Daily Archives: January 18, 2011

Jim Pickard

After last night’s 22-hour Lords sitting there was some relief for the exhausted peers today. They began their new stint after lunch and it ended at about 4.30pm.

I’m told the atmosphere was more co-operative than yesterday’s spiky and brittle exchanges. The peers smoothly worked through four batches of amendments during the afternoon  – but 130 amendments still have to be ploughed through by February 16. (That is because 10 weeks are needed before the May 5 referendum on the new voting system). 

Jim Pickard

It was political blogger Guido Fawkes who started the rumour earlier today that Lord Mandelson is set to do some advisory work for Lazard, the venerable investment bank.

It is a story that Lazard is making no effort to deny. Richard Creswell, the bank’s head of press, tells me: “We will decline to comment…I’ve got nothing else to say“. 

Jim Pickard

Ed Miliband is said to have entered the New Year in a conciliatory mood, hoping to make new allies inside his party and beyond. Key to this strategy was an attempt – which he explained at the weekend – to bury the hatchet with the Liberal Democrats.

As our political editor George Parker wrote on Sunday night, Miliband is trying to shed his image as an old-style tribal Labour leader by reaching out to Lib Dems such as Lord Owen*.

Ed Miliband portrayed himself on Sunday as the leader of a “progressive” alliance against coalition cuts, claiming that Simon Hughes, deputy Liberal Democrat leader, had joined his fight against the abolition of grants for poor students.

The concept is being taken seriously in some quarters; Mary Riddell in today’s Telegraph is talking about a ‘rapprochement’ between Lib and Lab. (Others may suspect that Miliband is more keen on pinching former Lib Dem voters than forging bonds with Lib Dem politicians).

But in senior Lib Dem circles today there is nothing but fury about last night’s attempts by Labour to sabotage the AV/boundaries bill in the House of Lords. “Of all the things to pick a fight on, Miliband must know that this turf is Lib Dem, constitutional reform,  it makes a total nonsense of his words about reconciliation between the two parties,” says one Lib Dem source. 

Jim Pickard

Labour is trying to claim that its attempts to sabotage the AV/boundaries bill is not filibustering but rather an attempt to ensure that the legislation is properly examined. The debate went right through the night, as I predicted in this article last night, with the possibility of further all-nighters over the next fortnight.

If Labour is not trying to sabotage the bill, what should we make of this rhetoric from Lord Harris shortly before 1.45am? 

Jim Pickard

The energy secretary was at last Friday’s signing of the BP deal with Rosneft, although he says he had no involvement in setting up the controversial deal. There was a political backlash last night – reported here on ft.com - to Mr Huhne’s attendance.

Why? Because Rosneft emerged from the remains of the Yukos empire of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oil tycoon, who has been controversially imprisoned since 2003. William Hague, foreign secretary, was recently critical of a Russian judge’s decision to extend Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment by six further years.