Monthly Archives: January 2008

Jim Pickard

Great story on the front of the Telegraph today suggesting that the weekly bin round has been axed by half of  England’s councils amid pressure on local government funding.

Expect to see (and smell) rubbish piling up on the streets as people struggle to get used to fortnightly collection.  Read more

Jim Pickard

Gordon Brown may come to regret today’s boast – in today’s prime minister’s questions – that Britain has "more homeowners than ever before".

Newcomers to the market are more exposed than anyone else if and when prices fall; which looks more and more likely. Especially now that banks are cutting back mortgage lending in the wake of the credit crunch.  Read more

Jim Pickard

Thanks to the Guido Fawkes blog for pointing out that Lord Hoyle is up in front of a Lords disciplinary committee today.

The Guardian first broke the story that money changed hands between Lord Hoyle (formerly Doug Hoyle, a Labour whip) and Michael Wood, a former RAF officer now working for arms companies. A meeting subsequently took place between Lord Drayson – defence minister – and Mr Wood, although accounts differ as to how this was arranged. That was in June 2005 Read more

Jim Pickard

A growing number of pundits are wondering why the mainstream press aren’t writing much – if anything – about Lee Jasper. The London mayor’s race adviser has been subjected to a stream of allegations made by Andrew Gilligan, the investigative reporter, in the Evening Standard.

Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall, was fuming to me the other day at how the story was being ignored by papers including the FT. Read more

Derek Conway is whip-less. His political prospects look bleak. His constituency association is weighing up whether to back him as an independent MP. The question is, do the Tories want to risk a by-election?

Mr Conway’s seat is Old Bexley and Sidcup. It covers an area that was represented by former prime minister Ted Heath for more than half a century. It has one of the lowest proportions of ethnic minorities in London, and the highest level of home ownership. It should be as blue as the ocean. But Mr Conway’s bungling has probably put the seat into play. Read more

Let’s face it, British politicians are the Lilliputians of the world of political money scandals. However much time journalists spend muckraking, whatever misconduct is uncovered, it is almost always small fry. Our politicians, for the last decade or more, seem incapable of corruption on a grand scale.

Hot_tub Where is the Randy "Duke" Cunningham of Westminster? The former Republican congressman pleaded guilty in 2005 to taking $2.4m in kick-backs. He cavorted with prostitutes (feeding them grapes in Hawaiian hot-tubs) and used private jets — all on the expense account of defence contractors. He did not need his party leader or a standards commissioner to tell him to step down. Read more

Five European leaders are meeting on Tuesday night in Downing St to discuss the world’s economic problems. That’s no bad thing, but how much are Mssrs Brown, Sarkozy, Prodi, Barroso and Ms Merkel really going to achieve in talks lasting no more than a few hours?

Kenneth Clarke, whom one might have expected to be sceptical about the whole thing, told Sky this morning that such events are useful, provided they can be kept informal. The former Chancellor says it is important, in an inter-connected world, to know how your counterparts in Europe are going to react to any given event. Read more

Purnell_picBond My colleague Jim Pickard, who has just joined our lobby team, is proving to be a tremendous asset.

Just today he spotted that James Purnell, the newly promoted work and pensions secretary, has a doppelgänger — Daniel Craig, the current James Bond.  Read more

Jim Pickard

Tomorrow morning we’re running two articles about donors shying away from political parties after an endless wave of unwelcome publicity. But not everyone is deterred.

Mike Slade, the flamboyant founder of Helical Bar, a property developer, says donors should ignore it when observers question their motives. Mike_slade  Read more

Jim Pickard

In the 1990s it was usually sex which got MPs into trouble. Now it’s money.

This time it’s a Tory. Derek Conway has been rebuked by the Commons standards and privileges committee for paying his 19-year old son – who was at Newcastle University at the time – a research salary.
The committee has found a lack of evidence as to what work may or may not have been done by young Frederick Conway.
Last time the committee’s members gave an MP a similar kicking it was George Galloway last summer.  Read more

Oh dear. Just what Gordon Brown didn’t want to hear. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the new head of the IMF, suggesting that the world needs a big fiscal electric-shock to help it out of its looming economic downturn.

Mr Strauss-Kahn’s view that interest rate cuts alone won’t dig the global economy out of a hole marks a surprise shift in the IMF’s position – normally it is the biggest cheerleader for fiscal consolidation. Read more

I recommend that Peter Hain reads the US papers today. Instead of dwelling on his political obituary, he can take heart from a (albeit incomplete) story of redemption: Paul Wolfowitz has made a return to government.