Daily Archives: May 14, 2010

Jim Pickard

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE
Minister of State – The Rt Hon Lord Howell* (father-in-law of George Osborne)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Henry Bellingham MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Alistair Burt MP
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Crispin Blunt MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Jonathan Djanogly MP
HOME OFFICE
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) – Lynne Featherstone MP
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Gerald Howarth MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Andrew Robathan MP Read more >>

Jim Pickard

For those who followed our gambling contest during the election campaign: we have the final tally.

Jim: I can’t claim to have made a fortune (for Room to Read, the charity) but at least finished slightly up on my starting £100 of bets – a profit of just over a fiver.

The most frustrating result was my bet on the Lib Dems getting 60-69 seats. My estimate, which seemed ridiculously low during Cleggmania turned out to be – bizarrely – too high by just three seats. The 7-2 bet on Labour winning Brighton Pavilion was not far out either; the party picked up 29 per cent against the Greens’ 31 per cent.

The most duff wager I took out was on Labour losing Harrow West, a waste of £20, which I blame on an erroneous tip from a Tory contact. I’ve already eaten humble pie and apologised to incumbent MP Gareth Thomas.

That still leaves the winners; Labour held Dundee West against the odds, the Tories got 306 seats (within my range), John Bercow kept his seat and the BNP didn’t win anything. A triumph of sorts.

Alex: Propelled by a mix of wishful thinking and greed, I bought into the Great Clegg Bubble and had my fingers burned. Unlike Jim, I wasn’t even able to win back my £100 betting pot, and ended up £39.70 down. But I stick by the “hare strategy” of picking outsiders, not least because this exercise was for charity. While Jim may have kept his dignity, there’s not much to be said for a £5 return. I see my effort (such as the mad-cap 40-1 bet on the Lib Dems taking Cardiff South) as more like dressing up in a furry gorilla outfit and running a marathon. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Fascinating breakdown on the educational breakdown of the 2010 Parliament at the Sutton Trust.

Key factRead more >>

Nicholas Timmins

One important question for the new coalition – and anyone interested in policy – is just how far is either party now held to what was in their manifesto or their previous political commitments. Or is it now ground zero for everything?

Both parties have already given appreciable ground on previously cherished policies to form the coalition.

But in the run up to the election campaign David Cameron told pensioners “you have my word” that winter fuel payments, free bus passes and TV licences, along with the pension credit, would be protected. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Guido has drawn my attention to Liam Byrne’s curious appearance in this morning’s Guardian explaining where Labour went wrong – losing half of its C2 vote – and complaining that his ideas were ignored by his comrades in government. He had put forward a paper to the cabinet addressing the “squeezed lower middle class” but it wasn’t taken seriously. The news article says that Byrne is not standing in the leadership contest. Really?

Byrne’s op-ed in the same newspaper begins: “Labour’s leadership candidates will need to prove they can work fast to learn the lessons of why they lost”. It then pointedly proceeds to lay out several Byrne-ian remedies. I haven’t yet spoken to Byrne or his allies to find out if he is interested in the leadership. But the William Hill odds of 100-1 suddenly look rather too long. Read more >>

There is a lock-down planned at the Lib Dem Special Conference on Sunday. No outsiders (i.e. media) will be allowed in. It could backfire in the long run.

The openness, honesty and glorious indiscipline of Lib Dem conference debates are one of the most refreshing things about the party. Journalists would rarely bother to sit through a full session, partly because the Lib Dems didn’t matter very much, and partly because it was well known that it was a broad church that was open about its differences.

Activists regularly take the stage to denounce party policy. Even frontbenchers deliver biting critiques of their own leader. I remember Steve Webb, the pensions minister, describing Clegg’s spending policy as “the audacity of gloom”. Clegg sat there with a fixed grin, less than twenty foot away. It was the best line of the whole conference. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Oh the irony. The favourite book of David Muir, a key adviser to Gordon Brown in Downing Street, was called:

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations  Read more >>