Tag Archives: alistair darling

Government U-turn leaves thrifty families better off

The Government has today made a U-turn over plans that could have left low-income families £780 a year worse off, after proposed changes to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) were scrapped in today’s Pre-Budget Report. 

Quietly sneaked into the last budget was a proposal to claw back £780 per year from some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable families. At present, households receiving Local Housing Allowance (LHA) are able to keep up to £15 a week if they choose a home with a rent below the maximum payment for their area.  Alistair Darling’s plan to prevent this excess payment being kept by the claimant would have left some of those already struggling to get by on the lowest incomes losing up to 20% of their income. The Government’s own figures calculated that around 300,000 of the poorest households would have been affected.

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Vince on the PBR: “A good budget for bingo and boilers but not much else.”

Here’s what Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable had to say in response to Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report statement:

What we needed was a national economic plan but what we got was a weak party manifesto. There has never been a deficit like this and we need a sensible and coherent plan for dealing with it.

“The Chancellor has ducked the hard choices on spending and cuts. Instead of facing up to reality he has chosen to move the goal posts by relying on fanciful growth forecasts. He could have used this Budget to make the tax system fairer. But

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Daily View 2×2: 8 November 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am. It’s time to find out how peanut butter is made. But first, the news.

2 Big Stories

Gordon Brown floats idea of tax on financial transactions

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s idea of a financial transactions tax has received a lukewarm response from G20 countries.

The proposal, which took delegates by surprise at the meeting in St Andrew’s overshadowed other items on the agenda.

The US said it would “not support” a transaction tax and Canada added it was “not an idea we would look at”.

The Conservatives said that Downing Street had previously “poured cold water on this proposal” and that the Treasury had called it “unworkable”.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said the leaders had agreed the International Monetary Fund should now consider the possibility of introducing an international transactions tax, which would be used to create a fund for bank bailouts. (BBC)

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Daily View 2×2: 28 September 2009

2 Big Stories


Germany elects new centre-right government to be led by Angela Merkel

The Financial Times reports:

Germany is on course for its first centre-right government in 11 years after voters gave chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and her Free Democratic allies a majority in parliament.

The victory of the conservative-liberal alliance – which had campaigned for tax cuts and a return to nuclear energy, but also social justice and tougher rules for finance – in Sunday’s poll ends four years of awkward co-operation between the CDU and its rival Social Democratic party in a grand coalition. …

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Daily View 2×2: Friday 4 September

Today I went to Wikipedia to see what happened today in history, and saw that it’s the birthday of the composer Edvard Grieg. Quick as a flash, the Kit and the Widow song “hundreds of Norwegians on the London Underground” to the tune of the Hall of the Mountain King rises unbidden in my mind – and with it, memories of the Brent East by-election, and Ed Fordham’s uncanny rendition of “Can you tell me please – where can Dollis Hill be found?” For many of you, this will mean nothing, but I’m hoping a significant number of …

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Daily View 2×2: 15 July 2009

2 Big Stories

BNP shunned at European Parliament opening
The Times reports on the British National Party MEPs taking their seats yesterday at the opening of the European Parliament:

The new members, Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, avoided the European anthem and were allocated places 780 and 781, towards the back of the Strasbourg chamber with kindred MEPs from the neo-fascist parties of Belgium, Bulgaria, France and Hungary.

They were immediately shunned by their fellow non-aligned MEP, Diane Dodds, the Democratic Unionist, who refused to take up seat 782 next to Mr Brons. It remained empty throughout the opening session of the

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Daily View 2×2: 9 July 2009

Happy Independence Day, Argentina! And happy birthday to Paul Merton and Tom Hanks.

Two big stories

Murdoch Papers hack phones
The Guardian has the story of Murdoch titles doing dodgy things with mobile phones – and it backfiring on them to the tune of at least £1m. There are clear links to current Conservative communications chief Andy Coulson.

There’s an awful lot of this story on the Guardian’s site – including an interview with hack victim Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes.

I hope this story has legs. This was shoddy journalism that should have serious consequences.

Darling’s banking reforms attacked
The FT looks

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Vince: “This is not so much a White Paper as a blank paper”

Here’s the spin bout today’s Government’s Banking Regulation White Paper Labour’s chancellor Alistair Darling was hoping the media would buy, as faithfully recorded by the BBC:

UK banks will face tougher regulation and consumers will get more protection, under reforms to the financial system proposed by the chancellor.

And here’s the spin-free reality from Lib Dem shadow chancellor, Vince Cable:

This is not so much a White Paper as a blank paper. While the Government has sensibly copied certain short term aspects of the Turner review it has failed to take action on the semi-nationalised banks. Mr Darling should have used this opportunity to assert his authority over the banks – instead he is maintaining his passive role in UKFI, which is just not good enough.

“How can the Chancellor keep pretending that the semi-nationalised banks are not a tool of public policy when they benefited from billions of pounds of taxpayers money? Looking ahead to the future is all well and good, but the Government has failed to send a message to the banks that excessive risk taking and bonuses are simply unacceptable.

“There will be champagne corks popping all over the City this afternoon – the Chancellor’s statement proves that it really is business as usual.”

Youo can hear Vince interviewed on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today Programme about the issue, below:

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Daily View 2×2: 6 July 2009

2 Big Stories

Public sector workers to feel the pinch

From the Guardian, Alistair Darling isn’t ruling out pay freezes for six million public sector workers: “Public sector pay has obviously got to reflect prevailing conditions and in particular inflation has come way down.”
Serious Fraud Office to investigate collapse of car maker MG Rover
From the Daily Mail:

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has been asked to investigate the collapse of MG Rover after a four-year probe into the Midlands car maker’s demise, it was confirmed today.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said in a written statement to Parliament that the SFO had

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Daily View 2×2: 12 June 2009

After the intensity of the last few weeks – MPs’ expenses, the Speaker resigning, local and Euro elections, the failed putsch against Gordon Brown, a hurried cabinet reshuffle – there’s a slight sense of anti-climax to political news at the end of the week. So much has happened, but nothing much seems to have changed.

2 Big Stories

Each of the so-called quality newspapers has a different lead story today, but both the Guardian and Financial Times focus on the economy, and specifically the perceived threat of rising inflation:

Guardian: Buyers face hike in mortgage rates as inflation fears mount

Homebuyers are facing their first rise in mortgage rates for a year in a move by banks and building societies that could extinguish the nascent recovery in the housing market. Nationwide was one of several leading mortgage lenders that today hiked the cost of its most popular deals, with others likely to follow suit in the coming days. … The news that mortgage costs are rising came as the Bank of England announced that up to 1.1 million households have been plunged into negative equity by the property crash. With prices down by 20% from their peak in autumn 2007, research by the Bank published tomorrow suggests that between 700,000 and 1.1 million homeowners now owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth.

Meanwhile the FT reports an interview with Alistair Darling, still Chancellor by the skin of his teeth:

Forecasters have said that Britain’s economy may be growing again, although Mr Darling said he was sticking to his Budget forecast and expected the recession to finish towards the end of 2009. But Mr Darling warned that a high and volatile oil price “has the potential to be a huge problem as far as the recovery is concerned”.

Amidst all the sound and fury of the pointless Labour/Tory row over which party intends to cut public spending more, it’s especially worth noting the article’s conclusion:

If a spending review was published on the basis of already announced spending totals, it would show big cuts for most government departments after adjusting for inflation. Robert Chote, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “The real choice is between Labour cuts and Tory cuts.”


Labour remakes Get Carter

The Times reports there may be another ministerial resignation in the offing, with communications minister Lord (Stephen) Carter looking to move back into the private sector having been progressively sidelined by Gordon Brown since his high-profile move 18 months ago – Lord Carter was elbowed out by Damian McBride, the prime minister’s media pitbull, who was forced to quit in April in the wake of the so-called ‘Smeargate’ emails. Speaking of which, Paul Staines’ Guido Fawkes blog reports that Carter may be considering defecting from Labour to the Tories.

2 must-read blog-posts

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Daily View 2×2: 2 June 2009

2 Big Stories

Expenses ‘mistake’ hangs over Darling
The Financial Times reports that not even the Chancellor himself is blameless in the MPs’ expenses controversy:

Alistair Darling’s future as chancellor was looking precarious on Monday after he admitted making “a mistake” over his expenses and Gordon Brown refused to say whether he would be in his job in 10 days’ time.

Mr Darling yesterday paid back £668 he wrongly claimed and apologised “unreservedly” but speculation was growing at Westminster that he could become the first chancellor in postwar Britain to be demoted in the middle of a recession.

Three things must ye know about …

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Opinion: Nonsense on stilts from Darling

Alistair Darling gave an interview to the Times on Wednesday which has attracted remarkably little comment. While the great distraction – the parliamentary allowance scandal - continues, attention isn’t focused on the Great Recession, or the Government’s part in it.

In the interview the Chancellor predicted that the recession, in the UK, would be over by Christmas. Mr Darling wants electors, not just the Labour faithful, to know that the UK economy is set to be growing strongly by the time of the General Election in 2010. Does this kind of whistling in the dark have a political purpose? I think …

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CommentIsLinked@LDV: Vince Cable – I like optimists, but I don’t buy Mr Darling’s miracle

Over at the Daily Mail, Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable delivers his robust verdict on Alistair Darling’s 2009 budget. Here’s an excerpt:

I argued the main requirement was an honest statement, without spin, of the country’s problems. Darling was candid enough about the scale of the budget deficit – which will be a staggering 12 per cent of GDP this year and next, forcing the Government to borrow unprecedented sums to cover the collapse of revenue from financial services and the falling housing market. …

Darling was less honest about the prospects for recovery. He cheerfully assumed growth will return soon.

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Another day, another survey showing Vince Cable to be the British Obama*

In fact, this one came yesterday and we at LDV missed it. But frankly it’s becoming almost passé to note that the Lib Dems’ shadow chancellor is more trusted than any other politician to sort out the current financial crisis. Still it’d be a shame not to record the moment, as measured by a ComRes survey of 220 business leaders for the Independent:

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, who predicted that the housing and personal debt bubble would burst, enjoys more trust in the business world than Mr Brown, David Cameron, the Chancellor Alistair Darling and his Tory

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Latest pension scandal to rock government

Rupert Jones reports for the Guardian:

… government ministers’ pension pots are defying the stock market slump and are up by 10% in a year, it emerged this week. Research by the Liberal Democrats revealed that high-profile ministers have pension pots worth more than 10 times the average in the private sector. Gordon Brown has a personal ministerial pension pot of £274,000. Justice secretary Jack Straw’s is £294,000 and chancellor Alistair Darling’s is £235,000. Lib Dem work and pensions spokesman Lord Oakeshott says: “Ministers and mandarins live in a pensions time warp. They look like the first world war general

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Recent Comments

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    "but it would hardly tolerate a Scotland allied or associated with any existing or potential enemy." agreed. one of the driving forces on the english...
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