First off, it's great to see that the Archbishop of Canterbury looks like he's pulled off quite a political coup in getting George Osborne to change his mind and join the clerics 'war on Wonga'. This piece from the Independent neatly sums up the political reality that 'having God on your side' still counts for something and that the Lib Dems are willing to flex their muscle on some matters as the 2015 election gets ever closer:-
George Osborne caved in to demands to impose a cap on payday lending costs to avert a parliamentary rebellion backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Independent has learnt.
Senior Conservatives were understood to have been fearful of losing a vote on a hostile amendment in the House of Lords on Tuesday which would have set a charge cap of 10 per cent on all short-term loans and placed other restrictions on their sale.
The amendment to the Banking Reform Bill was being backed by Archbishop Justin Welby, who was considering speaking out in its favour in the Lords debate. His support was expected to garner the backing of a significant number of cross-bench peers and inflict an embarrassing defeat of the Government.
“As you know, a large proportion of cross-benchers tend to be swayed by the idea of having God on their side,” said one Lords source in favour of the amendment.
“George Osborne’s change of heart had more to do with politics than conviction.”
Archbishop Welby has previously spoken out against payday lenders such as Wonga. Liberal Democrat ministers, who have been lobbying the Treasury for a cap on payday loans for more than a year, were furious that Mr Osborne sought to grab the political credit by announcing a move he had strongly opposed until the weekend.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, and Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat minister responsible for consumer affairs, have both argued for a cap in private but had been forced to toe the Treasury line that such a ceiling would not tackle the problem.
A Liberal Democrat source said: “The Liberal Democrats have been pushing for tougher action on payday lenders for over a year. At every step of the way this has been met with strong resistance from Conservatives in the Treasury.
“It seems the Tories read the runes on this one and realised that increasingly the evidence and political tide were against them. Their change of heart is welcome but none of this would have happened without the Liberal Democrats in government.” Liberal Democrats believe the Chancellor was swayed by the prospect of a government defeat in the Lords at the hands of a powerful coalition of Labour, Liberal Democrat, cross-bench peers and bishops.
But as always in life, it seems to be one foot forward and two back as this piece in the Guardian from Saturday about Iain Duncan Smith's plans for the sick makes clear:-