Daily Archives: February 24, 2010

Jim Pickard

Amid political uncertainty about the future of Crossrail – would either Labour or the Tories delay or axe the project? – news of job cuts at the group may not be the most positive sign.

This morning I heard about redundancies across the piste at Crossrail in recent days. A spokesman has now confirmed that Rob Holden, chief executive, has asked all team leaders to examine the potential for job cuts. “Directors are being asked to look at their teams going forward…to continue to offer value for money,” he said. 

Gordon Brown emerged pretty much unscathed from PMQs, especially considering Alistair Darling’s terrifically unhelpful interview about the “forces of hell”.

Brown insisted he “never instructed” anyone to brief against his chancellor after Darling warned in 2008 that the world faced the worst recession for 60 years.

This raises an obvious question: did he do anything to stop the anti-Darling briefings? It is worth looking over the reports at that time as a reminder of how pointed the attacks were.

The implication wasn’t just that Brown was unhappy — it was that Brown was preparing to sack his Darling and replace him with Ed Balls. This surely should have prompted Brown to take action and make clear these briefings were false? No?

Anyway, the key piece seems to have been in the Mail on Sunday the day after the interview. “A furious Mr Brown phoned Mr Darling and ordered him to eat his words on TV, while allies of the Prime Minister said, Mr Darling should be sacked and his job given to Schools Secretary Ed Balls,” the piece stated. Here are the most forthright supporting quotes, which are notably from MPs, not aides:

One MP who is close to the Prime Minister said: ‘Alistair has got to go and his job must be given to Ed Balls. Ed is the cleverest person in the Cabinet and has the full confidence of the Prime Minister.

‘If anyone can get us out of this hole, Ed can. Alistair Darling’s comments are self-indulgent rubbish.’

A veteran Labour backbencher said: ‘This is obviously a farewell interview by Alistair. Everybody wants him to go. You may get away with one uncharismatic Scot at the top of the Government, but not two. It’s like a “who smiles first” contest.’

 

Jim Pickard

The latest Electoral Commission figures are out for party donations and prove that the Tories will have much greater fire-power in the coming general election.

The Conservatives raised £10.5m in the three months to the end of December. Labour attracted just £5m. The Lib Dems were left trailing with barely more than £1m.

Labour are hoping to use this to their advantage by depicting themselves as the underdogs, as David Blunkett told the FT on Monday; a hard act to pull off after 13 years in power.

Will let you know later if more juicy facts emerge from the more detailed numbers.

(UPDATE: One interesting fact to emerge today is that Andrew Charalambous, the Tory candidate standing in Edmonton, gave £142,319 to his own campaign for advertising, printing and other campaigning…….)

Here is the list of all donors giving more than £200,000. Sorry for the glitch on Sir Nigel Doughty (top right) – he is the biggest giver of all in the period.