David Cameron will tear a leaf out of Labour’s playbook by announcing that he will use the £227m fine imposed on Deutsche Bank for rigging the Libor rate into a new three-year fund to create 50,000 new apprenticeships.
The new scheme will be specifically targeted at 22-24-year-olds who have been unemployed for more than six months, and anyone jobless that refuses the apprenticeship offer will be required to do community work.
In a piece of banker-bashing not normally associated with the Conservatives, he will brand Deutsche Bank as “part of Labour’s failed past” and say he is “taking the money off a bank that tried to rig the market and using the money to get young people off the dole”. Deutsche Bank was fined last week a record $2.5bn (£1.66bn) by US and UK regulators for trying to manipulate interest rates. The German bank was fined $2.1bn by US regulators, and £227m by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.
Cameron will be speaking on the day the GDP figures for the first quarter of 2015 are due to be released, the last set of significant economic data before next week’s election. They are expected to show a small slowdown in the growth rate, which was 0.6% in the fourth quarter of last year.
The coalition legislated to require fines imposed on banks by regulators to be sent to the Treasury to be spent on good causes, meaning the cash could no longer be used to reduce regulatory fees. Since January, the Treasury has received just over £411m in fines. KPMG, the accountants, estimated this month that the UK’s largest banks have paid 60% of their profits since 2011 in fines and repayments to customers.
In a speech in London, Cameron will claim: “To govern is to choose. Every choice we make, every decision we take, Conservatives ask ourselves some simple questions: are we rewarding work, or not? Are we helping working people, or punishing them?
“We’re going to take the fines from the banks who tried to rig markets – and we’re going to use it to train young people and get them off the dole and into work. This is about taking money off those who represent Labour’s failed past; and giving to those who through their hard work and endeavour can represent a brighter Conservative future.”
The Conservatives are this week trying to position themselves in the polls and in the public mind as the party certain to win most seats, before making a last-72-hour push next week for an improbable overall Commons majority. A Guardian/ICM poll placed the Tories in a three-point lead over Labour, an increase of one point over the past week.
Lord Bell, the campaign manager behind three Tory victories, claimed that in the close 1992 election, one in five voters made up their mind in the last few days and traditionally, undecideds break two to one for the incumbent. Bell argued the Tories could yet creep over the line, but criticised the Conservative campaign for not deploying Boris Johnson earlier, saying he is Britain’s most popular politician. He added that the Tory campaign had been mistaken in lowering voters’ expectations of Ed Miliband, saying, “I think they set a very low bar, which he has jumped over.”
Labour, meanwhile, will set out a 10-point action plan on immigration and after two days’ campaigning on housing with policies on rent controls and stamp duty relief for first-time buyers, the party believes it can remain competitive with a ‘hope over fear’ message.
For the second day running Cameron, accused of a listless managerial campaign style, tried to exude passion and commitment, saying he was “pumped up” and hungrier for victory now than in the 2010 campaign. Speaking without notes at the launch of the Tories’ small business manifesto in the City of London, he said: “I really feel so passionate about this election. We have come so far … If I am getting lively about it, it is because I feel bloody lively about it.”
Cameron had made a point of injecting passion into campaigning on Sunday when he told a rally in Yeovil that his heart beats faster when he sees someone on welfare getting a job and young people being able to buy their first home.
After a solid week of campaigning about the risk posed by Labour minority government dependent on the support of the SNP, the Tories are insisting that they will spend the rest of the week focused on the economy.
According to a Newsnight-ComRes poll, most people believe it was improper for the Tories to suggest that a Labour minority government supported by the SNP would be dangerous. The poll showed that voters by 53 % to 34% felt it was legitimate for a government to be formed that was dependent on the support of a party or parties representing specific nations.
The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, maintained that Miliband will cooperate with her after the election. She told Newsnight: “What he says the morning after the election will be different than what he says now. A vote by vote arrangement is both most likely and a way in which a big team of SNP MPs can wield influence for Scotland’s benefit.”
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