The crackshot live-bloggers over at the FT’s Westminster blog are on the case (warning: for UK politics wonks only):
5.36pm: Jim wants to contradict my contradiction of his post (see 5.24pm), making the point: Read more
David Cameron was facing the prospect of a constitutional stand-off with Gordon Brown on Friday morning over who would get the keys to Number 10 as a hung parliament in the UK appeared inevitable, the FT reported. The Conservative party leader insisted that Labour had “lost its mandate to govern” as the Tories made big gains in the general election and comfortably overtook Labour as the largest party in the House of Commons. But Mr Cameron faced an agonising wait before learning whether he would need to rely on other parties to support a Conservative administration.
Here, on FT Alphaville, in the small hours of Friday morning…
Neil Hume and Paul Murphy, having consumed the necessary stimulants, will be hosting a special edition of Markets Live, watching how prices react as the election results flow in. Read more
Pity those UK bond traders, says FT Alphaville. Instead of playing general election drinking games on Thursday night, when Britain goes to the polls, they’ll be busy trading gilt futures because the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (Liffe) plans to open three hours after polls close — from around 1am London time.
Or, how one paraphrased quote is making lots of trouble.
Here’s the offending remark: Read more
David Cameron emerged from last night’s showdown television debate as the clear election frontrunner, after Gordon Brown failed to grasp his last big chance to claw his way back into contention, reports the FT. Instant polls concluded that the Conservative leader won the third and final leaders’ debate with Nick Clegg, Lib Dem leader, coming second in most polls; Mr Brown trailed in third place.
“Two parliaments of pain” is the phrase used by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies to describe what is in store for Britain in the years ahead. With the next government, of whichever stripe, needing to cut nearly £37bn a year from public expenditure by 2014 just to halve the deficit, the FT asks, can the welfare state survive?
George Osborne, the prospective Tory chancellor, has failed to win over the City’s top bankers, with the vast majority of senior financial services executives preferring the incumbent, Alistair Darling, an FT survey says. The FT poll of more than two dozen senior bankers revealed deep misgivings about Mr Osborne amid an election campaign that has seen all three main parties attacking big City bonuses.
A clear election victory by either Labour or the Conservatives is needed to sustain the appetite for gilts among the world’s biggest investors, according to an FT survey that highlights market concerns about the increasingly tight opinion polls. Ten leading investment funds, with in total more than $7,000bn (£4,570bn) of assets under management, all told the FT that a hung Parliament, potentially delaying action to tackle the UK’s £167bn deficit, was the biggest threat to the market.
Ken Clarke, shadow business secretary, vowed to defend Britain’s liberal takeover regime on Tuesday as he set out Conservative plans for a laissez faire approach to business based on low taxes, deregulation and less state support. In an interview with the FT, Mr Clarke dismissed as “populist nonsense” Labour plans to impede hostile takeovers and deter hedge fund predators.
Gordon Brown on Monday launched Labour’s manifesto claiming it was “rooted in the day to day concerns of the British people” and would produce “a fairer, greener, more accountable and more prosperous” country once the recovery was secured, the FT says. Key policies for the recovery include the promised new high-speed rail link, a green investment bank, broadband for all, a “new culture” in the City and moves to ensure that the banks pay their fair share to society through an international banking tax.
Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader, will unveil on Tuesday plans to crack down on banker excess by banning all bonuses at board level and stopping loss-making banks from paying discretionary bonuses, the FT reports. The pledge to “bring the bonus culture under control” comes as the three main parties compete to impress voters by taking the toughest stance on City pay.
David Cameron’s efficiency chief has told him to cut the public payroll by up to £2bn within a year of the general election, a saving that could lead to the loss of up to 40,000 jobs across the public sector. In an interview with the FT, Sir Peter Gershon, the former government adviser who has provided the blueprint for the Conservative leader’s efficiency plans, disclosed for the first time how the party’s proposed £12bn savings should be achieved.
David Cameron’s move to put his £5.6bn plan to cut Labour’s proposed “jobs tax” at the centre of his election campaign was boosted on Wednesday by a new wave of business support, the FT reports. But the Conservative leader’s plan met its first challenge from the City when Gerry Grimstone, chairman of insurer Standard Life and an adviser to the Treasury on efficiency, said any proposal to find new savings that would fund the Tory cuts was “just not credible”.
Gordon Brown finally launched the general election campaign on Tuesday, with Labour facing an uphill battle to retain a swathe of key marginal seats which have been hard hit by the economic downturn, the FT said. An analysis by the FT of 50 marginal constituencies David Cameron’s Tories must win to secure a majority found that the jobless rate in the seats has jumped from below the national average in 2005 to above it today. See also FT Alphaville on minority risk in the UK elections.
UK elections, like UK budgets, tend to be a non-event as far as the UK stock market goes. That’s a consequence of all political news being pre-spun into share prices and/or the fact that London stocks have a distinctly international air.
But there’s one exception: 1974. Read more
Gordon Brown will on Tuesday call an election for May 6, giving the Labour Party four weeks to overturn a clear Conservative lead in the opinion polls, the FT reports. The Tories have yet to open up a sufficient poll lead to be confident of a majority, with the latest ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper giving them a lead of only four percentage points.