Monthly Archives: February 2009

Jim Pickard

The jolly japester (sic) who runs London has been asked to appear in front of the transport select committe to explain why the city ground to a halt during recent snowfalls. Read more

Jim Pickard

I’m sure there’s a mixed metaphor to be had here re a big fish across the pond.

But the RBS director with an equally impressive pension – according to RBS’s 2007 accounts – is one Larry (Lawrence) Fish, chair of the bank’s US operations. His pension pot was $24m at that point. Read more

Has Pesto got his sums right? He reported that Sir Fred Goodwin is drawing a pension of £650,000 a year from a pot of about £16m. But if you take account of Goodwin “retiring” at 50, the maths doesn’t seem right.

The FSA’s handy pension calculator shows his total pension pot is closer to £25m. Yes, there’s even more cash for Alistair Darling to claw back. Read more

Jim Pickard

I have just been tipped off that no fewer than 11 ministerial aides have signed the motion opposing Lord Mandelson’s part-privatisation of the Royal Mail.

Given that parliamentary private secretaries (PPSs) tend not to sign early day motions under Parliamentary convention, this is a striking facet of the rebellion. The EDM has now hit 132 Labour signatures. Read more

A slew of private finance initiative deals are likely to be rescued with state support in coming months. But if you were expecting the government to properly tell taxpayers about the extra risk they are taking on, think again.

Yesterday eagle-eyed Mark Pritchard, a Tory MP, was tipped off about a significant announcement in an “unnumbered command paper”. It announced that ministers had offered contractors bigger state-guarantees to save the largest PFI deal in Britain. But it was laid before the House in such a way as to be all but hidden. Can this be right? Read more

Jim Pickard

We predicted a month ago that Lord Mandelson would shortly use the pensions threat “to cow the unions into submission” over part-privatisation.

Last night saw the release of a letter from the chair of the pension fund trustees warning that - without radical reform - pensioners could lose half their benefits. The timing is striking at best given that the bill is set to enter the Lords this Thursday.

Here was our news story this morning – which includes a private sector estimate of £10bn-plus for the deficit, far worse than the £5.9bn envisaged by Richard Hooper in his December report.

If you want to see the letter here it is. Read more

Jim Pickard

The prime minister won favourable coverage over the weekend for his claim that he would abolish 100 per cent mortgages. Read more

This is a real puzzle. Gordon Brown has just sent out his invite list for the G20, which, once Britain is included, runs to 22 countries. I think it is because Spain and the Netherlands have been invited this time. Even so, you have to wonder why it is still called the G20. So far the UK bumpf has promoted it as the “London Summit”, which may be a cover for the arithmetic issues. It would be easy enough to rename it the G22 — after all we there have been G22 and even G33 meetings in the past. But G22 does sound a bit like a fighter plane. And if you put G22 into google, it comes up with this rather scary looking gun. Probably best to leave things as they are. Long live the 22 members of the G20.

Here is the full Downing Street statement. Read more

One of our readers is clearly upset. I’ve just been sent a diatribe against the (Tory) claim that it is cheaper to insure the debt of McDonalds than Britain. Here’s the sanitised version:

 Read more

America’s pit traders revolt…

The London summit is in the first week of April — which happens to coincide with US banks putting out first quarter results. It could be messy. Nationalisation is rising up the Washington agenda. There is a chance — albeit small — that Obama will have to seize the banks around the time he’s due to hob-nob at the G20.

Here’s some background from Ed LuceRead more

Last Friday some parents lost their legal challenge to stop a proposed academy in Camden. The press reports mainly covered it as a blow to plucky campaigners. But this was a story of national significance. One Whitehall academy champion told me this case was the single thing he “worried about most”. Had the ruling gone the other way, it would have devastated both Labour and Conservative plans to reform education.

Why? The parents demanded that academy sponsors should be selected through a European Union procurement process, rather than being chosen by ministers. A competitive tender would take months longer and cost much more, for both the government and the sponsor. The sponsor in Camden was UCL. Had the judge told them to make their bid via Brussels, the university would have almost certainly walked away. Why bother with the cost? Read more