Ask the Chancellors TV debate: Cable triumphs

Vince Cable wins by a nose in Channel 4's "love-in" with just over a third of the online vote and mo

At close of play in Channel 4's Ask the Chancellors, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesperson had edged the online vote with 36 per cent over Alistair Darling and George Osborne, jointly tied on 32 per cent.

Cable got laughs, calling the live debate a "love-in" and inviting the audience to ridicule a nervy Osborne's double standards on the savings set out in the Budget: last week they were pie in the sky, this week they are a damning indictment of government policy.

He also had the lion's share of catchphrases, calling out the "prima donnas in financial speculation" and "pinstripe Scargills" among the super-rich who are holding the country to ransom over the highest rate of tax.

This was hardly suprising -- as the public's choice for chancellor, Cable was always going to have the best of it. What was interesting was Osborne's weak showing, as he failed to land a solid punch on the government that had managed the finances for more than ten years preceding the recession.

Instead, the older men ganged up on the shaky Tory shadow chancellor, who could only manage weak references to the national debt in a discussion of the causes of the financial crisis.

Darling called out Osborne on National Insurance, accusing the shadow chancellor of "taking a terrible risk with the economy", and of being "irresponsible" and guilty of "poor, poor judgement". He even got a laugh from the derisory question, "What is the Conservative position?"

And he came back quickly on the accusation of stealing Conservative policy on stamp duty, saying, "Nothing like cross-party co-operation, George."

Verdict? Sorry, Dave, you're on your own.

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Italian PM Matteo Renzi resigns after referendum No vote

Europe's right-wing populists cheered the result. 

Italy's centrist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was forced to resign late on Sunday after he lost a referendum on constitutional change.

With most ballots counted, 60 per cent of Italians voted No to change, according to the BBC. The turn out was nearly 70 per cent. 

Voters were asked whether they backed a reform to Italy's complex political system, but right-wing populists have interpreted the referendum as a wider poll on the direction of the country.

Before the result, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "Hope the exit polls in Italy are right. This vote looks to me to be more about the Euro than constitutional change."

The leader of France's far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, tweeted "bravo" to her Eurosceptic "friend" Matteo Salvini, a politician who campaigned for the No vote. She described the referendum result as a "thirst for liberty". 

In his resignation speech, Renzi told reporters he took responsibility for the outcome and added "good luck to us all". 

Since gaining office in 2014, Renzi has been a reformist politician. He introduced same-sex civil unions, made employment laws more flexible and abolished small taxes, and was known by some as "Europe's last Blairite".

However, his proposed constitutional reforms divided opinion even among liberals, because of the way they removed certain checks and balances and handed increased power to the government.

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.