No wonder so few bother to vote any more

Outside wartime, rarely have the political stakes been higher. Over the past 12 months, as the eurozone has unravelled, Britain’s economy has reversed into a double-dip recession.

The News of the World haunts Westminster from beyond the grave. The Leveson Inquiry, which began as a review of media ethics, has morphed into an examination of dodgy dealing in high places. If reader feedback on popular websites reflects public anger, many people are already at boiling point. Fury is the norm, not just with ministers but the police, other public officials and the media.

An admission at the weekend by Baroness Warsi, the Conservative Party’s chairman, that she failed to declare thousands of pounds of rental income will add to a suspicion that cheap-and-nasty corruption is the new British disease. With so much cause for grievance, now, you might think, would be the right moment for an upsurge in political engagement – but it’s not happening. A recent study by the Hansard Society shows that, far from embracing mainstream parties, the electorate is more withdrawn than at any time in the past decade. In recent local elections, two thirds of those eligible to vote did not bother. Coalition politics is proving a disaster for conventional democracy.

Read more….

UK shrinks more than expected on fall in construction output

The Office for National Statistics said the economy shrank by 0.3pc in the first quarter and not 0.2pc as it reported in April. Economists had expected the ONS to maintain its first estimate.

The downward revision meant the British economy was 0.1pc smaller than it was a year earlier. The ONS previously estimated gross domestic product was flat on an annual basis.

It was a blow for George Osborne, who has repeatedly defended his unwavering austerity drive despite its impact on growth.

A combination of austerity and the eurozone debt crisis are expected to weigh further on the British economy in the coming months.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist, described the data as “very disappointing”.

Read more….