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April 10, 2015

Labour grabs poll lead in UK General Election campaign

Labour grabs poll lead in UK General Election campaign

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Friday, April 10, 2015

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Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Image: Department of Energy.

The approval ratings of UK Labour leader Ed Miliband rose above those of his Conservative opponent, David Cameron, for the first time in this year’s bitterly fought general election campaign. The poll results showed support for the Labour Party was also rising.

A poll by Panelbase yesterday showed Labour six points ahead; a similar survey by Survation for the Daily Mirror showed Labour four points ahead of the Conservatives. This latter poll was mixed for the Labour leader as it showed only 25% of voters were convinced Miliband was suited to the job of Prime Minister while 37% preferred David Cameron, but it also shows that people preferred Miliband’s recent conduct as party leader to Cameron’s. A poll by TNS found a three point lead for Labour.

ComRes polling indicated the eventual outcome of the election is too close to call, projecting the Conservatives with 34% of the vote and Labour 33%.

Following the poll results, the Conservative Party fired a volley of negative remarks towards Labour. Defense secretary Michael Fallon said Ed Miliband would end up signing up for “a grubby backstairs deal” with the Scottish National Party (SNP) which would lead to the cancellation or non-renewal of the Trident nuclear submarine programme. The Labour Party have stated they support the continuation of Trident and will not negotiate on Trident with the SNP.

Fallon’s comments on Trident were backed up by David Cameron.

The Labour Party counter-claimed a deal between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had put the cost of Trident renewal up by £1.4bn.

Miliband responded to Fallon’s comments: “Michael Fallon is a decent man, but today I think he has demeaned himself and he has demeaned his office. National security is too important to play politics with and I will never compromise national security.”

Former Labour leader Tony Blair said Fallon’s remarks hinted at desperation: “The Tories were up to their old tricks in their personal attack on Ed this morning. I remember the ‘demon eyes’ poster of 1997. It is always a sign of desperation and it will backfire. It shows how nervous they are of a Labour campaign full of confidence, which is showing that it understands the challenges facing working people and how to overcome them. The more they indulge in these tactics the better we should feel.”

Liberal Democrat Vince Cable expressed his displeasure at Fallon’s remarks, saying it was “an appalling way to conduct the argument”.

The two main parties have also proposed a number of new ideas for policy. Labour’s Yvette Cooper is to formally announce a new policy today to protect 10,000 police officers’ jobs by eliminating elected Police and Crime Commissioners and gun licensing subsidy, and sharing of police back-office services and procurement. The Labour crime and justice manifesto also includes creating a new commission on sexual and domestic violence, banning “legal highs“, and reforming prisons to introduce more education and work for prisoners.

Conservative Cameron pre-announced a proposal to change the rules so workers in the public sector and for companies with 250 employees or more — which between the two is estimated to be around half the work force — would be entitled to three days of paid volunteering leave per year. In prepared remarks, Cameron is to call the move represents the “clearest demonstration of the Big Society in action”. This marks a return of the language of the ‘Big Society’ which had slowly disappeared from use since the last election.



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March 20, 2013

British Chancellor George Osborne downgrades growth forecast in annual budget

British Chancellor George Osborne downgrades growth forecast in annual budget

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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A file photo of the British Chancellor George Osborne.
Image: HM Treasury.

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered the budget today, an annually-held audit of the country’s finances deciding how taxpayers’ money should be spent. He set out plans to boost the housing market in his fourth budget, as well as stating the economy will grow by 0.6% — half his prediction four months ago.

George Osborne revealed plans to improve the housing market, including a “Help to Buy” shared equity scheme which would offer buyers who can place a 5% deposit on a new house, a 20% loan to buy it. He said: “This is a budget for those who aspire to own their own home”. He also offered a new Mortgage Guarantee, created in conjunction with mortgage lenders — the scheme would allow them to offer loans to homeowners without the need for a large deposit and offer guarantees to support up to £130bn of lending for three years beginning in 2014.

As a measure to attract investment to the British economy, he announced to reduce corporation tax from 21% to 20% taking effect from April 2015. The rate of corporation tax has fallen from 28% in 2010 to the current level of 21%. The United Kingdom is to have lower rates of corporation tax than the USA at 40%, France at 33%, and Germany at 29%.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) stated the government debt reduction programme to reduce the budget deficit will miss its targets. The government has forecast the total public sector debt will begin to fall by the financial year 2015/2016, while OBR says national debt will reach a high of 85.6% of GDP, £1.58 trillion, in 2016/17. Osborne defended the government efforts to reduce the deficit and said: “Our judgement has since been supported by the IMF, the OECD and the Governor of the Bank of England.”

In response to the Budget speech, the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband said: “At the worst possible time for the country. It’s a downgraded budget from a downgraded Chancellor […] Debt is higher in every year of this Parliament than he forecast at the last Budget. He is going to borrow £200 billion more than he planned.”

The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls said to The Independent, “They are borrowing £245bn more in this Parliament, we said all along …said this two years ago, if they had moved more quickly with a sensible, targeted package of measures to kick-start the economy, which would have meant at that time more borrowing for a VAT [Value Added Tax] cut to bring forward housing investment, then we would have got the economy growing and the deficit coming down.”

The Business Secretary Vince Cable told the BBC in an interview, the “age of austerity” would probably end within the current decade, but made no more definite forecast.

The head of the British Federation of Small Businesses, John Walker, said: “The Budget opens the door for small businesses to grow and create jobs. The Chancellor has pulled out all the stops with a wide ranging package of measures to support small business. […] [W]e are pleased to see the scrapping of the 3p fuel duty due in September”.

Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite the Union, criticized the budget for not helping working families. He said: “This is a Budget for the few by the few that attacks the many. Millionaires are days away from getting a £40,000 tax cut from the Tories, but George Osborne is using the budget to attack hard-working public sector workers. The worst chancellor in British history has gone further by giving big business another tax cut while staff caring for the sick get pay cuts. […] [H]e should have raised the national minimum wage by £1 and drop the senseless plan to give millionaires a tax break in a few days’ time”.



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January 9, 2012

British PM says executive pay to be put to shareholder vote

British PM says executive pay to be put to shareholder vote

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Monday, January 9, 2012

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British shareholders will be able to veto executive pay packages according to statements yesterday by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Cameron said he wanted to allow shareholders to make a “straight shareholder vote on executive pay packages”. Shareholders can only submit a non-binding advisory vote on executive remunerations under current law. The move comes amid growing political pressure and public criticism over excessive pay for chief executives even when a business has failed.

Details of such a scheme may be revealed with an anticipated package of reforms under the portfolio of Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition, said the public would not accept the government’s policy. “Does anyone really believe that David Cameron came into politics to create more responsible capitalism?” he asked rhetorically.

The Labour Party has also called for measures to monitor and reel in exorbitant executive salaries. On Saturday, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said a “better capitalism” needs greater transparency. Mr Umanna said this could take the form of publishing pay ratios of chief executives compared to their employees.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged support for reeling in executive pay.



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April 16, 2011

UK to ban export of lethal injection drugs to US

UK to ban export of lethal injection drugs to US

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

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Lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison, California.

Britain announced Thursday that it will ban the export to the US of three pharmaceutical drugs used for lethal injections in executions under the death penalty.

The three drugs are pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable said the order will be formalized within the next few days.

Cable issued a statement saying, “We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and are clear that British drugs should not be used to carry out lethal injections. That is why we introduced a control on sodium thiopental last year—the first of its kind in the world. And it is also why we are now controlling the export of the other drugs used in lethal injections in the US.”

Cable said he was requesting all countries in the EU to do the same in order to effectively control the export of these drugs.

Britain blocked the export of sodium thiopental in November after the human rights group Reprieve sued the government to stop its exportation to the US. Sodium thiopental had been sold to the Department of Corrections in two states, Georgia and Arizona, by a small wholesaler in London. The drug is legally used for lethal injections in the US but is in short supply there.

Pentobarbital, a sedative, is used to control continuous epileptic seizures, as well as to treat a variety of other medical conditions. After sodium thiopental became scarce in the US late last year, the US began to use pentobarbital as a substitute.

The Death Penalty Information Center said in December that executions in the US had declined in 2010 compared to previous years, partly as a result of a sodium thiopental shortage.

Cquote1.svg We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and are clear that British drugs should not be used to carry out lethal injections. Cquote2.svg

—Vince Cable, UK Business Secretary

The UK government said in a press release: “Having consulted UK suppliers of these drugs and other interested parties, the Government is satisfied that legitimate medical trade will not be hampered by the decision.”



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December 21, 2010

British Business Secretary Cable stripped of powers after \’totally unacceptable and inappropriate\’ comments

British Business Secretary Cable stripped of powers after ‘totally unacceptable and inappropriate’ comments

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Economy and business
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British Business Secretary Vince Cable
Image: Office of Nick Clegg.

British Business Secretary Vince Cable has tonight been reprimanded by Prime Minister David Cameron after saying he was “at war” with Rupert Murdoch over News Corporation‘s attempts to take full control of BSkyB.

Cable will remain in the cabinet, but he will have no further role in the takeover bid. A statement released by officials in Downing Street said Cable’s comments were “totally unacceptable and inappropriate”. The statement confirmed Cable will no longer have responsibility over matters relating to media and broadcasting.

In a secret recording made by journalists from a British newspaper posing as members of the electorate, Cable said he had already decided to block the takeover bid. “I am picking my fights, some of which you may have seen, some of which you may haven’t seen,” he said in the recording. “I don’t know if you have been following what has been happening with the Murdoch press, where I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win.”

Cquote1.svg I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win Cquote2.svg

—Vince Cable, speaking in a secret recording

In another extract from the recording, Cable says: “I have blocked it [the takeover bid], using the powers that I have got. And they are legal powers that I have got. I can’t politicise it, but for the people who know what is happening, this is a big thing. His whole empire is now under attack. So there are things like that, that being in Government … All we can do in opposition is protest.”

News Corporation, owned by Murdoch, owns 39% of BSkyB, but wishes to purchase the other 61% for £7.8 billion. Cable had pledged to remain impartial in the decision, and had ordered Ofcom to investigate the takeover bid. News Corporation stated they were “shocked and dismayed” at Cable’s comments, and said they “raise serious questions about fairness and due process.”

A source inside Downing Street said the government took “swift and firm action” in stripping Cable of his powers over the takeover bid. “He will have absolutely nothing to do with media,” the source added.

The business secretary apologised for his remarks, saying: “I fully accept the decision of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. I deeply regret the comments I made and apologise for the embarrassment that I have caused the Government.” Political commentator Nick Robinson said although he remained in office, Cable is in a “very awkward” position, because the statement from Downing Street was, for Cable, a “humiliating slap in the face.” Cable refused to answer journalists’ questions as he arrived at his constituency home in Twickenham, London.



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May 21, 2008

Parties make final bids for Crewe and Nantwich voters

Parties make final bids for Crewe and Nantwich voters

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The late Gwyneth Dunwoody (above) had held the seat of Crewe and Nantwich since 1983 with a majority of 7,078 at the 2005 General Election.

UK political parties are making their final bids for votes in the Crewe and Nantwich constituency, where a by-election, due to the death of Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, is to be held tomorrow.

A YouGov poll has suggested that the main opposition party, the Conservatives, are ahead at 45%, the incumbent Labour Party 18.8% behind on 26.2%. Polls from the newspaper The Independent and Populus and ICM have also put the Conservatives ahead. However the bookmakers Ladbrokes have deemed the Conservatives “unbackable”, with odds of just 16/1.

Crewe and Nantwich by-election
Party Candidate
Monster Raving Loony The Flying Brick
Labour Tamsin Dumwoody
Independent Gemma Garrett
UK Independence Mike Nattrass
English Democrats David Roberts
Liberal Democrat Elizabeth Shenton
Green Robert Smith
Cut Tax on Diesel and Petrol Paul Thorogood
Conservative Edward Timpson
Independent Mark Walklate

The Labour campaign in Crewe and Nantwich has branded the Conservative candidate Edward Timpson, a barrister from the wealthy Timpson family, a “toff”, calling their candidate, the late MP’s daughter Tamsin Dunwoody, “one of us”. Conservative leader David Cameron called the Labour campaign “class warfare” which is “backward looking”, “out of date” and “divisive”. The Labour Party has received endorsements from soap opera Coronation Street‘s Elizabeth Dawn (who plays the character Vera Duckworth) and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem) party have sent party leader Nick Clegg, party president Simon Hughes and deputy leader and the party’s shadow chancellor Vince Cable up to Crewe and Nantwich to campaign alongside their candidate Elizabeth Shenton. Mr. Cable told BBC’s Newsnight that “what’s very clear is there is a lot of support draining away from the Labour Party – an enormous amount.” Nick Clegg claims that the by-election is a two-horse race between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.

The UK Independence Party’s candidate Mike Nattrass has been touring Crewe and Nantwich in a converted London Routemaster campaign bus and handing out leaflets. He said “UKIP has never stood in Crewe and Nantwich before because Gwyneth Dunwoody was Eurosceptic and we agreed with her.” Party leader Nigel Farage has also attended a meeting in the constituency.

Polling stations will open from 07:00 BST (06:00 UTC) until 22:00 BST (21:00 UTC) on Thursday. The result is expected by Friday afternoon.



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November 27, 2007

UK prime minister says donations were not lawfully declared

UK prime minister says donations were not lawfully declared

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gordon Brown, in the United States on July 30, 2007.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown has announced that donations made to his political party, the Labour Party were “not lawfully declared” as they were donated through a middleman. According to UK law, all donations over £50,000 must be declared along with the name of the donator and all donations made through middlemen must declare the original donator. David Abraham officially donated the money, which totaled almost £600,000, through 3 third parties. They have been named as; Ray Ruddick who donated £196,850 since 2003, Janet Kidd, who has donated £185,000 since 2003 and John McCarthy, who has donated £202,125 since 2004.

Cquote1.svg The money was not lawfully declared so it will be returned Cquote2.svg

—Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown said he had “no knowledge” of these donations and said “they can not be justified” and that it will be returned. Brown said that although this practice has happened for some years, he was first aware of it on Saturday evening. “The money was not lawfully declared so it will be returned,” he said.

As well as returning the money, the general secretary of the Labour Party has stood down as a result of this incident. This scandal emerged just months after it was announced there will be no charges in the cash for honours inquiry, which was related to donations to the Labour Party as well as other political parties.

This could be another blow to the Labour Party, who appear to be facing a sharp decline in popularity, with some polls suggesting they are even less popular than in the last days of Tony Blair’s premiership, despite a large surge in popularity when Brown came to power.

The acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, whose party suffered from the increase in Labour’s popularity said “an enormous can of worms had been opened up” and that the UK government should have introduced new regulations on the funding of political parties.



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