Poll blow to PM
Gordon Brown's attempted fightback has failed to win over voters ahead of this week's crucial Crewe and Nantwich, Cheshireby-election, according to a new poll.
Labour is 17 points adrift of the Conservatives, the ComRes survey for The Independent on Sunday shows.
The Tories are on 43 per cent, up three from last month. Labour is unchanged on 26 per cent, while the Lib Dems are down one on 19 per cent.
The £2.7bn package to offset the controversial axing of the 10p tax rate has not put right the problem, most of the public say.
The number of middle class families struggling to make ends meet has increased significantly, with debt advice agencies overwhelmed with pleas for help from households in affluent areas of the country.
The rise in financial problems among the professional classes, disclosed by two leading debt advice agencies on Sunday, is being driven by rising inflation, the increased cost of living and the downturn in the housing market.
Alistair Darling will this week offer an olive branch to multinationals in an attempt to head off a threatened corporate exodus from Britain. He will try to defuse a row over the taxation of foreign profits by insisting Treasury reforms are not intended as a revenue-raising measure.
Darling will also indicate that the government is willing to grant a concession on the key issue in the row – the treatment of intellectual property held offshore, such as brands and patents.
The Sunday Times revealed a fortnight ago that a powerful delegation from the secretive Multinational Chairman's Group had visited Downing Street to lobby Gordon Brown and Darling on the issue.
They warned that if the proposals on intellectual property went ahead, big companies might have to pay hundreds of millions of pounds more in tax.
Moneyfacts' research shows someone coming to the end of a fixed-rate £150,000 mortgage they took out two years ago will see their average repayments rise by £206 a month to £1,026.
Those with a £100,000 mortgage will find average repayments rise by £137 to £684 a month, while homeowners paying back a £250,000 loan will have to fork out an average of £1,710 a month – £343 more than two years ago.
Moneyfacts' figures also show someone taking a typical five-year deal on a £250,000 home loan in 2003 will have to stump up almost £500 more when it comes to renewing it.
It is estimated 1.4 million homeowners will see their fixed-rate deals expire this year. Hopes that lenders were starting to trim their rates were dashed by the news that fixed-rate deals are the highest for ten years.
Property sales may fall by 40% this year because of the credit crunch, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned.
In its updated forecast for the housing market in 2008, Rics also predicted that prices would fall by 5%.
Such a sales drop would represent the biggest shrinkage in the housing market since modern records began and could cut consumer spending by 8%, Rics said.
Thursdays byelections are certain to show public confidence is flagging. ...
This Thursday, the voters of Crewe and Nantwich have their opportunity to reserve a place as one of the historic byelections.
This is another contest on which leadership fortunes could pivot.
David Cameron has already been to the seat three times and will be there again tomorrow.
Gordon Brown is staying away, but going on for 100 ministers and Labour MPs will be mobilised to Cheshire between now and Thursday.
Their presence, the Prime Minister's absence and the Tory leader's repeated calls on the constituency all tell us how crucial this contest is to their respective prospects.
In a worrying development for Mr Brown, the weekend polls suggested that the public were unimpressed by the move to make amends for the abolition of the 10p rate. Only four per cent of voters in Crewe believed the measure made them more likely to vote Labour, according to a News of the World/ICM poll. Separately, a YouGov/Sunday Times poll also showed the Tories with a 20-point lead over Labour.
Ed Miliband, cabinet office minister and a close ally of Mr Brown, denied the chancellor’s mid-year give-away was a “bribe” that would help Labour’s election prospects. “Ten pence was a mistake we made,” he told Sky. “I don’t think we’re expected to get credit for sorting it out but it’s the right thing to do.”
Before travelling to Crewe again, Mr Cameron will say: “We have reached the limits of acceptable taxation and borrowing”.
“With the rising cost of living, taxpayers can’t take any more pain, and the economy can’t take any more pain without losing jobs to lower tax competitors.”
A DIRTY tricks campaign by Labour activists in Crewe has been scrapped amid fears it could cost the Government the seat.
The decision leaves the party’s desperate campaigners without an effective strategy just days before the crucial vote which could see the Conservatives overturn a 7,089 majority and seize their first by-election victory over Labour in some 20 years.
The Tory leader will add: "Our overall aim is clear – we will share the proceeds of economic growth.
"Sharing the proceeds of economic growth is what living within our means, means.
Not spending everything we have, not borrowing to spend more than we have, but bringing spending down as a share of national income so that over time, the economy grows faster than the state and we can reduce taxes and borrowing.''