Conservative Diary

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Live blog of Cable v Darling v Osborne

Highlights, not verbatim, focusing on George Osborne's contributions. On Channel 4, 8pm.

8.53pm: Osborne has the last word, he says Darling has been in charge for thirteen years and has changed one of the strongest economies in Europe to the weakest.

8.53pm: Cable gets applause when he says LibDems are not beholden to unions or the super rich.

8.51pm: Osborne says we borrow from the Chinese to buy goods from them.

8.48pm: Osborne is doing well at looking directly at questioners.

8.46pm: Osborne says we need to protect the vanilla retail banks, not the ones doing risky trading. Applause.

8.44pm: Second Osborne hit - attacking Labour's failed regulatory system.

8.40pm: Cable gets applause for attacking cartel banks. Darling makes more sense when he points out that 'small' banks like Northern Rock failed as well as mega-sized banks (size doesn't matter!). Osborne says it is wrong for banks supported by taxpayers to pay large bonuses; it should be going to small businesses.

8.36pm: Osborne agrees with Cable and Darling that inequality is a problem.

8.34pm: Vince Cable just described people unhappy with 50p tax as "pin-striped Scargills".

8.33pm: Osborne says avoiding the NI tax rise rather than the 50p tax rise is his priority. He promises to protect the many first, not the few.

8.32pm: Osborne says he has no plans to raise VAT. The bulk of deficit reduction will come from spending reduction.

8.28pm: Osborne says Tories will introduce a bank tax in order to make fair contribution to society.

Screen shot 2010-03-29 at 20.40.12 8.27pm: Darling appears to rule out death tax. First 'new news' of evening.

8.24pm: Osborne's first hit of the night - says Labour won't rule out a £20,000 death tax.

8.17pm: Osborne says he'll protect the NHS budget. Cable says he won't give that commitment because it will mean bigger cuts in other budgets. Cable says Osborne will have to take the cleaver to police, housing, defence and so on because of ring-fencing the NHS.

8.15pm: All three say cuts will have to be deeper than anything undertaken by Margaret Thatcher.

8.12pm: Cable gets laugh for saying Labour's efficiency savings are completely bogus. Lots of interaction between the three. This won't be permitted in the leaders' debates (apparently there is a chunk of time reserved for 'free debate').

8.10pm: It's common sense says Osborne that we need to start repaying debt quickly. It's the same for a person as it is for government.

8.08pm: Cable actually looks nervous.

8.06pm: Good points from Osborne saying that he wants to reward workers and savers. A Chancellor must always remember that he is dealing with the people's money.

8.02pm: Opening statements were forgettable.

Tim Montgomerie


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