Is it Game Over for Cameron?

A few years ago, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives had to resign effectively because he’d taken a few taxi journeys that he shouldn’t on parliamentary expenses. This was the result of the much stronger freedom of information rules in Scotland and was part of our own expenses scandal in 2005.

If those are the standards which merit resignation, David Cameron should perhaps have been a little more careful over the statements he made earlier in the week over his personal financial dealings. He might have told us that he didn’t have any shares now, but holding back the information that he had held shares in his father’s offshore trust for 13 years before selling them just before he became Prime Minister demonstrates a lack of candour. Why couldn’t he just have been up front about it at the beginning of the week? We should expect more from our political leaders.

Tim Farron agrees, telling the Mirror:

The Prime Minister has for days denied that he had offshore funds but has been dragged to the truth.

For ordinary taxpayers to have faith in the system they have to be able to have faith in their leaders. They deserve better than half truths and qualified statements.

It might be an idea for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to review the matter to make sure that Cameron always kept to the rules on registering these shares. At first glance, it looks as though he did. The rules for registering shareholdings are as follows:

Category 7: Shareholdings

THRESHOLD FOR REGISTRATION

51. Members must register, subject to the paragraphs below, any holdings which:

i) amount to more than 15% of the issued share capital of that company, or more than 15% of a partnership;

ii) are valued at more than £70,000.[46]

REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTRATION

52. Under this category Members must register:

a) Shareholdings or share options which they hold, either by themselves or with or on behalf of their spouse, partner or dependent children. This includes any shares which are managed by a trust (other than a blind trust[47] or similar delegated management arrangement) and any holdings in sector-specific vehicles;

b) Interests in LLPs or other partnerships.

53. Members should not register under this category:

a) Holdings in collective investment vehicles such as unit trusts, investment companies with variable capital (ICVCs) and investment trusts;

b) Assets held in blind trusts;[48]

c) Pensions (except for property held for self-invested personal pensions).

As he sold the shares for £31,500, a profit of around £19,000, their value was less than the registrable amount. It might be worth checking what the limit was all the way through his time as an MP just so we can be sure that that was always the case.

It might also be worth reviewing those thresholds. Is it really ok that MPs are allowed to have shareholdings of more than double the average wage without telling us about them, but that’s not relevant to Cameron’s immediate future.

This episode has lowered my already subterranean opinion of the Prime Minister, but I think that Labour are over-egging the pudding by calling for his resignation at this stage, on the information we currently know. His lack of openness will undoubtedly diminish his public standing, though.

Cameron’s familiarity with such offshore trusts gives us a new perspective on his reluctance to tackle such tax avoidance measures. Yesterday, Nick Thornsby highlighted a conversation between Cameron, Osborne and Danny Alexander on the subject.

Vince Cable, in today’s Guardian, goes into more detail, saying that Cameron chickened out of meaningful reform:

Cable, whose department took the lead on the key proposal to establish a public register revealing the ultimate owners of UK-listed companies, says the prime minister faced considerable pushback on the plans.

“David Cameron’s view was a bit ambiguous,” Cable says. “He wanted to be leader of the pack in this transparency, tax thing; but I sensed at various points that when he saw what he had let himself in for, he started to get cold feet, and there was a certain amount of rowing back.”

Cameron gave a bold speech at the Davos summitof the world’s super-rich in January 2013 as the UK took up the rotating presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations. He called for “proper companies, proper taxes, proper rules”.

But Cable, who lost his Twickenham seat at last year’s general election, says it became harder to match warm words with action as tax havens, including those with historical links to the UK, organised a concerted campaign of resistance to proposals for more transparency.

He describes how Cameron bowed to lobbying:

Cable says Cameron began his transparency drive with the best of intentions, but after a meeting with a delegation of representatives from tax havens who came to London to lobby against the idea of a public register, the prime minister “came away with his tail between his legs, and nothing happened”.

I guess it’s hardly surprising to find a Tory buckling to mild pressure when it comes to defending the rich. It is instinctive for them.

Interestingly, Vince shares Jeremy Corbyn’s view that direct UK rule should be imposed on British overseas territories to ensure greater transparency:

“What you would have to do is impose direct rule,” Cable says. “You would take the executive authority out of the hands of the local government, and the island would be run through the governor.”

None of this does much for Cameron’s reputation. It certainly leaves a bad taste in your mouth but not, at this stage, enough to spit him out. What happens next will depend on whether we now know everything. Any more revelations after a “clear the air” interview as he had with Robert Peston last night would not look good.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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40 Comments

  • Bill le Breton 8th Apr '16 - 10:37am

    Cable should have been the second member of the Quad – that he was not must have pleased the Tories no end.

    The Quad was the theatre for on-going negotiations outside of the Coalition Agreement.

    Good cop, bad cop is a classic negotiation set up.

    What the Laws book reveals about just this one critical meeting is that our attendees at the Quad were a push over on the matter.

    What the book also reveals – and this is surely a prime example – is the amount of ammunition that we had against the Tories that was not used during the election campaign.

    We in fact used just the one revelation and that was with a week to go to polling day. Although it made a splash for a day, it was not pressed and no further similar ‘attacks’ were conducted.

    To the very end we refrained from attacking the Tories because we wanted and expected to be back in the cabinet in May 2015.

    This habit continues, with the lack of fire directed over the last week at Cameron.

  • “He might have told us that he didn’t have any shares now”

    He did, you like many others weren’t reading what he was actually saying.

  • What price a Clegg intervention now regarding these meetings? Whilst I agree with Bill Le Breton above that this was best deployed during the election campaign it could still improve public perception of the party ahead of upcoming local elections!

    How good would it have been to see a Lib Dem on QT last night taking the government to account for not doing more – instead we had Anna Soubry talking about 40 measures Labour didn’t take when the truth is the Tories probably blocked 100+ stronger donor-affecting proposed by Vince!

  • “As he sold the shares for £31,500, a profit of around £19,000”

    No he did sell shares, he sold “units” these were exempted by paragraph 53 you included in your quote.

    Do pay attention at the back!

  • They let Cameron & omnishambles Osborne off the hook. It’s clear Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander were just brushed off and accepted it .

    Compare these quotes from the BBC News site :

    “Alexander launches ‘ruthless’ tax evasion clampdown By Gavin Stamp, BBC News, in Liverpool 19 September 2010”

    “Danny Alexander calls for ‘corporate tax evasion crackdown. 22 February 2015”

    Still waiting, Danny. Did the dog eat your homework ?

    2. Vince could have had the leadership on a plate when Ming stood down – but he didn’t want it.

    The electorate aren’t daft…………. in football terms it’s no good playing pretty football if you can’t defend or score goals.

  • Bill le Breton 8th Apr '16 - 12:26pm

    Labour loses elections because of the economy … The Tories lose because of ‘sleaze’. 1964 and 1997 (surely not a co-incidence that this was when Cameron the candidate for Stafford and former special adviser to a chancellor and a Home Secretary made his regrettable investment).

    It is always in our interests to pin Tories to sleaze, wherever we find the opportunity. This was the centre of our 1997 campaign.

    Our strategy really from 2007/8 onwards was, naively, to get into office and stay there on the coat-tails of the Tories, not appreciating that we have never made progress or held our ground when Tories are popular. (As indeed it has never been in our interests when Labour appeared dangerous on the economy.) That’s why we went backwards in 2010 and 2015.

    These are just basics, which those who have recently dominated the party, and who were not part of the years of progress, never appreciated. Coming as it were into an inheritance that they had played no part in amassing.

    What their dominance has achieved is to dull our campaigning edge, especially against the Tories, to such an extent that we are incapable of mounting a ‘game changing’ campaign led from Westminster in this Parliament. Can you imagine Steel or Owen or Ashdown or Kennedy being so supine over the last week?

    Which therefore leaves any responsibility for insurgence and ‘progress’ to the few islands where good campaigners have found themselves in sufficient numbers to survive.

    There are no more than a dozen of these guerilla forces located in the ‘fens’ like latter day Hereward the Wakes.

  • David Faggiani 8th Apr '16 - 12:38pm

    It’s not ‘game over’, but I do believe that all this is starting to guarantee that whoever the Tories’ next leader is, he or she will need to ‘look’ very different, in terms of perception of class, privilege and Shire clubbability. It’s becoming an imperative for them to change their skin, to ‘regenerate’, as it were. And I don’t think either Osborne or Johnson will cut it anymore, in terms of freshness.

  • John Barrett 8th Apr '16 - 12:38pm

    It is unlikely that any meaningful reform of offshore accounts, or the way the very rich are taxed, will actually happen in the near future. This is because the same big four accounting firms who have many staff working with, or embedded in and advising government on these issue – are at the same time advising their rich and famous clients how to avoid the same taxes and complex systems they are developing.

    D McKay suggests bringing in Nick Clegg to speak on this. If we are to have any impact on this issue, we should make sure there are no skeletons in our own cupboards.

    It was not so long ago that our former leader was being funded by a senior member of one of those same tax firms, who paid money directly into Nick Clegg’s bank account and was later rewarded with a job as his senior advisor, being paid in the region of £100,000 out of the public purse, while his wife was promoted into the Lords. It doesn’t make him a wise choice to speak for the party on this issue.

  • @ John Barrett : All sounds very cosy, John, and I completely agree with your advice.

    What a good investment by the former special adviser. I assume you mean Neil Sherlock , formerly of KPMG and now of PWC, and his wife Baroness Kate Parminter ( Deputy Leader in the Lords). I missed all of that at the time because I was undergoing major surgery in the Royal.

    I really do despair that this party can ever aspire to be the radical cutting edge party which was what I thought I had joined back in 1961..

  • Bill le Breton 8th Apr '16 - 1:57pm

    David F – you are young and radical. Dare I say, it is not your job or in our interest to advise the Tories how to regenerate, our job is to turf them back out of our territory, geographically, and to put distance between our and their ideology and values. Something we haven’t been doing since 2007, which is why we have no MPs SW of Southport!

    Nor is it our job to second guess what will happen in order to excuse taking action this day. One would imagine that draft legisation existed within BIS from our SpAds, from reputable pressure groups and probably from the civil service.

    We should get it printed up by the House as a Bill and use all our powers to have it on the order paper. No doubt the Government would block it, but how better to show the reality of this Government’s commitment to secrecy and the needs of the elite.

  • Tony Greaves 8th Apr '16 - 2:21pm

    I think Ceredigion is SW of Southport…

    Cameron is on the slippery slope, but it may take some time. What I wonder if what happened to his father’s shares etc when he died?

    Tony Greaves

  • Paul Murray 8th Apr '16 - 2:37pm

    Just been on yougov and to “answer a few questions” as they put it. One of the questions was about Cameron. It asked which comes closer to your view out of these options:

    “The tax affairs of the Prime Minister’s father ten years ago are irrelevant and should not feature in discussions of the Panama Papers”

    Or

    “It is highly significant as the Prime Minister may have benefited from this arrangement and it taints his future policy”

    The first option is currently (this is unweighted live results) running at 23% and the second option is at 56%

  • @ John Barrett

  • @ John Barrett

    I suggested Clegg as thought he would have more resonance on this attack (as someone in the meetings). My alternatives were Laws and Alexander! Point taken that I imagine politicians of all hues are probably squirming re; tax planning this week!

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Apr '16 - 3:30pm

    Thanks for this article. Glad you think it is too early to call for Cameron’s resignation.

    Few political matters seem to have made me want to push against the grain as hard as this one. My feelings are complex, but it starts from my disagreement that the press should operate in a legal vacuum and publish private information and state secrets that are not in the public interest. Corruption and illegal behaviour should be reported on, but things like naked photos, sex tapes, legal private financial information and crucial aspects of military strategy should be kept secret.

    Liberals often rightly point out to the threats to privacy that the state makes, but press intrusion is also a threat to privacy. The press are always trying to tightly regulate other industries, so I don’t feel any extra good-will towards the press.

    Then there’s the fact that I believe in legal tax avoidance, but not aggressive tax avoidance (and by aggressive I mean anything where the legality is seriously in doubt).

    I think there is a minimum amount rich people should give to others, but that can be done via charity. I don’t think HMRC should turn into a charity where people start paying more than what they owe to keep parts of the press happy. Best regards.

  • Stephen Hesketh 8th Apr '16 - 4:02pm

    Bill le Breton 8th Apr ’16 – 10:37am

    I agree 100% with what Bill says here. All too cosy. For too long economically and politically feeding into the dream of replacing our traditional centre-left voters with those from the centre-right and latterly, as Bill suggests, in anticipation of a further period in coalition.

    It turns out that, like on so many other topics, Cameron and Osborne were saying one thing in public and saying/doing another in private/policy-wise. In no area is the deception greater than that the Tories had been detoxified and were no longer the ‘nasty party’.

    That’s professional politics for you I suppose.

    In stark non-professional contrast stands our own 2010-15 approach.

    It is now clear beyond reasonable doubt that our own Westminster leadership, and in particular our members of the Quad, must have been fully aware the Tories remained the same old toxic Tory party. They had the evidence to prove it but did precious little about it.

    And they added to this by permitting the Liberal Democrats to be used by the Tories as a political smoke screen.

    The irony is that, had they spoken of the truths of which they knew, we would have survived with some credibility, almost certainly more intact and today they may have been in a coalition of one kind or another.

    I would love to know if Nick Clegg has ever explained how on earth he thought not revealing the worst excesses of Tory thoughts and behaviour would serve the British people, progressive politics and the Liberal Democrats.

    Instead of us being able to point to a list of both positive achievements and sound Lib Dem blocking interventions, the Quad strategy actually allowed the Tories to continue their pretence of being a reformed and economically competent party when the clear evidence from the Laws book and since May is that they were never either of these things.

    Had those in or close to the Quad spoken out as soon as these things became apparent, Cameron may already have been history instead of the Liberal Democrats being threatened with consignment to its pages.

  • Bill le Breton 8th Apr '16 - 4:45pm

    Further to Paul’s point. I fear the Westminster bubble and a lot of people around here haven’t picked up on the dismay and anger in the High Street.

    Went into post office today to get some Euros and was ‘sold’ one of the new cards. There is a limit as to how much you can load first time and I asked the very pleasant person serving me ‘why’? ‘Probably something to do with money laundering,’ she replied. So I jested “But I’m not the Prime Minister” expecting a stony silence and that my joke would go down like a lead balloon.

    Not so. This very middle class and ‘proper’ citizen left me in no doubt about what she thought of the PM … and said ‘and we haven’t heard the last of this’. ‘There will be more to come out. And more people scrambling for cover.’

    I think it will be very interesting what kind of ‘feedback’ Tory MPs are getting from their constituents and local supporters.

    It is a bit like the expenses scandal in that those ‘In the thick of it’ are so out of touch, they are just looking as if they live on another planet.

  • Rightsaidfredfan 8th Apr '16 - 5:07pm

    Sadly not. Remember Carmichael got to keep his seat in the islands. I don’t think Cameron has done enough to be forced from office given the current standards.

  • DAVE’S PAL Didn’t they notice ?
    ‘The Independent ‘ 17 April, 2012
    Conservative peer (formerly Chief Whip, David Maclean MP) Lord Blencathra signed a lobbying contract for tax haven Cayman Islands, ‘to make representations’ on behalf of Cayman Islands. Details of £12,000-a-month role emerged after denials of wrongdoing to standards watchdog.

    The Guardian’ 15 April, 2015 Lord Blencathra, has described David Cameron’s flagship G8 anti-tax avoidance initiative as a “purely political gesture” designed to head off European attempts to curb the City of London.

    July 2015 Blencathra claimed £4,200 for attending on fourteen days – the equivalent of just over a year’s Jobseekers Allowance. Yesterday, Lord Blencathra, who himself has Multiple Sclerosis, spoke in favour of cutting Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for people in the Work Related Activity Group to the equivalent of Jobseeker’s Allowance. Future claimants, who have been found unfit to work, would thus receive about £30 per week less than they get now. They would get in a year what Lord Blencathra received for fourteen days attendance at the House of Lords.

    We’re all in it together :

  • Latest You Gov Poll :

    “David Cameron now has a lower approval rating than Jeremy Corbyn – while the Prime Minister and Chancellor are the least trusted politicians on tax avoidance”

  • Tony Greaves 8th Apr '16 - 10:28pm

    Short term fluff of course. This week’s Media Obsession. But it all builds up over a longer period. The worrying thing is that it just adds further to the deep-seated cynicism that we are all in it for what we can get.

    Tony

  • “It is unlikely that any meaningful reform of offshore accounts, or the way the very rich are taxed, will actually happen in the near future.” John Barrett

    Whilst I agree that we are unlikely to see massive reforms, looking back over the last 30+ years of reforms to investments, I’m more hopeful that we will see a series of small but ultimately significant reforms, which will further raise the threshold (remember prior to the introduction of PEP’s in 1992, there were few onshore places you could invest a few thousand a year in a low fee and tax efficient manner).

    However, this overlooks the other dimension of the case, namely the role of the law firm, Mossack Fonseca, who should be facing questions over whether they have been abusing the client confidentiality privilege that benefits law firms to hid their financial services and company administration activities…

  • I honestly think this won’t blow over and the damage to Cameron’s reputation will be permanent. British people still care about fairness – we don’t like queue jumpers, and we don’t like tax avoiders. Neither is illegal, but both offend our inherent sense of natural fairness.

    This isn’t Greece where tax avoidance was a national sport that everyone was expected to join in with.

    There will be some people out there who until recently still felt reasonably well disposed towards DC, even after things like benefit cuts, but will be thinking twice about him now over his family’s perfectly legal but “unfair” tax avoidance.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Apr '16 - 8:39am

    Did anyone see “Have I Got News For You” on BBC1 on Friday 8/4/2016?
    It has a large audience and gets a few laughs as well. They led on this issue.
    The presenter said po-faced that “No laws have been broken” and waited for the reaction from the audience in the theatre.
    They also followed up on Ian Hislop’s programme about Welfare issues in Victorian times. He interviewed Ian Duncan Smith in December 2015. There was a tearful moment for IDS as he recalled meeting a 19 year old woman with no ambition, the same age as his daughter, who has lots of ambition and opportunities.
    UKIP’s Suzanne Evans was on the receiving end of some good jokes, for instance about Nigel Farage’s brief resignation and the mandatory reference to the Judean People’s Front. We could point out that John Cleese was a member of the Liberal Democrats when paddy Ashdown was leader and made a major speech to federal conference about the need for devolution to help with the mental health of the populace.

  • John Barrett 9th Apr '16 - 10:11am

    Nick – “This isn’t Greece where tax avoidance was a national sport that everyone was expected to join in with.”

    You may be right, but those joining in and paying their taxes in the UK appear to be the vast majority of ordinary tax payers; who pay income tax, national insurance, vat, council tax and much more.

    There are two other categories who do appear to think that it is not only a national sport, but as it is also the way everyone in their position behaves, and because HMRC appear to be complicit in many ways, that it is all ok.

    Just look at the Vodafone tax deal saving them £6bn, while at the same time the chancellor cut £6bn from the Higher Education budget and increased university fees, while claiming back a total of £2bn from the UK taxpayer in much smaller amounts.

    The first group are the multi-nationals, the Amazons, Starbucks, Googles and Facebooks of this world, who want to pay nothing in corporation tax on profits earned in the UK, to help fund the very system that provides them with the educated staff, infrastructure and much more, which allows them to make billions of pound of profit in the UK.

    The second group is the very rich, who are happy to continue to make the UK their home because of many reasons which result in a good quality of life, including, the legal system, security, the education system, cultural and social pastimes. While living here and enjoying the quality of life, they are also happy to hide their wealth away from the tax man to avoid contributing their fair share towards supporting anything here – including everything that supports their chosen home country and way of life.

    All this is nothing new, as anyone who can remember back to 2013 when leaked documents showed that out of £21 trillion (not billion) hidden in offshore accounts, that over a trillion pound of UK wealth was hidden in the British Virgin Islands alone.

    And what did we do about it when we were in government at the time?

    Answers on a postcard please.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Apr '16 - 10:21am

    John Marriott 9th Apr ’16 – 10:08am Yes. He also made training videos for business using friends such as Ronnie Barker. The audiences loved the videos because they showed how ridiculous some of their business practices and managers were.
    John Cleese was also an early supporter of Amnesty International (they just looked at the incoming cheques). He starred in The Secret Policeman’s Ball, although sequels had problems with the name, but if some humans have twelve fingers, as they do, why not?

  • Simon Banks 9th Apr '16 - 9:20pm

    The leader of the Scottish Conservatives did not command a majority in the Scottish Parliament. That’s the fundamental difference. However, the affair will weaken Cameron if he’s wobbling for another reason, such as the EU referendum.

  • Bill le Breton

    “a lot of people around here haven’t picked up on the dismay and anger in the High Street.”

    The difference is that before the admission of Cameron’s own investment the anger was from people who already hated him, that has certainly broadened since he had to release that. The Tories are spectacularly mismanaging this. I would still say that the LibDems should be trying to find something that sticks to big money donors, if Cameron goes after the referendum it looks a lot like it is all him.

  • Bill le Breton 11th Apr '16 - 8:19am

    Psi writes “The difference is that before the admission of Cameron’s own investment the anger was from people who already hated him, that has certainly broadened since he had to release that. ”

    But he was forced by campaigning action to release that information. And none of that came from us.

    Anyway glad you have changed your mind and now admit that the Tories are mismanaging this and the slow drip out of the facts was not some inspired piece of wizard communications practice as you previously maintained.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Apr '16 - 9:14am

    Are the general public really shocked by the recent revelations? I don’t think so. Are they really shocked by the fact that the top 1% and those with slightly less got their wealth through legal means? I don’t think so.

    I suspect that those who don’t belong to those elites who make the rules, judge whether the rules should be legal and police the rules are not in the least shocked.

    Any anger, I would suggest, comes from the fact that the rich have been accorded a moral status denied to the poor.

  • Bill le Breton

    Happy to accept when I am wrong, apparently the No. 10 Press operation are they type of people who pay with matches while their colleagues run around them with open cans of petrol. It would have made sense ofr Cameron to Scrub his personal finances in 2001 just before election as an MP or that the latest in 2005 when he was going to run for leader. Ion those circumstances he would have made a distraction not a target.

    As to if the campaigning was done by the LibDems, most was done by the papers looking for a story which no party has had much say in (thoug more could be said). The Donors are less likely to receive the scrutiny that will yield a story, but need significant exposure. If Cameron is so incapable of being prepared, Donors who will have expected total privacy will have been even more careless.

    The LibDems learnt how things can go wrong with £2m of donations how may more opportunities are there for things to go wrong with £50m worth of donations?

  • Richard Underhill 11th Apr '16 - 1:27pm

    David Cameron has announced that he, as PM, and the Chancellor will publish their tax returns, but why not the current Business Secretary?

  • Richard Underhill

    “why not the current Business Secretary”

    Perhaps the question is why in this haphazard way, there needs to be a coherent approach to this, not driven by one PM’s PR crisis. Who should declare, who in power has what level of privacy etc. the current approach isn’t sensible.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Apr '16 - 3:51pm

    The PM made a statement in the Commons on 11/4/2016 @ 3.35 pm.
    We might note that a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer abolished exchange controls after the 1979 general election he said that it was necessary to do that within the EEC. He then suggested that the money would leak and therefore he abolished exchange controls entirely. The result was a massive exit of capital and the then Conservative government drew attention to income deriving from this money.
    His successor, Nigel Lawson, now a Conservative peer, wrote memoirs which include coverage of this issue. Unusually for political memoirs it was considered as readable, from a former journalist, partially because of first hand information about the wishes of the then PM making political decisions about interest rates.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Apr '16 - 8:08pm

    The PM was obviously stressed in the pressure cooker of the House of Commons. He gave a lengthy statement, but gradually relaxed. The answers to questions yielded little. Tory MPs were generally supportive, but drifted away after they had spoken.
    Labour MP Dennis Skinner will probably be in the headlines tomorrow for using unparliamentary language and, in the process undermining his own leader. He was given ample opportunity to withdraw or use a different word but he did neither, choosing to repeat the accusation about the integrity of the PM. He was therefore instructed to leave the chamber for the remainder of the day, and went.
    Hansard may clean up some of David Cameron’s mis-statements, such as describing Caroline Lucas as the leader of the Green Party, or the confusion about what a minister in “the previous government” said.
    Did David Cameron mean the coalition government? (in which he served as PM) or the Blair-Brown governments of 2005-2010?
    He did demonstrate stamina, most of the 90 minutes were repetitive.
    The statement on steel was the other way round, very little of interest in the statement from the Business Secretary, titbits in answers to questions. There is government money available, such as for pensions of steelworkers and other sharply defined areas, but full nationalisation is out. As President Johnson said about the Vietnam war the British government was fully supportive in everything, except in anything that mattered.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Apr '16 - 8:50pm

    @ Richard Underhill,
    It will be interesting to see who gets the biggest headlines, Denis Skinner or Alan Duncan.

    Were Liberal Democrat MP’s amongst those who cheered Duncan’s illuminating remarks?

  • @ Jayne Mansfield Hardly a Lib Dem MP in sight, only a fleeting glimpse of Tom Brake.

    Alan Duncan is, of course, is a specialist in getting the maximum out of his expenses :

    Dailyt Telegraph : “Alan Duncan, the senior Conservative MP who oversees the party’s policy on MPs’ expenses, claimed thousands of pounds for his garden – but stopped after agreeing with the fees office that his expenditure “could be considered excessive”.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Apr '16 - 11:32am

    David Raw 11th Apr ’16 – 9:05pm Tom Brake spoke about the former coalition, mentioned Danny Alexander and suggested that more Liberal Democrat ideas from the coalition period should be implemented. DC’s reply was polite and brief but bland.
    I thought I saw Norman Lamb when Caroline Lucas, former leader of the Green Party in England and Wales, was speaking.
    Jayne Mansfield 11th Apr ’16 – 8:50pm Dennis Skinner was on the BBC TV ten o’clock news. Laura K. was surely correct to say that he intended to be expelled, but sadly for BBC editing, there was nothing about the Speaker’s patience in allowing D. Skinner to withdraw or rephrase his comment. This Speaker gives out lots of yellow cards, but red cards are rare. I am reminded of the late Ian Paisley MP, MEP getting himself expelled from the European Parliament when the then Pope came to speak.

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