Danny turns the tables on Balls on TV economy debates

On Sunday’s Andrew Marr show, Ed Balls caught the chancellor off guard when he all but forced him (in one of recent television history’s most awkward moments) to shake on an agreement to hold a television debate.

That agreement did not include provision for a Lib Dem presence – something which Danny Alexander tried to rectify when he appeared on Sky News yesterday with Mr Balls:


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  • Eddie Sammon 19th Mar '15 - 12:05pm

    Re: Danny’s alternative budget: Lib Dems need a new policy on tax evasion.

    Tax avoidance is using tax reliefs and is basically the responsibility of the Treasury.

    Tax evasion is illegal and the responsibility of those who commit it.

    Trying to conflate the two under the term “tax dodging” and trying to make it illegal is wrong. Just makes politicians look clueless.

  • It wasn’t long ago since Alexander regularly refused to go head to head with a Labour spokesperson on Channel 4.
    What’s inspired his sudden rush of confidence ?

    &…who’s idea was the Lib Dem budget stunt ? Turning out to be a real embarrassment, particularly with so many party MPs not there and Clegg disappearing.

  • Any here old enough to remember Spitting Image ?

    Remember the Nigel Lawson sketch where he wails that he can’t even look after the red dispatch box ?
    Someone’s liable to photoshop Danny with a similar caption.
    Politicians should always think how their PR stunts are going to be turned around on social media.

  • Paul Pettinger 19th Mar '15 - 2:00pm

    It’s not all bad – Danny’s appointment as Shadow Chancellor helpfully draws attention to the enormous boost in apprenticeships Dr Cable has overseen.

  • I must admit I thought the budget box stunt was naff! No doubt thought up by the same ‘advisor’ who advised Clegg on the second Farage debate.

  • peter tyzack 20th Mar '15 - 11:18am

    someone needs to grab the BBC where it hurts and get us a more balanced coverage. They are forever, lazily, hiding behind ‘what the papers say’ or ‘what the polls say’, neither of which is balanced.

  • I agree with Mark. I was less impressed with Danny’s ‘alternative budget’ and yellow box malarkey.

    Eddie: Spot-on. The Cambridge economist Nicky Kaldor, one of Harold Wilson’s ‘two Hungarians’ at the Treasury (along with the lamentable Thomas Balogh), was a bit hit-and-miss in his policy judgements but a bright spark. He surely hit the nail on the head when he observed: “The existence of widespread tax avoidance is evidence that the system, not the tacpayer, is in need of reform.”

    The IFS expanded on this in their conclusion to their Mirrlees Review: “One of the central problems of dealing with tax avoidance in the UK has been the propensity of governments to tackle the symptom, by enacting ever more anti-avoidance provisions aimed at the particular avoidance scheme, rather than addressing the underlying cause – often the lack of clarity or consistency in the tax base.

    “If activities were taxed similarly, there would be no (or, at least, much less) incentive for tacpayers to dress up one form of activity as another… The primary response should be to address the fundamental causes of avoidance rather than blindly resorting to anti-avoidance provisions, whether of a general or a specific nature. Simply demonising tax avoiders and exhorting them to behave better is a feeble strategem.”

    Now we just need politicians to grasp this nettle and stop all the displacement activity…

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