Sunday News Review

Balls: PM playing a dangerous game

The shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said the government is playing a “dangerous game” with its spending cuts. He accused David Cameron of taking Britain back to the era of “nasty confrontation” which marked Margaret Thatcher’s years as PM. Mr Balls told the BBC Politics Show North West, the government was mounting a “real assault” on public services. It follows Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke’s warning that Middle England did not grasp the scale of the cuts. In an interview to be broadcast on Sunday, Mr Balls said the coalition’s leadership was out of touch with the realities of life facing ordinary voters.- BBC

Mr Balls said that the Government was playing a “dangerous game” with its programme of spending cuts, mounting what he described as a “real assault” on public services. His comments, in an interview with the BBC Politics Show North West to be broadcast tomorrow, came as Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke warned that Middle England did not yet fully understand what was about to hit them. Mr Balls cited an open letter to The Times signed by more than 90 senior Liberal Democrat councillors, complaining that the Government cutting too far, too fast, as evidence of the damage that was being done. He said that the coalition’s top leadership – such as Mr Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – were out of touch with the realities of life facing ordinary voters. – the Telegraph

Cameron tries to resuscitate Big Society

David Cameron has launched a defence of the Big Society in an article for the Observer. Responding to a week when the idea faced criticism, the Prime Minister denied the Big Society was a cover for the public spending cuts. He said: “Building a stronger, bigger society is something we should try and do whether spending is going up or down”. But Ed Miliband, writing in the Independent on Sunday has claimed that the Big Society is faltering because David Cameron does not recognise the importance of the state, saying: “The reason why Mr Cameron’s Big Society is in such trouble is not simply because the Government is making painful cuts. The way it is doing it – so far, so fast – speaks to its ideological heart. It really believes that a small state will produce a Big Society.” – PoliticsHome

David Cameron is launching a frantic bid to rescue his much-criticised plan for a “big society” as he promises to back the project with public money and new initiatives to help it survive savage government cuts and public scorn. Writing exclusively for the Observer, the prime minister confronts his critics head on and insists that he will never abandon what he believes is the defining mission of his premiership. Cameron says the big society is not a government initiative, but the opposite – one that will see power handed from Whitehall to the people. “It has the power to transform our country,” he declares. “That is why the big society is here to stay.” – the Guardian

Osborne’s laughable bank deal

The government describes its reform of financial services as a work in progress. But that implies the City will come out of it all looking and behaving differently. Last week, the government announced the results of Project Merlin, a deal between ministers and bankers under which the latter are supposed to lend more to UK businesses and pay themselves less. They did indeed agree to extend more credit to businesses, but with no sanction if they fail. Bonuses were largely untouched. Separately, George Osborneannounced a hike in the levy he plans to impose on bank balance sheets. Combined, these measures are meant to assuage public anger over the role banks played in creating the financial crisis and consequentrecession. It won’t work, partly because the sums aren’t big enough but mostly because the whole deal looks like a stunt. – the Guardian

SIR Fred was blasting partridges as Chancellor George Osborne told the Commons he had caved in on bankers’ bonuses. The climbdown came just ten months after the Coalition pledged ­“robust action”against banks bailed out with public money. Earlier in the week it emerged that the Tories were 51 per cent ­funded by financiers last year. – Sunday Mirror

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