UK politics

Jim Pickard

There was a touch of swagger about George Osborne on Wednesday as he told the country he had created a “strong” economy and could afford to divert billions of pounds of extra cash towards the NHS and a new road-building programme.

The public finances were in a “stronger” state than expected with a surplus expected by the end of the decade, he promised: “Out of the red and into the black for the first time in a generation.” Read more

Jonathan Eley

On Wednesday, December 3, the chancellor will deliver the final Autumn Statement before the 2015 general election.

There will be extensive coverage of the chancellor’s speech live on ft.com. And from 3pm on December 3, a panel of personal finance experts will be on hand to answer your questions about its contents. Submit your questions in the live reader comments field or email the Money team at money@ft.com at any time up to and during the live Q&A. We will choose a selection for our panel to answer.

On the panel are:

  • Nimesh Shah, partner at Blick Rothenberg
  • Jason Butler, financial planner at Bloomsbury Wealth and author of the FT Guide to Wealth Management
  • Claire Evans, tax partner in the Birmingham office of Deloitte

The discussion will be moderated by James Pickford, FT Money deputy editor, and Jonathan Eley, FT Money editor

 

Jim Pickard

Ed Miliband has fought 20 by-elections as leader of the Labour party: during this time he has gained one seat (Corby) and lost another (Bradford West).

There is a historic parallel for this achievement and it is not one that Mr Miliband will like to be reminded of. Read more

Clacton

UKIP candidate Douglas Carswell won 21,113 votes, or 59.7% of the total, in Thursday’s by-election. This was 12,404 more than Conservative candidate Giles Watline, who came in second with 8,709 votes, or 24.6%. Read more

Jim Pickard

1] Dislike of the “Westminster elite”.

 

The SNP are poles apart from Ukip when it comes to their actual policies: the former is pro-European and broadly left-wing, the latter the opposite.

But there is a palpable read-across from the 45 per cent of Scots who voted “Yes” for independence last month and the huge numbers of English voters who backed Ukip on Thursday.

Both parties are mining the same seam of discontentment about the main three parties in Westminster.

Labour and Tory activists say they are getting the same negative message on the doorsteps, Read more

Maija Palmer

The dust has settled on the Scottish independence referendum. Where does the 55 per cent No vote leave our panel? Are they still speaking to friends and family?

Jill, a staunch No voter, laments the divisions the referendum have left within families and the overall fabric of Scottish society. She would like to put the whole issue behind her and move on. Read more

Jim Pickard

1] Don’t put too much faith in a single poll.

It was the Sunday Times YouGov poll – putting Yes at 51 per cent – which threw everyone into a blind panic. In retrospect that was a statistical outlier. The first rule of polls is always to ignore a single poll. That was thrown out of the window as Westminster woke up to the implications of the United Kingdom breaking up. Read more

Jim Pickard

Boris Johnson has teased Rupert Murdoch for his flirtation with Scottish independence, saying the media baron need look no further than his own business to understand the meaning of “Better Together”.

The London mayor joked that he wanted to see the four parts of the union kept together: The Sun, the Sun on Sunday, the Times and the Sunday Times, referring to Mr Murdoch’s four British newspapers: “It would be insane, to put that history, that union, that great collective endeavour at risk and to break up those titles, as some have from time to time suggested should be done.” Read more

Maija Palmer

With only days to go until the vote, our panelists have all made up their minds. Of our three undecided voters two have gone over to the Yes camp, and one is planning to vote No, albeit with a heavy heart.

Our panel don’t believe the vote will be as close as polls currently suggest. But if it is, there are some fears about reprisals and the prospect of a ‘neverendum’ with the Yes campaign unwilling to stop pushing for another vote. Read more

Jim Pickard

The Romans used to predict the future by examining the entrails of dead animals. These days we use opinion polls, often with similarly haphazard results.

Even some of the most robust Westminster commentators are refusing to make firm bets about how the landscape will look after next May’s general election. It will be the closest fought, most unpredictable, most exciting battle for a generation. Read more

Maija Palmer

Alex Salmond’s impassioned plea for Scottish independence may have won over unsure voters, say our Scottish reader panel. As a snap poll by Guardian/ICM found Mr Salmond to have won Monday night’s television debate by a margin of 71 per cent to 29 per cent, even our panellists in the No camp had to admit that Scotland’s first minister had been the better speaker.

  Read more

Maija Palmer

With the No campaign still holding onto a poll lead, talk has turned to ‘devo max’, the devolution of further powers to Scotland and the competing visions from the main UK political parties.

Our panel of Scots is not impressed. In a surprise moment of agreement, both the No and Yes supporters find ‘devo max’ distasteful. The Yes supporters suspect the proposals would give Scotland no benefits, only the potential for budget cuts. The No supporters don’t wish to see more power given to an SNP-dominated Holyrood parliament. Read more