Daily Archives: March 31, 2011

Jim Pickard

Oliver Letwin, Cabinet Office minister, told a committee of MPs this afternoon that Britain was facing an “immediate national crisis in the form of less growth and jobs than we needed“.

This was why ministers had focused so hard on economic growth in the run-up to the Budget, Mr Letwin told the environmental audit committee. Read more

Nicholas Timmins

“We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful.” Well, not quite.

But the quote attributed to Mother Teresa might be the new slogan for Whitehall civil servants, where, the Institute for Government has just noted, there has been a spectacular turnover at the top. Read more

Jim Pickard

Network Rail was structured as a private company (to keep debts off the state balance sheet) and likes to pay its senior staff private sector-style remuneration.

Others point out that the track operator is owned by the taxpayer and receives a huge annual subsidy from the government. (And its £25.6bn of debt is guaranteed by the government). As such, its pay structure ought to be of interest to the public.

For the current year senior executives are not taking an annual bonus, after the previous year’s £2m-plus bonanza was heavily criticised by Philip Hammond, transport secretary. Read more

Jim Pickard

The story broke late last night that Moussa Koussa, Libya’s foreign minister, had defected from the regime and flown to Britain via Tunisia. Here is the story from our front page this morning.

At this morning’s Downing Street press briefing there was only one story in town. Here are a few nuggets of new information about Koussa:

1] He has brought (at least some of) his family with him. Koussa’s son gave an interview to the BBC’s Arabic channel last night, although this wasn’t immediately shared with the rest of the corporation – I’m told – which is why we’re only now learning about it. Downing St would not say whether Koussa’s entire family has defected with him but you’d imagine they have.

2] He is in an unidentified “secure location” somewhere in the UK. We are not being told if he has applied for asylum or for a visa.

3] “Moussa Koussa will not, is not being offered any immunity from British or international justice”, said the spokesman. I asked whether his eventual sentence – if he were to be found guilty of any crimes – would be mitigated for any co-operation with the western powers. There wasn’t a straight answer. Instead the spokesman merely replied that there was a UN resolution in place (1970) governing a prosecution of Gaddafi over in relation to attacks on unarmed civilians in February.

4] David Cameron signed off the decision to allow Koussa into the country.

5] Koussa has been communicating with the British government throughout the recent military action.

 Read more

Jim Pickard

When I interviewed David Miliband last summer and asked him what his philosophy was he was able to sum it up in a sentence. The reply, as I recall it, was succinct: “Opportunities for the many not the few.”

Perhaps he had learned from the day that Tony Blair was asked the same question and couldn’t come up with a reply. Read more