This is probably not the kind of endorsement Downing Street expected.
Marine Le Pen, the new leader of the French National Front, has saluted David Cameron’s speech rejecting multiculturalism. Read more
How transparent is Merlin? George Osborne says it will make London the most transparent financial centre in the world on remuneration.
But that won’t mean the public will be able to gawp at the pay packages of the top earners at Britain’s biggest banks. Watch out for Merlin’s sleight of hand. Read more
You can read the news on the Merlin announcement here at ft.com. And here is the statement from George Osborne.
One interesting new detail is the focus on small business lending, for which the banks will have a target of £76bn – up 15 per cent on the previous year. That is a tougher target than the overall £190bn target, which is up just 6 per cent. This news will be welcomed by business groups, especially those which speak for SMEs. But it means that lending for large corporations (which are also engines for jobs growth) will remain roughly flat. Read more
Ed Miliband just quoted Paul Twivy, former chief executive of the Big Society Network, during prime minister’s questions. It’s worth repeating the quotation because I haven’t seen it in any newspaper before.
According to the Third Sector website, Twivy – who stepped down as ceo in October but is still involved in the network – admitted that the BS idea was not popular.
“The big society is a raw ideology promoted by the Prime Minister,” he said. “It is divisive even within the Cabinet, and it is increasingly loathed by the public. The problem with the big society is that we’ve had huge ideologies come and go before.”
It is a striking confession, coming from someone so closely involved in the Big Society, and one which Miliband used to deadly effect.
Cameron came off worse during today’s clash between the two leaders, attempting without much success to defend cuts to charity budgets. Read more
One Tory MP buttonholed me this morning to ask why the FT this morning carried a story about the donations from the Square Mile to his party. (Donations from financiers and City firms now account for more than half the £22.5m the Conservatives attracted last year.)
“You should hardly be surprised by now that your readers support our party,” he observed.
Up to a point, Lord Copper. Yes, the City has always backed the Tories (with a temporary swing away during the peak of New Labour) while the unions are the cornerstone of Labour.
Plus the proportion of City money going to the Tories has actually fallen from 52 per cent in 2009 to 51 per cent last year, if you look closely at the figures in the report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
But the underlying trend is still worth reporting (it’s also the splash in the Guardian) as it shows a medium-term rise in the proportion of funding from city sources – up from just 25 per cent in 2005. Read more