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The would-be chancellors

Nick Robinson | 16:23 UK time, Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A statement of fact? Scaremongering of the worst kind? Desperate stuff?

You pays yer money and you makes yer choice.

Those were the responses of Messrs Osborne, Cable and Darling to Ken Clarke's warning this morning that a hung Parliament could lead to the IMF having to sort out the nation's finances. This was after the former chancellor had described the last Lib/Lab pact in the late 70s as "a farce" and "a fiacso".

It produced the most memorable exchange in BBC2's highly watchable and revealing debate between the would-be chancellors.

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The other highlights were:

• Vince Cable being put on the back foot about claims that he'd "double-counted" some of his planned savings; about allegedly implausible claims about how much could be saved from cutting tax avoidance and why he had attacked the Tories for planning to hike VAT when he wouldn't rule it out himself.

• George Osborne wriggling when asked to explain what his plan to reduce the bulk of the structural deficit meant and why he'd stopped warning about an age of austerity and the shadow chancellor taking the gloves off to attack the chancellor as a failure (a rehearsal of David Cameron's next game plan perhaps).

• Alistair Darling (and Vince Cable) struggling to explain how planned Tory cuts of £6bn could possibly effect the course of an economy which was worth over £1.5 trillion.

• the chancellor looked the most comfortable throughout the debate - his friends will say that was a reflection of his competence, his enemies that the focus of this election has moved into a Con/Lib Dem spat.

What was most memorable, though, was the fact that the whole course of this debate was set by the rise of the Lib Dems.

So, on a day when unemployment rose to the highest level seen since 1994 and at a time when all parties agree we are facing the worst budgetary crisis and the biggest spending cuts in decades, these three argued about the only fact that has electrified this election - opinion polls which suggest the likelihood of a hung Parliament - and which, whisper who dares, might turn out to be wrong.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Darling was comfortable because he knows that whatever the result of the election he will no longer be Chancellor, or indeed a minister, after 6 May 2010. He has the comfort of saying whatever he wants knowing he will never again have to implement any of his ideas. A bit like Vince Cable .....

  • Comment number 2.

    Bye bye newlabour

    Taxi for Brown!

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick, I think you're at your best when you're questioning the political messages being put out by the parties, and challenging politicians on whether they're discussing the right issues. However, most of this post was devoted to summarising a debate people can easily watch themselves.

    Your most interesting point was the fact the debate centred on the Liberal Democrats, rather than the recent inflation and unemployment figures.

  • Comment number 4.

    It was an excellent opportunity to see them together and far more revealing than the 'other 'debate.

    Andrew and Stephanie were both excellent and Andrew actually managed to get out of Vince that it would be austerity ahead.

    I like Vince Cable but his track record has been over-rated and we saw just how changeable he has been throughout the credit crisis changing his mind over and over.

    This does not auger well if he would be Chancellor for the first decision has to be the right decision and you can't just pass the buck over to someone else to sort out if it goes wrong.

    Alistair Darling is a steady guy but I'd have more confidence in him if it was his policies we were listening to rather than Gordon Browns

    George Osborne never comes over well but underneath he has a very clever and organised mind with a lot of potential helped by the experience of Ken Clarke and the diplomacy of Philip Hammond.

    And it is going to take a clever plan to convince those out in the bond market that any of them can sort out the deficit and pay back the debt.

    If they don't and we can't borrow the huge amounts of money we will need to keep the country running over the next five years it will not be a matter of what is cut but what can be salvaged.

    It was a very good debate and well worth watching.

  • Comment number 5.

    Ha. Lib Dems plan to raise VAT.

    Hilarious in the light of some comments on the previous blog.

  • Comment number 6.

    So the CFO at government owned Northern Rock has left abrubtly. How does reflect on the stewardship of the Financial Sector of the government. It appears that everything that Brown and Darling touch comes to sand. employment is on the rise, as is inflation and of course the debt is rising.

    So Mr Darling why should we trust anyone you appoint, or worse still believe anything you say?

  • Comment number 7.

    Whereabouts can we start to have a guess about what parliament will look like after this is all done?
    I reckon that the biggest party will be the conservatives - around 305 seats, Liberals gaining seats from all sides but only getting up to 100, Labour collapsing mainly to the liberals in terms of votes, but conservatives in terms of seats down to around 227, and the remainder on about 33. What this will mean is the "other parties" will hold the balance of power, NOT Nick Clegg. I came to this conclusion after looking at each of the individual target constuencies and how the vote swing might affect them, not at swings as a whole. Can anyone see Alex Salmond cosying up to Cameron? I certainly can't, but you could see UKIP winning the odd seat and joining up with the Northern Irish to support a conservative administration. Farage for Foreign Secretary anyone?

    Anyway - note the scores above, we could have an imaginary sweepstake for fun.

  • Comment number 8.

    Whats fascinating is the way Ken Clarke pops up from nowhere, has a ramble, and sets the agenda: does his IMF claim hold water? That is the question!

  • Comment number 9.

    Thought Alistair Darling and Vince Cable were very good with George Osborne a poor third.

    Roll on the next leaders debate so we can watch plastic Dave get trounced again.

    Its interesting that if the Tories lose more votes to the Lib Dems this could become a race between Labour and the Lib Dems for most seats on election day.

  • Comment number 10.


    as far as I can see the general consensus is that 'Vince the Invincible Oracle' myth was debunked big style.

    Osbourne won it hands down.

    But he has not been pressed by anyone other than Andrew Neil up til now. So the myth has been allowed to spread.

  • Comment number 11.

    "opinion polls which .... might turn out to be wrong" that's right; there could be a Lib Dem majority returned on May 6th!

  • Comment number 12.

    Don't worry Labour and the Lib Dems have a task for that!

  • Comment number 13.

    Clarke is right on the money, He eventually after Howe got the economy going in the right direction after the disasster of the Lib/lab pact of the 70's for GB to bring it crashing back down.

    So lets consentrate of the 3 main issue of the election

    1) Total Debt of HMG and the population
    2) The deficit ie the rate of increase
    30 The waste of money that is the family courts

  • Comment number 14.

    Watching the debate I expected to hear something from the would be chancellors on how they would tackle unemployment, price rises, the debt burden and economic mess.

    But as you note, it was all about the wretched hung parliament. I think commentators can get carried away by political point scoring over performances.

    Meanwhile back in the real world ... Employment rises to 2.5m. Inflation rate rises to 3.4%. The economy "to stay in the doldrums". Don't these things matter?

  • Comment number 15.

    Did Ken Clarke actually say "fiacso"?

    Also, "effect" when used as a verb means to "instigate" - in the case of your 3rd bullet point, where the meaning is to "influence", I believe you want "affect". :-)

  • Comment number 16.

    Yesterday at a presentation looking at how we resolve pension and pensioner crisis i forecasted that we would have a RISE in the unemployment figures this week at a presentation - WHY? Well on the Andrew Marr show, GB made a slip, hinted and when pressed by AM covered it up ---liar liar pants on fire Mr GB and co...get them out
    We, the country are in the Thomas rebalance the books over the medium term we need
    1. Private sector and economic growth Growth
    2. Public sector Cuts and a
    3. Credible Tax policy
    Its the priority and level that matters, but also how soon we deal with it...any debt management advice is face it, and deal with sooner not transfer it to another interst free credit card ala LIB/LAB for 12 months. No Gain without Pain

    The state will have to trade smaller, private sector provides growth, taxes must be reasonable...too much and Laffe Curve/Principal kicks in and people look to avoid paying taxes...including cutting spending ie NO VAT receipts

  • Comment number 17.

    Unemployment in the UK rose 43,000 in the three months to February to 2.5m, the highest for 16 years, posing a setback to the Labour party in the run-up to the general election.

  • Comment number 18.


    the chancellor looked the most comfortable throughout the debate


    That's because he has moved all of his belongings out of Number 11 because he know hes finished.

    You don't move out of Downing Street before an election and then say your the man for the job.

  • Comment number 19.

    good grief - the fact that a representative of the labour party has the gall to even stand there, never mind critisise Osbourne is beyond me.

  • Comment number 20.

    No reason whatsoever why a Hung Parliament should lead to the IMF. The IMF may well come in at some point - can't rule it out - but if they do, it will have little or nothing to do with the precise result on May 6th. That the Tories are reduced to such scaremongering nonsense says an awful lot about where they are right now. Where are they? A place full of demons ... full of vague but terrible fears. A dark place.

  • Comment number 21.

    I do not understand why people are saying a hung parliament will result in financial chaos. The City cerianly doesn't seem to think so. Here's why:

    The polls have been prediciting a hung parliament for weeks, if not months. So I would expect the City to be thinking hard about the implications. If the City is worrying about a hung parliament resulting in the government being unable to pay down the national debt and find it difficult to borrow more, I would expect the stock market to fall, and the value of government debt to fall as well.

    But this is not happening.

    The stock market has risen in more or less a straight line since February, and, more relevantly, the value of 10 year govenment debt (and govenrment debt in general) has been pretty stable - suggesting the City thinks the UK will be able to pay its debt.

    Personally I think that a government supported by a majority of the British people (rather than one opposed by a majority) has a better mandate to put into place the painful measures necessary (either cuts to public servies or increased taxes or both) to reduce public debt.

    Perhaps the City thinks so too.

  • Comment number 22.

    Indeed the only Party Leader who got it right before the event was, of course, Alex Salmond.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think Darling won hands down. Calm, informed and having a clear plan. Cable is so bad tempered if challenged and Osborn's lack of competence is not hidden by his bullish performance.

  • Comment number 24.

    Er, Nick, why do you not even *mention* the most memorable moment? Brillo's skewering of Cable regarding his consistently flipflopping positions on *everything* and his ludicrously inflated repuration? I thought the old feller might go into cardiac arrest - so why are the BBC skimming over *your own man's* excellent work? Still wrapped up in this pathetic fawning over St Vince of the 20/20 Hindsight?

    Do you think Andrew Neil would ignore you, Nick, if you were to present us with such a compelling moment? Not that it's likely to happen of course.

  • Comment number 25.

    Sorry to be a pedant, but I'd just like to clarify some of George Osborne's 'statements of fact'. Britain borrowed from the IMF in 1947, 1948, 1956 (after Suez), 1961, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1975 and 1976. Also, the 1976 loan was NOT made during the hung parliament of 1974, nor was it during the Lib-Lab pact which commenced 9 months later in March 1977.

  • Comment number 26.

    Watched the video (but not the full debate). I couldn't believe it when Cable, after having been cornered by Osborne, said that "We all have to work together". Considering that Clegg has rubbished Cameron's "We're all in this together", and Cable had stated previously that both of the other would-be chancellors' policies were rubbish, why is suddenly wanting to work work them?

    Sounds like The LDs are a bit desparate.

  • Comment number 27.

    I have to say I have waited a very long time for Vince Cable to be put to the test by the media so I am extremely grateful to Andrew Neil for this debate. Cable has lived on his reputation built up by the media for far too long. All cable has ever done is follow popular opinion and state the obvious most of the time. This is proof if it is needed that the public can be influenced by what they see and what they read instead of what is actually true.

    It is time for a bit of honesty in this election, after all it will decide Britains future for these next important 5 years. The Lib/Dem policies have been shown up for what they are mere opportunism.

    The person who has been vilified the most, Osborne did very well. Perhaps now the public, with the help of the media, will look at the policies instead of personalities and stop listening to Labour spin.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ken Clarke's and George Osborne's comments regarding the IMF are absolutely fair:

    The only previous time that the IMF had to bail out the UK was under the last Lib/Lab hung parliament.

    Why don't you say that in your report; it is a very relevant point.

  • Comment number 29.

    Darling supports Brown, Brown is a proven liar, therefore Darling agrees with Brown's lies.
    Cable can spout on but he will never be chancellor. The lib dems have policies that do not add up.
    The only realistic choice, and this comes from me a previous labour supporter, is for the tories to get the country out of the present mess.
    I, for one, will not vote for liar Brown or any of his cronies.

  • Comment number 30.

    8. At 5:09pm on 21 Apr 2010, StopFiddling wrote:
    Whats fascinating is the way Ken Clarke pops up from nowhere, has a ramble, and sets the agenda: does his IMF claim hold water? That is the question!


    Ken is a card - always good for a bit of healthy debate - what he said is absolutely true - IF the markets lost faith and stopped buying our gilts then we would be broke and have to go to the IMF for a bailout.

    However would they, after all they would lose a pile of money if we did default (unless they had hedged it or engaged in some other esoteric deal)? the question is will the markets lose faith and lose the money - only if there is no hope of getting it back and no one believes any of the parties are that stupid?

    What interests me a little at the moment is this in this regard.

    Would Cameron and Osborne be so childish in the slim chance of a hung parliament not to deal sensibly with any potential partner to prevent this occurrence rather than just haggling and arguing with them until it all goes wrong and just so they can stand at the side saying "I told you so" like a spoiled child.

    They are coming over to me as rather like arrogant spoiled children, it's my turn waaaahhhhhh!, which I have had quite enough of already.

    If they don't grow up soon they may actually still blow it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hardly suprising they all struggled to a certain extent, making a silk purse out of the inheritence of Browns sows ear.

    Not so much a question of who won , but more a question of who looked the least bad!

  • Comment number 32.

    Hmmmm. Slightly different edit Nick. Wonder why you, as political editor chose to pick this bit....?

    Cable was ripped to bits by Brillo and anyone who watches the full programme will soon be able to see it.

  • Comment number 33.

    Before anyone falls for Ken Clarke's assertion that a hung parliament will lead to the IMF coming to sort out the British economy - I would like to remind him that it was Chancellor Healey that "went cap in hand " to the IMF in 1976 when Labour STILL HAD A MAJORITY. It was only LATER in 1977 when the Labour Government had LOST its majority that the Lib/Lab Pact came into being. The IMF came BEFORE the hung parliament not the other way round. Ken Clarke get your history right!

  • Comment number 34.

    Vince Cable was corretc to say that Osborne & Clarke are scaremongering.
    The British pound against the Swiss Fran for example was for exchange rate purpsoes in 1979 when Thatcher & Clarke arrived 4.20
    In 1997 when they left offive and New Labour and Chancellor Brown arrived it was 2.50
    Now in 2010 and we go to the Polls the rate is 1.60
    To any basic and stupid economist - it is telling all, we are sinking as an economy and for real wealth- as the currencey has fallen dramatically
    so to claim we would ahev a currencey problem if there wasa hung/ co altion parliament - so no more Lbaour or Conservative only- please stop the lies ! the two main parties have failed for they have killed so much of the real wealth of the Land!
    As for Andrew Neil who is too clsoe to rupert Murdoch- and News Corp etc want the conservatives to win, so there behind the scene deal to sell parts of the bBc will assist the Sky biz plan- gives Neil less credibility to conduct any true interview or debate ! but at leats we saw the main parties are scared now of the surge in Liberal democrat support- as it is the Uk Obama -as chnage must start wiht no more just 2 !!!!

  • Comment number 35.

  • Comment number 36.

    Was I dreaming or did Stephanie Flanders say on 6 pm news since the recession began 563,000 Btitish born workers have lost their jobs but there has been an increase of 16,000 non British born workers in work.

    I realise non British born can mean anyone who has lived here for years and is a citizen but this seems incredible. Is there a polarising of the UK workforce into different job sectors? are these workers not getting the skills that would see them employed in the emerging sectors? maybe it is because they do not want to work in areas where non british born/UK citizens will work?.
    She has other statistics here

  • Comment number 37.

    a QUOTE from Nick Robinsons cv

    "Born in Macclesfield, Cheshire, in 1963, Robinson attended the independent Cheadle Hulme School before reading Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at University College, Oxford.[1] At Oxford he was also President of the Oxford University Conservative Association.

    Whilst at Oxford University, he was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club.[3]

    In 1982 he survived a car crash in France in which his friends James Nelson and Will Redhead (son of Brian Redhead) were killed. Brian Redhead later encouraged his career in journalism.[4] In 1986, he spent a year as national chairman of the Young Conservatives;[3] he does not state this in his own blog biography.[1][5]"

    Are you still a member of the Conservative party ??

  • Comment number 38.

    After Labour and Torries joined hands to bailout the banks the people were left holding the empty bag. There is a general lack of confidence that government represents the interest of the people. Let the chips fall where they may and a strong message be sent to the political parties that betrayal of the people will not be without consequences. Always harded to keep secrets when three are involved rather than just two. To date no one has provided a proposal that does anything other than maintain the status quo. What is the campaign: "We were at the helm when the ship ran aground as we were aiding the pirates who robbed your home, so trust our navigation skills to free the ship, i.e., we are waiting for the tide to rise."

  • Comment number 39.

    I'm getting on in years.I can remember the fall of the last fascist leader in Western Europe - kicked out by their own followers, if I recall... and I can remember the feeling of relief and joy that some semblance of a democratic government was about to be restored to the people. Then, this morning, I was genuinely shocked to wake to the headline "Ken Clarke warns that a hung parliament will bring in the IMF". It was like travelling back 20 years, with all the resultant horror, confusion and disorientation that, I imagine, that kind of thing can bring about.The lietmotif of the Thatcher government, of which Ken Clarke was a member, was that the people of this country just dont know what is good for them - they have to be told (it was also the recurrent theme in Benito Mussolini's speeches incidentally).... and here we are again.. you dont want to exercise your democratic right on May 6th. That will only lead to a hung parliament. No, you want to do what you're told .. vote Conservative ! .. clearly, the problem, as the Tories see it is, the wrong kind of voters on the line... or, for Ken Clarke and those who think like him, its the electorate, stupid !
    Plus ca change ...

  • Comment number 40.

    [#2 It gets tedious when you've read it a few times]

    George Osborne will make a seriously flaky chancellor.
    The Tories have this election to lose.

    On this performance Dave's going to get Kinnocked.

  • Comment number 41.

    +++ WATCH THE GILT YIELD... +++
    Its such a shame the DMO has suspended gilt auctions until after the election..
    with the govt neeeding to borrow £200,000,000,000 in 2010 and with the BofE's QE programme stopped (the BofE bought £180,000,000,000 last year), there are no natural buyers. The yield will rise dramatically and thus so does the cost of servicing the debt.
    Labour can deny it as "tory scaremongering" but the UK'S DEBT DEATH SPIRAL HAS STARTED.

  • Comment number 42.

    I missed the debate, was it juicy? Did Osbourne pull his socks up? Darling dull but dependable? Cable as brilliant as the media make him out to be?

  • Comment number 43.

    I have said ALL along, don't underestimate Osborne

    Today was further evidence of that, and Cable looked what he is, a good MP, and a fine after dinner speaker

    Those barmy Lib Dem numbers will be ripped apart

    How anyone can say Osborne came a poor last, unless through bias is beyond me

  • Comment number 44.


    You could be right

    I think the City have one eye on Greece, half an eye on Portugal, and the UK on hold, until the election is over in 15 days time

  • Comment number 45.


    The SNP have a good position

    No cuts, let's just keep spending the English subsidy

    Hopefully Independence will come soon, and the Scots can subsidise their own economy

    Quite astonishing

  • Comment number 46.


    I truly hope it doesn't happen, although I CAN see the IMF here with anything other than a Conservative majority

    Frankly, Brown has made such a hash, that is entirely possible that the IMF will be here with a Conservative majority

    Sadly, your apology, and withdrawal of the scaremongering at that point won't be much use

    The public say they want honesty from politicians, yet when the honesty comes, it gets called scaremongering

  • Comment number 47.

    20. At 5:40pm on 21 Apr 2010, sagamix wrote:
    No reason whatsoever why a Hung Parliament should lead to the IMF. The IMF may well come in at some point - can't rule it out - but if they do, it will have little or nothing to do with the precise result on May 6th. That the Tories are reduced to such scaremongering nonsense says an awful lot about where they are right now. Where are they? A place full of demons ... full of vague but terrible fears. A dark place.
    They've moved into Downing street already?

  • Comment number 48.

    22. Auld Bob
    "Indeed the only Party Leader who got it right before the event was, of course, Alex Salmond."

    Indeed! For a bit of fun go back and watch some of the "journalists" (not deserving of the name, the lot of them) attacking Salmond over his comments that he thought a balanced parliament was a likely outcome and that it would be a good thing.

    A balanced parliament forced politicians to pay attention to the will of the people and a majority rather than a minority actually determine the government.

    What horror! I can see why the London parties so loathe the idea.

  • Comment number 49.

    Well, now that the invisible man is temporarily visible, he should be asked "What's going to be in your emergency budget?" In order for there to be any credibility we need to at least have some idea. Or we to be denied anything like the Irish concensus on cuts. In other words the rulers are too keen on ruling to let the rest of us in on it. As for St. Vincent of Cable, it depends which way the wind is blowing before he will spell out anything, and then that could be different tomorrow. Poor old Mr. Darling, taking over in the never never Augean Stables that were Brown's Treasury, can't or daren't tell us all that he found in there, like all those off-book PFIs still waiting to be paid for. Brave New World, or not as the case may be. Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 50.

    I was delighted that Vince Cable was subjected to the same intense scrutiny to which the other Parties have been subjected. The interviewers were excellent. I was genuinely shocked that Cable sounded so feeble and unconvincing. Alistair Darling was trying too hard, which made me suspicious about his sincerity. George Osborn is still learning but I agree with virtualsilverlady that he is the one person who has the astuteness and brain to handle what is going to be a rocky few years.

  • Comment number 51.

    Re TheWalrus999, please see my comment of 6.08pm. Both Ken Clarke and George Osborne are wrong on several counts about the 1976 loan and Andrew Neil was amiss for not picking them up on it. I have a huge amount of respect for Ken Clarke who should no better than to play fast and loose with the facts on such an important issue. As for George Osborne's 2:1 in history from Oxford, I can only guess it wasn't British history.

  • Comment number 52.

    That's more like it.

    Proper politics, not simply shouts of 'we're different' followed by no explanation. If the Lib Dems want to be in government, then they must be held to account, including the would-be soothsayer Vince Cable.

    I mean honestly, funding a massive tax cut through clamping down on tax avoidance? What a ludicrous idea. It's not as if HMRC has been letting rich guys get away with it for all these years for a laugh, or out of laziness. It's because these same rich guys employ very clever advisers who spot gaps in the tax system. These gaps are then plugged by clever people on the other side, and so on and so forth. We must do our best to stop it, but it's a downright lie to pretend to the electorate that new measures will yield a fortune.

    I sincerely hope this debate marks the start of the 'new politics', if you will. Politics in which serious questions about policy are asked and people are not simply allowed to get by on ill-deserved reputations and glib soundbites.

  • Comment number 53.

    The Tories seem to be in a dither with the Lib Dems overtaking them in the polls, with Ken Clarkes comments on the IMF. How many years ago was that?
    Why are the Tories so afraid of coalition government? They don't have any decent policies of their own so would need another party or parties to show them how to govern.
    Cameron and Osbourne are being exposed as incompetent light weights with policies changing on a daily basis.
    There will be a lot of digging over the next few weeks to smear the Lib Dems. I bet Rupert Murdoch didn't see this coming.

  • Comment number 54.

    Its interesting that if the Tories lose more votes to the Lib Dems this could become a race between Labour and the Lib Dems for most seats on election day.

    And shows the silliness and ineffectivess of the current electoral system. We need strong governements with mandates rather than coalitions which have no masters.

    the system needs changing to reflect some sort of consistency with the vote. at present it look like Gordon Brown is doing a Mugabe with a third place finish but still holding a disproportionate number of seats

    Where's the international electoral monitors when you need them!

  • Comment number 55.

    so funny all the tories on here, praising osborne. unfortunately for them the conservatives are not credible. and all this bleating is just desperation as they see their lead in the polls sink and their chances of being elected diminish. the conservatives are not credible and this will be seen on election day. the conservative party and right wing politics in general is the last thing a modern tolerant forward thinking country needs. a coalition may have its downside but it will ensure right wing policies are not allowed to ruin this country ever again.

  • Comment number 56.

    43 Kevin (not biassed in any way) said

    "How anyone can say Osborne came a poor last, unless through bias is beyond me"

    Simply watching the full debate did it for me, if you can't define "bulk" then I feel the post of chancellor is way way beyond you.

    Frankly, he looked down right out of his depth.

  • Comment number 57.

    Didn't see the debate as I was at work earning the money to pay "The Man" but wish I had given by the excitement on the board today.

    Reading the contributions it seems that they were all brilliant and at the same time were all rubbish. So my guess is that the reality is probably that they were all like most politicians, pretty average and engaged in point scoring off each other rather than putting a coherent plan forward. You can hardly blame them though as no politician every says to one of another party, "good point, I like the cut of your jib, we could build on that by doing this". They are all too afraid to present the public with the truth because nobody wants to hear that things are going to be tough, they/we all prefer to hear that everything is going to be fine, kittens & puppies will run freely together in a world of free money, no tax and wonderful loveliness.

    My concern is not that a hung parliament will bring in the IMF, that will happen or not based on a raft of other factors, but that a hung parliament will not be the unifying, constructive force for good that the optimists see but in reality be a shady collection of fudges and compromises that are agreed for party & personal political advantage without a second thought for the national well being.

    My thoughts on the 3 Chancellors:
    - Darling has gone up massively in my estimation since he developed a spine and became more his own man and less his master's puppet
    - Cable is like the class swot, he may be right but nobody likes someone who is always right and tells you about it
    - Osborne always looks as though he's caught in the headlights
    Hardly a compelling reason to vote for any of them or their parties.

  • Comment number 58.

    Had a play with the website's seat predictor (here's a great game to play. Choose you fave poster on this blog and put the %age vote as you think they would want it to be, it gives you some great House of Commons make ups).

    On a serious note if you use today's poll of polls %ages it chows labour with the lowest vote %age but with the most seats. No matter who you support that doesn't seem far and is a pretty convincing case for reform to the voting system.

  • Comment number 59.

    You gotta luv Ken really and of course hes right. Lest we forget it, TB and GB were gifted an economy from KC as chancellor which was in fundamental good health when the Tories got the boot in 97. I remain amazed it actually took 13 years for Labour to screw it up as par for the course previously was one term but I suppose that can be put down to the good work and structure put in place by KC and co.

    I detest KC's views on Europe but have to admit that he was probably the most under-rated chancellor this country has had since the War. If he says the IMF would be called upon in the event of a hung parliament I wouldnt dream of giving argument.

    We vote lib dem at our peril because if we do, it premises a Labour government with GB and co further destroying the economy for good.

    The other reason to avoid a hung parliament frankly is to avoid the possibility of being further dictated to by a bunch of over mighty and otherwise utterly irrelevant welsh and scottish nationalists who collectively see it as their right to spend English tax payers money whilst preaching to us. This is of course has been entirely pandered to by a Scottish cabal of government ministers at Westminster. By all speed give them full independence and let them pay their own way for a change and stop sponging off the English. We dont need an English Parliament though - we have one or at least should have if we werent so attached to the concept of a Union which is so beyond its sell by date that the corpse has more than a whiff of decay.

    The billions saved from such proligacy and waste could along with the further billions saved by giving Europe the heave-ho could be spent reducing the deficit or at least spent in support of the people who have for too long been forced by governments of both colours to shoulder the burden - the low and middle income tax-payer.

  • Comment number 60.

    53. At 7:52pm on 21 Apr 2010, load_of_bull wrote:

    'There will be a lot of digging over the next few weeks to smear the Lib Dems'

    We had The Daily Telegraph up here this week going through old copies of the student newspaper in the University library to see if they could find any dirt on Clegg from his student days.

  • Comment number 61.

    kevin @ 44

    "I think the City have one eye on Greece, half an eye on Portugal, and the UK on hold, until the election is over in 15 days time"

    Holiday destinations? ... yes, maybe so. But otherwise, Kevin, not really. Unless I'm very much mistaken (which, let's face it, is unlikely) then the "City" have one eye on the queues at Starbucks at Liverpool Street Station, half an eye on the possibilty of getting an outside table at Balls Brothers, and their bonus expectations on hold whilst they mull over how best to keep getting away with it.

  • Comment number 62.

    47. It has everythin to do with a hung parliament:

    1) the UK needs to borrow huge amounts of money. it does this by issuing (selling) Gilts to institutional investors (some domestic and lots of foreigners)
    2) Institutional investors are concerned that the UK doesnt go into a debt-spiral. Whoever wins the election MUST sort out the dire fiscal situation. A Hung parliament means there is no clear leadership and the chance of a fudge and indecision rises - ie the day to pay the piper is pushed out.... THIS WILL SCRARE INVESTORS (dont say it wont becuase this is what i do for a job)
    3) As a result the gilt yield will go up and the cost of serviing the debt becomes more than the cost of education or health or whatever.... welcome to the scorched earth situation Brownn has bequeathed to our once solvent country.

  • Comment number 63.

    With all the concentration today on LibDem financial policies (as if they matter) I'm beginning to wonder whether a sizable proportion of the public has sub-conscious memories of "The Amazing Mrs Pritchard". After all we have already had "The Amazing Mr Obama" beating the Clinton shoe-in and now in the UK we have "The Amazing Mr Clegg" winning a TV talent show. Are Lord Pearson and Nick Griffiths also now in the serious running for PM?

  • Comment number 64.

    by the way, anyone want an example of what happens a "balanced" parliament gives disproportionate power to a minority should look at DENMARK where the far right has been using its position..... think about the ramifications!

  • Comment number 65.

    A little off topic but have just been mightily entertained by watching Cleggy get a roasting from a bunch of kids ( sorry younger voters)on a radio 1 event. His annoyance and contempt was barely disguised. They made Paxman look tame in comparison. I think people watching this will believe that Cleggmania is a media fiction that will soon be dead. His entirely unconvincing defence to his own expenses claim said it all. A New politics -pretentious claptrap. Hes as tainted as the rest as is his party. His argument that his lot didnt screw us as much as the other parties is self evident. He has less MPs -doh!

  • Comment number 66.

    54. At 8:10pm on 21 Apr 2010, starsailor123uk wrote:
    Its interesting that if the Tories lose more votes to the Lib Dems this could become a race between Labour and the Lib Dems for most seats on election day.

    And shows the silliness and ineffectivess of the current electoral system. We need strong governements with mandates rather than coalitions which have no masters.


    We have just had three terms of a strong Labour government with an absolute majority based on a minority of the votes.

    And they have comprehensively stuffed it up.

    Prior to that we had 1 term of weak Tory majority government who did a fair job of trying to repair some of the damage done by...

    A 2 term strong Tory government with an absolute majority based on a minority of the votes.

    So please enlighten me , in what way do you think we need yet another strongly mandated government based on a minority of the vote?

  • Comment number 67.

    I am not an Alistar Darling fan, but he was right when he said Vince Cables proposals look "flaky".
    All of a sudden there seems to be a lot of holes on his ideas, now someone has put him under scrutiny.

  • Comment number 68.

    one lars @ 52

    "We must do our best to stop it, but it's a downright lie to pretend to the electorate that new measures will yield a fortune."

    I agree, and the same goes for pretending you can make big cuts in public spending without adversely impacting "front line services", or that we can have decent public services without paying some tax - if we grow up, perhaps our politicians will.

  • Comment number 69.

    Vince is probably overrated by the media, but having read the Lib Dem's manifesto, their economic policies are progressive and left of centre. My worry was that the party's policies would reflect the pro-free market, economic liberalist approach they followed when producing their Orange Book a few years ago. Instead, there are some good policies in their, even if, during debates, there are a few possible contradictions in what they say and what is written in the manifesto. All the more reason, therefore, that a lib-lab alliance could be very promising. Since the Lib Dems have apparently moved away from market liberalism and Labour have also taken a partial retreat from neoliberal policies, the hope if for a progressive government that can solve problems of inequality and social divisions, as well as provide economic prosperity and justice.

  • Comment number 70.

    68. sagamix

    'I agree, and the same goes for pretending you can make big cuts in public spending without adversely impacting "front line services", or that we can have decent public services without paying some tax - if we grow up, perhaps our politicians will.'

    Nice of you to agree. From reading this blog fairly regularly it seems that agreeing with someone of my political leaning is a rarity!

    You're right that cutting spending will have an impact on frontline services and you're also right that taxation is required to fund public services.

    Nonetheless, I do believe that cuts can be made in certain areas that need not have the damaging effect that some would have us believe. Certainly I'm in no position to say where the axe must fall, but I resent the way that New Labour has manipulated the word 'investment'. We must not conflate spending with quality outcome. I am a firm believer that we can do more for less, albeit only up to a point.

  • Comment number 71.

    If anyone doesn't believe Labour or the other two parties for that matter, will increase VAT, consider that Labour set a higher rate VAT on so called luxury goods like washing machines at a whacking 25% in fiscal year 1975/76 when Denis Healey was Labour's Chancellor and of course Tory Chancellor Geoffrey Howe combined the then two VAT rates of 8% and 12.5% to 15% in 1979, claiming it was a once and for all rise. The Tories increased VAT again in 1990 to 17.5% supposedly to cover the shortfall in public finances created by their ill-fated Community Charge aka Poll Tax. Here is one voter who has a L O N G memory!

  • Comment number 72.

    And Andrew Neil was quite forceful against Cable, which is what you'd expect. But can we be sure his conservative background didn't influence the rhetoric or style he used against Cable? The Conservatives have been ruffled by the Lib Dems recently, and perhaps Neil was exemplifying that with the way he put Cable under pressure.

  • Comment number 73.

    25 Duncan

    Are you able to clarify the source for these figures about IMF borrowing and involvement in the UK economy?

    George Osborne could not have been more clear, nor could Ken Clarke in their claims about the timing and occasion of IMF involvement in the UK economy.

    Perhaps Nick, Stephanie and Andrew could clarify this point.

    If your evidence about the veracity of Clarke and Osborne's statements is correct, then this should be exposed for the general public, before tomorrow night's leaders debate, not just on this blog, but on the wider media.

    I actually disagree with other posters to this site. The debate was very poor, focusing on the irrelevance of an event that has not even arisen as Nick correctly points out above.

    Please could we have some more thorough questioning on the track records on the economy of the individuals and the very real challenges facing the economy and the parties' respective policies. This election is not the X-Factor or Britain's got Talent. We are in the depth of a financial position similar to that post war or in the 1930s. We need to know what the parties are proposing to do about it, not who's singing with whom in the sing off at the end.

  • Comment number 74.

    I get very angry when I hear politicians like Ken Clarke being misleading in this way.

    The 1976 IMF bailout had nothing whatever to do with the Lib-Lab pact, which came about the following year; neither was parliament actually hung when the loan was made. I know this because I am very ancient, so I was around in 1976 and was a member of the Liberal Party at the time of the pact. Most electors, as Ken Clarke clearly realises, are younger and will not know they are being misled.

    Incidentally, the then Chancellor, Denis Healey, has since questioned whether the IMF loan was needed at all.

  • Comment number 75.

    This marks the start of the Lib Dem's bubble bursting, if indeed a parliamentary gain of 20-40 seats ever was a major bubble.

    Vince Cable's comments are often wise, and he has a ponchon for spotting general trends and seeing the 'bigger picture', but where Osborne stands head and shoulders above the others is his eye for detail. Yes, he comes across badly, but it was his initiative on Inheritance Tax that forced Brown to force of the 2007 election and it was his initiative on NI that set the agenda in the first week of the campaign. As for Darling, the man is likable, but economic policy is still dominated by Gordon Brown, a man who led this country into recession and is still struggling to pull us out of it.

    As for Ken Clarke, quite why he isn't the Torie's shadow chancellor is beyond me, yes he's aging but I think in a complicated area such as economics that can be and advantage. Such a pity that the best man for the job of Chancellor wasn't on the debate today, Clarke himself.

    The tide is turning, Clegg will be hit by tomorrow's Telegraph revelations and derail his 'anti-politics' message, whilst his policies on the EU in particular will not play well with viewers who will watch tomorrow night with greater expectations on Nick Clegg than Cameron had last week.

  • Comment number 76.

    The Tories should be miles ahead yet are struggling and are now looking very desperate. The Clarke/Osborne axis is now so running scared that they are prepared to talk Britain down and try and precipitate a bigger financial crisis to achieve it. Their anti-European attitudes will not help financial stability.

    Labour is steady but floundering. Maybe a safe option but looking tired and the butt of people's dissatisfaction with the world economic downturn, led by a well meaning but unpopular incumbant.

    Those of us who had decided to vote Lib Dem in the hope of getting a moderate coalition now find that Clegg may be intent on supporting Cameron whatever the state of a hung parliament.

    What a mess!

  • Comment number 77.

    73. At 10:03pm on 21 Apr 2010, ashcroftmillions2010 wrote:
    25 Duncan

    Are you able to clarify the source for these figures about IMF borrowing and involvement in the UK economy?

    Yes, the best place to start is a recent paper by Ben Clift (of Warwick University) and Jim Tomlinson (of Dundee University) called 'Negotiating Credibility: Britain and the International Monetary Fund, 1956–1976'. It was published in Contemporary European History, 17, 4 (2008), pp. 545–566. If you can't access it on the web I can send it to you. Rather geekily, I also have a spreadsheet detailing exact monthly payments between Britain and the IMF (loans and when they were repaid) during this period but then I am doing a PhD on all this stuff so can hopefully be excused!

    Notable is the large loan after Suez in 1956 and the even bigger loan to the same Conservative administration in 1961 - "what was the largest loan yet given by the Fund ($1,500 million of drawings, $500 million of standby)". The purpose of the IMF was to smooth out short term balance of payments difficulties in order to maintain the fixed rate system agreed at Bretton Woods. Therefore, there was little stigma attached to loans in the early days. This changed as the Americans imposed increasingly stiff conditionality from the late 1950s. 1976 was notable for the stringent conditions applied which is probably why it sticks in the collective memory a little more.

    I hope this helps

  • Comment number 78.

    Well well - the only thing that remains consistent is George coming third - why don't the tories just bring on Clarke so they can actually join in the debate?

  • Comment number 79.

    lars @ 70,

    Well I do agree with right wingers from time to time - especially when they say things like cracking down on tax avoidance is very difficult and (although we should do it) we shouldn't expect the moon and the stars. Very grounded and realistic of you to say that. You seem to lose some of this scepticism - go a little bit "sunny side up" - when it comes to (what to me is the very similar issue of) cutting government "waste". That could be your political bias at work or it could be that you're right - I won't say which it is (I don't know), but I'd ask you to at least consider that it might be the former.

  • Comment number 80.

    #72 Agree totally.Tories are running scared of the Lib Dems - they're so pre occupied with putting the boot in to the Libs they keep forgetting there isn't any detail underpinning their own "policies".

    Totally sick of this pro tory BBC - isn't it enough that right wing press barons control what we read and offshore billionaires are controlling what happens behind the scenes?

  • Comment number 81.

    75 James

    Party funding is an interesting, but challenging matter, for all the parties.

    First David Cameron suggests at the leadership debate last week that he does not want to make "holier than thou" claims and immediately raises the matter of the £2.4m donation from a donor that was subsequently convicted of a criminal offence.

    The Daily Telegraph article makes interesting reading. I am not sure that it registers on the same scale as some other party funding questions that have been raised in relation to other parties. The Yates of the Yard inquiry into peerages in 2007 springs to mind.

    Have the Tories ever received any money from anybody that the subsequently wished they had not, recently perhaps?

    The question is which party offers a way forward than can be implemented for resolving the political party funding in this country? The Tories had a go when they made it more difficult for donations to be made to the Labour Party via Trade Unions in the 1980s. How much money did they receive from Asil Nadir during that time?

    This Telegraph story is clear evidence of the Tory Party reverting to type when their backs are against the wall. They are not called the nasty party for nothing.

  • Comment number 82.

    We have had the usual Tory spin and one only has to see the comments of Susan-Croft and Portcullis-Gate (Note suggesting that Portcullis Gate is a Tory Party or party MP employee, which I thought was illegal on here?), to see that Andrew Neil, who was always a strong Thatcherite, gave the hardest grilling the party which is the main threat to the Tories.

    As a finance person, the most honest was Vince Cable, who is the only one who was warning us during the boom times of the serious problems ahead, and who has at least made a good stab at addressing the budget deficit.

    Boy Wonder Osborne is politically very cunning BUT if we had had him and Cameron (also similarly totally inexperienced in any real job) in the past 2 yrs they would have completely destroyed the banks and building societies and caused house prices to collapse and the economy into total freefall and laid waste to th

  • Comment number 83.

    Ken Clarke's warning this morning that a hung Parliament could lead to the IMF having to sort out the nation's finances.
    Really Ken- this being because last time we had a hung parliament that is what Labour and The Liberals did? Well, don't let facts get in the way of your history lesson- Heath was planning to go to the IMF in 1974 if he had been able to form a government. The Tories' fear-mongering will doubtless continue as their campaign continues to fail to take flight

  • Comment number 84.

    77 Duncan

    Thanks, great that there are some experts on this type of subject matter around to inform the public debate.

    So, some real evidence about the alleged mendacity of the comments by Rt Hon. Ken Clarke QC, MP and Mr George Osborne has potentially been uncovered in relation to IMF bail-outs for the UK?

    So, which of the good BBC journalists is going to investigate this, check the facts and challenge Clarke, Osborne or their party leader about their statements today on this, then?

    Should it be Nick Robinson, Stephanie Flanders, Andrew Neill, or Jeremy Paxman, Evan Davis, John Humphrys, Martha Kearney or Eddie Mair, or all of them?

    Is this the real story of the Chancellors' debate?

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ Kevin (71)

    So right! You must be as old as me :)
    Every time a Tory mentions Callaghan and the IMF, I have a rather disturbing mental picture of Norman Lamont singing in the bath while 3 million were unemployed, interest rates hit 15%, inflation hovered around the 10% mark and house prices dropped for 5 years running.

    I don't want the same lot magicking me out of this recession too thanks!

  • Comment number 87.

    Why on earth are you sitting on the fence, it is so obviously an anti- Conservative position, and you will never win from there.

    The last great Chancellor of the Exchequer was Ken Clarke. The majority of the population, and everybody I speak to, doctors, surgeons, nurses, teachers, soldiers, policemen have one voice, and that is fully behind a new Conservative Government. They know that when Labour came to power Ken Clarke had provided a strong economy with a growing budget surplus. Tony Blair told Gordon Brown to keep running the economy in line with Conservative policies, and he did this for the next 4 years until Tony Blair could win the next election.

    Then started the internecine war between Blair and Brown. Brown started to destroy the UK economy in order to get rid of Blair, which he eventually did, but now we see the appalling effects to the British population.

    Pitiful excuses from a bunch of unelected Lords who cannot manage business or aviation, and people like Balls, who true to his name has made a right mess of education. I should know my children are all married to teachers and they tell me this.

    As for Mr Clegg and Mr Cable, they have failed to become the centre left opposition because they forgot their roots, and for some reason did not want to use this opportunity to get rid of the upstart labour party once and for all.

    Princess Diana and her family were always Liberals, and the Conservatives were always the workers that built Great Britain.

    So you see I can never understand why somebody like you would ever want anything to do with a Labour Government that intentionally destroyed this country's economy, and condemned so many poor young children in poverty to a lifetime fighting obesity and dental problems. Something the Labour Party could never deny because the parents of these children were educated by Labour Councils and a Labour Government.

    Anybody who votes Labour is a traitor to the poor.

  • Comment number 88.

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

  • Comment number 89.

    saga @ 20

    "No reason whatsoever why a Hung Parliament should lead to the IMF. The IMF may well come in at some point - can't rule it out - but if they do, it will have little or nothing to do with the precise result on May 6th.
    i disagree.
    we have seen what happens when a government hide debt from the balance sheet and then have to beg for a loan, with greece (how much of their bail out the UK taxpayer put into that is still a question labour will not answer).
    not only does the process involve a humiliating climb down, which makes it an open sore for any form of government, but the criteria imposed on the country by the IMF in return for those loans are the stuff of government's nightmares.
    if we have a hung parliament, the speculators will be circling like vultures, gambling on the currency, level of debts, credit ratings, etc.
    it would be like opening a can of whiskas in the middle of a lions patch... as soon as the wind changes the lions would pick up the scent and be on the scene within minutes.
    a hung parliament makes it even more difficult for the financial surprises to be kept from the world, that would be outed by the sharing party.

    the new sharing power party would want to see all the books, once the costs of PFIs and other "long term" investment projects are revealed, the power sharing party would either back away and have to state why, or change policy to accomodate them, which would lead to questions from all sides about why they changed tack.
    the baying pack would smell this straight away, regardless of the warm words that the media would be fed.

    That the Tories are reduced to such scaremongering nonsense says an awful lot about where they are right now. Where are they? A place full of demons ... full of vague but terrible fears. A dark place"
    mandelson has already paved the way for a labour visit to the IMF, when it was suggested to him a few months ago, he was not dissmissive at all, instead prefering to defend the position of a government going to the IMF for loans as being a "credible active government working for the country"

    the problem for an IMF bail out is that the criteria imposed upon us would reveal to other countries the state of our books, and from their information would be leaked and our ability to borrow from other countries would be more expensive.
    a very dangerous and dark place to be in

  • Comment number 90.

    Why are Clarke and Osborne saying that we went to the IMF when the Lib Lab pact was in force (in the seventies) if the pact actually came AFTER the IMF episode? If this is the case, it looks suspiciously like the deliberate speading of a falsehood in order to try and get elected.

  • Comment number 91.

    28. At 6:15pm on 21 Apr 2010, TheWalrus999 wrote:
    Ken Clarke's and George Osborne's comments regarding the IMF are absolutely fair:

    The only previous time that the IMF had to bail out the UK was under the last Lib/Lab hung parliament.

    Why don't you say that in your report; it is a very relevant point.


    Because it isn't true, Walrus. The Labour government of 1974-79 went to the IMF in 1976 when it was still (just) a majority government. The Lib/Lab pact did not come into existence until 1977. If Osbourne and Clarke suggested otherwise I bet they didn't say it explicitly.

  • Comment number 92.

    #60 Duncan the Torygraph has the most extreme national newspaper readership showing that its readers are like sheep and all vote the same way. Over 82% voted Tory. (..the next worst with the 2nd largest from the national average was the Mail, 75% Tory, and the Graudian third, 70% Labour)

    The Telegraph is the most appalling newspaper and uses Goebbels tactics.

    Having read the article twice I can't find anything wrong. The amount was £250 a month by standing order for several months and was fully disclosed and fully accounted for to the Liberal Party.

    It is simply a smear that proves just how running scared "Dave" Cameron and his attack dogs are. Given the Tories have a whole bevy of v expensive Republican "advisers" on more than £250 an hour, expect more Republican type smears from Tory Central Office

  • Comment number 93.

    ghost @ 38

    "After Labour and Tories joined hands to bailout the banks, the people were left holding the empty bag. There is a general lack of confidence that government represents the interest of the people."

    I share your distaste for the bailout but it had to be done. Would have preferred some strong arm nationalisation, though - the continuation of the bonus culture, for example, is a scandal of the very first degree - and some proper directed lending. Let's have politicians on the board, not bankers. Bankers are totally discredited. Don't understand their own business. Pay themselves a packet when it goes wrong and a double packet when it appears to go right. Zero link of risk to reward. All reward and no risk. No personal risk anyway. OPM ... other people's money. I know ... I was one. I was an investment banker. One of the worst. One of shallowest, most devious operators on the block, I was. When will we ever learn? It's a con trick - the City thing - supposedly the embodiment of the free market and yet feather bedded from all the bread & butter FM rules. Like an uber capitalist workers' co-operative. Whole thing run for the benefit not of customers or shareholders, but for the employees - not ALL the employees (no no no) but specifically the "players" in the front office and in senior management. Exactly like people are always complaining their local council is run, and other supposedly "inefficient" parts of the public sector. Bunkum, the banks knock all that into a cocked hat. Private sector waste and inefficiency on an eye watering scale. Just think how much extra their product (credit) costs because of all that self regarding nonsense. Just think of the consequent drag on business and growth. But who cares? You don't if you're in the game, that's for sure. Personal fortunes garnered in no time at all for doing something that is (a) easy, and (b) of no value to society. Ridiculous. Oh and don't tell me it's only the banks who took the taxpayer shilling who should be nationalised. The WHOLE SYSTEM had to be bailed out ... bailed out with more money than you and I can even conceptualise. Tipped the world into recession. Loaded us all up with so much debt we'll be running with a ball & chain for ages and a day. Let's sort it out. Casino split from Retail and free to do business without an implicit (and free of charge) state guarantee. Retail (inc. residential mortgages and SME lending) under public ownership AND control. Credit delivered in a straightforward unfussy manner, and properly priced, free of rip off, to where it's needed. Delivered by people who don't feel they require a million to get out of bed. State Bank, let's have it please, let's stop messing about.

  • Comment number 94.

    #75. James

    I think the word you were looking for was 'penchant'.

  • Comment number 95.

    75. James, your comments suggest someone very young and inexperienced and obviously a Tory and probably a Young Conservative I'd guess.

    Firstly the word you woefully misspelt is penchant. If D Cameron and Boy Wonder Osborne had been PM and Chancellor we would not have one UK bank or building society around today, housing would have collapsed and most businesses would have collapsed as bank accounts would all have been frozen by liquidators and any UK bank accounts you had would similarly have been frozen so thousands if not millions would have been reduced to begging.

    So to see you tweet on about the inheritance tax threshold being raised by £100,000 is fatuous nonsense as if the Cameron/Osborne strategy of 'GROUND ZERO' had occurred as they proposed would have seen most estates values drop by over half as house prices collapsed.

    May I suggest you read Hansard and see what Osborne and Cameron proposed and then begin to appreciate the consequences of their GROUND ZERO policies would have been for YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR TOWN or COUNTY and then the WHOLE COUNTRY?

    Then compare that to Vince Cable's warnings and to the actual ACTION proposed and TAKEN by CABLE, DARLING and BROWN

    Quite why Andrew Neil a lifelong Tory didn't raise these QUESTIONS is probably due to ANDREW NEIL being the man who runs the TELEGRAPH and SPECTATOR for the MULTIMILLIONAIRE BROTHERS and TAX EXILES, and who generously provide him with most of his income.

    And given the smear dreamt up for today's Telegraph, which only a buffoon would fall for as it is all above board and legitimate, was all declared and accounted for, this is PROOF the Tories and their paymasters will GRAB at ANYTHING at the MOMENT.

    I hope you feel I have helped point you in the right direction to what is important and irrelevant. Good luck!

  • Comment number 96.

    agree with 87 that ken clark was a superb chancellor {much better than GB}.labour followed his spending plans for 2 years{not 4}andturned a good surplus into an excellant surplus as a result.GB then went on a spending spree.Over the next7 or 8 years he spent all this surplus,raided pension funds to such an extent that most of them have been closed,raised billions more in other stealth taxes and borrowed even more billions on top of that.the net result was that he turned our strong economy into a basket case.All this happened before the credit crunch occurred,and he had the cheek to say he was a prudent chancellor.What did he spend it on.Some of it filtered down to front line services but the bulk of it went on dozens of highly paid quangoes, expensive I.T.schemes for NHS and ID cards,and layers of bureaucracy to fill in all the forms to prove targets are being met.Billions is being spent on these areas and could be cut without affecting front line services.
    Another point re pensions is that his destruction of the company pensions means he gets less tax from pensioners like me.My own pension would have been circa £1500 a year more without his raid all of which would have been taxable.
    Finally just to prove how competent he was he sold our gold reserves at a rock bottom.
    We really cannot afford to have him back in power in any way

  • Comment number 97.

    Post 87

    George Sittingburns said "The last great Chancellor of the Exchequer was Ken Clarke"

    That's a matter of opinion.
    Either way, he was the only man that could have got the Tories back into government, but as often as he stood for the leadership, your party turned him down again and again.
    Instead of him, you chose a smiley pretendy liberal with the the integrity of a plastic packet of shiny, slippery reformed ham.

    You're now panicking because he's been out-sincered by an equally smiley leader.

  • Comment number 98.

    ADarling finished the debate with 'together'. How lovely, and the Lab PPBroadcast did too. Even lovlier. So While Labour is 'we're all in it together' DCam is 'everyone but me'. It must be the strangest election battle ever. And Clegg repaying the gain on his home - he might have to do that very soon - what's that, 'only me'. He'd sell his soul for the British people, that man.

  • Comment number 99.

    The most memorable part was Osborne having a fit in defence of Ken Clarke which, as well as Ken himself in public today, could boost them.

  • Comment number 100.

    Well, no, I think George Osborne's blue fit was ..memorable, classic moment in TV etc, entertaining, I don't have anything against Alistair Owl. But I do think they should have given Vince Cable a chair. Anyone can be an MP 'as long as they pass the standing up test unless they have no legs' policy.


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