Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Clegg Talks Tough On Banks in Final Leader's Debate

By Ben Aulakh

“No bonuses for banks that make a loss, no bonuses for those at director level and no bonuses above two and a half thousand pounds,” Nick Clegg’s promise of how he would reform rewards for city workers.

The Liberal Democrat leader’s vow to change banking bonus culture came in response to a question from the audience in Birmingham on taxpayers paying for rewards that are “grossly unfair”.

Mr Clegg admitted that the measures “may sound draconian”, however he was adamant that they were necessary.

The statement was the most forceful to come from all three leaders in the hour-an-a-half long debate, the final such event before next Thursday’s general election.

Presented by Question Time’s David Dimbleby and broadcast on BBC1, the debate was focussed on the economy, debt and the recession.

David Cameron began the evening by attacking Labour’s economic record, “Our economy’s stuck in a rut, we need to change it and get it moving, reward work and tackle welfare dependency, tax the banks and regulate properly.”

Meanwhile in his opening statement Mr Clegg’s emphasis was on fairness, “Tonight’s debate is about you, your job, the taxes you pay, your family and the prosperity of economy, we need a fairer economy.

He added, “The way they got us into this mess is not way out of it. We need to be frank about cuts, break up irresponsible banks and have fair taxes, with no income tax on first £10, 000 pounds you earn.”

The Prime Minster made reference in his opening statement to the incident involving Rochdale constituent Gillian Duffy, who he was recorded describing as a “bigoted woman” while on the campaign trail last Wednesday.

“There is a lot to this job, and I don’t always get all this right, however I do know how to run the economy in good times and in bad.

“I took immediate action to stop a calamity in the banking system becoming a crisis and a recession becoming a depression, and we are now on the road to recovery.”

Mr Brown also attacked the Conservatives plans to save £6 billion pounds a year within government, “Shrink the economy now as they would do, you risk jobs, living standards and tax credits, I’m the one to fight for your future."

The first question of the evening was on the three main parties being honest about spending cuts after the election.

The Lib Dem leader gave details on saving £15 billion a year by scrapping biometric passports, enforcing public sector pay restraints, and saying no to the second Typhoon/ Eurofighter project.

Mr Clegg also attacked Tory plans to save £6 billion, “It can’t do to fool you that efficiency savings are enough.”

Mr Cameron defended the “£6 billion in savings this year,” stating that it represented just “£1 in every £100 that the government spends.”

The Tory leader also hit back at Labour, criticising a 7 per cent pay rise for NHS managers.

He also declared that the 100 leading business leaders had made it clear that the Prime Minister’s plan to put up National Insurance was “the biggest risk to recovery.”

In response to a question on taxation Mr Cameron stated his belief that the “Taxpayer pays more as government spends more,” deriding “terrible public finances”

He added that out of every four pounds spent by the government, one pound is borrowed.

Mr Brown admitted that things are “tough in recession,” and defended Labour’s record having “Tried to make a difference with tax credits,

He rounded on the Conservatives stating that “David Cameron wants an inheritance tax cut worth £200, 000 each for richest 3000 estates in the country.”

Nick Clegg derided what he described as a “Tax system that is grotesquely unfair, where after 13 years of Labour a millionaire pays less tax than a cleaner does, where the bottom 20 per cent pay more tax than top 20 per cent as proportion

He proposed switching the tax system by closing loopholes “For those who can afford a football team lawyers to avoid tax, to help the vast majority of those in this country.”

The Conservatives have increased their lead in the polls with The Poll of Polls showing them on 35, with Labour on 29 and the Liberal Democrats on 26.

Photograph from The Guardian.

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