Coalition savaged by dead sheep and Salmond

Ed Jacobs with the latest attacks on the coalition from elder statesmen inside and outside the party.

One of the Conservative party’s elder statesmen has used an interview with BBC Radio Wales to accuse the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition of not being stable

As David Cameron sought to give a boost to his party’s fortunes in May’s elections by telling party activists in Swansea that the Conservatives were delivering for Wales, the former chancellor, Welsh born Lord Howe of Aberavon outlined his concerns over the stability of the government.

Howe, who has provided informal advice to George Osborne on how to address the deficit, used an interview with Radio Wales’s Sunday Supplement programme to argue:

“The fact that we now have to settle for the coalition that we have today shows there are many divisions within the coalition that are depriving us of the stable government you’d get from a single majority party in charge.

“It may be able to survive with some stability, but it has incorporated an amalgam of legislation from both sides of the case so to speak.

“If you visualise the talk between Cameron and Clegg at the beginning – they’d say ‘You can have that if I have that?’

“‘Okay well let’s have that and let’s . . .’ – they’ve piled in a lot of legislation that the House of Lords has been struggling with.”

Meanwhile, SNP leader and Scottish first minister Alex Salmond called on Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury and Scottish MP Danny Alexander to resign over his leading role in increasing the tax levied on North Sea oil.

Following a meeting last week between energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne and the oil industry in Scotland to discuss the move, it has now emerged that the policy could risk up to £50 billion of investment.

Speaking for Oil and Gas UK, the trade association representing the offshore sector, the organisation’s economic director, Mike Tholen warned:

“Oil & Gas UK’s activity survey, launched in February 2011, had identified £50bn of potential capital investment in oil and gas projects around the UK continental shelf over the next decade and longer.

“It is undoubtedly the case that investors will be reappraising all these opportunities in light of the tax increase announced in the budget. We are currently working with industry to establish the full impact of the budget on investment and activity and intend to publish the results of this insight by the end of April.”

Scottish Labour’s energy spokesman Lewis Macdonald responded:

“There is a real risk to jobs and investment. This has been hugely ill-thought-out and introduced without proper consideration. It is shocking that Danny Alexander brags this was his idea – how any Scottish MP can think putting Scottish jobs at risk is a good idea is beyond me.”

And it is not just political opponents that have expressed concerns at the increase in the levy, with an expert in the oil industry and senior partner at Deliottes in Aberdeen, Derek Henderson, warning:

“I was with the tax directors of several oil companies on Monday and all their senior management have been asking them to rerun the numbers of a number of different opportunities.

“We shouldn’t think this is just another industry run scare-story. It is very serious.”

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