Daily Archives: June 23, 2011

We have done more coverage of Clegg’s proposed bank shares giveaway to 46m members of the public in tonight’s FT. The City is quite cautious about whether the whole idea is practical.

But there could be a fees bonanza if it goes ahead, with administration costs estimated at about £200m, according to some experts. Read more

Ed Miliband is set to give a speech on Saturday proposing an end to Labour’s two-yearly shadow cabinet elections. The move may antagonise some of his frontbenchers but will be welcomed elsewhere; the system did seem like a bit of an anachronism.

It also cements Ed Miliband’s power base. Any challenge to his authority can now be nipped in the bud; he also has greater power of patronage over any young up-coming – and most importantly, loyal – MP who catches his eye.

Aides say that this is not the prelude to a “night of the long knives” reshuffle by Miliband, who moved swiftly to get rid of Nick Brown last autumn as chief whip. There won’t be a reshuffle this summer or around conference time, they insist.

Here is a link to our full story on ft.com. And here is Miliband’s letter to his MPs.

Incidentally, David Miliband gave a private speech yesterday for a charity (UPDATE: sorry, fund-raising) event at a hotel in Bloomsbury. He doesn’t seem to be a fan of the shadow cabinet elections (which he didn’t enter) either; he said it was a great shame that the talented Pat McFadden hadn’t made it in. Hard to disagree.

FURTHER UPDATE: (Friday morning). Yes, David Miliband has publically endorsed the move as a good idea.

Ed Miliband will announce his proposal at the national policy forum in Wrexham Read more

When the FT broke the news that a rebellion was brewing on Conservative benches over a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, we never expected the rebellion would get this interesting.

Number 10′s resistance to the idea is based on worries the government could face a legal challenge under the EU services directive if it goes ahead with a ban. But it could have essentially ignored the debate, which was a backbench motion which carries no legislative power.

So it came as a shock when the Tories ordered a three-line whip on the vote: effectively instructing all their MPs to turn up and vote against it. Read more

From the FT’s Business blog:

Some have attributed Nick Clegg’s proposal to give every British voter a share in the UK’s state-owned banks (floated during a trade visit to Rio de Janeiro) to a combination of jet lag, domestic political calculation and Copacabana sunstroke. But the UK deputy prime minister’s suggestion has a long pedigree – longer than perhaps even he recognises. Read more

John Redwood is among those who support the idea of a bank shares giveaway, calling it an “excellent plan”. Others are rather more muted in their support, admitting that it is not the most straightforward way to return cash to the taxpayers who saved RBS and Lloyds at the height of the banking crisis.

Vince Cable admitted on the BBC this morning that the concept would be a “technically quite a demanding exercise” but “it can be solved”. He said that the handing out of shares was “not imminent by any means” and that it would take “several years” to complete. (Vince seems more focused on the issue of separating retail banking from more risky functions, ie the Sir John Vickers review).

This doesn’t quite tally with my understanding, which was that the Treasury wanted to begin the privatisation of both banks early next year.

Downing Street said only that Clegg’s suggestion is one of several under consideration, adding: “We need to make sure we get value for taxpayers.”

Ed Balls said the future of the nationalised banks should be decided on the “long-term best Read more

Good and bad news for Labour from this month’s political trends report by Ipsos Mori.

First the good news: The party is re-establishing a clear lead on the NHS – the issue on which David Cameron has worked so hard to win voters’ trust. Since March 2010, the percentage of people who think the Tories have the best policies on the NHS has gone from 24 to 21, while Labour has risen from 33 to 37.

 Read more