Monthly Archives: February 2010

Jim Pickard

When it comes to an Englishman’s home it seems there are certain things you can’t say. John Healey, housing minister, found this out to his cost yesterday when he explained that – for some people – repossession was not the worst option available to them.

Cue outrage in The Sun. And more outrage in The Express. Even the Mirror, which is rarely the first to attack the government, joined in with more than a hint of outrage

Jim Pickard

I’ve seen a transcript of the Piers Morgan-Gordon Brown interview, which will be on ITV1 at 10.15pm on Sunday. There are genuinely touching moments about the death of Brown’s daughter and his son’s cystic fibrosis. On balance, however, it proves what we already know; that the PM does not emote particularly well. Here are some of the less serious highlights.

Brown: Sarah and I, we’re, we’re a modern love story….

Morgan: Tell me about this plane journey that Sarah was on about where you first move in.

Brown: You, you might say love at first flight. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Morgan: You didn’t join the mile high club did you?

Brown: No.

(re the proposal)

Morgan: Are you on bended knee?

Brown: No.

 

Jim Pickard

Sky has revealed a list of Westminster’s most fanciable 100 MPs. Good to see Julie Kirkbride – we mentioned here on this blog yesterday – coming in at number 3.

Boyish Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, is at number 5, sweeping most of Parliament before him. 

Jim Pickard

Geoff Hoon resigns

Civil servants take “tricky questions training” 

Jim Pickard

Those who erupted in shock yesterday at the news that Andrew Mackay had landed a job with Burson-Marsteller will no doubt be outraged* by my latest intel.

I’m informed reliably that Julie Kirkbride, Mackay’s wife, has been chatting to several lobbying firms in the last month or so about work post-election. I’m told she is aiming for an annual salary of about £100,000 with flexible working patterns to fit around school holidays. Not certain exactly which firms she has been talking to as yet. 

This blog is not usually a home for 45-minute lectures. But David Willetts gave a compelling presentation to the RSA last week that deserves a wider audience (well, a slightly bigger academic seminar room).

Watch out for the implications of the argument in his book — which looks at generational divide and how baby boomers stitched up generation X and Y — for David Cameron’s policy platform. 

Jim Pickard

Labour made a huge error by rejecting the chance to obtain state funding for the party – leaving it at a “catastrophic disadvantage” in the coming general election – its former general secretary has written.

Party officials have dismissed the claims by Peter Watt, who left the Labour party under a cloud after the cash-for-honours affair*, suggesting he is now embittered and vengeful. The book, Inside Out, should indeed be read through that prism** – as Rod Liddle explains.

Yet Mr Watt, as general secretary, occupied a central position within the party hierarchy from which he had unique access to its machinations. That’s why it’s fascinating to see him blame Labour for the failure of cross-party talks to address party funding in late 2007. 

Jim Pickard

Andrew Mackay, former Parliamentary aide to David Cameron, is to work for lobbying company Burson-Marsteller – as a consultant and strategic adviser – after the election. The story was broken by PR Week this afternoon. 

Jim Pickard

The curious non-resignation of Joanne Cash, PPC for Westminster North: Paul Waugh charts the aftermath. Here is his original story.

Do northerners like the Tories? Nick Robinson visits Pendle. 

Jim Pickard

It is possible to read informal minutes of Labour NEC* meetings circulated by a member with a commitment to transparency. The latest are just out, relating to a gathering of the party hierarchy in late January:

This caught my eye:  

Enjoyed Richard Revees’ blast against New Labour’s puritan streak in today’s FT. The Demos director’s main target is Andy Burnham’s plans to ban smoking in doorways.

It is not yet clear how the doorway rule would operate in practice….Perhaps we could mark-out six-yard boxes, around the doors, like the one around goals in football (Mr Burnham is a keen player). They might become known as “Burnham Boxes”

Brooke Masters, chief regulation correspondent, talks about the future of regulation in the UK.