Monthly Archives: September 2013

Emily Cadman

(c) PA Mr Thompson giving evidence

Senior BBC figures are appearing before MPs on the Public Accounts Select Committee facing questions about pay offs given to departing executives. Former director general Mark Thompson has accused the trust which oversees the BBC of “fundamentally misleading” Parliament over severance payments at an earlier hearing.

Also set to appear are Marcus Agius, former chairman of the BBC Executive Board Remuneration Committee, Lord Patten, chairman, BBC Trust, Anthony Fry, BBC Trustee, Sir Michael Lyons, former trust chairman, Lucy Adams, BBC HR director, and Nicholas Kroll, a director of the BBC Trust

By Lina Saigol and Emily Cadman 

Kiran Stacey

Ed MilibandThis weekend, a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times showed Labour with a 10-point lead over the Tories. After a bruising summer for Ed Miliband, during which he has been accused of floundering and letting the coalition dictate the news agenda, this was welcome news in the Labour camp.

The polls have been steady for a long time now, giving Labour a lead of somewhere between 3 and 10 points (largely depending on where Ukip are – more of which later). Given the party probably only needs a two-point lead to win an overall majority, the party looks fair set. At least, that’s the argument of long-time Ed supporter Mehdi Hasan, who argued last weekRead more

Jim Pickard

Ten out of the 12 towns picked for a “Portas Pilot” high street makeover have seen a fall in occupied retail units in the last year in a stark sign of the worsening state of Britain’s town centres.

Mary Portas, the retail “guru” who carried out a review of high streets for the coalition, admitted the statistics as she was quizzed by MPs on Monday.

“That is happening across the country, that is the tsunami we saw coming,” she told the communities select committee. “The big chains are not going to be on the high street in the way they were before.”

Major retailers would still want to have outlets in major shopping centres and prime high streets: but they had deserted “secondary” and “tertiary” high streets and were never coming back, she said.

The first wave of 12 Portas Pilot towns were awarded government support and a share of a £1.2m fund called the High Street Innovation Fund. They included Bedford, Croydon, Read more

Kiran Stacey

Ed MilibandWhen Ed Miliband was deliberating last week on the approach to take for Thursday’s vote on military strikes against Syria, he kept his team very tight. Miliband, Stewart Wood, Douglas Alexander, Tim Livesey (his chief of staff) and Hilary Benn (the former development secretary) were the inner circle. Others were not necessarily deliberately excluded, but simply not present when the key decisions were being made.

Over the weekend, many of those others – especially the Blairites – began to express disquiet at the result. Ben Bradshaw, the former minister, said the result was “not what any of the main parties or their leaders wanted”. Jim Murphy, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said: “There is some unease about the outcome off the vote and I share it. It’s not what I wanted.” Read more