The most interesting thing about today’s session of prime minister’s questions was not the contest between Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman (although Harman was, as always, an impressive stand-in, and Clegg did better than he previously has), but the reaction of Tory backbenchers, who were given their chance to put the deputy PM on the spot.
Clegg always struggles a bit in PMQs, partly through no fault of his own – his parliamentary party is simply not big enough to give him loud support against the heckles of Labour and the silence of many of the Tories who enjoy seeing him squirm.
But things were even worse today. Not only did his coalition colleagues fail to lend him their vocal support, but several of them openly tried to attack or embarrass him. Read more
Terry Smith, chief executive of Tullett Prebon, was among those making the case this evening for bigger, deeper cuts at a fringe event. The businessman called for a Plan B: not the “Keynesian stance of Ed Balls” but something else: “Deeper cuts, or, real cuts, we haven’t really had any cuts so far.”
Clearly this would not be music to the ears of the left; but then Smith estimates that Britain’s real debt (including pension liabilities, PFI commitments, bank guarantees etc) is about £3.6 trillion – or £60,000 per capita.
He warned that the biggest areas of public employment – public sector, housing and finance – were unlikely to experience growth in the near future. Cuts were inevitable: “It’s only a question of when the markets will impose them.”
His counter-intuitive theory is that banks don’t have enough capital to lend because people will not deposit money with them when interest Read more