Monthly Archives: July 2009

Jim Pickard

There has been so much talk of hung Parliaments and small Tory majorities that it is refreshing to hear a contrary prediction. Read more

Jim Pickard

Lord Myners gives short thrift today to Tory plans to kneecap the Financial Services Authority and transfer many of its powers to the Bank of England. Read more

Jim Pickard

When James Purnell dramatically quit the government in June he was not followed by cabinet allies David Miliband and Andy Burnham.

And what of his special adviser at the Department of Work and Pensions, Ian Bundred? Read more

Jim Pickard

A fascinating interview with the departing Foreign Office minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, in today’s Telegraph. It comes just days after Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the army, criticised the government for failing to supply enough men and equipment to Afghanistan. Read more

Jim Pickard

You knew that Lord Mandelson had become all-powerful. But here is the incredible extent of his influence; the business secretary sits on 35 out of 43 cabinet committees.

Tom Harris defends Westminster’s long summer break Read more

Jim Pickard

Paddy Power, the bookies, have put the Tories at 1:25 on to win Norwich North in Thursday’s by-election. Labour are right out there as rank outsiders at 10:1.

Many former Labour voters are genuinely unhappy about the way their MP, Ian Gibson, was treated over his expenses. The party is broadly disliked at a national level. And now it emerges that the party candidate has gone down with swine fluRead more

Jim Pickard

Expect several front page headlines on Tuesday morning about HMRC’s plunging tax receipts in 08/09 – laid bare thanks to an NAO report. Astute readers of this column will already know about the £20bn-plus fall in tax take – you read it here - because it was flagged up on Budget day in the red book small print. You’ll notice that the coming year is set to be even worse, according to the Treasury’s own predictions.

The real nasty today was another £10bn-plus of unpleasant news, including £3bn of uncollected tax and £7bn set aside for legal claims by taxpayers. The bulk of the latter – a staggering £4.8bn – stems from a single landmark case concluded early last year over VAT repayments. HMRC admitted today that they have already paid £1.5bn as a result of this “Fleming” test case. That’s an awful lot of helicopters or MRI machines.

Jim Pickard

Brace yourself for new outrage about the bonuses paid to senior officials in HM Treasury – revealed in its departmental review today. Read more

Jim Pickard

Matthew D’Ancona does not appear to be convinced by Damian McBride’s penitence

You can listen to Brown’s former spindoctor here on the BBC or read his interview at the Guardian Read more

There are many good lines in the Ken Clark interview: privatising Royal Mail, dismantling BIS, his fitness regime, his admiration for Mandelson and so on. There were also some striking remarks on the timing of a spending review that are worth highlighting.

Clarke basically argues that it would be senseless to conduct a spending review debate in the run up to an election. I’m not sure it is quite Tory policy, but he makes some interesting points. Read more

Here’s Ken Clarke’s take on mobile phones, Blackberrys and jogging:

FT: Do you carry a mobile phone now?  Read more

After consulting the highly regarded US counterinsurgency field manual, I’ve turned armchair general and definitively calculated how many extra troops are needed in Helmand.

Forget the debate about sending an extra 700 or 2,000 — for the campaign in Helmand to meet basic counterinsurgency doctrine, we’d need to double the number of US, UK and Afghan troops in the province. Read more