Sitting in the Commons chamber for business questions today, I was startled to hear an apparently frank admission from Vince Cable to a question from Gordon Banks, the shadow business minister.
Other ministers (including the chancellor) have insisted that Project Merlin, the deal between the government and the banks to increase gross lending to businesses, has been a success. But Cable apparently disagreed.
Here is the full exchange: Read more
The FT has a big analysis piece today on how hedge funds became some of the Tories’ biggest donors. The graphic below displays how important the industry has become for filling the party coffers, and how quickly that has happened. If you want to analyse the full graphic, along with details of who the donors are, follow this link (behind the paywall).
A couple of interesting points to note from the analysis too: Read more
Nick Clegg is to sound a critical note against his Tory cabinet colleagues by warning in a speech that the debate about cuts should not become “polarised” between the public sector and the private sector.
The deputy prime minister’s comments at 10am this morning will be seen as a riposte to those Tory ministers who are ideologically keen to see the influence of the state reduced as a result of the deficit reduction programme.
“I know that some of our public sector workers bristle when they hear ministers talk about paring back the public sector,” the Lib Dem leader will say.
“If we play into these bygone caricatures of the left and the right, if we allow our society to fracture into these camps, that is the surest way to drag the UK back to the 1980s.”
Mr Clegg will make the comments as he sets out plans for England’s largest cities to take greater autonomy over their transport systems and housing under a “dramatic shift in power”.
The deputy prime minister and cities minister Greg Clark will offer individual “city deals” to the eight main regional conurbations under which they could each have “one consolidated capital pot to direct as they see fit”.
But Mr Clegg’s speech is likely to attract attention for his defence of government workers Read more