UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from MacroScope:

‘Ken Clarke for Chancellor’ is no joke

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Ken Clarke shouldn’t underestimate how strongly the city economists polled by Reuters last week want to see him serve as Britain’s finance minister next term.

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The Conservative shadow business secretary and one time ex-Chancellor gleaned a few laughs from Thursday’s BBC Question Time audience when asked about the poll, saying: “There’s a limit to how much of a glutton for punishment you’re going to be.”

But economists would dearly like to see the 69-year-old’s appetite for punishment return soon. No-one came close in the Reuters poll to touching Clarke for popularity. Some 16 out of 29 economists picked him as their first choice for Chancellor.

This was more than twice the number of economists who want to install second-placed Vince Cable, the experienced Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman whose quick wit has made him a public favourite.

Budget for votes riskily delays UK debt pain

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BRITAIN-BUDGET/– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Alistair Darling promised no election “giveaways” and in one sense he delivered. The UK finance minister’s budget is about not giving away the election. It might have been worse — if Darling had acceded to his boss Gordon Brown’s even more populist instincts. But there are vote-seeking swipes at high earners and banks, as well as a crowd-pleasing but misguided tax cut to first-time house-buyers. The UK’s budget-balancing pain is being postponed and concealed. And that’s risky.

Hug a politician: the new election strategy

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brown_cameronYou know an election campaign is in full swing the world over when pictures start appearing of politicians kissing babies. But with a general election now just two months away, UK politicians seem to be have found new targets for their displays of affection: each other.

It started with Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. After stories that the Prime Minister and his Chancellor had fallen out with one another over an interview in which Darling accused Brown aides of having “unleashed the forces of hell” at him, the two popped up at the weekly Prime Minister’s questions almost arm in arm.

What is Alistair Darling up to?

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darling Normally regarded as a safe pair of hands, Chancellor Alistair Darling raised hell on Tuesday night by confirming on live television what everyone in Westminster has believed for some time.

That was that there were people who worked for the prime minister who briefed against him after he told a magazine interviewer in 2008 that the country was facing the worst economic conditions in 60 years.

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

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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.

Too big to fail? Guerrilla central banking and the last resort

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ukreuterscomDeciding it was safe to come clean because banks are now on a more even keel and the worst of the credit crisis is behind us, the Bank of England has told the nation that at the height of the turmoil it secretly lent Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS a colossal £62 billion, which is more than the entire British defence budget.

Both banks faced the imminent closure of high street cash machines and the curtailment of normal banking operations across the country.

from The Great Debate UK:

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.

Financial regulation plan: white paper or white flag?

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Chancellor Alistair Darling set out new plans to strengthen regulation of financial markets on Wednesday. The white paper proposes enforcing higher levels of capital for banks and increasing liquidity to prevent a re-run of the credit crunch.

Darling wants banking pay packages to be policed and for a new Council for Financial Stability to bring together the work of the Bank of England, Financial Services Authority and the Treasury.

Punters cash in on Darling’s budget tie choice

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Smokers and top earners were clear losers in Britain’s budget this year, as the government hiked taxes on cigarettes and the highest incomes.

 

But a lucky few must have been cheering in front of their televisions during the 51-minute speech.

What did you think of the Budget?

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Chancellor Alistair Darling has made his second annual Budget speech to parliament. Among the measures announced to the House were an increase in petrol duty of 2p per litre in September and a 2 percent increase in alcohol and tobacco duties from tonight.

Darling also announced a scrappage scheme offering £2,000 to people trading in cars older than 10 years for a newer vehicle. From next April there will be a new top tax rate of 50 percent for those earning more than 150,000 pounds a year.

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