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Who runs UK? 'Tories, Lib Dems and Google' says Labour

Harman: Number 10 can't stand up to web giant

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Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman has slammed Google's extraordinary influence over the UK's ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

The Shadow Deputy Prime Minister said "there are three parties in the Coalition: the Tories, the Lib Dems, and Google".

It's the strongest attack yet on the Google-Tory relationship from Labour, which first questioned its political arch-rival's close ties to the web giant in February.

Google's huge lobbying influence over UK policy makers has been criticised by Conservative Party backer and entrepreneur Luke Johnson, who described the online superpower as a parasite, compared it to Rockefeller's Standard Oil, and suggested it should be broken up.

Google paid for Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and his team to fly around the US in 2005 - before he took power at the last election - and leading party figures have close personal ties to the company's executives.

Harman pointed to the Coalition's industrial policy - particularly its assault on the successful UK creative industries - as an example of the Coalition following a Google-friendly but ultimately harmful strategy.

"No 10 can't stand up to Google - and Jeremy Hunt [the minister for culture and media] can't stand up to No 10," she said.

Harman also called for tax breaks for creative industries, and for a revised Intellectual Property Office with a mandate to enforce breaches of intellectual property law - much like the Environment Agency can sue companies for polluting the environment.

A "diversified" UK economy needs more creativity and less reliance on finance, said Harman, who was speaking at the BPI's AGM in London. ®

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