UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Boosting the economy: lower taxes, higher spending or both?


Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested he will push expansionary fiscal policies to help boost the economy. Brown’s comments were the latest in a series from him and Chancellor Alistair Darling stressing the importance of boosting the economy, which shrank in the third quarter of 2008 for the first time in 16 years and is expected to contract more sharply next year.

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has also put his weight behind “some fiscal stimulus”, just as the Bank predicted in its quarterly inflation report that the economy would shrink sharply next year.

But what is the way forward – tax cuts or higher public spending?

The dividing line between Brown and Tory leader David Cameron is whether to borrow to fund tax cuts. Cameron has argued that Britain’s deficit is too high to allow further borrowing. Brown says Cameron’s claim that he can pay for his tax cut by savings on welfare benefits isn’t realistic.

Tax cutting is a populist measure and it may be tempting for Brown, who no longer appears to be married to fiscal prudence, to go down that road, not least because of the backlash he faced earlier this year over scrapping the 10 percent tax band.

How long is a Mandelson?


mandelson5.jpgPeter Mandelson has told the Observer that he and Prime Minister Gordon Brown have put their differences behind them and the pair are now “joined at the hip”.

But that didn’t stop Conservative leader David Cameron enjoying a joke at Mandelson’s expense on BBC TV’s Politics Show.

Tories form an orderly queue for Dave


cameron2.jpgStockport councillor Linda Holt started the queue for David Cameron’s closing speech at 10 a.m. this morning — four and a half hours before the Conservative leader was due to walk onto the stage at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

With 10,000 registered attendees — the highest at a Tory conference for many years — and only 3,000 seats, an early start was essential for those wanting to be in the arena to hear Cameron’s hour-long address.

Does Glasgow spell the end of Gordon Brown?


gordon.jpgGordon Brown has woken to some unhappy headlines during his year as prime minister but the verdicts on newspaper websites following Labour’s shock defeat in the Glasgow East by-election were probably the worst he has faced.

“Disaster” was the description of the Daily Mail and The Independent after one of Labour’s safest seats fell to the Scottish National Party. The Daily Telegraph called it “Humiliation for Brown” while “Catastrophe for Labour” was The Guardian’s verdict.

Glasgow dire for Labour – but not Crewe


glasgowcampaign.jpgGlasgow East has a very different feel to Crewe as it gears up for Thursday’s by-election.

In Crewe and Nantwich voters were palpably enthused by the prospect of giving Gordon Brown and Labour a good kicking. They were aware of the national significance of a Tory victory and relished the chance to send Brown a stern message. Turnout was a high 58 percent and the Conservatives achieved a massive 17.6 percent swing to win the seat in May.

Was the Davis by-election a gimmick?


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daviddavis.jpgTo nobody’s great surprise, David Davis swept home at the “liberties” by-election in his Yorkshire seat that he himself had engineered by resigning.

Johnson overtakes Cameron


For the first time since he became mayor of London on May 2, Boris Johnson has overtaken Conservative leader David Cameron in “favourability”, according to an opinion tracker published on

Johnson scored a rating of 3, up from -7 at the end of April, while Cameron got rated 1, up from -5.

At a glance – election results

**Full coverage of the London mayor and local elections **

The election results for England and Wales at 8:00 p.m. with all 159 councils having officially declared.

Councillors   Councils   Party Won/lost Total Won/Lost Total Conservative +256 3154 +12 65 Labour -331 2368 -9 18 LibDem +34 1805 1 12 Plaid Cymru +33 207 -1 0 Other 5 893 0 0 NOC - - -3 64 Councils declared out of 159 total     159  

Source: BBC

Punch, Judy and shallow salesmen


rtx4lgl.jpgConservative Leader David Cameron conceded this week he had broken his promise to end “Punch and Judy” politics in the House of Commons.

“I will absolutely hold up my hands and say this is a promise I have not been able to deliver,” he told BBC Radio’s Today Programme on Tuesday.