Daily Archives: August 17, 2010

Jim Pickard

Another snippet from tomorrow’s David Miliband interview.

One potential source of tension between the two brothers is the theory that the older brother turned down a highly-paid job as the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs wrongly believing he would have a clear run at the Labour leadership. (Or at least a race against Ed Balls but not Ed Miliband). Read more >>

The axe is hovering over the £2.7bn winter fuel payments. But cutting this bung to the over-60s is harder than it seems. Even if Osborne decided, say, to pay out £600m less than Gordon Brown, it would make no contribution at all to cutting the deficit.

How so? The Labour wheeze was to top-off the winter fuel payment with a one-off bonus each year, which was presented as a Gordon’s munificent Christmas gift. Last year it amounted to £600m. The Budget books doesn’t expect this bonus to be repeated, so the future winter fuel payments are only scored as £2.1bn in 2010, not the £2.7bn actually spent in 2009.

The dilemma for Osborne is:

– Find an extra £600m from savings or increasing debt to pay out as much as Brown in 2009, or

– Take the political hit from withdrawing £50 off all pensioners (and £100 off all those over 80), without any upside in terms of deficit reduction.

 Read more >>

Jim Pickard

In my interview with David Miliband – running in Wednesday’s FT – we talked about the alternative vote in some length. The question everyone wants answered is whether Labour will end up on the No side or the Yes side of the referendum: or neither.

Miliband told me he would himself vote yes for AV. But would he actively campaign for it? Maybe, maybe not.

His final decision – if he becomes Labour leader – is crucial given that many Lib Dems are counting on the party joining the Yes campaign for it to have any chance of success.

Labour is in the curious position of being in favour of electoral reform but against the bill which will enable the referendum next summer. (Their criticism is that it has been tied up with cutting the number of MPs, a move which Labour decries as ‘jerrymandering’.) Read more >>

Jim Pickard

The always self-depracating Alistair Darling* remembers today how he arrived in the Treasury without any inkling of the global crisis about to hit financial markets. I like the quote, not only because he is kind about the FT but also because it’s an insight into just how much of a shock the credit crunch was to many policy-makers.

When I was appointed Chancellor in the summer of 2007, I gave my first interview to the Financial Times – a paper for which I have the highest respect. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

The growing tensions between Boris Johnson and David Cameron - Rachel Sylvester, Times (£)
Was Blair donation out of guilt or piety – or both? - Michael White, Guardian
Public don’t trust the Lib Dems - Sun poll
We should legalise drugs - former head of Royal College of Physicians
Inside the IDS-Osborne battle over welfare reform – Alex Barker, FT