Tag Archives: george osborne

Danny Alexander: UK’s triple-A credit rating “not be-all and end-all”

Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander has signalled an interesting shift in the government’s economic approach, downplaying the significance to the economy of the UK’s continuing triple-A credit rating. Here’s what he told the BBC (courtesy of PoliticsHome):

“The credit rating is not the be-all and end-all. What matters is have we got the right policy mix for the country to get people back into work, to support economic growth, to deal with the huge problems in our public finances and the credit agencies reflect on those things and the ratings they give are a reflection of

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LibLink: Matthew Oakeshott – The Treasury needs a new team to stop this slide back into recession

In The Guardian Matthew Oakeshott writes:

Britain’s economy after this week’s grim GDP figures looks like an old steam train struggling up Shap Fell. George Osborne, the driver, is doing his best but there’s just not enough coal in the firebox, the train’s lost momentum, and it’s slipping back down the hill. We need two massive growth locomotives, called housing and banking, with a new team on the footplate to stop the slide.

That’s why I’ve been saying we need a bold plan A+, making banks lend, especially RBS,

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Vince Cable on the economy, George Osborne and his own ambitions

From last night’s Newsnight:

Posted in News and YouTube | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Daily Mirror: ‘Time for Plan V’ (aka ‘Vince for Chancellor’)

The front page of this morning’s Mirror newspaper may bring a smile to the face even of that most sober of politicians, Vince Cable:

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Leaked letter shows Osborne is pressurising Ed Davey on green energy

Jim Pickard in the FT carries details of a leaked letter from Gerge Osborne to Ed Davey laying down the law on crucial green energy issues. The letter includes the demand that Davey sends a “strong signal” that the government is in favour of “unabated gas”:

…I have been handed a letter from the chancellor to Ed Davey, energy secretary, which suggests that the wind subsidies are only

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LDVideo: Chloe Smith’s car-crash fuel duty Newsnight interview

Yesterday saw George Osborne execute his latest U-turn, postponing from August until January next year the 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty. Here is that U-turn, by the way:

Last night, Conservative Treasury minister did a tour of the media studios to defend the decision. Unfortunately for her, that included facing Jeremy Paxman live on BBC2′s Newsnight. You can watch the fairly excruciating result below (from approx. 6m:15s in):

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Government’s search for an alternative to PFI takes another twist with growth bonds

Labour’s PFI and PPP schemes turned out badly in so many ways, it is easy to forget quite why they were so popular to begin with, both with politicians very much of the central government public spending school (e.g. John Prescott) and also with senior public sector managers wanting to get funding for their areas (e.g. at Transport for London).

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Clegg calls for Coalition to “shift up a gear” on the economy

Nick Clegg has said the Coalition Government’s economic policy needs to “shift up a gear”, following news yesterday that the UK economy shrank by 0.3% in the first three months of the year, down on the initial estimate from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing a contraction of 0.2%. Here’s Nick speaking on BBC2′s Newsnight last night:


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Opinion: The government is in real trouble and needs a new chancellor

In the last two months, the government has been presented with four major problems:

1. The Economy – It’s not growing, despite good signs in manufacturing and a recent drop in unemployment, we’re back in recession and could even face another almighty shock if the Euro crisis deepens.

2. Ministers mucking things up – May, Hunt and Osborne have provided the government with a fatal combination of not getting the basics right (Abu Qatada and airport queues), the smell of sleaze (Murdoch) and the fallout from …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 24 Comments

Politicians’ fathers and spouses – fair game?

There’s always a debate as to the extent that politicians’ family should be fair game for media coverage. There seems to be a general consensus that their children should be off-limits. Mind you, that didn’t stop Caroline Spelman’s 17-year-old son being pitched into the national limelight recently. (However, in that case there appear to be justifiable reasons for coverage).

Over the last week, we have seen a number of stories concerning UK politicians’ fathers and wives (or, more correctly, wife).

The …

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The Tories’ and Labour’s collective tax omnishambles

Labour is against reducing the 50p top-rate tax to 45p for those earning more than £150,000. What could be clearer? As it happens, quite a lot could be clearer.

First, the omnishambles…

Given how widely predicted George Osborne’s decision to reduce the top-rate was you would have thought Labour would have anticipated it and worked out their line. They failed to — as Mark Pack noted here, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna contradicted himself within 24 hours, while Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls declined to declare his hand.

When Labour did …

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LDV Caption Competition: Osborne, Clegg & Alexander “Three Musketeers” Edition

There’s no prize at stake – just the opportunity to prove you’re wittier than any other LDV reader…

Here is Tory Chancellor George Osborne flanked by the two Lib Dem members of the ‘Quad’, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander. What do you think might be being said or thought by or about them?

And the winners of our last caption comp is…

Some fantastic entries for our most recent caption competition, Tim Farron & Prince Charles “I want that hat” Edition.

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Time for Nick Clegg and the Coalition to see sense and stop the ‘Charity Tax’

This year’s budget was, in general, a good one for Lib Dems. Most notably, the party’s number one priority of taking more low-paid workers out of tax was fast-tracked, while the controversies, and specifically the cut in the 50p top-rate at a time when pensioners’ tax allowances are being frozen, have hit their Tory backers’ support in the polls.

However, there is one lesser noticed and malign Budget change, the ‘Charity Tax’ — a cap on tax relief which threatens to cost the charitable sector hundreds of millions of pounds — which has not attracted mainstream media attention. That needs to change if the Coalition is to be talked down from a policy with Lib Dem fingerprints on it, and which will undermine philanthropic giving at a time when it is needed more than ever during the public funding squeeze.

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Dan Rogerson MP writes… The crusade to protect the Cornish Pasty

As the national political debate around the Budget moves on, one specific proposal is continuing to dominate both the headlines and my inbox – the so called ‘Pasty Tax’. The Chancellor’s proposals to change the VAT arrangements on hot food could see the tax being levied on pasties for the first time. The Treasury are currently consulting on the idea, and there remain some uncertainties that will need to be clarified.

I certainly understand the logic behind making sure that VAT is charged on hot food in places like large supermarkets to stop them undercutting local cafés and takeaways. But aside from the inevitable pasty puns in the press, there is serious concern across Cornwall.

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LibLink: Redressing the balance between the generations

Chris Nicholson, Director of CentreForum, has posted his take on the Budget on Total Politics.  He concludes:

It is often said that the best Budgets are usually those that get the immediate negative headlines. While the press has focused on the alleged “unfairness” of the Budget, history is likely to be rather kinder in suggesting that the budget has been much fairer than it at first sight appeared.

You can read the reasons for his optimism here.

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How do you keep a secret? Or why Chris Leslie shouldn’t become an undercover detective

Imagine you have something you want to keep secret. You’re going to do something, and you don’t want anyone to know.

Chances are, you’ll take a look around and make sure there aren’t any  TV cameras pointed at you and rolling away live coverage to several channels. Perhaps the memory of politicians running into problems with comments caught on microphones come to mind, and you’ll take a good look around to ensure there aren’t any in the same room as you that might be used by a national radio station or two.

Then you’ll remember to check you’re alone. Don’t want to …

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“Budget 2012: new tycoon tax in victory for Nick Clegg”

“Budget 2012: new tycoon tax in victory for Nick Clegg” – so reports the Daily Telegraph:

In a significant victory for the Liberal Democrats, the Chancellor effectively introduced a 25 per cent minimum rate of tax in the Budget.

Under the changes, he will limit how much people offset their tax bills by investing in businesses or donating to charity.

Anyone seeking to claim more than £50,000 of tax relief in any one year will have a cap set at 25 per cent of their income from 2013.

Accountants said this means the wealthiest will have to pay at least 25 per cent of their income in tax. Although the highest rate of income tax is 50 per cent, reducing to 45 per cent next year, some wealthy people reduce their bills to almost nothing using different reliefs available from HM Revenue and Customs.

The introduction of this major change to the tax system is one of the main reasons why, as I wrote yesterday, if you are on more than £150,000, you will pay an extra £1,300 a year in tax on average as a result of this Budget.

As for what Labour would do on the 50p rate they seem to be flip and flopping with each new interview – sometimes saying they would reintroduce it if they had the chance tomorrow/next week, and sometimes not.

For more on the Budget see a couple of the media interviews I did yesterday – first on the News Channel and then on Radio 4:

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Plan C: The Social Liberal Forum’s economic prognosis

There has been a very welcome recent revival of policy thinking in the Liberal Democrats, despite the large cuts to the party’s official policy research staff. This has included a new think tank (Liberal Insight) and good work by Richard Kemp and the local government sector in encouraging imaginative plans for making use of the new legal powers going to local government.

Added to this is the Social Liberal Forum’s further foray into economic policy-making, following up on some of their successful events with their first policy pamphlet. Prateek Buch’s “Plan C – social liberal approaches to a fair, …

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The Independent View: how Liberal Democrats can provide Clegg’s “gear shift” in infrastructure spending

As Nick Clegg has recently noted, there needs to be a ‘gear shift’ in infrastructure spending. Whilst George Osborne dots the i’s and crosses the t’s on his third budget, it is worth considering how such a ‘gear shift’ may be enacted. Localis has undertaken just such an analysis, and this week launched Credit Where Credit’s Due – produced in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group – that illustrates how local government can help deliver a step-change of this type from the bottom-up. Though our report alights on many policy areas, from increasing the powers of LEPs to astute asset management …

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LibLink: David Laws MP writes about the Lib Dem ambition for fairer tax

David Laws has argued at the Guardian’s Comment is Free site that the Coalition should accelerate Liberal Democrat tax cutting plans.

The government’s previous plan was for the allowance to rise in steps of £630 over the next few years, to reach £10,000 by April 2015. Clegg and chief treasury secretary Danny Alexander are rightly insisting that we look to bring forward those tax cuts. This week they seemed to attract the unlikely support of Labour’s Ed Balls. But his plan for a totally unfunded tax cut is as unlikely to convince the deputy prime minister as it is the chancellor.

The

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The weekend debate: Should Stephen Hester accept his bonus?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

Since the £963, 000 shares bonus for RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester has been revealed there have been opinions pouring out from across the political spectrum.

When Ed Miliband accused David Cameron of a “failure of leadership” over it, Cameron promptly distanced himself from the process altogether, with George Osborne claiming it was due to rules put in place by Labour.

Boris Johnson seems to be against it, as is our usually economically …

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Nick Clegg unites with Lords in battle to alter benefit cuts

So reports tomorrow’s Observer:

David Cameron has been lobbied by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, on the need to rewrite the government’s flagship benefit reform to help children suffering as a result.

Clegg proposed a series of changes to the £500-a-week cap, including exempting current claimants, in an attempt to ameliorate some of the worst consequences of the change, which critics claim will make 40,000 families homeless by making their current homes unaffordable.

It is understood Clegg made his appeal during a meeting attended by the chancellor, George Osborne, and Danny Alexander, chief secretary of the Treasury. Cameron asked the Liberal Democrats

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Opinion: Lib Dems Must oppose Labour’s ideological cuts in 2012

If I were a cleverer person than I am, I would try to create a joke with a punch line to fit the following set-up: What’s the difference between a cut in government spending and an ideological cut in government spending?

That I’m not clever enough to create a pithy punch line is of no consequence, as it is no laughing matter.

Labour have sometimes tried to trail the line that the coalition’s cuts are avoidable, that there are the product of ideology rather than necessity.

This line lacked some credence because even as they

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What Lib Dem members think of George Osborne’s autumn statement (and the two measures they oppose)

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results.

Lib Dem members give thumbs-up (mostly) to Osborne’s autumn statement

Two weeks ago, the Chancellor George Osborne updated MPs on the state of the economy and the government’s future plans in his Autumn Statement as the Office for Budget Responsibility published its latest growth and borrowing forecasts.

LDV asked: Do you support or oppose the following policies announced by the Chancellor?

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“An inept negotiating strategy placed in the hands of an inexperienced prime minister” – behind the scenes of Cameron’s ‘veto’

“An avoidable disaster”: that is the verdict of the Financial Times’s Philip Stephens in a must-read article examining what went on behind the scenes of the Coalition’s strategy for approaching last week’s failed European summit. And his verdict on the Prime Minister and his advisers could scarcely be more scathing:

There was no great plan for a rupture. What some Tories now see as Mr Cameron’s Churchillian moment was rather the result of an inept negotiating strategy placed in the hands of an inexperienced prime minister.

So what did happen? On last night’s Newsnight former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown set …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 38 Comments

Opinion: Oh, what is the point?

Having followed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and then watched Danny Alexander interviewed on Newsnight on Tuesday I have to say my initial reaction was “oh, what is the point?”. That was a reaction to both substance and process.

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, as the IFS analysis demonstrates, hits the poorest hardest and those on middle and higher incomes less hard. Most would call that regressive. I’m sure some bright spark can come up with an argument that if you look at the data from a different direction – on the basis of expenditure not income, for example – then it isn’t …

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The Coalition’s Political Plan B, Mrs T, and TINA: what does this spell out for the Lib Dems?

The political aftershock of George Osborne’s autumn statement is just beginning to sink in: the Coalition’s 5-year austerity programme, designed to end in 2015 by the time of the next general election, is now a 7-year programme straddling two parliaments.

This poses problems for the future of the Coalition, and for the Lib Dems in particular, encapsulated here by the FT’s Philip Stephens:

Here’s the paradox. The effect of sticking to economic plan A has been to shred the coalition government’s original political strategy. In the heady days after the 2010 election the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats signed up to

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Ed Miliband’s wonky PMQs’ maths

Paul Walter’s LibDemVoice review of yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions mentioned the Ed Miliband soundbite which has been picked up by much of the media… but so far without the disbelief it’s due. Here’s what the Labour leader said:

The difference is that, unlike the Prime Minister, I am not going to demonise the dinner lady, the cleaner or the nurse, people who earn in a week what the Chancellor pays for his annual skiing holiday.

A quick reminder for those who don’t live in the Westminster bubble that, last January, it was revealed (by which I mean I read it

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The Independent View: Autumn Statement makes the best of a bad situation

How did George do then? The Chancellor needs to walk the line between providing stimulus on the one hand and protecting Britain from the bond markets on the other. It really isn’t easy to decide which side he should err on.

The bond markets are currently a ravenous pack of hyenas who have tasted blood in Greece, Italy and Portugal. Although they’re currently distracted by Belgium, Spain and now France even the slightest hint of weakness on Britain’s part will draw their perilous attention our way.

That said, protecting Britain from a bond market savaging must not be done at the expense …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 30 Comments

LibLink: David Laws – George Osborne must stick to austerity Plan A

Over at the London Evening Standard, Lib Dem MP for Yeovil and former Treasury chief secretary, David Laws, has a piece urging the chancellor to maintain the coalition’s deficit reduction plan to avoid importing the debt-driven eurozone crisis to Britain.

Here’s a sample:

Before the general election, many people said that a coalition would be weak and unstable. They don’t say that any more. By comparison with the eurozone and the US, our Government looks strong, stable and united. It is set to stay that way.

The Chancellor will be able to report that borrowing has been falling as planned. Borrowing from April

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEd Wilson 18th Apr - 10:12pm
    Let's try again. "...power 4 million homes..." means onshore wind produces a number of kilowatt hours which, when divided by the notional power consumption of...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Apr - 9:56pm
    A scary thought has just occurred - the Pensions Minister either doesn't actually know or want us to know, just how much pension tax relief...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Apr - 9:46pm
    Ed Davey's defense of on-shore wind is totally undermined by the hard data coming out of NETA... Whilst there might be sufficient capacity to provide...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Apr - 9:39pm
    Whilst Steve Webb (deliberately?) overlooks the simple fact that the low pay receive disproportionally more from the state than the higher paid, I think the...
  • User Avatariain bb 18th Apr - 9:29pm
    If Greaves says 1950 then I guess he's right. By chance I was handed a Manchester Guardian for 25 February 1950 the other day and...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 18th Apr - 8:44pm
    Here is David Lloyd George speaking in 1931: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/mr-lloyd-george-speaks-to-the-nation