Monthly Archives: November 2012

Jim Pickard

Downing Street has insisted, repeatedly, that any turnout for the police and crime commissioner elections would represent a more democratic outcome than the previous status quo.

But it looks increasingly likely that voter apathy today will cast questions over the legitimacy of the new commissioners.

The government’s handling of the first PCC elections was branded a “comedy of errors” by Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society.

She said polling stations were “standing empty” today and called for those responsible for “avoidable errors” in the delivery of the elections to be held to account.

Others, however, may argue that turnout was always going to be low for a new system that the public had never shown much appetite for. Turnout may also have been affected by holding the ballot on a cold day in November.

In the most radical shake-up of the service for half a century, the new commissioners, who are expected to earn up to £100,000, will control police Read more

Jim Pickard

The Tory MP running this week’s by-election campaign in Corby was facing awkward questions tonight after appearing to admit he had given support to the campaign of a potential rival candidate.

Chris Heaton-Harris, who has campaigned vociferously against onshore wind farms, was secretly recorded saying he had encouraged an anti-wind farm candidate, journalist James Delingpole, to enter the race against his own party.

In the film, he tells an undercover Greenpeace campaigner – posing as someone from a fictional anti-wind group – that he“actually essentially suggested to him (Delingpole) he did it”. Read more

Starbucks global chief Troy Alstead faces MPs. Getty

Matt Brittin, chief executive officer of Google UK, Troy Alstead, Starbucks global chief financial officer, and Andrew Cecil, Amazon’s director of public policy have been questioned by MPs on why they pay so little corporation tax in the UK. For background, see our news story:

18:04: Hodge says British prime minister not happy, business secretary has branded all three companies a disgrace and wants their response.

18:03: All three company executives believe OECD guidelines on how a branch of a multinational on the internet should be reviewed. Read more

Kiran Stacey

Nick CleggNick Clegg always has a hard time taking over from the prime minister at PMQs. Without the vocal support of hundreds of his own MPs behind him, he can often be left looking helpless at the mercy of Labour barracking.

This week, with contentious negotiations on the European budget looming, should have been even worse. If there’s one thing that backbench Tories hate more than the Lib Dem leader, it is the Lib Dem leader talking about Europe

But Harriet Harman, asking the questions in Ed Miliband’s place, missed that open goal. Instead of asking about the one topic sure to leave him looking exposed and distant from the benches behind him, she asked about the Leveson inquiry, childcare costs and the police. Read more

Kiran Stacey

Figures published yesterday by UK Export Finance (which used to be called the Export Credit Guarantee Department) give a glimpse into the debts owed to Britain by other (usually developing) countries, and why they were taken on in the first place.

The figures show the total debts taken on by any country that still owes some. To that extent they are limited: we don’t know how much each of these countries owes, nor how much we have lent to other countries in the past.

But what they do show is that the UK has a long record of lending money to repressive regimes, often to buy British-made weapons, which were then sometimes used against civilians. Read more