Daily Archives: June 14, 2011

My colleagues in the FT’s banking team have carried out a fascinating piece of research into the average pay and perks of top bankers in Europe and the US. They reveal tonight that the figure has risen 36 per cent in the last year for the 15 bank chief executives.

(These include Stephen Hester at RBS, up 15 per cent; Eric Daniels at Lloyds, up 68 per cent; Michael Geoghegan at HSBC, up 1 per cent and John Varley at Barclays, up 239 per cent.) Read more

We brought you news earlier in the year that Ray Collins, Labour’s general secretary, would soon make way for a successor. Two of the contenders we mentioned, Iain McNicol (political officer of the GMB) and Joe Irvin (former political adviser to Gordon Brown), are still thought to be in the frame. Another front-runner is Chris Lennie, who has been deputy general secretary for around a decade.

There is also a strong rumour that Ed Miliband’s aides have approached several outsiders – businessmen and charity heads – to see if they would be interested in taking the job. (Gordon Brown tried to do the same thing with City fund manager David Pitt-Watson, but he pulled out soon after taking the job.) The idea is apparently to mark another stride away from old New Labour. Read more

When the Tories were in opposition, barely a day passed without a senior figure – usually Eric Pickles – berating the Labour government for its approach to rubbish collection. The party was incensed about councils which withdrew weekly collections, fined householders who did not sort out their refuse properly or sent out “bin police” to check household garbage. Garbage was a key doorstep policy at the general election.

Now in government, however, the Tories’ single-minded obsession with the subject has been rather diluted. For months on end there has been a grinding row about what approach to take to waste. Mr Pickles, now communities secretary, was keen to push through his agenda. But the “waste review” has not been his responsibility but instead that of Caroline Spelman, environment secretary in Defra.

Today the document is published, and you can see who has lost the row. Not only will councils still be allowed to choose when to pick up rubbish – localism in practice – despite being encouraged to do weekly collections for “smelly” food waste.

Also there is some confusion over the coalition’s plan to ban councils from fining householders up to £1,000 for overfilling rubbish bins or leaving out waste for collection on the wrong day. (Incidentally, the document reveals that this power “is very rarely used”). Instead of ending the fines the government will encourage councils to issue “fixed penalty notices” (of £75 to £110), which councils already have the option to use. (Defra tells me that 1,100 such penalties were issued in 2008/9 alone, although 286 were cancelled). There will also be a review of whether these fines should be at a “fairer level” although “it will take time for these changes to be made“. (see page 45 of the document).

UPDATE: Allies of Mr Pickles argue that fines will in future only be applied where there has been “harm to local amenity” by “neighbours from hell” under the proposed changes. This would mean an end to ‘petty bin fines’ forever, says one, meaning a partial victory for the communities secretary. Meanwhile Pickles’ department is still Read more

As David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Andrew Lansley strutted their stuff at Guy’s Hospital today, arguing that lots of detail had altered over their NHS plans but that the fundamentals remained the same, who quietly re-emerged as the most powerful man in the NHS?

Answer: Someone who wasn’t there – Sir David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive. Up until the “pause”, Sir David had been the most powerful since his appointment as chief executive designate of the commissioning board was forced on Andrew Lansley back in December in the first sign that the government was panicking about the health secretary’s NHS reforms. Read more

We’ve observed here before that Ed Miliband makes all the right noises about the importance of entrepreneurship but does not exactly exude familiarity with the concept.

Alex Smith, a former aide to Miliband, has already garnered some attention this morning for his article calling for the Labour leadership to hammer home the pro-business message.

Here is an extract from LabourList: it’s not quite as one-sided as you might think – and includes a warning about how the party has, in the past, been a bit too keen to get close to tycoons. But Smith’s suggestion that Miliband needs to “learn” how to “truly understand” business is telling.

Looking back, it’s easy to see why Peter Mandelson’s tongue got the better of him when he said he was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich…as long as they pay their taxes”. We have at times been too close to big business, during the past two decades

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When Vince Cable said the coalition had “Maoist tendencies” no one took it as a literal suggestion that David Cameron was taking inspiration from Chinese communists.

But it has emerged that the coalition’s “Big Society not Big Government” slogan was originally devised by the heirs to Chairman Mao over a decade ago.

The initiative by the Communist Party of China in 1997 even echoed Mr Cameron’s Big Society flagship theme in its promise to encourage civil society and cut back the role of the state.

Chinese officials said their desire for “small government and big society” should mean less bureaucracy, with civic organisations taking a bigger role in society as the “bridges and belts linking the party and government with the mass”.

Steve Hilton, the Downing Street blue-sky thinker credited with coining the Big Society concept, is treated with suspicion by many on the right of the Tory party given his small-l liberal tendencies.

It is even thought that Mr Hilton voted for the Green Party in 2001, before going on to help Mr Cameron rebrand the Tories in a more modern and cuddly image.

News that the coalition’s main concept was first coined in Beijing could prompt bemused Read more