Daily Archives: July 5, 2010

Jim Pickard

A report is out today from the National Audit Office, looking at supposed savings by the Ministry of Justice in the 2008/9 financial year. It reveals that the ministry’s own internal audit team couldn’t find any evidence of the savings in question:

The Ministry has reported that its value for money savings against the target for 2008-09 amounted to £329 million. In August 2009, the Ministry’s Internal Audit team examined the evidence supporting the savings against criteria established by HM Treasury. Internal Audit found that underpinning documentary information was not available to support the value for money savings reported by the Ministry’s business units and questioned whether the savings could be substantiated against HM Treasury’s criteria. Read more

Kiran Stacey

MPs are as confused as psephologists about the likely impact of the double dose of electoral reform which could hit voters in 2015. Not only are they trying to get their head round the possible effects of the alternative vote system, but they also have to factor in the ramifications of a fall in the number of seats from 650 to 600.

A study by the Electoral Reform Society soon after the election suggested AV could cost the Tories 25 seats, of which 22 would go to the Lib Dems.

But any Lib Dem rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the number of their parliamentary colleagues rising by nearly half should read this post on PoliticalBetting. Mike Smithson suggests the system could end up wiping out the Lib Dems, as it means the end of tactical voting, which has benefitted the party both in the north, where voters want to keep out the Tories, and the South West, where they don’t want Labour.

Perhaps this is why Nick Clegg before the election called a switch to AV a “miserable little compromise”Read more

Jim Pickard

You may think it’s still months away. But the manoeuvrings have already begun.

Up to 40 Labour MPs are likely to put themselves forward for the shadow cabinet elections this autumn including ambitious younger figures such as David Lammy, Kevin Brennan, Tom Harris and Barbara Keeley.

Others who have indicated their ambition to stand include Phil Woollas, John Healey, Caroline Flint, Chris Bryant, Jon Cruddas and Angela Eagle. So too has Stephen Twigg (pictured), despite only having been re-elected to Parliament last month.

The internal elections won’t take place until after the new party leader is chosen in late September. The breadth of field in the contest – with many low-profile MPs entering the fray – could mean a distinct change in Labour’s public profile as new faces take on more responsibility. Read more

Jim Pickard

As Britain’s largest union Unite should have considerable influence over the leadership contest; unions make up a third of the total voting. Although unions don’t have single bloc votes they can tell members who they favour.

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Jim Pickard

It’s been a vintage year for the FT Westminster blog; or at least we would like to think so. If you’ve enjoyed our efforts over the last year we would hugely appreciate it if you could vote in the Total Politics blogging awards, which are currently running. There’s some tough competition out there so every vote counts.

You need to list at least five blogs in total; here’s a link to the relevant site. Read more

Jim Pickard

Ministers have no qualms about standing up to the unions in the current climate, as you can see from the FT’s splash this morning about their attempts to slash redundancy terms for 500,000 civil servants. The coalition is trying to push through a move – initiated by Labour last year - to reduce the maximum pay-off from 6.5 years to 2. It was thwarted in May when the Public and Commercial Service Union won a judicial review against it.

But is the government prepared to go to war against the union movement? This is the implication from this morning’s Times front page – “Ministers in secret talks to toughen strike laws” – which claims that ministers could re-examine changing strike laws if imminent job losses lead to widespread industrial unrest.

I heard a similar rumour last week but was told the government had not changed its position since late June. Then, the CBI called for a change so that strikes could only happen if 40 per cent of the total workforce backed action – rather than, as present, a majority of those who voted. The business group was apparently slapped down by David Cameron, whose spokesman said there were “no plans to change strike legislation.”

Having “no plans” is not the same as ruling something out indefinitely, of course. Read more