Monthly Archives: February 2012

Kiran Stacey

Chris Huhne

UPDATE: The results are in, and, as widely predicted, Ed Davey has been promoted to energy secretary, with Norman Lamb coming into the business department. Jenny Willott has been made an assistant whip, while Jo Swinson is now Nick Clegg’s PPS. I’ll leave the rest of the post unchanged so you can judge for yourselves who right I was…

Chris Huhne has resigned as energy secretary after being told he will be charged with perverting the course of justice following allegations he asked his ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, to accept speeding points on his behalf.

This means that David Cameron, famously reluctant to reshuffle his ministers, will now be forced into his second reshuffle of the last three months. As with the last one, in which Liam Fox was replaced by Philip Hammond, this one is expected to be fairly limited, with only Liberal Democrats moving. So here are the runners and riders:

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Kiran Stacey

When George Osborne told the country last November that he was going to miss the target of eliminating the current structural deficit by 2015, Labour were quick to tell everyone how the chancellor’s economic gamble had failed.

Not only was Osborne having to borrow more to pay for this failure, the opposition claimed that he was even now having to borrow more than Alistair Darling would have done under his deficit reduction plan. That claim was illustrated by this graph, showing the course of borrowing under Darling’s 2010 plan and Osborne’s modified 2011 plan:

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Jim Pickard

Nick Clegg has raised the prospect of greater devolution for Scotland even if there is a “no” vote in any imminent referendum on independence.

In an attempt to close down calls for a compromise option on the ballot paper – such as “devo max” – the deputy prime minister said that a “no” vote would not end the gradual process of devolution.

There would be the possibility of a further relaxation of control from London with the potential for further fiscal powers passed to Holyrood, he said. This would be beyond the current Scotland Bill going through Parliament at the moment.

The comments came this morning during a meeting of the Lords constitutional committee, chaired by Baroness Jay.

The development of unique institutions and greater powers for Scotland was a “process” rather than a fixed point, Mr Clegg told the committee.

“Devolution is not a tablet of stone it is a process, there are so many devolved states around the world,” he said. “Look at

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Elizabeth Rigby

At the start of the week, there seemed to be a general consensus among politicians that Stephen Hester was right to turn down his £1m RBS bonus but the treatment of Sir Fred Goodwin has sparked unease even among the political class, unsettled that due process has been cast aside to make a populist point.

If that is how the politicians are feeling, imagine how his de-robing has gone down within business circles. The hounding of Hester and demonisation of the former RBS chief has unnerved other chief executives of big FTSE companies, frustrated about the anti-business vernacular emerging from government as well as the opposition benches.

One FTSE chief executive said government’s handling of Goodwin had been akin to a “political drive-by shooting” and played to the gallery. Another said that this sort of “personalised, totemic targeting” was vindictive and would serve only to make business leaders withdraw from public life. Read more

Kiran Stacey

It was an interesting decision by Ed Miliband not to ask David Cameron about Fred Goodwin’s knighthood today, especially when he could have pushed the PM into the uncomfortable position of calling for other bankers to lose their titles. That possibly reflects a growing sense of unease, as voiced by Alistair Darling this morning, that one individual may have been unfairly singled out in a politically-motivated attack.

Instead, the Labour leader developed his theme of unfairness at the top of society, calling on the prime minister to implement the suggestions of the Walker review and ensure that banks have to disclose how many people they employ who earn over £1m a year.

The legislation to make this possible was passed under the last Labour government and with cross-party support, Miliband pointed out, why wouldn’t the PM enact it? Read more