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An Ailing Britain
Brown's Government faces serious challenges
Michael Werbowski (minou)     Print Article 
Published 2009-09-17 09:56 (KST)   
Gordon Brown셲 Britain is limping along economically and socially, a year after the collapse of the New York brokerage firm, Lehman Brothers.

Here in in the center of Manchester (once the mighty capital of the nation셲 manufacturing base) there are many blocks of flats to let, luxurious condo developments stand idle and new construction sites are abandoned. 쏷o let and rental signs abound. The country seems to still be reeling for the economic meltdown which is now a prolonged downturn.

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Those locals I spoke to in the pubs, museums and tea rooms seem somewhat dejected by the current state of affairs. Their attitude is almost fatalistic, as if the economic climate was inevitable.

Britons are grapping with the side effects of the current global down turn; a dropping Pound (which is approaching parity with the Euro), arrears in their debts, increasing taxes, a bloated budget deficit -- estimated at 175 billion Pounds Sterling this year -- and perhaps most dire, increasing unemployment. Recently announced figures in the news say nearly 2.5 million people are out of work.

Meanwhile, trade unions are vilifying the British Prime Minister. They fear Brown will make huge cuts to government spending or curtail public services. As people lose their jobs, the public sector is also under a hiring freeze.

Brown admitted in front a union congress gathering this week, that cuts will be made sooner or later. "The road to recovery is still fragile, he said 쏱eople셲 livelihoods and homes and savings are still hanging in the balance and so today I say to the British people: don셳 allow anyone to put the recovery at risk."

Brown was likely warning the unions against resistance to the cuts or strike actions.

"Brown had one last chance to win over the trade unions and blew it," Union leaders responded. "He has the look of a beaten man."

The days of Labour Party leadership of Brittan seem limited. Newspapers and columnists are predicting general elections for next year. It looks as if the Blair/Brown era is entering a fin de regime mode.

The Tory party is already gearing up for general elections. David Cameron and his shadow government are waiting for the higher job losses, lower spending, and, on the foreign front more British casualties in Afghanistan.

It appears quite bleak for Brown. How he can revive his party셲 fortunes and his own dwindling popularity is a mystery.

Perhaps an even more ominous development during this downturn is the rise of racism and anti immigrant sentiment.

The excesses of capitalism and globalization which ruled the world since the fall of the Berlin wall ushered in the concept of open borders. The economic downturn might be the end of this phenomenon. Britain셲 immigrant population is feeling resentment from locals; fewer jobs mean more social tensions.

Birmingham recently saw race riots took place. Far right nationalist elements clashed in the streets with Muslim youths. The authorities warn that these types of incidents might become nationwide phenomena.

Growing social unrest is an issue yet to be addressed by the Brown셲 cabinet. Perhaps this is because of all the other issues his government is addressing: disgruntled unions, unemployment and many Britons who would like to see their country get back on its feet again.
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Michael Werbowski

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