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from The Great Debate UK:

Send your questions to Alistair Darling

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.

From the crippling global recession to the debate over bankers' bonuses, it has been a tumultuous year at Number 11 Downing Street. You may want to quiz the Chancellor on one of these topics, ask him about the government's plans to prevent another downturn or how Labour plan to defy the polls and win the upcoming general election.

During the interview we will put as many of your questions as possible to the Chancellor and will be running a liveblog of the event, much like we did during this social media interview with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Clouds of change: Buzzwords from conference season


dave1Opposition leader David Cameron has delivered his speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester.******Cameron told delegates there would be “painful” cuts in public spending, promised to send more troops to Afghanistan and stressed the importance of confronting “Labour’s debt crisis.” He also pledged to modernise the pension system, “break the cycle of welfare dependency” and cut back on bureaucracy to make life easier for entrepreneurs.******Cameron’s speech brings conference season to an end. Leaders of the three main parties — Cameron, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats — have all laid out their plans for Britain ahead of a general election due by June 2010.******The ‘word clouds’ below have been generated using the complete texts from each of the leaders’ keynote conference speeches, in the order they were given. At first glance there are some striking similarities and fascinating overlaps — but we will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.******How did you think each of the leaders performed? Who did you find the most convincing? Is David Cameron ready to lead the country?******Keywords from Nick Clegg’s speech:******cleggwordcloud2****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******Keywords from Gordon Brown’s speech:******brownwordcloud3****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******Keywords from David Cameron’s speech:******cameronwordcloud

People, Britain and change – Brown’s speech keywords


Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised to clean up politics, get tough on crime in his keynote speech to the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton. He also pledged to address the bonus culture that many blame for the financial crisis.

The ‘Word Cloud’ below (click the image for a larger view), produced by Wordle, shows the words he used most frequently.

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.

from The Great Debate UK:

Government must deliver on Olympic legacy promise

robertson1- Hugh Robertson is the opposition Conservatives' Olympics spokesman. The views expressed are his own. -

With three years to go, it is remarkable that London 2012 is going so well.

London’s Olympics were launched with a massive government miscalculation that resulted in the budget having to be increased threefold, were based on a plan that required us to build two Terminal 5s in half the time and have had to contend with the worst economic recession in living memory.

How should Britain prosecute its drugs strategy?


Britain’s drug strategy is under the spotlight following the UK Drug Policy Commission’s (UKDPC) recommendation that there is too much energy spent on arresting drug dealers and not enough on reducing harm to communities.

Latest figures show that nearly 90,000 people were arrested in England and Wales for drug offences, with over one billion pounds spent on law enforcement, with £17.6 billion the estimated cost of the UK drug markets.

When will Britain bin its plastic bag habit?


Seven leading supermarkets and their customers are finding it slow going to stop using plastic bags.

Over the last three years supermarkets have reduced the number of bags from 870 million to 452 million, just failing to meet a government target to cut the number by half.

How should we fund care for the elderly?


Plans to overhaul care services for the elderly will involve creating a national care service, giving all citizens a basic entitlement and contribution to their care.

Plans outlined in a new Green Paper called “Shaping the Future of Care Together” would require people to buy insurance to supplement state funding.

Is RBS chief Stephen Hester worth £9.6m?


As chief executive for a company that is 70 percent owned by the government, a 9.6 million pounds pay package is quite a tidy sum.

It is a package that makes Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester almost as well as paid as the Real Madrid-bound Cristiano Ronaldo.

Should Joanna Lumley be allowed to dictate Gurkha policy?


While Gordon Brown increasingly draws comparisons to the mortally wounded bull gasping his last at a Spanish corrida, one personality at Westminster  has been putting on a show of decisive policy-making that has brought the bloodthirsty crowd to its feet.

Totally at ease with publicity, absurdly photogenic and much loved amongst the electorate at large, actress Joanna Lumley — AbFab’s Patsy to the younger ones, The Avengers’ Purdy to more seasoned TV viewers — has provided Westminster watchers with an object lesson in how to get things done.