Monthly Archives: July 2012

Kiran Stacey

House of LordsMany in Westminster are convinced Lords reform will not go ahead: and for good reason. Tory backbenchers are overwhelmingly opposed, and many have said they will vote against. What’s more, there is next to no chance the proposals will manage to make it through the Lords. What hope then, of the bill ever making it onto the statute book?

Actually, quite a good chance. And this is how it will (probably) happen.

1) The bill will pass the Commons. Although a large rump of Tory backbenchers will defy the whip and vote against, Labour has promised to vote in favour. Even if those in the opposition who are implacably opposed to an elected second chamber defy the Labour whip, there should easily be enough votes from Tory and Labour loyalists, plus all the Lib Dems, to make sure it passes. Read more

Kiran Stacey

Today’s session of PMQs was unexpectedly boring. Amid another big banking scandal, with the future of the City at stake, somehow David Cameron and Ed Miliband got bogged down in a tedious discussion of what sort of inquiry there should be into what went on.

The Prime Minister is pursuing a parliamentary inquiry, which he wants to be led by Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. Miliband wants a full Leveson-style judge-led inquiry.

Miliband obviously thinks he is onto something here, and that by getting ahead of the PM he can do what he did last year, when it looked like he had forced Cameron to set up the Leveson inquiry. And he said as much today: Read more

Jim Pickard

Bob DiamondWhat are we looking for when Bob Diamond, the ousted Barclays boss, testifies in front of the Treasury Select Committee today? Here are a few things the committee members might like to ask:

* Diamond’s memo yesterday revealed details of his phone conversation in October 2008 with Paul Tucker, deputy head of the Bank of England. It appears to reinforce the idea that the Bank wanted Barclays to submit lower figures for Libor. MPs will ask the former Barclays CEO precisely what Tucker said and whether the memo is an entirely accurate transcript of Tucker’s words.

* MPs will ask whether Tucker told Diamond the identify of the powerful “Whitehall” figure or figures who supposedly wanted Barclays to lower its Libor submissions in line with other banks. The Tories have leapt on this, suggesting that it points towards Labour ministers and advisers of the time: but what if it was a Treasury mandarin? Read more

Jim Pickard

This memo just released by Barclays puts the ball firmly back in the court of Paul Tucker of the Bank of England. It is Bob Diamond (RED)’s recollection of a conversation with the Bank official.

Date 29th October 2008. Read more

Kiran Stacey

Bob Diamond

Bob Diamond, who resigned as Barclays CEO today

Now that Bob Diamond has quit as chief executive of Barclays, what does that mean for his appearance in front of the Treasury Select Committee tomorrow?

It may mean that the members of the committee tone down their attacks: it is less edifying watching a panel pillorying someone who has just resigned than someone who is refusing to do so.

But more importantly, it may mean that Diamond now feels free of his shackles and goes after other people he feels were complicit in the Libor scandal.

So who else could be in his line of fire? Read more

Jim Pickard

I revealed yesterday that the coalition is planning to delay a decision on whether to build new runways in the south-east until after the general election – because of the splits between Tories and Lib Dems over the expansion of Heathrow.

Meanwhile the Conservative leadership has decided to switch away from outright hostility to a third runway at the airport by making no mention of Heathrow in its election manifesto. But the Lib Dems are holding firm in their total opposition to the project (or other new runways in the South-east.)

Ministers and officials have examined other options and found them all wanting, as we explain in this analysis pieceRead more

Kiran Stacey

1968 Black Power salute

The 1968 protest which the UK fears Argentina may copy

A week ago, the Sunday Times revealed Whitehall fears about Argentina using the Olympics as a platform for protest against British control of the Falkland Islands. The paper reported:

Ministers are worried about a possible demonstration by Argentine athletes similar to the one staged at the 1968 Games in Mexico City by African-American athletes at the men’s 200m medal ceremony.

Any symbolic gesture by team members would be broadcast worldwide, fuelling tensions between Britain and Argentina. Diplomatic relations between the two countries are already strained.

Since then, Christina Kirchner, the Argentinian president, has tried to reassure anxious Brits and Olympic officials by telling her athletes not to do anything “stupid”. She said:

We’re not stupid. We don’t need to use sport to stand up for our rights. We’ll defend our rights in appropriate forums, like the UN.

Well, just in case the athletes didn’t get the message, Jeremy Browne, the foreign office minister for South America, has put further pressure on the Argentinians. In an interview with the FT, he made it clear the British government would see such a protest as a serious escalation of hostilities (emphasis mine): Read more