Daily Archives: August 26, 2010

Jim Pickard

In a keynote speech at Bloomberg HQ on Friday Ed Balls will lay into the coalition in a way that exceeds anything we have heard before.

He will warn that “a hurricane is about to hit” Britain’s economy, in the most dramatic warning yet by a Labour politician that the coalition’s deficit reduction programme could prompt a double-dip recession.

Balls will label George Osborne, chancellor, as a “growth denier”, who is ignoring warning signs of a global slowdown. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Over at Left Foot Forward they have an interview with Labour leadership contender Ed Balls where he has a not-to-subtle dig at the Brothers Mili-E/D.

1] He tells them to stop trying to split the British public into pointless demographic segments. 2] He suggests that he was battling Tory cuts while they were wandering around harvesting CLP backing. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Hearing the coalition criticise the IFS – after it skewered their theory that their Budget had been “progressive” – reminds me of happier times, when Conservative MPs queued up to praise the independent economic thinktank.

Yesterday we had Mark Hoban describing the report as “selective” and Nick Clegg criticising it as “partial”. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

It was only February but this speech by David Cameron seems like ages ago. And it doesn’t sound quite so convincing in the light of the Conservatives selling seats next to MPs at their conference dinner for thousands of pounds.

(Although, as I pointed out earlier, the Tories are not exactly alone).

Decisions made behind closed doors. The Houses of Parliament bypassed and undermined. Money buying influence. Too often just an elite few choosing the people who become MPs for many years. We can’t go on like this…..

I believe that secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest.

 Read more >>

Jim Pickard

I revealed last night that five of Britain’s main aid charities (including Oxfam and Save the Children) have written to Andrew Mitchell, development secretary, to express concerns about his dropping of scores of aid targets. He has replied, insisting that aid will still be ring-fenced and that in some cases will in fact increase.

The story is buried deep in the furthest corner of ft.com but you can find it here. Larry Elliott, economics editor at the Guardian, has his own take on it this morning here. As I wrote:

Coalition officials insist that the targets were only “input tracking mechanisms” that are irrelevant to spending decisions or resource allocation by Dfid. This would instead be determined by three seperate reviews of aid that are taking place at present….But in their letter the five charities said that those public commitments being dropped had often been “vital political and technical tools” to ensure effective delivery of policy. Many had strong public backing, were measurable targets for holding governments to account and provided international comparison and leverage on other governments.

 Read more >>

Jim Pickard

The Daily Telegraph splashes this morning with news of an “exclusive networking event” for business people at Tory conference. Places start at £500 and each table will be hosted by a Tory MP. Those prepared to spend more – £1,000 a head – can guarantee dining with at least one serving government minister, according to the report.

But as the Tel admits, this is exactly what was done by Labour when it was in government. Except they were more subtle and less explicit about access to politicians.

You would pay for a corporate table and you’d get somebody, usually a Labour MP or minister, sitting with you,” one lobbyist tells me. “You might select or choose someone and then either that person or someone else would turn up on your table. The only difference is that Labour doesn’t have ministers any more and the Tories do.” Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Apologies if this argument has already been made elsewhere – if so I haven’t seen it. Amid all the hoopla about the IFS report on the Budget (which suggests that it falls hardest on the poor) most commentators seem to have missed a very simple point: cuts to public spending are, by their very nature, bad news for poor people.

Why? Because people with less money are more reliant, proportionately, on the state. That applies to a vast range of public services such as subsidised transport, care, education and of course benefits.

I do agree with Nicolas Smith of the TUC when she says that “it’s time for the Government to stop pretending that the steepest cuts since WW2 are compatible with fairness”. That always seemed a tenuous argument by the coalition. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Robert Chote proves his mettle for OBR role by releasing critical IFS report on “progressive” Budget – FT
Why I’m backing David Miliband for Labour leader - Jon Cruddas, Mirror
“Piggy-eyed” Eric Pickles is my hero – Paul Goodman, Telegraph
Clegg rejects criticism of coalition Budget - FT