Questions for the leaders: economic policy

Tonight sees the third debate on the economy. Questions will focus on the deficit but there are other critical areas like banking policy and support for business.

Tonight’s debate on the economy comes in the week that the influential Institute for Fiscal Studies laid bare the scale of the challenge ahead in reducing the fiscal deficit. But it also comes in an election campaign which has had surprisingly little to say about either the banking reform which could prevent this happening again, or how to create the right framework for innovation, investment, and competition that will spark the growth industries of the future. As with the previous debates, we set out the key questions that we want to see answered tonight.

Ahead of the debate, Labour was given a boost with news that “100 senior economists have backed Gordon Brown’s approach” to tackling the deficit while a ComRes poll for the Independent shows that “Mr Brown and Alistair Darling are more trusted to steer the economy through its current problems than their Tory and Liberal Democrat counterparts”.

As with the previous two debates, Left Foot Forward will be jointly hosting a live blog with the New Statesman, Liberal Conspiracy, and Labour List. Will Straw will also be on Radio 5 Live with Iain Dale and Mark Thompson (Left Foot Forward contributor and editor of Mark Reckson).


• Why won’t you be more honest about which public services will be cut after the election?

• Will you raise VAT after the election?

• Should the banks be broken up?

• Do you think Government has a role in nurturing the industries of the future?

David Cameron

• How can you claim to be serious about fiscal consolidation when you keep cutting taxes like inheritance tax and the planned NI rise, and propose tax breaks for some married couples?

• When the market is “comfortable” with the prospect of a hung parliament, why do you continue to scare people about the economic impact of the outcome?

• Do you believe that nationalising Northern Rock was wrong (as George Osborne says) or right (as Ken Clarke says)?

• Given that the EEF has talked about support for manufacturers, will you commit to retaining Labour’s selective investment in emerging industries where government support can make a difference?

Gordon Brown

• As the government of the day, why have you not taken the leadership in setting out a clearer path to deficit reduction?

• How will you ensure that the poorest in society will be least affected by the cuts and tax rises in the next parliament?

• Why wasn’t more regulation and supervision put in place to stop the over-leverage of the financial sector?

• At a time when government should be prioritising economic growth, why have you cut £600 million from the Higher Education and science budget?

Nick Clegg

• In light of the IFS saying of your policy, “income tax cuts are not well targeted to help the poorest in society”, is raising the tax threshold to £10,000 really the best use of £17 billion?

• Nick Clegg said in March that deficit reduction would be “purely spending cuts“, will you therefore scrap the 50p income tax rate and national insurance rises?

• You prioritise getting the banks lending again, but if they aren’t ready to lend or the loans are bad won’t this create further instability?

• At the last election you wanted to scrap the business department and with it a range of business support measures. Is your approach to industrial policy now more activist like Labour or more laissez faire like the Conservatives?

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