A trio of Tory / Liberal Democrat disagreements in government

Like London buses, Tory / Liberal Democrat disagreements are coming along all bunched together at the moment:

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has criticised “climate sceptics” and others who he argues are decrying the UK’s potential for renewable power … His comments are being interpreted by some as a riposte to Chancellor George Osborne who is believed to be more sceptical about the investment needed. (BBC)

Vince Cable rejects proposal to abolish unfair dismissal laws: Business secretary said plan devised by strategist Steve Hilton was unnecessary and unlikely to improve labour market flexibility (The Guardian)

In order to safeguard the NHS, free at the point of need and accessible to all, Liberal Democrat peers are putting forward amendments which require the secretary of state to remain responsible for health services being provided across England. In coming weeks we will seek to ensure that the NHS continues to develop cutting-edge research and that any income from private patients is used solely for the benefit of NHS patients. We will carry on scrutinising this bill so that the NHS can continue to deliver world-class care for patients. (Letter in The Guardian)

One issue, however, got not only Lib Dem and Conservative agreement, but even supportive words from Labour MP Tom Watson – namely that there isn’t too much in the story about Vince Cable making a mistake about his taxes, owning up as soon as he spotted it and paying up:

Number 10 has backed Business Secretary Vince Cable after he was fined for failing to pay tax on his non-Parliamentary earnings.

Dr Cable was fined £500 by HM Revenue and Customs for failing to pay VAT on his non-Parliamentary earnings. The Business Secretary, who has previously condemned “ugly” tax avoidance failed to pay the tax on fees for media appearances and after dinner speeches.

Today the Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said “We’re all fallible.” Saying “the case is closed”, she added: “From time to time, we all make minor mistakes. But clearly the Business Secretary has rectified an oversight.”. Mr Cable also issued a statement accepting that the fine was “embarrassing”.

Labour MP Tom Watson tweeted:

I see News International are exacting their revenge on Vince Cable this morning with a massively overcooked story. Pathetic.

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2 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 27th Oct '11 - 12:38pm

    The headline to the Guardian letter was crazy but the give-away is the linked article by Allegra Stratton (not one of the most rigorous of journalists in my estimation). What the letter clearly says if you can read the code is (1) Labour are playing childish politics with this Bill and (2) LD peers will do a proper job of scrutiny and seek serious changes.

    Unfortunately someone in high-up places gave the Guardian a different code which they lazily applied. This is not the place to name names.

    Tony Greaves

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