Daily Archives: December 19, 2010

I revealed back in August that David Cameron wanted to invite Britain’s union leaders for a meeting, a surprising overture given the hostility between the two sides. The process has been complicated by the fact that the prime minister – unsurprisingly – did not want to give the brothers an excuse to publically snub him.

Yet the meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow. Patrick Hennessy at the Sunday Telegraph revealed this morning that a delegation of unnamed TUC officials is poised to go into Downing Street to meet Mr Cameron. Read more

Alan Johnson heavily criticised the New Year rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent this morning, warning it would cost jobs and could jeopardise the economic recovery.

Is this responsible opposition? A Tory source points out that Labour would have almost certainly have done the same thing – or at least considered it very strongly. Read more

Alan Johnson was guilty of modest political opportunism this morning when seemingly questioning Philip Hammond’s position in the light of the extreme weather conditions. The shadow chancellor hinted that the transport secretary should resign.

It reminded me of the occasion that Boris Johnson appeared in front of the transport select committee (in May 2009) to defend charges that he had failed to protect London from the wintry elements.

It seems to testify to the theory that Boris is at his most witty when under pressure:

Q197 Graham Stringer: You are telling me what gritting went on, but that was not the question I asked. The question I asked was what action you took, with your overall responsibility for transport in Greater London, over the five days when we knew, the whole country knew, there was going to be a heavy downfall of snow which was likely to cause disruption. I would like to know what actions you took.

Mr Johnson: As Chair of Transport for London, I am happy to say that I had general oversight and I presided over, with my Commissioner for Transport, a massive programme of gritting. If you ask me whether I personally went around trying to repel each snowflake as it tried to settle over London, then obviously I would have to give you a negative answer. You do ascribe phenomenal powers to me – quite rightly, I think, as I think it is high time that we thought about a revision of the powers-to have authority over basic meteorology, but it is not within my competence to get up into a helicopter and encourage the snow to stay away. What I think you need to focus on, if I may be so bold, Chairman -

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We reported yesterday that David Cameron had joined Nick Clegg in warning of new action against banks which did not show bonus restraint.

David Cameron warned banks on Friday that they faced higher taxes if they continued to pay “unjustified” bonuses, adding to a growing political and regulatory pressure on the City before the industry’s bonus season early next year.The prime minister, speaking after a European Union summit in Brussels, said that the public found such payments “galling”, adding: “Every decision the banks make like that makes it more difficult to keep a tax regime that they might favour.” Read more