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ELECTION RACE STARTS TODAY

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown today launches his general election campaign with a Queen&rsquo;s Speech that will be the most political for 12 years.<br /><br />The annual speech will set out Labour&rsquo;s stall on everything from a bill that will give the Financial Services Authority (FSA) more power to veto the bonuses of bankers to free care for the elderly in need.<br /><br />Banks will be asked to provide &ldquo;living wills&rdquo; to allow them to be wound-down more easily in the event of failure. A new consumer protection agency, to be funded by the banks, is also expected to be announced. <br /><br />But the Tories yesterday lashed out at the raft of proposals, pointing out that most legislation takes 240 parliamentary days to become law while Labour only has around 70 days before the next general election &ndash; expected to be won by the Tories.<br /><br />Conservative leader David Cameron branded the speech the &ldquo;most divisive, short-termist, shamelessly self-serving&rdquo; one in living memory. Labelling it &ldquo;pettiness masquerading as principle&rdquo;, he said it lacked the radical ideas needed to deal with the recession, social problems and the expenses scandal.<br /><br />Brown is also proposing a Fiscal Responsibility Bill, which will impose a legally binding obligation on the government to halve public borrowing by 2014 and balance the books by 2018. It was also widely criticised yesterday. A Tory spokesman said: &ldquo;When it comes to the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, they&rsquo;ve already ruled out independent oversight, which is needed to make it credible.&rdquo;<br /><br />Labour is expected to announce a policing bill that will&nbsp; require sexual or serious offenders convicted before 2004 to add their details to the DNA database. A schools bill will replace league tables in England with report cards and end the practice of national literacy and numeracy strategies.<br /><br />The proposed increase to the FSA&rsquo;s powers over pay came under renewed fire in the City yesterday, with critics saying it would drive out talent and be difficult to police.<br /><br />Michael Wainwright, a partner at law firm Eversheds, said: &ldquo;This could do more harm to our economy than the exercise of the powers could realistically be expected to avoid.&rdquo;<br /><br />He added: &ldquo;We need to consider what safeguards can be provided to ensure that such a power is only used for proper purposes, and in a proportionate and non-discriminatory manner. Otherwise we may find that the cure is worse than the disease.&rdquo;<br />