Monthly Archives: December 2011

Kiran Stacey

The FT reports this morning that payday lenders (or legal loan sharks as they are also known) have been flooding into the country looking to take advantage of hard-up recession-hit borrowers and the UK’s lax lending laws. Borrowing at rates of up to 5,000 per cent, customers can find their debts escalating at a startling pace.

Even though many other countries have interest rate caps, the UK has never gone down that route. The government has always said it is wary of implementing such a cap in case it pushes poor people into the hands of illegal loan sharks instead.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has also waged a long campaign to get the government to crack down on these companies, and now her campaign is gaining momentum. Read more

Kiran Stacey

The Independent has a terrific scoop today on how Bell Pottinger, the PR firm chaired by Lord Bell, Baroness Thatcher’s former media adviser, has been promising potential clients access to senior figures in Number 10.

Perhaps the most damaging part of the story for the government is the boast from Tim Collins, managing director of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, that he was able to get David Cameron to raise the issue of intellectual property with the Chinese government on behalf of Dyson, one of their clients.

The paper quotes Collins as saying: Read more

Kiran Stacey

Reading accounts of the deal agreed between Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel last night to impose new rules on EU countries to guarantee fiscal discipline, you might think the two countries were uniting to save the Eurozone from its more profligate members.

But which two countries first broke the rule that deficits should not go above 3 per cent of GDP? It was France and Germany, back in 2003. What’s more, the two then united to make sure that they wouldn’t face sanctions for doing so – effectively destroying the rules (known as the “growth and stability pact”) altogether.

What’s more, they were supported in this action by the UK (otherwise known as the country that like to lecture others on fiscal discipline). Gordon Brown was chancellor at the time. Read more

Jim Pickard

Rather a strong question in the heading, you might think. But when YouGov asked thousands of people about the characteristics of our national leaders the replies were striking.

Asked whether leaders were “strong” the replies were Cameron 18 per cent, Ed Miliband 7 per cent and Nick Clegg4 per cent.

On “good in a crisis“, it was Cameron 13 per cent, Miliband 4 per cent and Clegg 3 per cent.

In touch with ordinary people” produced a different result with Cameron on 8 per cent, Miliband on 21 per cent and Clegg on 11 per cent. (Miliband was also slightly ahead on ‘honest‘).

As for “natural leader“, Cameron was on 17 per cent with Miliband and Clegg both tied on 5 per cent.

The most striking angle is not who comes out with the most popular personality but just how low the scores are throughout; suggesting the low regard with which our political leaders are held.

With eight positive characteristics to choose from, 58 per cent of those surveyed – when asked to describe Nick Clegg – replied “none of these”.

More broadly, Labour – who might be expected to do well out of the government’s economic difficulties – appears to be treading water in the polls. Sunday’s ICM poll Read more

Kiran Stacey

A British protester burns an EU flag

A British protester burns an EU flag

Two sources who would know have told members of our political team that the chances of having a referendum on EU membership this parliament are very low indeed.

One ruled it out altogether, the other said the “number one priority” of coalition policy on Europe was  not to have one.

David Cameron pretty much guaranteed that today when he said there would only be a referendum “if a new treaty passes powers from UK to Brussels” adding:


As Prime Minister, I do not think the issue will arise.

 Read more