesting is what happened to the Conservatives and the LibDems. The Conservatives lost 3 seats and the LibDems 4. These seats were taken by UKIP placing them in 4th place in terms of number of seats in the new Assembly.
It surely must be amusing, to the alert observer, to note the plethora of convenient excuses that the financial crisis of 2008 is providing to the casual, armchair-prone, self-proclaimed “policy makers”: economists re-inventing the wheel that economics is a social science and not just numbers, politicians bending backwards and pleading social reform par excellence, social activists ready to replace “capitalism” with their own, pre-packed mythology. The list of participants in this excuse-charade is endless as is the number of excuses being put forth, for the source of the crisis but also for its resolution.
What is not amusing, however, is not only the recklessness that this great number of commentators and policy makers show in vividly proclaiming their “informed opinions” but also the ease of the public in digesting them. We have started on a dangerous path in the aftermath of the crisis, which is to replace something that went wrong with multiple, and uglier, versions of the same.
The Republic of Ireland has been following the BREXIT debate with more than usual interest. Trade between both countries runs at more than 1.2 billion per week, with the UK being Ireland's largest trading partner, but importantly Ireland is also one of the UK's largest trading partners. It is not for nothing that UK corporates often privately refer to the Emerald Isle as 'treasure island'! The Republic's approach to BREXIT differs markedly from its approach to the Scottish Independence referendum. The Irish political establishment went to great lengths not to express any views that might have been seen as leaning one way or the other in the Independence referendum. But not so with the BREXIT debate: several Irish past prime ministers have been wheeled out, along with current Government ministers, all firmly expressing the view that the UK should remain within the EU. Why the change in approach?