Monthly Archives: November 2009

Jim Pickard

The mistake of the last Speaker, Michael Martin, was to refuse to recognise the head of steam building up over MPs expenses. 

Jim Pickard

Some bemusement around here about the new figure of 10,000 British troops in Afghanistan.

The old figure was 9,000, and we are sending another 500. Now Gordon Brown feels the need to reveal the fact that 500 special operatives are at work in the mountain state. The prime minister told the Commons that it was unusual to talk about the activities (of the SAS etc) but he wanted to show the nation’s appreciation. 

Jim Pickard

Tim Yeo unveils portrait of David Cameron

Alex Salmond makes the case for Scottish independence 

Jim Pickard

I’ve just been pointed to the website for the Richmond Park Tories which lays out recent Conservative policies. Such as….

Jim Pickard

The Cabinet Office white paper on “Smarter Government” has been leaked by the Tories over the weekend. It is full of promises to make efficiency savings, move more civil servants out of London, sell public assets and the usual stuff.

It also has the whiff of a document cobbled together at short notice, judging by some of the promises in the draft (published after last week’s cabinet meeting where the strategy was approved). 

Jim Pickard

Fascinating account in the Sunday Times today of tensions between Gordon Brown and his defence secretary, who last week seemed to criticise President Barack Obama for his delay in sending more troops to Afghanistan. 

Jim Pickard

It seems that Tory rising star Stephen Greenhalgh has been a little incautious in his choice of words, according to this trade magazine report of his comments at a recent event.

The Hammersmith & Fulham council leader suggested yesterday on a public podium* that some shadow Cabinet members may not have the experience to run the country. 

Greg Pope, the Blairite MP turned blogger, is distinctly unimpressed with Sir Jeremy Greenstock’s testimony at the Iraq Inquiry today:

It sounded like he’d had a terrible time when he was our man at the United Nations: kept out of the Blair-Bush loop, considered resigning, thought the war lacked legitimacy.  

Jim Pickard

Hopi Sen is not impressed with Philip Blond

Ann Treneman is not impressed with Philip Blond 

Jim Pickard

I’ve just emerged from a stuffy Westminster room where Philip Hammond gave another of his “Doing More With Less”-type speeches.

His key point – apart from a new centralised property agency to rent out Whitehall back to the civil servants – was the claim that £60bn could be saved through greater productivity performance. 

MacDonald stands before hedge to lecture housewives on currency markets


Jim Pickard

Edward Leigh, chair of the public accounts committee, has written an angry letter to the Chancellor demanding to know why the £61bn loans to HBOS and RBS have only just been made public.

Alex suggested yesterday that the timing of the announcement could be related to an NAO report – out tomorrow imminently – which would have revealed the loan. Leigh has asked Alistair Darling to clarify if this is the case.

Here is the letter

Committee of Public Accounts

25 November 2009
Rt. Hon Alistair Darling MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer


Thank you for your letter of 23 November informing me that the Treasury granted the Bank an indemnity in October 2008 against losses it might incur in providing emergency support to RBS and HBOS. I followed this up with you in the House today and I must say that I cannot regard your answer as a full and sufficient explanation. I shall therefore await your further advice before deciding how to properly discharge my responsibilities in this situation.