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Was the Queen’s speech pointless?

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LON700LibDem leader Nick Clegg had called for the speech to be cancelled because he says there is little chance of much legislation getting through before the coming general election. ”The speech will be dressed up as the way to ‘build Britain’s future’ when it will be little more than a rehearsal of the next Labour Party manifesto, an attempt to road-test policy gimmicks to see whether they might save this Government’s skin,” he said.”It is a waste of everyone’s time, and should be cancelled in favour of an emergency programme of political reform,” he added in the Independent. “That is the only job this rump of a Parliament is fit for.”The Conservatives piled in too, with their leader in the upper House, Lord Strathclyde saying that if the measures outlined were so important they would have been in the government’s legislative programme last year rather than being left to the last moment of the fifth term.Downing Street however called the speech a ”very focused programme” of legislation, while Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman said it contained important plans to foster economic growth and make the banks more accountable.What do you think?

from The Great Debate UK:

Will politicians come clean on tax hikes?

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As political parties step up their campaigning ahead of a general election due by June 2010, voters need to know exactly how politicians plan to tackle a projected deficit of 175 billion pounds, says Stephen Herring, senior tax partner at accountancy firm BDO LLP.

In a report titled "Time to Break the Silence" BDO suggests there will not only be cuts in public spending, but substantial business tax increases.

from Matt Falloon:

Labour lays down policy gauntlet


The Conservatives might be wishing they could have held their party conference before Labour.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's address to his party conference in Brighton on Tuesday has thrown down a flood of new ideas, policies and initiatives from faster cancer diagnosis to choosing how Britain votes in what read more like an mini-election manifesto than a speech.
Brown played to his strengths (policy) and avoided trying to overcome his well-known weaknesses (not much of a political entertainer) in public. Trying to be someone else could have been a disaster for a man way behind in the polls to the Conservatives.
Whether it will be enough to make any difference to the polls remains to be seen -- Labour needs a miracle there after all.
But, for now, going for the policy jugular seems to have done the trick -- giving his browbeaten party something to get excited about and hitting the Conservatives where it hurts.
David Cameron's Conservatives have been accused of not giving enough detail on how they would govern the country if the polls are correct and they are to win power next year.
They will have to start showing their hand soon if they are going to convince voters that they have the ideas to run the country and aren't just a vote for change for the sake of it.

Liberal Democrats and the balance of power

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David LawsA senior Liberal Democrat has lifted a lid on the murky world of coalition politics – a touchy subject for the party which last tasted national power in Britain in the brief Lib-Lab pact of the late 1970s.

Leader Nick Clegg says he is not wasting a “millisecond” speculating on the outcome of the coming general election, expected next May.

Was Norwich North just a local protest vote?

At 27, the Conservative candidate in the Norwich North by-election Chloe Smith becomes the youngest MP in the Commons.

She turned Labour’s 5,000-plus majority in the seat into a 7,348-vote winning margin and keeps the Conservative bandwagon rolling. The election had been forced by the resignation of Labour MP Ian Gibson, who claimed almost 80,000 pounds in second home expenses on a London flat which he later sold at a knock-down price to his daughter.

Where would you cut public spending?

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Vows by Labour and the Conservatives to protect the NHS from spending cuts will require tax hikes or cuts to other areas, a new report shows.

Promises to “ring-fence” health spending in the lead-up to the next election — to be held before June — might lead to cuts of about 8 percent in other departments over the next six years, say researchers at the King’s Fund and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

What if it’s not the economy, stupid?

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Gordon Brown is counting on a swift economic turnaround. It’s probably his Labour Party’s only hope of avoiding a humiliating electoral defeat to the Conservatives next year.

The latest news on the economy has certainly got people in Downing Street smiling. The housing market is stabilising and some commentators are even talking about Britain becoming the first major country to pull out of the recession.

Getting a nose in front

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Hosting a shindig conference at one of Britain’s most prestigious racecourses in the genteel spa town of Cheltenham hardly sends out a message that David Cameron’s opposition Conservatives are trying to reach out to the masses.

But the decision to come to the rolling hills of the Cotswolds sheds light on one of the obstacles standing between Cameron and the keys to No. 10 Downing Street.

Another bumper Budget?

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All we’ve heard for the past few weeks is how little room there is for Labour to pump more money into the economy to fight the recession.

The increasingly popular — and confident — opposition Conservatives have gained ground by blaming Prime Minister Gordon Brown for turning the public purse into a public hearse.

from MacroScope:

Brown gets helping hand from Obama

He loves the Queen and the British people. Truth be told, President Obama was always going to be a hit on his first overseas trip.

But Gordon Brown probably could not believe his luck. The prime minister just could not stop grinning as he stood next to the new president at a news conference in the Foreign Office ahead of the G20 summit.

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