Was this Cameron's ideal cabinet all along?
This morning’s blog by YouGov’s Anthony Wells on voting intention figures has got Tory backbenchers playing a game of “What if?”
The figures make fantastic reading for the party. Over the last two months, they have increased their percentage of the vote to the low 40s. And even though Labour has also gained ground, Lib Dem support has collapsed so sharply that it would now give the Tories a 13-seat majority and leave the Lib Dems languishing on just 22 seats, which is incidentally the number of Lib Dem ministers.
On top of that, Cameron’s personal ratings are also excellent. Fifty-eight per cent of voters currently think he is doing a good job, up 10 percentage points from when he first became PM.
All of which means right-wing Tories, digruntled by the coalition in the first place, are now especially annoyed by the fact that it has set in stone a five-year parliament. They are dreaming of an alternate reality, where the two parties had agreed to a less formal deal without any such binding measures, and the Tories could have gone back to the country to get their majority once they had proved they could govern. Read more
As my last post suggested, we’re entering times of fear and loathing in Whitehall.
There is a lot of animosity growing over the way mid-level officials are handing this spending round. Read more
Whitehall finally puts its worst fears to paper today. After months of agonising preparation, officials will finally dispatch the budget bids to the Treasury. The letters themselves include a plea for leniency that runs for about four to five pages. But the important part is a blood-curdling chart that shows how the department would find cuts of up to 40 per cent cut. “The sacred cows lining up for slaughter,” in the words of one official.
Mandy looks after his two favourite people
Today’s Guardian manages to wheedle out of Peter Mandelson what nobody else has, even during the hours of air time and acres of press coverage he has been given in the last few days.
In an interview with Patrick WIntour, Mandy admits what many Labour people have always thought:
He [Mandelson] is quite clear in the interview that Labour would be probably be in power now if it had been possible for Brown to be replaced by a consensual alternative.
“If you really force me, I think probably it would make a 20 to 30 seat difference to the result. They would have gone to 280 and we would have gone up to 270. They probably would have been the largest party, but not by a decisive margin.”
There is a row brewing over who pays for Trident, which could have serious consequences for how much Britain has for other bits of defence spending. James Blitz and Alex Barker broke the story in this morning’s FT.
The contoversy surrounding BP’s lobbying of the British government over prisoner transfers with Libya has reached the upper echelons of the US government, the Guardian reports. The paper says Hillary Clinton has said she would look into claims by a group of Democrat senators that the company lobbied for the release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to help it secure an oil deal with Libya. BP has denied the allegation that it mentioned al-Megrahi specifically. Read more