As Left Foot Forward revealed new allegations about the sexist and Islamophobic tendencies of the Conservative’s allies in Holland and Belgium, the Times reports that former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine thinks that Mr Cameron will have to rejoin the European People’s Party soon after the election. David Miliband argued yesterday that an unsuccessful attempt by a Conservative government to renegotiate elements of the EU in the wake of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty could simply lead to demands for Britain to leave Europe altogether. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown has asked two of his most senior civil servants to lobby discreetly within Europe for Tony Blair to become its new president. But Labour MPs Kate Hoey and Ian Davidson have joined Conservatives in opposing the move.
Bankers reacted angrily to George Obsorne’s plans to ban end-of-year cash bonuses. Chris Skinner, chair of the Financial Services Club, called the policy “populist headline-grabbing.” The British Bankers’ Association said: “the big bonus culture is not in retail banking but investment banks.” Miles Templeman, director-general of the Institute of Directors, told the FT: “It would be much better for [Osborne] to be wiser, in terms of finding the right approach, rather than adapting a more headline grabbing one.” Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury spokesman, highlighted Osborne’s “ignorance” telling the Times: “If state-owned banks such as RBS and Lloyds pay bonuses using shares, they would have to issue new equity, which would dilute the taxpayer’s holdings.” Liam Byrne, chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “His ideas for bank bonuses would actually water down the rules we’ve put in place, which are now the tightest in the world.”
A new ComRes poll in the Independent shows that there is no sign that the British National Party has achieved an electoral bounce since Nick Griffin’s Question Time appearance: its support is stuck at just two per cent. The poll puts the Conservatives on 40 per cent (+2), Labour on 27 per cent (+4), the Liberal Democrats on 18 per cent (-5), and others on 15 per cent (-1). Nearly half of voters (45 per cent) say they agree David Cameron “seems likeable, but I am not sure I am ready to see a Conservative government”, with 49 per cent disagreeing.
In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford has said that people will need to consider turning vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.” The UN has warned that meat consumption is on course to double by the middle of the century.
In the US, Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, sided with his party’s liberals on Monday and announced that he would include a government-run insurance plan, a “public option,” in health care legislation that he plans to take to the Senate floor within a few weeks. This is a reversal from two weeks ago but states could refuse to participate in the public insurance plan by adopting a law to opt out.
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