Daily Archives: March 21, 2011

Jim Pickard

Andy Coulson has set himself up as an independent freelance consultant offering communications advice and has just won approval for his first client, a global conference for young future world leaders.

Mr Coulson, former director of communications at 10 Downing Street (pictured back left) resigned in January after the furore caused by allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World, which he previously edited. He has always denied knowledge of hacking under his watch, although he resigned as editor in 2007 when one of his journalists and a private detective were jailed for intercepting voicemails.

His new role was confirmed by Kate Robertson, the co-founder of “One Young World“, who is also UK group chairman of Euro RSCG Worldwide, part of the French marketing group Havas.

Ms Robertson told me she met the former spin-doctor after the Conservatives hired her company in 2007 ahead of the “election that never was”.

She said that Mr Coulson would only be working on a paid ad hoc basis for One Young World and not 

Jim Pickard

So far there has been a solid display of cross-party unity over the military action in Libya, designed to save the lives of rebels in the east of the north African country. The Labour leadership is firmly behind the coalition on its swift action in maintaining a no-fly zone and protecting Libyan citizens.

But this afternoon’s ongoing debate - it began at 3.30pm and will last six hours - has shown that the consensus is not quite as firm as it might appear at first glance. Instead, having talked to MPs in private, and having watched the first few hours of the debate, I would say the overwhelming feeling is one of pride at the initial intervention but unease about how events will now pan out.

Concerns are shared among MPs of all parties, under these categories:

1] End game. There is concern about the lack of an exit strategy for the Libyan intervention. Does it end with an uprising that extinguishes the Gaddafi regime? Could the country be split into west and east? Could the allies pull out before either side wins? Could this be another Vietnam/Iraq? How does the alliance attack Gaddafi’s troops and tanks – from the air – if they enter suburbs and urban areas. As Dennis Skinner said – in a point accepted by the prime minister – with wars it is “easier to get in than get out“. Or as Emily Thornberry asked: “What would be a successful outcome?” For now the answer of David Cameron – and of a supportive Ed Miliband – it is to uphold the UN resolution which allows the protection of Libyan citizens. That may, in reality, only be phase one.

Rory Stewart, the Tory MP, warned that when you dip your toe into such engagements you can soon become up your neck: ”I think the no-fly zone is the correct thing to do but this is a 20-30 year marathon with a very complicated region,” he said. 

Jim Pickard

If you are not a regular reader of the paper FT it’s worth buying it today if only for two pieces by our economics editor Chris Giles alone: A feature in which he casts a doubtful eye over the coalition’s “growth claims” and another piece examining the worst losers from the austerity programme.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is white-collar public sector workers who are going to be more squeezed than anyone else. Firstly about 320,000 public sector workers are set to lose their jobs over the next four years.

Secondly, those who remain in their jobs will see a real terms fall in gross pay by 6.6 per cent by 2014-15. They also face a 3 per cent rise in pension contributions and tax rises and benefit cuts of around 3 to 4 per cent