Daily Archives: February 10, 2011

Courtesy of epolitix.com, here is the one who defied the rest of his party: the recently knighted Sir Peter Bottomley. He was the only Tory MP out of more than 300 who voted against the Straw/Davis amendment. Despite disagreeing with Sir Peter on this issue, I give him 10 out of 10 for independence of mind.

I hadn’t seen his column in yesterday’s Independent but Phillip Blond suggested I read it today; he’s right, it’s a spirited defence of the Big Society that claims Labour (and the public) are wrong to conflate it with the cuts programme. Bear in mind that Blond was one of the intellectual architects of the concept – the piece is worth reading whether you agree with him or not. Its reference to “Thatcherism” will probably not go down very well among Cameron’s inner circle.

Anyway, one passage which jumped out was this: Read more

One of the major issues facing renewables developers in the UK, especially those of onshore wind farms, is fighting through local planning problems. The British public (to generalise) has never been overly keen on the sight of mammoth wind turbines cluttering the green and pleasant land.

Previously, the answer to this has been national policy statements, which set out the national need for new energy infrastructure, so bypassing one test carried out by local planning authorities.

But the problem has never been that local authorities weren’t convinced by the need for nuclear plants or wind farms, but that local opposition was too strong.

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We were speculating only yesterday afternoon just how irritating George Osborne must find it to have a so-called “Lib Dem Treasury spokesman” criticising the Treasury and the banks week in, week out. By the evening the answer was spelled out as Lord Oakeshott parted company with the government by apparently mutual consent.

I last spoke to the peer last Friday, when he obligingly furnished a quote for our front page criticising the bonus paid to Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays. Read more

For some time now we had been scratching our heads over why the bank-coalition talks on bonuses were known as “Project Merlin”. Treasury officials insisted for weeks that they simply didn’t know.

In fact the answer is nothing to do with wizards, King Arthur and so on. Instead, John Varley, former chief executive of Barclays, is a keen bird-watcher, spending his weekends out in the wilds seeking rare specimens with his binoculars. Apparently he had just spotted a merlin in the week that he set up the group. Read more