Formally, the shots have yet to be fired in the battle for Whitehall spending cuts, but the Treasury has already set the terms of its looming battle with the Ministry of Defence. A little-noticed but ominous sentence in the new coalition programme has put the armed forces on notice that the axe is about to cut even more deeply than they imagined into the defence budget.
Whitehall insiders are predicting a programme of retrenchment as significant as that marked by the withdrawal “East of Suez” announced by Harold Wilson’s government in 1968. Then, as now, the trigger was a crisis of international confidence in the nation’s finances.
Another hit at the new Labour Uncut blog where founder Sion Simon reveals that Labour’s NEC will extend the leadership nominations process after complaints from figures including Jon Cruddas. The four-day window for nominations would make it much harder for candidates (including new arrival Diane Abbott) to get through to the contest.
Fascinating piece on the blog of Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA (and part of our election panel last month). In it, he reveals that Stan Greenberg, pollster to Clinton, Blair and others, carried out research just before May 6 which showed that Labour’s vote would have risen under a new leader; in which case we could now be under a different government. (hat-tip John Rentoul).
It’s not plain sailing for the Conservative leader, however. As I wrote yesterday, Tory MPs were balloted over whether ministers would be allowed to attend and vote at the weekly 1922 Committee; a sensitive issue given that it was set up for backbenchers.
Warning: this is a long post. The coalition agreement includes 6 new commissions and 28 “reviews”.
There are various breeds: urgent reviews, comprehensive reviews, long term reviews, fundamental reviews and reviews on implementing reviews. All of them are listed below:
I still can’t get my head around the sight of Lib Dems wandering around the Treasury as if they run the place; which – of course – they now do. Vince Cable, sat in front of scores of journalists and senior civil servants, also seemed slightly bewildered at finding himself on podium with David Cameron, Theresa May and George Osborne.