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Press Cycle 21: The Chancellor's Debate
"What did you make of The Chancellor's Debate - with Peter Jay

Cycle closes at 23:59BST on the 28th of October. 

Please remember to bold your taglines. One-liners are discouraged.
Putting politics to one side, it was great to see a constructive and informative debate. Such a forum can only be good for democracy as it helps inform the electorate of the ideas and policies of the various parties. All of the participants are to be congratulated for taking part and for their contributions.

On the political front, I was pleased that the debate allowed us to probe the shadow budgets. There are quite a lot of holes in Labour’s plans – such as the failure to build any major new hospitals - and these were exposed by the Chancellor. That said, Diane Edwards came across very well and I found her style of debate very constructive and agreeable.

While Labour’s proposal had some holes, the Liberal Democrat budget had huge, gaping gaps. This was exposed by all sides. You get the impression that in a desperate attempt to ‘be different’ the liberals have ignored the detail. They miscalculated prison staffing, tried to cover it up by saying that less resource was needed because of rehabilitation, only to forget that they planned 5 new prisons. The whole thing doesn’t add up, literally and figuratively.

And then, of course, there was the ignored Bank of England advice on interest rates. The Liberals just cannot admit they got this wrong. Labour took heed of the advice, as did the Conservatives. The Liberals thought they knew better, but the debate exposed that their competence in economics is about as credible as a chocolate fireguard.

Michael Portillo did a fantastic job. He was on top of his brief, knew his figures and set out the reasoning behind his budget. He was honest too, admitting where things went wrong and what needs to be done for the future. That approach shows Britain is in good hands.
Mrs. Margo Leadbetter
Home Secretary and Secretary of State for DEFRA
Conservative MP for Surbiton
I was quite worried when the Liberal Democrats spoke about benefits being a wage. We all know that benefits are meant to be a safety net that people can land on, and rely on during hard times. As part of this safety net there is also supposed to be a safety ladder that helps people back up and back into work. It is not a wage, it is not meant to supplement a wage for long periods of time.

The Liberal Democrats can harp on as much as they like about how their leader came from a working class background - but that changes nothing at all if they believe that benefits are a wage - after all these benefits are funded by the hard working people through their taxes, they are not wages!

When asked about our economic weaknesses, we were blunt and straightforward - we apologised for Black Wednesday, and admitted that we could have done better. The Liberal Democrats said that their weakness was that no one listens to them - this is not normal behaviour, it is abnormal behaviour. They cannot accept the Bank of England's recommendations without a subtle hint that there's some conspiracy of the Bank being pressurised. They claim that benefits are a wage. They are an absolute disgrace.

When asked about their weakness, they don't think they have one. They think their weakness is that people don't listen to them, that they are ignored. This comment is evidence of their true weakness. Their true weakness is that they are arrogant and conceited - if no one listen to what the Liberal Democrats have to say, that's because no one agrees with them.
24hrs till closing from now. Enjoy.
Aside from the cut and thrust of policy debate, one interesting thing that came out of the budget analysis is how connected the leaders were to the real world. On this front Michael Portillo won the day with his ability to speak plainly and put things into terms that everyone can understand.

For some, economics is about technicalities and theories. It is about arguing the finer points of inflation or twisting numbers to pretend that an outcome, like rising national debt, isn’t occurring. Labour partly engaged in such tactics during the debate; the Liberals fully immersed themselves in that game.

But to the man and woman on the street this is not what economics, or a budget, is about. To them a budget is about practical things that impact their everyday lives. What will happen to the price of food? Will I be paying more in tax? How long will it be before I can see a doctor? And will our streets be safe to walk down? Those are the things that really matter. And these are the things that budgets affect.

The Conservatives were completely focused on these points. Michael Portillo spoke about the real-life impact his budget and those of the opposing parties would have on the things that matter. He spoke of reducing income tax to allow people to keep more of what they earn. He spoke about properly investing in services people want, like hospitals. He spoke about keeping our streets safe by investing in police and the prison service.

The Conservative Party speaks about these things because it is the natural party of people. It is not the party of the state imposition or government control, nor is it the party of technicalities and grand theories. The Conservative Party, as this budget has shown, is about empowering people.
Mrs. Margo Leadbetter
Home Secretary and Secretary of State for DEFRA
Conservative MP for Surbiton
If the Tories are the party of the people why did Mr. Portillo spend 16 years gutting services and now has found the need to u-turn?
If Labour is the party of the NHS, how come it is only building town and village hospitals?

The Conservatives, by contrast, are investing in those same hospitals as well as building new major and large hospitals that can offer a fuller range of clinical and surgical services.
Mrs. Margo Leadbetter
Home Secretary and Secretary of State for DEFRA
Conservative MP for Surbiton
Michael Portillo did an excellent job in the TV debate. What became clear from the TV debate is that Labour just aren’t ready to govern, with extensive gaps in their budget.

It is clear that the Conservatives are the only party that can deliver a high growth strong economy. 
Sir Harold Saxon MP

Acting Prime Minister

Chancellor of the Exchequer (1994 - )
MP for Aylesbury
It was clear that Diana was the grown-up in the room during the debate, focusing on the issues that matter to the British public and showing how a Labour government would make a difference. After 16 years of a Conservative government, Ministers are finally coming round to implementing the ideas that Labour have been campaigning for, and that’s credit to Diana. But if there’s consensus on more investment for public services, greater support from the public sector to the private sector, and an economic policy that lifts all areas up, then the British public can’t rely on a Conservative government implementing Labour ideas, it has to vote for a Labour government and Diana to be the next Chancellor.
Labour MP for HULL NORTH (1987 - )
The Chancellor's Debate has proven only one thing: you can only trust the Tories with the economy. Labour challenged us to this debate, I am sure, with the intention of somehow finding a hole in our plan for the future. But from no new major hospitals being built, and cuts to the fire service leaving fire stations understaffed, we can come to only one conclusion: that the "party of the working class", the Labour Party don't consider our public services to be a priority. We do, and the Chancellor's budget proves that.

Worse even than Labour's performance, was that of the Liberal Democrats. I feel nothing but sympathy for Noemie Suchet - it must be devastating to be humilated on national television like that. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for understaffed prisons, high debts and high taxes - there's no two ways about it. And in addition, what we saw from Miss Suchet was a total inability to answer a straight question. When we tried to take her to task on the Bank of England, she spread baseless conspiracy theories. From the Falklands inquiry and now to this, the Lib Dems have proven once again why they are a rump of what the old Liberal Party once was: they are totally detached from reality.
A.W. Dayton Highland
Secretary of State for Education and Future Skills
Member of Parliament for Ayr (1992 - present)

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