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The private sector vs. definitions of fairness

– Ingrid Smith is Business Planning Editor,  Reuters Consumer Television –

Sitting in the auditorium of the London School of Economic’s Old Theatre earlier this month, I listened to Lord Turner pose the question – in rich societies is there a clear correlation between increased wealth and human well being?

An apt question indeed from the chairman of the soon-to-be-defunct UK Financial Services Authority, in light of the UK coalition government’s austerity review.

On the international stage, the OECD has described the spending review as “tough, necessary and courageous.”

MPs and the property market: an uneasy pairing

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BRITAIN-ELECTION/Would you have an MP for a tenant? Not so long ago, those two letters placed after a person’s name were seen as a mark of respectability, but the unending drama of the expenses scandal has blown all that away.

New rules, brought in after revelations last year about MPs “flipping” their main and second homes to maximise allowances, stipulate that MPs can no longer buy second homes and claim mortgage payments on expenses. If they wish to claim expenses related to a second home, they will have to be content with renting one.

Reality intrudes on new British political order

cameron_cleggBritain’s new political order was on display in the House of Commons on Tuesday when Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg squeezed  happily between Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague  on the government front bench.

The house was packed and in an excited, start-of-term mood. Everything was going swimmingly, with former Conservative minister Peter Lilley cracking jokes as he gaves what is typically a light-hearted response to the Queen’s Speech.

George Osborne takes risk with rhetoric

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George Osborne once said he spends more time thinking about politics than he does about economics.

Now that he’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, he probably needs to think about the latter a bit more.

New politics? Looks like more of the same to me

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When I interviewed David Cameron earlier this year after an event at Thomson Reuters in which he, George Osborne and Ken Clarke delivered their views on the economy under a “Vote For Change” banner, I suggested that watching three white, middle-aged men talking about what was good for Britain didn’t feel much like change to me. Cameron jokingly replied that Clarke, 69, would be flattered to be described as middle-aged.

The Conservative leader then shifted in his seat, sat up straight and talked seriously about all the hard work his party was doing to field more female and ethnic minority candidates. His new Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, talks repeatedly of a “new politics” and how this time politicians will do things differently.

How long can the negotiations go on?

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It should have been all over now. But no, we’re on day five and no one really seems to know which way things are going to go.

All over Westminster, people are looking tired. Journalists, politicians, aides and most of all the 24-hour news anchors.

Irish lesson for Clegg: get coalition right or face oblivion

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If the Irish experience of coalition politics is anything to go by, Nick Clegg risks a lot more than unpopularity if he strikes a half-baked coalition deal with the Conservative Party. He also faces electoral oblivion should he fail to win enough concessions and power to carry his grassroots supporters with him.

Ireland’s pro-business Progressive Democrats (PDs) — relatively loyal junior coalition partners in successive administrations led by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern — imploded at the last Irish general election, winning just two seats in parliament. They subsequently disbanded altogether.

Third-world voting system in UK? No, not really

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The airwaves have been filled with comments from furious voters who were unable to cast their ballots last night. We Brits think we can go around the world lecturing other countries on how to hold democratic elections, they say. But we can’t do it ourselves! We’re no better than those third-world countries!

I certainly wouldn’t want to minimise the frustration of the hundreds of people who wanted to vote and were not given a chance because of administrative mess-ups. I would be absolutely livid if it had happened to me.

Elections don’t get more exciting than this

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It’s going to be a long night! Cliffhanger, nailbiter, whatever you want to call it — it doesn’t get more exciting than this.

Polls closed just over two hours ago and the exit polls show we are clearly in hung parliament territory. The Conservatives are projected to have the most seats at 305, but that’s 21 seats short of an overall majority.

Twitter users still agree with Nick

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One the eve of the general election, our exclusive Twitter analysis of political sentiment shows that while the latest opinion polls point to a late rally by Gordon Brown’s Labour Party, users of the micro-blogging site still favour Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats over the other two main parties.

US market research firm Crimson Hexagon (on behalf of Reuters.co.uk) has been archiving all tweets on British politics since March 22 and analysing them for positive and negative sentiment. All parties have had their ups and downs, most notably in the aftermath of the first leaders’ debate (which led to a spike in support for the LibDems and the hashtag #iagreewithnick trending on Twitter) and Gordon Brown’s “bigot” gaffe in Rochdale,which gave us the highest percentage of negative tweets for any party during the campaign.

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