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Risk v change

Nick Robinson | 11:18 UK time, Friday, 30 April 2010

Birmingham: "Time for a change" and "Don't risk it" are the two most powerful messages in politics. What makes the last week of this election so interesting is that both are embodied in the figure of Gordon Brown.

After 13 years, after the 10p tax fiasco, after the boom and the bust, after calling Mrs Duffy a "bigoted woman", he symbolises for many voters why it is time for a change. David Cameron clearly calculated last night that he could simply ignore the questions and the arguments posed by the prime minister, dismissing them as desperate stuff from a desperate man.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown

On the other hand, after weathering the economic storm, after helping to save the banks, after investing in schemes to keep unemployment and mortgage possessions lower than most people dared to hope for and after investing billions in schools, hospitals and tax credits, he also embodies Labour's warning against the risk of change.

Imagine if, say, David Miliband or Alan Johnson were now prime minister. While newness could significantly reduce the appeal of the "Time for change" message, neither would have the record or the reputation to allow them to say, with conviction, "Don't risk a change".

The battle is now on for the voters who switched to the Liberal Democrats after the first debate. The other two parties believe that Nick Clegg's appeal has been based on representing change and fairness. Therefore Labour's message is now that only a vote for it is a guarantee of fairness, given the risk of a Tory victory. Meanwhile, David Cameron's pitch is that only a Tory vote is a guarantee of change.

The question for next week is: can Nick Clegg persuade voters that Labour is finished and that the choice therefore is between a return to Tory rule and the new politics he claims to represent - or will he suffer a classic last-minute squeeze?

What a week it will be.

Comments

Page 1 of 11

  • Comment number 1.

    Mr Brown: dejected, dispirited, desolate.
    Inner thoughts – “when the end comes, please God let it be quick and painless”

    Nick Clegg: smug, condescending, disingenuous, amateurish.
    Inner thoughts – “I can’t believe they’re buying my chummy style - if we could reduce the voting age to 11...”

    David Cameron: promising, convincing but unfledged statesman.
    Inner thoughts – “If only I was ten years older, I’d be formidable and look the part”

    Sadly only one of the three candidates has the aptitude to be PM. Regrettably, in 2010 it’s both a poisoned chalice and premature appointment.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick you still don not get it. He got us into the mess, he bailed out banks and now they pay huge bonuses as Europe talks about taxpayers bailing out Greece (or is it French and German banks again?). The private sector has taken pay cuts, reduced hours etc. The public sector has pay rises, more employees. He has kept unemployment down by employing more and being lucky that the private sector has found a temporary work around.
    Cameron did not avoid his questions. You answer them once and then let GB make a twit of himself asking them again and again. I am sure Cameron said he wants those people who do the right thing (work hard, pay taxes, pay down mortgages etc) to be rewarded. Child tax credits for £50,00 and below. A collegue of mine ( assets over £1m) was recently given £180 when his wife got pregnant to pay for healthy eating!! It needs to be means tested.
    Why are people so blind. Scared the public sector may have to take the same medicine the private sector has?

  • Comment number 3.

    'David Cameron's pitch is that only a Tory vote is a guarantee of change.'

    'David Cameron clearly calculated last night that he could simply ignore the questions...'

    Big change there then!

  • Comment number 4.

    As I said last week, please let me know what are the Labour policies? It is no good saying that the Tories are 'this' the Lib Dems 'that' and all minority parties are an irrelevant nuisance.
    Also it is useless complaining about the opposition as this does not play well with the electorate. This was graphically spelt out by the Birmingham worm, after last night's broadcast.
    All parties keep back some ammunition but Gordon Brown must tell us, what he has to offer. I, and many people that I know think that after 13 years in power, Labour has little new thoughts to offer.

  • Comment number 5.

    A Cameron party vote is a vote for the Status Quo. Fear of crime, anger about imigration and Europe will disappear because they'll stop scaremongering because they're in power and they'll claim every successful charity is a success for David Camerons Big Society policy.

    Labour obviously won't be much a change Its very difficult for them to promote a utopian future fair for all after they've been in power for so long. They can only keep this running as they are. A promise of a referendum on second best electoral reform. A future fairly fair for all would be a bit more accurate. 2nd best option for me.

    But would you take a risk of leaving the safety of Labour/Conservatives Competent records? ...Yes I think I would. They haven't been great have they. I doubt any reactionary button pressing about immigration and shiny new trident missiles will change my mind. Just shows how much disrespect they have for the voters to think that it will. Policians insult us to our face with this rubbish every day.

  • Comment number 6.

    Brown's probable come-uppance is largely by the hand of New Labour (he has contributed personally to his imminent downfall). The collapse of the Labour vote in large areas of the country is likely and as New Labour has spent much of their time behaving like a free market Tory party it will be no surprise that its traditional support will find little motivation to go out and vote.

    After the election there will need to be a re-alignment of left and leftish political forces to purge Labour of its Blair (the adopted political son of M Thatcher)and Brown corruption of radical politics.

  • Comment number 7.

    Pretty thin stuff, Nick. Do you get paid for writing it? Easy money if you do.

    Brown looked finished yesterday and Clegg's act is wearing thin. There was a clear winner with momentum going into the last week. We will see where that momentum takes him.

    But cut the nonsense about Labuor winning back votes from the LibDems. No chance!

  • Comment number 8.

    All the leaders are reported to have been scared of Paxman. Then Clegg agreed to an interview (at which he looked like a rabbit in headlights scared to death). Camerons's was last week and he was cool, calm, collected and controlled. A PM in waiting.

    Be interesting to see Brown's tonight. To most of us he looks a broken man and no amount of Blair jumping up and down in a poly clinic in Harrow (recorded not live!), will save him now.

  • Comment number 9.

    I didn't appreciate the scaremongering coming from Brown and Cameron during the debate. Do they think we're all thick? Clegg's idea of an amnesty for illegal immigrants is a good one. Rather than waste money on futile efforts to hunt them down, why got get these people paying tax? Clegg was the clear winner for me, and he's the only one representing real change.

  • Comment number 10.

    I have to partly agree with comment 2 here, when it comes to answering questions. I don't like the Inheritance Tax policy much, but Cameron did answer as to why he believes in it the first time, and ignored Brown's harping on it from then on out; even if his answer was not what its opponents would regard as satisfactory, he did defend why he supports it and then moved on. I don't blame Brown for focusing on that, he gets traction on it, but he was too one note on it for the first part of the debate.

    Cameron did avoid on some others, but Brown avoided lots as well by deciding to go on the offensive, and he also tried to fix the idea the others hadn't answered his questions by saying they hadn't, even when they had (such as on child tax credits). Again, sometimes they didn't (and nor did he), but the others did answer him sometimes. Politicians of all stripes never do if they can avoid it, instead answering the question they wanted to be asked or repeating the point they want to raise regardless of relevance (Question Time is always a good illustration of this - 'I think the real question is...' and so on)

  • Comment number 11.

    <RICHPOST>Cameron did avoid the questions. He refused the debate and used the opportunity simply to repeat lines over and over again. He avoided Brown’s questions, Clegg’s questions and the questions from the audience.<br><br>People will have seen that. Cameron was in real difficulty.</RICHPOST>

  • Comment number 12.

    I keep hearing repeated the labour party mantra about the "Tory plans for inheritance tax that will benefit the very rich few, their donors etc".

    I may have missed something, and I am sure someone will put me straight if so, but don't the plans mean that the tax will ONLY be paid by the very richest people, and not those lower down the scale? Isn't it taking more people out of paying the tax at the lower end? That seems like the reverse of benefitting the very rich to me. Is it just spin or is there something I missed?

    I realise that properties of £2m are hardly low in price terms, I mean lower in the sense of the lower end of the band of people currently affected by the tax.

    Labour clearly agree with the Tory ideas about inheritance tax anyway as they increased it themselves when they realised the Tories were gaining electoral advantage, so we seem to be talking about the degree to which it should be raised rather than ideological difference.

  • Comment number 13.

    David Dimbleby should have been allowed to push Cameron for answers because the simple fact is that he was able to avoid answering any of the questions raised by Brown and Clegg throughout last night's debate. It's quite remarkable that the general concensus was that Cameron won the debate, when in reality, all he was successful at was getting off the hook quite well, he didn't debate at all. The simple fact is that not many people can warm to Brown and many think that Clegg is just a chancer with dodgy policies so unfortunately the door is opening for Cameron and that will be a disaster for the UK. My crystal ball says that if he does succeed the first thing will be a statement that they have discovered that the debt is far worse than they expected (blaming Labour and not the banks !!) and that they will have to make even further drastic public spending cuts and raise VAT significantly (ah but they won't have a re-think on Inheritance Tax) and the downward spiral will begin .....mind you, it'll be "fun" for Labour to be in opposition as it all unfolds!

  • Comment number 14.

    There will be no fundamental change.The role of governments in liberal democracies is to protect and advance the interests of the capitalist class, working people will pay the price for the greed and irresponsibility of their masters. There are, sadly, a large number of fools that think governments 'run' neo liberal economic systems.Does anyone think that the national and international capitalist class would allow a few here today and gone tomorrow politicians to exercise such power? For those that do, I can assure them that at the Institute of Directors they are the source of undiluted hilarity.

  • Comment number 15.

    more bias Labour spin from the Beeb, how come the BBC was the only major news corporation to have last nights debate as a tie, when everbody else clearly had it as an outright Camron win. Maybe its because they are going to cut your budgets/wages?

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick I think the electorate will stick with Labour as there are far too many middle and low income families who would be at risk of losing their home, jobs and public services under a Conservative government. Maybe Brown isn't a Prime Minister who looks good on TV but he makes decisions that matter, the correct decisions for the British people. Remember Cameron & Osbourne did not want to save the banks, just imagine the damage that would have done, it’s unthinkable.

    I think when people get to polling day they will reflect on the risk involved, on one hand we have Gordon Brown & Alistair Darling both experienced and have been proven to make the correct decisions in a time of crisis and on the other Cameron & Osbourne both novices who are members of a party that have consistently been wrong on economical issues in the past two years.

    The very fact that the Conservatives have a manifesto pledge to cut inheritance tax for the wealthiest 3000 families in the country at a time when we need to save money should have fair minded people very worried. I remember the last time the Conservative party were in power during a recession and interest rates were enormous, the dole queue was enormous and people felt let down at least this time people can see the government has tried its very hardest to protect people’s homes and jobs. This would not have happened under the Conservatives.

  • Comment number 17.

    What happens when labour, with the least number of votes, has the most seats and Tory has the most number of votes. Which way will Clegg swing?

    If tory, then Cameron will have to make some sort of a deal over PR - will it be a free vote? and how will their reconcile their very different views wrt the economy?

    Interesting, I suspect some of Clegg's newfound % also comes from the more marginal parties like the greens.

  • Comment number 18.

    In Birmingham today, high speed car crash interupts slow motion car crash.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8653580.stm

  • Comment number 19.

    You Say 'David Cameron clearly calculated last night that he could simply ignore the questions and the arguments posed by the prime minister'

    What questions or arguments did David Cameron not address? Are you referring to Gordon Brown's repeated assertion that Cameron (and Clegg) would cut Child Tax Credits? Cameron addressed that. Are you referring to Browns claim that Cameron's efficiency savings would take money out of the economy? Cameron responded clearly and emphatically to that by saying that government expenditure was not the same as the wider economy. Are you referring to Browns claims about lowering corporation taxt on Banks? Cameron addressed that by saying that the tax cut applied to every business and that a seperate levy would be raised on the banks. Cameron also explained his position on inheritance tax.

    I'm at a loss to know exactly what you are referring to. Can you please update your post with some specific examples that substantiate your point.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think we should here more from the Govenor of the BANK of ENGLAND

    As to why they will be that painful, something must have gone

    wrong in the last 13 years as that was not the propect in 97,

    Although it was in 79.

    So Mr Govenor spell it out like it is and explain why GB has a different view.

    DC should walk away from the election and give it to GB.

  • Comment number 21.

    David Cameron did not answer a single question, he has lost what little credibility he had with me. Inheritance tax why would he not respond? 80%of immigration is people from the EU that he can't stop! The guy has tried to hide and not discussed anything - very very poor indeed.
    If Cameron is elected you can guarantee vat increase or extension of the tax within the first few months after suddenly finding things are worse than they thought!
    This will lead to a double dip recession - see what those business people say then when people stop shopping - ask Stuart Rose if he would like 20% vat on childrens clothes and on food - that will hit is profits!
    There will be a run on the pound and interest rates shooting up - then millions unemployed - disaster.
    Cameron offers absolutely nothing good for this country unless you earn or have millions

  • Comment number 22.

    I think you will see the classic third party squeeze being enacted over the coming week, to a small degree in the polls perhaps but the votes in the box will I believe make David a very happy man.

  • Comment number 23.

    Cameron may have felt that he could ignore the questions being asked of him, but what the issues posed were demonstrated who Cameron is and what he represents:

    1 Immigration cap? No answer! Dog whistle soundbite but vacuous in terms of details and actual reality.
    2 Inheritance tax? No answer! In time of inevitable need to cutback on services in order to save money he knows where his friends are, and they include those who will never have need for the services he will inevitably have cut.
    3. Corporation tax for bankers? No answer! A meaningless unilateral and symbolic tackling of bonuses, whilst allowing tax concessions for the organisations that contributed to our current financial predicament - taking with one hand and giving with the other.

    And the above represents change? A change back to the Tories of old, knowing who their friends are!

  • Comment number 24.

    Just got ( 1 week later ) my response from Sky. I had complained about Adam Boulton bringing up the Daily Telegraph story. Anyone else get something as half-baked as this?:

    "Thank you for your email about the Sky Leaders’ Debate.  Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying. 
     
    Thank you for your note about the Sky Leaders’ Debate.  Adam Boulton merely stated a fact which underlined the topicality of the question asked by the member of the audience.  It was absolutely not an attempt to unsettle him at all – and clearly Mr. Clegg was totally unruffled.
     
    Given the stories on the front pages, it would perhaps have been odd if Mr.Clegg had not used the opportunity to dismiss the allegations as nonsense in any case.   Nick Clegg himself talked to Adam Boulton afterwards and was not concerned in any way by the intervention.
     
    Thanks, once again, for taking the time to contact us.
     
    Kind regards
     
    Angela Hart
    Customer Service"

    -----------------


    Yep. I know that a question was asked. Then all three leaders replied; only after that did Boulton decided to have a dig.

    Needless to say I didn't get a response from them about my other concerns with the coverage, incuding the pre and post debate comment

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    Well I think that you need to go to specsavers and get those blue tinted specs replaced.

    At last the media hype of the mock debates have gone and we can get down to the real election. The polls are roughtly where they were 3 weeks ago. I was listening to a selection of the audience being interviewed on the BBC this morning. They were ALL unconvinced by DAvid Cameron , particularly his inability to answer questions that we all have. The audience numbers were lower than the ITV debate. I was a Youguv panelist last night, there are no checks to authenticate my details on Youguv so the result is meaningless. If you are Tory you wont say Clegg or Brown were best etc etc. So the result is solely dependent on the political make up of the 1200 selected panelists.

    Now we can see the Labour machine get into gear. We cant take the risk of Cameron, particularly with Osbourn in the Treasury.

    Neither of them have had to cope with the knocks of making your own way in life and career. In fact neither has had any sort of job, so how can we risk them.

    Camerons real problem is that he is not being himself. As his right wing values have to been swept under the carpet to make him appear electable.

  • Comment number 27.

    In terms of the debate last night, I thought Clegg and Cameron were on a par; Gordon just looked tired and didn't really inspire to be honest. I have voted both Labour and Conservative in the past, voting in Blair with his first landslide. I just felt the country needed a change at that time and needed to re-focus on looking after some of the lower and middle income families.

    I have to say I have been left disappointed with the New Labour experiment, they have I admit done quite a few good things but over the last 13 years I cannot really say the country has improved as a whole. I am upset that we have this huge deficit that we hang over us for years and will affect our futures and our children's futures.

    To my mind New Labour under Blair particularly just tried to do too much in too short a time frame, they have spent and poured billions into our public services, there has been improvements but look at the cost. They sold off bandwidth for billions, they sold gold reserves for silly prices, and they raided all our pensions but at the same time bloated the public sector new agencies and quango's. The FSA are a joke, tying up small companies in red-tape whilst enjoying their shiny offices in central London - failing us all when it comes to banks. I just cannot accept their arguments blaming it all on global crisis, they spent everything they took in tax receipts during the last decade and added to it with borrowings. They go on about the banks having to be more careful balancing mortgage books with deposits - but they have no real position of strength to be lecturing when they look at their own record.

    I just want change, I don't agree with every Conservative policy but I feel that David Cameron needs to be given the chance to have a go, of restoring some discipline and trusting us with some of those decisions that politicians and governments often get wrong. It is an interesting election and very difficult to call it and I hope that whoever you have voted for in the past that we look at them all based on the vision they have for the future and the immediate now of getting us of this mess.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm not going to bother to compare the candidates, because 3 experts and (several) million armchair pundits already have.

    What I would say is that I'm surprised no one has put two videos side by side of each candidate speaking: One, in PMQs. One, in the debates.

    They really are actors.

  • Comment number 29.

    Not sure I saw the same debate as many of the so called "commentators".

    What I saw was;

    Gordon Brown coming out fighting an old fashioned but effective Hustings battler.

    David Cameron AKA Nick Clegg II. Which is very interesting after his previous life as Tony Blair II. Smooth, ignoring questions he did not want to answer and expounding the manifesto line. Coached to over perfection.

    Nick Clegg prepared to mix it with either of the others on what ever question they wanted to attack on.

    I also saw all 3 twist the stated manifesto policies of the others to suit there own attack, but then that is what you expect of politicians.

    My view is simple; Score draw between Cameron and Clegg with Brown close behind, ignore him and Labour at your peril.

    So where now?

    Cameron; back to smugness and arrogance claiming only the Conservative can save us. My memeory hasn't gone David, I remember what your party did to decimate the country in the previous recessions, the high interest rates, the high unemployment, the destruction of masnufactoring industry. And that was almost before Thatcher and her destruction of Education, NHS and using "Market forces" to destroy and sell anything good in this country.

    Brown; fighting and fighting... But yes there are major concerns about his policies and whether or not his judgement will be good enough. He is also an Old Fashioned Socialist who does believe in Government intervention and maybe that is to to high a level and will he be able to pull back and let the private sector flourish when the time is right????

    Clegg; no history to pick on. not enough know about him and the quality of the people around him, except Vince Cable. Promising Fairness, Change, Openness and maybe maybe with the potential to curb the extreme excesses of the other parties...

    Respect to Brown for al last coming out fighting. Respect to Cameron for showing flexibility and changing his campaign. But most repect to to Clegg he has stood firm right across the debates and the campaign so far... Will they be squeezed? I dont know but it would be a great shame for this country if we don't take the chance to make the change with a hung Parliments and force the politicians to grow up and work together for the good of the people. Yes you and me the people who employ them!!!

  • Comment number 30.


    "The battle is now on for the voters who switched to the Liberal Democrats after the first debate."

    Using such words implies that votes have been cast at the ballot box.These were the results of some opinion polls and I would question the use of the past tense "have switched" in that context.

    As for the debate. The debate about the debate is still raging, with all parties still at it hammer and tongs today trying to capture the narrative. I tend to agree with 1. 'inspiration_needed' on this one.

    I'm reminded of the Mexican showdown in the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. And of course it is the voters who will decide which character represents each of the Westminster party leaders?

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/good-bad-and-ugly.html

  • Comment number 31.


    I wonder how many people heard Mandelson on Radio 4's Today this morning, blithely arguing "we need to find savings of £40 billion a year now because times are hard" and refusing to answer the question "why didn't you take advantage when times weren't so hard to sort out the mess"?

    If nothing else changes after next Thursday, let's hope he vanishes from the scene.

  • Comment number 32.

    Why does it matter to general public if a prime minister is a liar or not? if he does not have good communication skills or not? If his smile is crippy? It is not a presidential election. Should not people be concerned only about their policies and track record?

    People say labour failed for last 13 years. Really? Show me one key macroeconomic or key services statistics that support this theory. Only thing to talk about is public debt, which is necessarily a bi-product of long term growth. it is inevitable. Look at Japan. Their public debt is over 150% and has been very high for last two decades. I do not see them suffering from an ordinary person's point of view. UK is not Greece (or Portugal or Spain)as the majority of UK' public debt is in domestic currency. it is not ideal to have high public debt, but UK's situation is not as bad as some make it out.

    Don't cry before it is time to cry and Labour has not done anything to suggest that there will be a time to really cry. Conservatives have done that. People in North - please do not forget Maggy. Dave is from the same school of sit back and let the rich teach those dirty poor and middle class some lessons.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hmmm "Gordon Brown - Don't risk it"

    I think that works as a slogan.

    Maybe the Tory party should put it on their next poster.

  • Comment number 34.

    ooooh No. 1. Presume you thought the same about Blair then - he was boyish etc. but for some strange reason the public actually liked him and voted him more than once - but they got Brown eventually. Strange old world. Blair is now gaunt, rugged, haggard, furtive and frightened.

    Brown pushed himself in, unelected, to satisfy his own academic political ideals. To hell with the general public and what their feelings were / are (bigotgate). If that's what a mature older statesman is like give me the young Cameron any day.

  • Comment number 35.

    David Cameron says he wants to help the poorest but then puts through an inheritance tax cut that only reaches the very richest. He talks about getting immigration down but gives numbers that imply he can cut EU migration - he can't, and with 800,000 Brits living in Spain alone we've got a net population decrease from EU migration anyway. It seemed that the only times his answers were clear were when they weren't telling the whole story. Gordon Brown seems to think that Britain has long-term problems which he's best placed to fix but without explaining why it's taken him 13 years to realise this. Nick Clegg has impressed me hugely throughout the debates with clearly thoughtful, considered responses and actually answering the questions from the floor rather than just trying to score points off his opponents. There may be occasional elements I don't always agree with but, on balance, he's gone up hugely in my estimation throughout the debates and seems a stronger candidate for PM than a tired Gordon Brown or a disappointingly shallow David Cameron.

  • Comment number 36.

    After the debate last night where none of them were prepared to put their cards on the table on what would happen until post election then we really do have to sum up the options which are becoming clearer by the day.

    Labour is a definite NO! NO! They have wrecked the economy and left us all in this mess for years to come. They have no idea what to do about it.

    LibDems came in too late and have not been prepared for the storms that lie ahead. Nick Clegg is starting to look very shaky already so doesn't instill confidence that he has the staying power to see through the struggle ahead.

    Got to put confidence now in the Conservatives track record and being capable of bringing some order out of the present chaos.

    I'm no longer listeniing to the politicians but to the experts who are already telling us what we are in for. Not nice! But unavoidable!

    Let's get this pain underway and get it over with. We owe it to the next generation.

  • Comment number 37.

    As Nick pointed out, there have been many good achievements from Labour that the nation should be grateful for. It is not true that the last 13 years were wasted. Far from it, we have much better schools and health services than the Tory years before Labour.

    Cameron did not choose to ignore the questions and arguments put to him, his party simply does not have any credible plans and policies. Clegg is simply opportunistic - "I agree with you all"

    In the next few days, when people think deeper about policies and what sort of society we want for UK, Labour will come out strong at the ballot box.

  • Comment number 38.

    Does the fact that what David Cameron says depends on the day of the week and who his audience is make him the candidate for change?

  • Comment number 39.

    I doubt if the labour party will want Gordon Brown leading them for a full five year term of office. So a vote for Gordon Brown is a vote for the unknown. We need to vote for local MPs with the courage to fight for what is best for the country, and force leadership change when leadership change is needed. The current batch of Labour MPs failed that test

  • Comment number 40.

    #12 bitbandit999:
    "I may have missed something, and I am sure someone will put me straight if so, but don't the plans mean that the tax will ONLY be paid by the very richest people, and not those lower down the scale? Isn't it taking more people out of paying the tax at the lower end? That seems like the reverse of benefiting the very rich to me. Is it just spin or is there something I missed?"

    I don't think you have missed anything! DC has probably missed the opportunity to point out the flaw in GB's continuing rant, however!

    Firstly, as you have spotted, raising the threshold for IHT takes everyone between the old limit and the new out of the tax altogether. The first to benefit here are the least well off. True, those at the upper end of the scale will pay less as well - but as a proportion of what they would have had to pay, it is less!

    Secondly, IHT is only paid upon (or shortly after!) death. Does GB expect us to believe that these '3000 richest estates' are going to have a death EVERY YEAR? I suspect you are looking at a total of 60 such estates per year - and the 'tax hand-out' on that is ONLY the tax difference between the old and new lower limits.

    The politics of class envy raises its ugly head once again, methinks.

  • Comment number 41.

    Looking at brown Gordon last night, the phrase "dead man walking" sprang to mind. He really did look worn out, he looked decidedly ill.

    Well, if he is sick, he now knows what the reast of us feel, about him - sick to death.

    Not overly impressed by either of the others, but the idea that Brown knows how to manage the economiy is completely laughable. labour should have got rid of him last Summer when they had the chance. They might now stand some chance of winning the election. Anyone who votes Labour next Thursday really must have been living on a different planet for the past 10 years!!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Nick

    there was no risk in changing from the disastrous leadership of Fred the shred. He destroyed his bank and we had to pay for it.

    There is no risk in changing from Brown. He has destroyed the economy and we will have to pay for it.

    The Gov of the Bank of England knows the true scale of the required action to sort this and he sees the situation as far more grave than you portray it here.

    Brown has had his hands on the main levers of power for 13 years and he is clearly responsible for the catastrophic state of the finances.
    This is the elephant in the room, this is Brown's mess it happened on his watch the buck stops with him and we will pay big time for it.

    He has to take responsibility for HIS actions

    No risk in that.

    Just pain and hurt for all of the people he let badly down.

    PRUDENCE where is she now?

  • Comment number 43.

    Ricescooper - Brown has got the big decisions right!? Are you crazy? The man has left a trail of destruction behind him! If you or I were to be as irresponsible with our personal finances as he has with this Countrys, we would be bankrupt and credit blacklisted! The sooner he leaves office the better!

    The only peple that will vote for him are Public Sector workers who fear the worst under a Tory Govt. My message to them is tough! I work in the Private sector and have been out of work for almost 9 months. Thats the risk you may say, but its only taxes from the Private Sector that keeps the Public Sector afloat. They have taken a hit, now so must your jobs! Its called real life!

    I am not blown away by Cameron, but if Brown were in any other Job, he would have been sacked for incompetance many years ago. We need someone new, and not just someone like Clegg who is good at public speaking!

  • Comment number 44.

    To me Cameroon had a very good debate last night….clearly he won….

    I was an undecided voter until now…could not even think voting labour, but the events over the last two days made me sick, could not believe how low our press could get down to. I condemned what Mr Brown said to Gillian Duffy, it was completely unacceptable. However, he realised what he did and apologised personally to Gillian. Not sure yet whether Mr Brown’s apology was accepted or not by Gillian, but clearly it was not accepted/enough for our media and press and that is why they are still going on and on about it. The race and the manner between our TV channels and newspapers to air and publish that ‘bigot’ comment on a non stop basis are simply pathetic. Our press and media, as if, could not get this out of their head and they think this is the only big issue at the moment that are country is facing and this will play a big role to undecided voter to make their decision. It might do for somebody, but certainly nor for me. As a protest to this media coverage (despite PM’s sincere apologies), I am going to vote for Labour.

    I wish our press stop this soon and restore some confidence, pride and respect..

    Abdul

  • Comment number 45.

    Nick

    can we nail this ridiculous claim from Brown.

    Leaving £6 Billion in the peoples pockets is not taking it OUT of the economy.

  • Comment number 46.

    Cameron is sounding a mite triumphalist and there are hints of Neil Kinnock circa 1992. The ridiculous 'Contract with the Country' could be the noose around his neck. He is acting as if he can start with a clean slate, but is not confronting the mammoth task of addressing the annual deficit, let alone the £900bn debt pile. He is giving false hope.

    Cameron may well play on his 'popularist' attempt to prevent the rise in National Insurance, which only affects those earning £20k. However, I would like to see how, if he were to win, he would be able to explain away the bigger impact on the masses of increasing VAT to 20%+. This would hit everybody and worse still disproportionately affect the poor more than the wealthy. He is setting himself up for failure.

  • Comment number 47.

    How anyone can can think that last night's debate was a draw is beyond me (and most sensible people I should imagine). It's probably the same people who think that good management of our economy should result in huge levels of debt not seen on these shores since the second world war.

    Nick, give it up. Your political master is going down and taking the ship of fools with him. You should hope that Cameron does have a soft spot for the BBC, otherwise you'll have to find a job somewhere else. I'm sure there are plenty of socialist rags happy to employ you.

  • Comment number 48.

    Cameron was arrogant last night, he did not answer questions and he ignored arguments put to him - he was not in the debate! Are we voters really that desparate that we'll all vote Cameron without asking whether Tories have the right policies and plans for the nation? How could I trust the polls?

  • Comment number 49.

    Brown may be tired and unpopular but he did more to addresss the issue on the long term approach to deficit than the Clegg and Cameron. For the others it was just about getting into government. The question you need to ask yourself and your family over this bank holiday weekend, who is on your side and ultimately who pays for the deficit? This won't be sorted in the next year or so by savage cuts.

    Cameron was evasive and synthetic as ever last night, Clegg embracing but hollow and Brown scrutinsing but unapologetic. Reading between the lines Cameron will redistribute wealth substantially but not as everyone might expect in the large middle class and bottom tier of British society, to the very top.

    He will give a £1.2bn inheritance tax cut to the richest 2 per cent in Britain – with most going to the 3,000 wealthiest estates (including his wife’s). Then he promises to end the 50p top rate of tax, giving another £2.4bn to the richest 1 per cent. Then he has pledged to cut taxes on the pensions of the richest, handing another £3.2bn to the same 1 per cent. Then his marriage tax relief policies will give 13 times more to the rich than the poor. To pay for this, he will slash programmes for the middle and the skint, like the Child Trust Fund, SureStart and state schools which Brown kept alluding to, to no avail

    Unemployment rates are respectable considering the global recession we have gone through, interest rates are low and inflation has been well managed but a growing concern as well as the Eurozone.

    There was also fuzziness and a moral ticking off to those on benefit, but the fact is that if we have deep cuts now, we will have more burden, more people writing a giro, more social breakdown, more crime and more burden on our frontline services.




  • Comment number 50.

    I think with these sort of you tend pick up on what you want to see. I don't like Cameron, I don't trust Cameron and I think his front bench team is pretty poor. Regardless, of what I saw last night there is no chance I would vote for him. Probably not a surprise that I thought Clegg won by a mile. It's just a shame GB did not really jump on Cameron when he resorted to peddling his lies about NI again.

    Hard to predict what will happen to the lib dem vote. It appears that a lot of the gain they have made is with first time voters rather than solely eating into Labours core vote. Personally I don't think their share will drop all that much.

  • Comment number 51.

    Has anybody been watching the machinations involved in sorting out the Greek mess?

    Naturally politicans have got their mucky hands in it, and there is a certain amount of schadenfreud involved.

    Unsurprisingly, given that it involves Europe, the Germans are at the heart of it. It is where they have been positoning themselves for years, leading all the critical decision making meetings with their best friends (the French) and meeting the inevitable bills when they come due. Until recently, this was something the Germans could afford. Unfortunatley that doesn't hold true any more.

    So they have a political problem. The ruling coalition may not be able to hold on to the most populous state in Germany, so Mrs Merkel is reluctant to do anything that wwould destroy her coalition. The German citizenry are set against bailing out the Greeks. It seems the price of obtaining support from minority parties is to get the German private banks to provide much of the money, and therein lies the problem.

    The German government, along with El Gordo, who led the charge, as we all know because he insists on reminding us at every opportunity, to save the world, I mean the banks, spent billions propping up the German banking system, which is still in a fragile state. many of the banks are still reliant on state support. To force them to pick up the tab for Greece is an economic nonsense, since any money they put up will be coming from the German state anyway.

    They are now seeing the consequences of allowing unfetterd and unsupervised growht in finacnial markets, along with an under-regulated check on the various banks' involvements, which have led us to where we are now. Greece is foundering. It cannot get help from its formal partners because of political unrest, which should have no effect on the financial obligations of the eurozone. It cannot get assistance from the international markets, because it has been less than honest with what it has previously disclosed about the state of its finances. Oblivion threatens to ngulf them.

    Since the Germans slavishly copied El Gordo's example, and artifically propped the private banks up, then they are now in an unenviable situation. They hold large amounts of debt which they can longer expect to be repaid at face value (hello, been there before, haven't we?), but are expected to shove more good money after bad, simply because they are involved. This is a story that will go round and round, in ever decreasing circles.

  • Comment number 52.

    In my humble opinion, Labour’s economic record in government is something to be proud of and indicates that we’d be wiser to stick with professionals.

    In Life of Brian style, let’s ask what this Labour Government ever done for us?

    Well there’s the minimum wage for a start, a simple yet key step to addressing poverty. Needless to say, this was instinctively opposed by the Conservatives and ‘business leaders’ at the time as being a huge risk to the economy and jobs although unemployment subsequently fell and they now accept they were wrong.

    There’s low interest rates and inflation for the last 13 years, partly as a result of Labour’s decision to cede appropriate power to the Bank of England in 1997. We all take this for granted now but it was also opposed by the Conservatives at the time. They now agree they got this wrong too - perhaps they have noticed the improvement over 15% interest rates and double digit inflation which characterised their time in office.

    Over the course of the Blair/Brown years, as a result of the strong economy (for most of the time!), we have had record levels of investment in our schools and hospitals. Yes, when billions of pounds are thrown at a serious problem, not all goes where you’d want it but be wary of the talk of quangos and management costs (despite what the right wing media say, only 3% of the NHS budget goes on managers’ pay). By any objective measure, improvements have been made and we are a long way from the dark days of Tory rule prior to 1997. The Conservative party opposed this continued investment in our public services (remember the now laughable Patient’s Passport?), but have now agreed that they were wrong, at least about the NHS – why else would David Cameron say he’s keen to protect current record health service spending levels? (I wonder if this legacy of political consensus about the importance of protecting the NHS is one of Labour’s finest achievements over the last 13 years)

    Prior to the worldwide financial meltdown, we had 11 years of strong, economic growth. Despite the downturn, most of us are materially better off than we were in 97. All of Mr Brown’s budgets were opposed by the Conservatives, yet year on year on year, we had sustained growth. It is not clear to me whether the Tories accept whether they were wrong about this opposition – the current Shadow Chancellor does not seem to be capable of delivering a consistent or coherent approach to managing the economy. (No wonder this Terrible Tory Toff is being kept out of the campaign in favour of the nice & cuddly Ken Clarke who is much less likely to scare the horses)

    The current Labour Government and Mr Brown in particular, also led world thinking around how to respond to the worst financial meltdown since the 1930s, a fact acknowledged at the London G20 meeting by President Obama. Policies such as how to save the banking system from catastrophic collapse and the use of a fiscal stimulus to jump-start the recovery were successfully implemented here and around the world. You’ve guessed it, the Conservatives got this wrong too. (Can you begin to imagine what might have happened during this crisis with Cameron and Osborne in command? Pretty scary, isn’t it?)

    The current Government are far from perfect but the alternative is to hand the running of the economy over to Double Dip Dave and Curious George and their tax cuts for the very rich. This policy alone is astonishing yet quite revealing given the current circumstances and says a lot about whether they are fit to govern. Compare and contrast Labour’s proactive economic crisis management with the “walk on by” type approach proposed by the Conservatives now and taken by them during the recessions of the 1980s and 90s where as a result, we had mass unemployment, rioting in the streets and “no such thing as society”. I think Labour should be proud their ability to avoid the mistakes of the past but just as important, their willingness to at least try.

    It seems to me that there is a real risk to the recovery if the Conservatives get elected next week, which as well as risking high unemployment and economic disaster, also risks the needed, continued investment in our public services. I do not believe this is a good time for amateurs.

    And don’t get me started on the aqueducts...

  • Comment number 53.

    The BBC are DESPERATE, all morning the BBC have been attacking Cameron, wheeling out people with mental illnesses and drug addled students to tell us "Stick with Gordon".

    Don't think the BBC will be buying the Champagne this Thursday, te he he.

  • Comment number 54.

    Nick . This is how i see it .,

    David Cameron and the Tories have been the biggest losers from the TV Debates ., Why ?.. Because it has given Nick Clegg and the Liberals massive exposure when they never got it in previous election campaigns.
    The resultant increase in LD votes will prevent the Tories getting their overall majority . I think you know this.

    The Tories must be kicking themselves now at agreeing to do the debates. They were streets ahead in the polls only a few months ago.

  • Comment number 55.

    I have several worries about the candidates for PM (and also other Cabinet jobs) but I'm also worried about a lot of the comments coming from the younger voters.
    There does seem to be a lot of people changing their vote but the reasons for their changes seem trivial. Young people also seem to be voting on just what they have seen on TV, like it's ''V(ote) Factor'' or something.
    What's most worrying is that young people SHOULD THINK THEY KNOW EVERYTHING ALREADY(you know what I mean, when they gloss over something you say, with the disrespectful ''whatever'') but they seem to be changing their minds far too much these days.

    Suggesting they know nothing.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    This TV debate has been futile, all it has done is given the top 3 parties more TV time to air their very often empty policies which have no or little substance behind them. The public knows that hard decisions are going to have to be made by the next government, so come out and tell us what your plans are, then we the public, can make an informed decision.
    The BBC has got the Leaders Questioning format wrong, deeper investigation of each Party's Policies are required and you have not given us this... how am I suppose to decide on who to vote for on half truths or little substance??

    Also I am of the opinion that a "hung parliament" will show up the Parties that don't support reasonable policies, to get out of the mess we are in, and I hope you remember them at the next election !!!

  • Comment number 58.

    For all those claiming they still don't know what the parties stand for, I suggest you go to the parties' websites and read each manifesto. They're well set-out documents, so you don't have to wade through 80 pages of fine print - you can focus on the areas you're most concerned about. Being spoon-fed by the media is not the same as being informed - and it's never been easier to access this information. Read - about the parties, the candidates and the MPs. If you have time to watch the telly, you have time to do your own research. It's the least you can do!

  • Comment number 59.

    Time for a change...

    How often have we heard that phrase through the years yet we end up having the same discussion 5 or 10 years down the line.

    Although a former Labour Party member I am not and never have been a fan of Gordon Brown (nor 'Teflon' Tony, Lord Meddlesome or the Millipedes for that matter).

    In 1997 the hope and optimism was rife that after 18 years of Conservative rule that the then 'New' Labour party would do things differently... Yet time as shown Labour to have also become embroiled in the ethos of politics for cash

    When Labour returned to power in 1997 I didn't expect a return to 1979 but I didn't expect what I got either.

    Cameron's campaign based on time for change and hope to be shoe horned in was short on substance and only changed after the first PM debate (He cancelled a scheduled PP Broadcast and substituted it with one from his garden.

    The interesting thread through All through the PM debates is the earnest questions the people have been asking... straight questions demanding straight answers. None of the three main parties have supplied those answers however much spin and froth has been generated by the political class stating the contrary.

    If the opinion polls are borne out in this election then there is no great appetite for change (a consistent albeit rough 30-30-30-10 split in the opinion polls doesn't lie) but conversely there is no great desire for the Status Quo... unlike 1997 where it was clear that the electorate across the country couldn't wait to get to the polling station and change the government

    In truth it really doesn't matter if the government changes or not the problems the country faces remain the same in that we have a major economic problem to solve and few options to solve it.

    If there is a 'Hung Parliament' I hope politicians can make it work and we don't consistently get 'No confidence motions' laid down else we will have to have another election in the Autumn.




  • Comment number 60.

    Why is Sunderland City Council about to spend £133million on a bridge?

    Could the Sunderland City Council's eye-watering £133 million bridge be built better, cheaper and provide jobs for Armed Forces engineers who are disabled or have left the best training company in Britain.

    Come on Sunderland City Council - jobs for heroes not Chief Executives!!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    How the BBC loves a party, especially a political one. Roll up! Roll up! Come watch the leadership show! It's pitiful.

    I stood for UKIP in the last election. I wouldn't go so far as to say you're wasting your vote whoever you vote for but the voting system is BARMY and it's about time someone like Nick Robinson came out and said so.

    You can't vote for Brown or Cameron or any other leader, any more than you can vote for the party of your choice. You can vote for an MP in_your_constituency and NO MORE THAN THAT.

    When every prospective MP gets as much airtime as these three do things might begin to make a bit more sense.

    Until then, ask yourself. Regarding the names on your ballot paper - what are you voting for? The person on the paper or his party? Because they are not necessarily one and the same. It is in fact a dichotomy. He/she may win and you voted for them and their party may still lose. So your vote is wasted at national level and successful at local. Is that what you wished for? Of course not.

    As I watched Douglas Hogg's votes reeling off the count like a conveyor belt I asked myself this. Who are they voting for? The man or the party? I have been asking myself ever since.

    Voters should think about this as they watch these leadership debates. What's said there don't matter any.

    GC

  • Comment number 62.

    29, KMKSilver,

    Good post mate - well argued analysis that it's still all to play for

  • Comment number 63.

    3. At 11:48am on 30 Apr 2010, Poprishchin wrote:

    ......'David Cameron clearly calculated last night that he could simply ignore the questions...'

    ***********************

    Wrong. He's just practising so he can follow the precedent set by Brown at PMQs :-)

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.



    According to iFS:

    Labours plans have £7b tax hole= £270pa/family
    and £45.8b spending hole = £1,762pa/family

    Tories even worse- £3b tax hole = £115pa/family
    and £52.5b spending hole = £2,019pa/family

    Lib_dems still bad but better- £0 tax hole
    and £34.4b spending hole = £1,323pa/family

    Clegg should have banged on about these numbers until he was blue in the face. He should have fronted his own black hole of £34.4b and said this was why he would introduce the financial council of all parties. If he had the courage to do this he would now be on the threshold of no.10. The British public would have responded to being treated with respect.

    Everybody that loves democracy must use these figures to expose politicians lies and evasion. Do not let them wriggle- expose them. BBC make this your crusade for the next 6 days focus on this- the only issue that matters- make a stand- you might even increase your ratings!
    BBC don't let newspapers/bigotsgate etc set the agenda- this debt black hole and how we face up to it must be the top story EVERY day until we get some honesty from politicians. If BBC seeks the truth this must be the top story.

    Well done Andrew Neil so far for trying your best- don't be discouraged- redouble your efforts

  • Comment number 66.

    #5 DH Wilko wrote:
    "Policians insult us to our face with this rubbish every day."

    It may be rubbish, but it's what the people want to hear.

    Politicians are becoming increasing 'professional' than they were 30 years ago. They obsess over the findings of statistical reasearch and focus groups, and they play back to the electorate the messages the electorate want to hear. Because, of course, they want to be elected.

    Why have none of the parties published their spending plans, or at least in general terms said where the cuts will fall? Because each party has calculated, probably correctly, that it would lose them votes.

  • Comment number 67.

    #7 AnotherOldBoy

    "Pretty thin stuff, Nick. Do you get paid for writing it? Easy money if you do."

    I pretty much agree - In terms of political insight I've read better comments from people on these blogs than what is written above. It didn't really add much to the debate, did it?

    Nick sounds a bit like he can't wait for it all to be over now the debates are out of the way.

    Can't really blame hime - most voters probably feel the same.

  • Comment number 68.

    @Al Fingers - I totally agree.

    I predict VAT going up under Tory. Which will be funny given the fuss they have made over Labour's planned national insurance rise. When they realise they need to raise some form of tax, VAT will suite the tories more as it's a flat rate for everyone and doesn't burden the rich as NI would.

    I almost want a Tory majority so I can enjoy watching Labour (hopefully with a new PM - David Milliband) taking them to pieces when they revert back to their right wing policies for their rich supporters.

    I really think if Labour had got rid of Brown long before this election the polls would be telling a different story now. Labour have the best policies over the other parties, but the fact is Gordon is a walking PR disaster, proven on Wednesday with the bigoted fiasco. It's not Labour's policies that are costing them votes, it's their leader.

  • Comment number 69.

    Blair's back!!

    The four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Blair, Brown, Mandelson and Campbell) reform.

    Last time they were together it brought us an illegal war and the start of the collapse of the UK economy.

    What this time? The death knell of New Labour perhaps?

  • Comment number 70.

    Jeez, definately a lot of astro turfing today.

    Lost count of the number of "Only Labour" or "Only Gordon Brown" comments.

    Words straight from HQ. Not even got the wherewithal to disguise it.

    (I'm sure there are Tory and Lib Dem ones as well, its just the Lab ones that stick out for me).

  • Comment number 71.

    Ranjit BD,

    GP out of hours cover. Devolution. 24 hour drinking. the surveillance cculture. The council officials with right of entry without a warrant. How much more messed up legislation would you like me to mention?

  • Comment number 72.

    23, Cocteau8

    Yep, spot on - Same old Tories - tax cuts for the very rich, slah public services and let unemployment soar.

    Gordon Brown is a poor communicator and has real trouble getting his message across to the masses. He is clearly however, the safest pair of hands amongst the 3 candidates.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    After all those PMQs where Gordon Brown has steadfastly refused to answer a question, perhaps he now knows how it feels.
    I do believe that this election still has a lot to play for. I don't think it is just floating voters that may switch, I think there will be a lot of very traditional labour voters who may switch their votes as they now have some real options: The Lib Dems a re force now, in Scotland and Wales there are nationalists offering a more left wing stance there will be many marginals where these options have a chance of unseating the sitting labour MP and therefore their vote will matter. Alternatively, many may make the reverse decision that I did in 1997, despite being a traditional Tory, I felt let down and that they'd run their course (like Brown?) but felt Blair was all spin (like Cameron) so didn't vote - Big mistake in hindsight.
    Whilst I completely understand that there are holes in their figures, I also know that whoever is in power there will be tax rises and spending cuts, but they do at least seem to understand that there is a deficit and this has to be the biggest and first issue that the new government will have to face.

  • Comment number 75.

    9. At 12:10pm on 30 Apr 2010, Newbunkle wrote:
    I didn't appreciate the scaremongering coming from Brown and Cameron during the debate. Do they think we're all thick? Clegg's idea of an amnesty for illegal immigrants is a good one. Rather than waste money on futile efforts to hunt them down, why got get these people paying tax? Clegg was the clear winner for me, and he's the only one representing real change.

    ***********************

    Care to tell us where the 500,000 houses they will require are. Also, in order to pay tax and not add to the already overloaded benefit system, they will need to have a job. Which vacancies are you thinking of filling?

  • Comment number 76.

    32

    Don't cry before it is time to cry and Labour has not done anything to suggest that there will be a time to really cry. Conservatives have done that. People in North - please do not forget Maggy. Dave is from the same school of sit back and let the rich teach those dirty poor and middle class some lessons.

    ------------

    Aha. One of the "lie to me in the face of my own painful death" crowd.

    Gordon has not told you its going to be hard because he wants you to vote for him. But it will be, whoever you end up with. None of them are being honest about the extent of the hard times to come, a recent study indicated that the additional tax we would need to raise would be the equivalent of adding 6% to the basic rate. That ought to be a thought to terrify some sense into the deniers.

    Incidentally, its also a nice demonstration of the ground zero GB will be leaving us at. Literally will not be able to borrow another penny.

    I understand the normal reaction for a child is to blame the mean person who makes him take the nasty tasting medicine. As we mature, we learn that it is the disease that is to blame.

  • Comment number 77.

    Al Fingers @ 12.18
    If Cameron finds that the debt (and the drain that is PFI obligations) is much bigger than Brown lets on, and I suspect it will be, all Cameron has to do is to invite the LibDums to inspect the books to confirm the situation. Blows Nu Labor criticism right out of the water.
    Nu Labor has managed to keep the books well hidden and has decided not to publish the Spending Review (which they have undoubtedly carried out) so as to wrong-foot the opposition and cover up the spending cuts they know they will have to make.
    Now Brown's only tactic is scaremongering.

  • Comment number 78.

    The only risk in this election is the risk of the UK again being a laughing stock because of postal voting fraud. First we had Kerry McCarthy breaking the law, which the police are currently investigating though I don't why as it is a clear cut case and now this... http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23829658-police-alerted-to-postal-vote-fraud-claims-across-capital.do

    This country's voting system is a joke. all postal votes should be anulled now!

  • Comment number 79.

    At 12:55pm on 30 Apr 2010, Ranjit BD wrote:
    Why does it matter to general public if a prime minister is a liar or not? if he does not have good communication skills or not? If his smile is crippy? It is not a presidential election. Should not people be concerned only about their policies and track record?

    Yes great Public services i.e schools and hospitals, but at what expense. All these new buildings have been bought on a platinum credit card (namely PFI) and the interest on this runs to £9 billion a year at present. That's with out paying off any of the structural debt. Anybody can buy the anything with a credit card, but we haven't got the money to pay it back. How much do you think we owe under PFI? I don't either, and no candidate I have asked will answer my question. Can anybody help?

  • Comment number 80.

    Labour plusses? "weathering the economic storm, helping to save the banks, investing in schemes to keep unemployment and mortgage possessions lower than most people dared to hope for and investing billions in schools, hospitals and tax credits".

    I think not. All the above was only done by borrowing yet more in an already dire debt situation. Brown is like those adverts to combine all your debts and then go on holiday!

    Any fool can borrow and spend and any fool did. All it does is push the problem into the future where it grows in size due to interest payments.

    All Labour had to do from 1997 forward was spend less than they got in tax. Simple enough but they refused to do so then so why would anyone believe they would be prudent now?

    Pain is better taken is a small dose now than a large dose later. Avoid the dentist for today’s check-up and risk the painful tooth extraction next time. That rotten tooth is Gordon Brown all sugary smiles in public but decaying sneers in private.

  • Comment number 81.

    I'm starting to doubt some of the polls now. I think they have more to do with with Tory advertising £'s being spent.

  • Comment number 82.

    18. At 12:23pm on 30 Apr 2010, Essential Rabbit wrote:
    In Birmingham today, high speed car crash interupts slow motion car crash.


    I can remember the bad old days under the conservatives, when the unemployed couldent' afford to run a car!

  • Comment number 83.

    Why do people keep on insisting that Nic Robinson is guilty of promoting Labour party spin, when he was Chairman of the Oxford University Conservative Association and a member of Conservative Future?

    Maybe Mr Robinson is actually, very admirably, calling it as it is regardless of his political opinion. Grow up people.

  • Comment number 84.

    another old boy @ 7

    "But cut the nonsense about Labuor winning back votes from the LibDems. No chance!"

    Oh I don't know. I'm still up for grabs.

    And I live in a three way marginal.

  • Comment number 85.

    @ no 1 - brilliantly summed up.

    You should seek out a job as a political commentator!

  • Comment number 86.

    Yes indeed: we’re down to the wire, last week of campaigning.
    The three horse race striving hard towards the finish line.
    According to the polls (It doesn't mattrer which you check; they're all about the same), it's a Conservative victory, followed by LibDems with Labour labouring at the rear.
    Change parties NOW, end up with a hung parliament NOW...
    Gordan Brown says not good. I say not good.
    Like Gordon, I feel it's a mighty big gamble to switch leader and party NOW - especially when EU country after EU country is turning its head - not towards the UK race - but to the race of the STUPID PIIGS - Greece, Portugal, Spain...possibly the UK? How many STUPID PIIGS will cross the finish line and when?
    David Cameron says Gordon Brown is trying to "scare" voters. He says his Tories will deliver the "change we need"...and thereby play into the hands of whom?
    Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg urged voters to "choose the future you really want". How do we know what the future will look like under Nick Clegg?
    Heated moments as “bigot-gate” erupted.
    Mr Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron accused the LibDems of planning an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg insisted that he was not in favour of an amnesty, saying: "It’s very much the style of old politics, making misleading claims."
    Mr Clegg got (I thought) somewhat rude when he said: "Why don’t we save time and just assume every time you speak about our policies you are wrong."
    The last debate was supposed to focus on the economy, but it meandered into Immigration. Mr Clegg demanded to know the number of EU residents who would be allowed into Britain under the Conservatives’ proposed immigration cap. Mr Cameron said immigration was "out of control these last few years" and from what he's heard, the LibDems would make it much, much worse.
    Mr Cameron said that if Tory policies were implemented, "we wouldn’t hear...so many people worried about immigration."
    Mr Brown focused on the need to limit economic migration in those occupational areas where there are already sufficient "home-grown" workers to fill jobs.
    Looking at those replies, of course, Mr. Brown is correct. With unemployment so high, one must restrict Immigration to DEMAND occupations that cannot be filled internally.
    Here is the heart the problem. So often Mr. Brown's answers are correct, but he bumbles them up so intricately that he provides easy sport for the likes of Cameron and Clegg.


  • Comment number 87.

    38. At 1:10pm on 30 Apr 2010, floater wrote:
    Does the fact that what David Cameron says depends on the day of the week and who his audience is make him the candidate for change?
    =================================================================

    Floater

    if you don't mind me saying that was a floater of an attempt to undermine Cameron.

    Floater is something that springs to mind when I see the image of Brown

  • Comment number 88.

    What do I remember from the debate? Well, the thing that comes first to mind is the ubiquitous use of a word you won't find in the OED-"gunna". As in: there's always 'gunna' be this or that issue. Seriously, though, I feel they all had little to say about where or how quickly the cuts to reduce the deficit will be...apart from the fact that Gordon Brown appears to suggest it'll all be delayed for a year under Labour.

    No one can predict the future so who ever wins the election will, without a doubt, do things differently to how they are saying they will do them now. I doubt that Tony Blair expected 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the London tube bombs and the banking crisis. Society, the economy, the world moves under a momentum all of its own and governments are largely onlookers - reacting to events, trying to anticipate things and, based in information filtered through the civil service, making judgements as to what is the best thing to do. Gordon Brown, for example, may have saved millions of peoples savings and livelihoods with his action to stop some of our major banks going broke but, one suspects, what he did was under advisement from permanent officials - you know, those gilt-edged mandarins rumoured to inhabit the corridors of Whitehall.

    You've only got to look at how difficult it is for some Select Committees to sqeeze out the facts of what's going on from permanent officials to realize that whatever party wins - the 'don't risk its' or the 'let's have a change'- they'll be making decisions based on what the permanent officials tell them is going on out there and, much as they may dislike it, will have to adjust their aims accordingly. They may not be elected but it is the permanent civil service that often decides on the things that affect our everyday lives. Risk v Change? I rather think it's more about who you think will deal with unexpected events effectively and get the best out of the civil service.

  • Comment number 89.

    THE EURO
    my biggest concern about the lib-dems is their apparent enthusiasm for the euro. last night NC went into a bit of a flap when DC pointed this out. maybe he has realised that this is a big vote loser.

    my own view is that a single currency can only work in a single language environment, where people can move freely from state to state and slot into jobs because they are qualified to do them and not because they are cheap labour.

    so, with the single language not even on the political agenda, i think that we should keep control of our own interest rates and, by extension, the pound.

  • Comment number 90.

    PhoneyDave attempted to give the impression that he was concerned about the 'parlous' state of the public finances.I wonder how much thought he gave to the issue when he was claiming hundreds of pounds of taxpayers money to have his wisteria plants pruned,and claiming tens of thousands of pounds on his mortgage.

  • Comment number 91.

    I just don't understand people who think the country has been in a mess for 13 years.
    The last year has been tough with a worldwide redession but the previous 12 years was the longest substained growth in history. Labour won three elections based on that, with lesser seats but still won.
    Over the last 12 years they promised to plough money into the NHS and education and offer everyone a chance to work. The NHS is still not perfect but can people remember the waiting lists before Labour got in, people were waiting two years for a hip replacement. People are still waiting but nowhere near that time. As for education, they have built many new secondary schools over the country in the BSF project(building schools for the future), was this a bad idea? They gave us tax credits that gave the chance for millions of people to work. The tax credits make mistakes at times but before we had them only the rich could aford childminders and nursey not the general person. Then we ahve the minimum wage, the thing the tories were against, saying it would bankrupt the country. They also said the same for the bond scheme to pay for your childs education if they want to go to university when they are old enough.
    All these things Labour gave us over the last 13 years but people forget that and just focus on the last few and GB's lack of charisma. Who do you want in charge of the country someone who is flash and has no sustance or someone who will say anything to get into power?
    I have nothing against Clegg and its a shame that our electrol system is so stupid and unfair for him to be given a chance but that might chance i hope.
    One final thing, as someone posted the tories didn't want to bail the banks out and were against the goverment backing investors money when Iceland's bank failed. Every other country has gone the way of buying the banks out to get out of recession, are they all wrong?
    Everything is not perfect in this country and can be better but its a dam site better since Labour have been in power.


  • Comment number 92.

    Seems Nick still wants to support he elder statesman. Must have slept on his initial reaction. Viewed in cold light of day one of the leaders looked tired, rambling and out of touch. Two appeared energetic and basically credible. Deciding which party leader has the best chance of leading his party through the sticky descisions ahead without it all falling apart is up to the electorate. Most people will have decided their winner no matter what was said. We are voting for a team, with only three constituencies choosing the possible captain.

  • Comment number 93.

    I don't buy the Tory's argument that employers will have to cut jobs because of a small rise in NI. Comapany bosses support their not raising NI because of their self-interests - they would not have as much to pay themselves if the NI is raised. Tories argue that it is not too much to cut 1 Pound from every 100 on public spending, using the same argument surely it would be reasonable to ask company bosses to take a little bit less from the company profits to account for the NI rise - this would only be fairer, why do the well-off not have to tighten their belts when other millions of people have to? The Tory's policy of lowering corporation tax will again only mean the company bosses will have more to pay themselves. How naive to think that the company bosses will employ more people with the tax saved!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Brown caused the recession? Funny, I thought it was the collapse of the U.S. sub-prime market. Brown and Labour made it worse? Think about the Conservative recessions of the eighties and nineties.
    Unemployment up to 3.5 million
    Collapse of the housing market
    Negative equity
    Highest interest rates on record, year after year
    VAT increased and extended
    Now compare with this recession
    Unemployment peaking at 2.5 million, with a larger population and more in work than ever
    Housing market sustained
    No house price collapse; prices now rising at 10% p.a.
    VAT reduced to help the retail sector
    Labour have worked a miracle to get us through the worst of the recession with so little effect. Look at Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland if you want to know how bad it could be. Or wait and see how bad it gets here if Cameron and the Tories are elected.

  • Comment number 95.

    Judging by the polls, I probably watched another debate yesterday! I am a strong Labour supporter but I also recognise when Brown messes up. Yesterday, was clearly not the case. I felt on the contrary, that Cameron felt tired, sleepy, almost as if he could not wait to go. Clegg on the other hand was terribly boring. Perhaps the media are out there to make us like he who looks smart, knows how to smile etc... Perhaps this is a celebrity contest, or is it not??

  • Comment number 96.

    Gordon Brown is starting to sound like a repeat offender in the dock.
    "Gimme anuvver chance Guv and I'll never do it again"

    I just hope on this occasion the justices see fit to send him down.

  • Comment number 97.

    What a really strange report from Nick Robinson. He almost makes it sound as though Browns dreadful record in Government should be put aside to give him the sympathy vote. The only reason unemployment is lower, is that even during the recession, the public sector was still being expanded and in the private sector, hours and wages are being cut instead of people being laid off. Investment in school, hospitals and most public sector projects have been paid for with mounting debt, a lot of which is still a liability for the future. Mortgages are being propped up by low interest rates and Government schemes, repossessions, will therefore happen when normal interest rates return and Government support has to be withdrawn.

    As to the banks anyone could have just thrown taxpayers money at the problem as Brown and Darling did. The run on Northern Rock was caused by Brown and his dithering. Brown was responsible for the change in regulation of the banks in the first place, which allowed capital to lending in banks to be too low. He allowed personal debt in Britain to go too high and banks to lend at 100% plus. It is still yet to be proved whether the Government have taken the right actions over the banks. All of this can be laid at Browns door and that is before we get to the massive deficit he built up in Government finances year on year and the once wonderful pensions system he destroyed. I for one, certainly will not mourn Browns demise.

    What should concentrate the mind is that Greece has a much easier task than Britain for fiscal tightening. There are many things which can be cut such as retirement at 53, many taxes that can be made higher and many cuts made without effecting frontline services. In Britain this is not so. Retirement is already high, taxes are high, a lot of the public sector projects are still to be paid for and the liability of public sector pensions unknown, but add up to a massive figure. Personally I doubt now that frontline services can be protected. Greece have also not printed money. Today we are told that as well as the cuts in Government spending, taxation on low incomes will have to increase, if the deficit is to be cut in the time needed. These are the very people Brown was supposed to protect. This also, of course makes a nonsense of Cleggs 17 billion of tax cuts. It also appears that with all this heavy regulation and punitive tax measures on the banks to come, this will see Britain most probably lose its banking sector as well. Again Clegg has this completely wrong.

    It was not Cameron who was evasive last night it was Clegg. He does indeed want an amnesty for immigrants, he just refused to say it. This would not only encourage more illegal immigration, as well as the need to keep all the ones already here, Britain just cannot afford anymore people. I also noticed Clegg had suddenly lost his enthusiasm for the Euro and the EU, now he has realised how unpopular these policies are. Clegg is a mere opportunist of the worst kind, that is definitely not change.

    Cameron dismissed Brown last night because he has realised, that if someone is determined to keep telling untruths, no matter what you say, you cannot stop them from doing it. He has therefore decided to allow Browns record of spin and untruths to speak for itself.

    Being PM of Britain is such a poison chalice now, that I am surprsied anybody but Brown would want it. However if Cameron is prepared to give it a go, I wish him luck.

    For what Brown has done to Britain, never mind a taxi, let the so and so walk.

  • Comment number 98.

    "The only peple that will vote for him are Public Sector workers who fear the worst under a Tory Govt. My message to them is tough! I work in the Private sector and have been out of work for almost 9 months. Thats the risk you may say, but its only taxes from the Private Sector that keeps the Public Sector afloat. They have taken a hit, now so must your jobs! Its called real life!"

    This is a classic case of a reactionary button press induced burst of adrenalin blocking rational thought. Less jobs in the public sector means less jobs available on the market as well as more competion for the jobs that are available. Its a double blow. The Conservatives here obviously seem to think that these real people just disappear. The public sector supports the private sector which is why the private sector pays taxes. Some people who are succeptible to this kind of small government dogma. Fail to grasp this. I also doubt the Conservative party feels as strongly about the public sector. but it doesn't mind pushing your buttons to get your vote. Same for Europe and Immigration.

  • Comment number 99.

    45. At 1:18pm on 30 Apr 2010, PortcullisGate wrote:
    Nick

    can we nail this ridiculous claim from Brown.

    Leaving £6 Billion in the peoples pockets is not taking it OUT of the economy.

    ========================================

    It is no less ridiculous than team Camerons original linkage of the two things together permitting not quite got my figures right Gordon to make similar silly noises.

    The effects of both are a cut in spending power in the economy at large be it this year or next year.

    Becuase we plan to borrow a hundered billion odd next year irrespective who wins - whether you borrow less or increase taxes to avoid borrowing more makes frankly bugger all difference - spending is reduced in the economy.

    Somewhere, sometime - 6 billion less will be spent - it is when that is the heart of the issue because of the consequences of the decision which are the most relevant part.

    In all the silly to and from over the messages - the important part of the discussion never even got a look in. Gordon to be fair to him actually tried but was more interested in the silly soundbite trading it appears at the end.

  • Comment number 100.

    60. corum-populo-2010

    Why is Sunderland City Council about to spend £133million on a bridge?

    Could the Sunderland City Council's eye-watering £133 million bridge be built better, cheaper and provide jobs for Armed Forces engineers who are disabled or have left the best training company in Britain.

    Come on Sunderland City Council - jobs for heroes not Chief Executives!!!!
    ===================================================================

    Have ever seen the River Wear where the proposed bridge would be built ?

    I have nothing but praise for the Royal Engineers and our military bridge building personnel, but this would literally be a bridge too far even for their skills and ingenuity.

    Presumably someone told Gordon Brown he needed to build bridges after the other days goings on. The department of transport will provide £98 million for this, so it's not real money, they'll just print some more notes.

 

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