On the eve of the third television debate by the leaders of Britain’s three main parties, on the subject of the economy, the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report on the size of the spending cuts and tax rises needed and criticised the parties for failing to set out how they would achieve them.
On the eve of the third television debate by the leaders of Britain’s three main parties, on the subject of the economy, the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report on the size of the spending cuts and tax rises needed and criticised the parties for failing to set out how they would achieve them. All the talk was of a hung parliament. The party leaders’ second debate drew a live audience of 4.1 million on three channels; Sky News enjoyed its biggest audience ever. Opinion polls in the days afterwards saw ratings for the Conservatives above 30 per cent, with the Liberal Democrats around 30 per cent and Labour below 30 per cent. The most memorable exchange in the debate had been when Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said: ‘You know who these two guys remind me of? They remind me of my two young boys squabbling at bath time.’ Mr Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, chipped in: ‘That’s a good line in rehearsal.’ Mr Adam Boulton, the presenter said ‘I think we’re past bath time now. The subject was foreign policy but one question was about the Pope’s visit to Britain next September. All three leaders welcomed it. Mr David Cameron said, ‘I don’t agree with him about contraception. I don’t agree with him about homosexuality.’ ‘I’m not a man of faith, but my wife Miriam is Catholic, my children are being brought up in her faith, so I have a little bit of an insight,’ Mr Clegg said, ‘You can’t keep a lid on sin.’ Mr Brown said, ‘I’m from the Presbyterian religion, but… I want religious faiths to work more closely together.’ The British ambassador to the Holy See apologised when a Foreign Office document circulated after a brainstorming session was leaked. It suggested that ‘the ideal visit would see’ the Pope opening an abortion clinic, blessing a gay marriage and marketing Benedict XVI condoms. Mr John Cowan, the Labour candidate for South East Cambridgeshire, was suspended from the party after he had allegedly said that he did not want his children to marry Muslims.
Lloyds Banking Group, 41 per cent of which is owned by the state, returned to profit for the first quarter of 2010. BP’s profits for the first quarter of 2010 rose to £3.6 billion, more than double those of a year earlier. Mr Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, was fined £60 for using a mobile telephone while driving. Miss Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, who is married to Mr Nick Clegg, broke her left arm when she fell over while shopping. Alan Sillitoe, the author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, died, aged 82. Peter Porter, the poet, died, aged 83. Miss Peppa Pig, the well-known pig, withdrew from a Labour Party event. ‘Peppa Pig is a fan of Sure Start children’s centres,’ a spokesman said, ‘but, in the interests of avoiding any misunderstanding, we have agreed she should not attend.’
The debts of Greece were downgraded to junk status (BBplus) by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s. Portugal’s were degraded two steps to A-. Greece had asked for E40 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund and euro-zone governments. Germany proved reluctant to cough up. President Omar al-Bashir was declared the winner of Sudan’s first multi-party presidential elections for 24 years. Mr Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of President Lech Kaczynski, killed in an air crash on 10 April, said he would stand in presidential elections in June. Scheduled passenger flights from Baghdad to London resumed after 20 years. Reykjavik airport closed after other European airports reopened when the wind backed to easterly and sent the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano towards the Icelandic capital.
The United States Senate voted against the introduction of legislation backed by President Barack Obama to reform the banking system. Senators also questioned executives of Goldman Sachs, accused of defrauding investors by selling them products it thought would fail. Goldman had said the allegations are wrong in ‘fact and law’. A thousand barrels of oil a day gushed into the Gulf of Mexico after a drilling rig leased by BP exploded and sank off Louisiana. The Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament hid under an umbrella from a hail of eggs as a treaty extended Russian use of a Crimean navy base until 2042. Red-shirt anti-government protestors in Thailand blocked roads to Bangkok to prevent reinforcements of police there. Pakistani troops killed suspected Taleban on the north-west frontier, and the Taleban killed men they accused of spying for America. American drones killed suspected Taleban leaders. The Indian Premier League commissioner, Mr Lalit Modi, was suspended by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which said he ‘brought a bad name to the administration of cricket’. CSH