The Great Debate UK

from UK News:

Has Alistair Darling done enough to revive Labour’s electoral hopes?

So how was it for you?

Chancellor Alistair Darling threw the dice in his pre-budget report in an attempt to bolster Labour's chances of winning the general election in 2010.

From hitting bankers with a one-off bonus tax to lowering bingo duty, Darling played to the Labour heartlands, while hoping to win back voters who have been telling pollsters that they are done with Gordon Brown.

Other measures included the return of full value added tax in January, a 2.5 percent rise in the basic state pension, a 1.5 percent increase in child benefit, as well as help for small businesses and various initiatives to boost the government’s green credentials.

All this while admitting that the recession was worse than he had predicted, with the economy shrinking by 4.75 percent in 2009.

from Breakingviews:

Brown’s financial tax call falls flat

OUKTP-UK-G20Brown's bid to depict himself as the saviour of the world economy and champion of Joe Taxpayer against Big Finance fell flat at the weekend.

So keen is the British prime minister to airbrush out his decade as a "light touch" finance minister that he embraced the heretical idea of a levy on financial transactions as one way to make banks pay for future bail-outs -- the so-called Tobin tax.

Send your questions to Alistair Darling

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darlingDo you have a question you would like to ask Chancellor Alistair Darling? Now is your chance.

At 1:30pm British time on Wednesday, October 21, Reuters is hosting an exclusive Web 2.0 interview with Darling and we want you to send us your questions to put to the top man from the Treasury.

Pensioners must shop around to get best annuity

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hunt- Stephen Hunt is managing director of Rockingham Retirement. The opinions expressed are his own. -

If we keep going the way we are, disaster looms for millions of over-60’s in the United Kingdom.

Brown must create Afghanistan war cabinet

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richard-kemp2- Col. Richard Kemp is a former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and the author of Attack State Red, an account of British military operations in Afghanistan published by Penguin. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Disillusionment with the inability of the Kabul administration to govern fairly or to significantly reduce violence played a role in the reportedly low turnout at the polls in Helmand.

It is up to us, not politicians, to clean up politics

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guy123- Guy Aitchison is a contributing editor at openDemocracy and writes regularly for its UK blog, OurKingdom -

The Labour politician and intellectual Richard Crossman once described the British constitution, with a sovereign Parliament at its centre, as a “rock” against periodic “waves of popular emotion”.

The politicians we deserve?

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Laurence Copeland- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The unending saga of MPs’ expenses has to be seen in perspective. Of all the dishonest things that politicians do, inflating their expenses is about the least damaging. At their worst, they lie to us whenever they think it politic to do so and knowingly favour policies which suit their own interests rather than those of the country. How can this happen? After all, in a democracy the interests of government are supposed to be aligned with those of the electorate, aren’t they?

Britain’s malaise, a view from the continent

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paul-taylor– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

“All political careers end in failure,” the late British Conservative Enoch Powell famously said. And perhaps all political cycles end in scandal.

Leaking in the public interest

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nicholas-jonesNicholas Jones is the author of Trading Information: Leaks, Lies and Tip-offs (Politico’s, 2006). He is a member of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.

Whatever reservations there might be over the way the leaked information was obtained, the publication of hitherto secret details about the endemic abuse of MPs’ expenses was without doubt in the public interest.

Another fine mess, Darling

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REUTERS– Neil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

“You wanted to see me, prime minister?”

“Ah, Gus, do come in. Rather awkward. Something we didn’t think of in the Chancellor’s pension proposals — I always said Alistair didn’t have the intellectual firepower to take my job.”

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