By Emily Cadman and Henry Foy

Commuters in London are facing chaos on the way to work as RMT and TSSA unions strike against plans to close ticket offices and cut jobs, which Transport for London claim are essential to modernise.

FT reporter Bryce Elder found his local station, Ladbroke Grove, was closed when he had been expecting it to be open (photo left).

The last major strike was in 2007 and cost London an estimated £48m a day in lost productivity, according to the London Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

FT reporter Caroline Binham bumped into London Mayor Boris Johnson participating in the propaganda war at London Bridge station.

But aside from the politics about who is to blame, the challenge for most is simply to get to work.

And that is something which takes on a familiar pattern in the internet age: venting on Twitter. #tubestrike was choice more many this morning.

1. For most people it is likely to be as bad as you think it is going to be

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Ed Miliband’s comments on energy in his Labour party conference speech on Tuesday have profound implications for policy. The immediate focus will be on the suggestion of a price freeze lasting until 2017. The industry will no doubt focus on the implications of cutting profits and the question of what happens if world prices rise. Some might also suggest that a hard freeze will not only deter new investment, but also lead to some companies exiting the business with the net effect of reducing competition. Mr Miliband clearly believes there is profiteering but he has not published the evidence. The Labour leader should and there needs to be a full competition inquiry. It may well be that if there

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By John McDermott

Nick Clegg wants all primary school children in England to receive free school meals. On Wednesday, the deputy prime minister will announce that from September 2014 an additional 1.5m kids will be eligible for free food. He would eventually like it if all school children aged 11 or under were eligible.

The policy is being viewed as a response to the “cost of living”, a refrain that will become familiar throughout the party conference season. Of course, there is politics involved; a common occurrence in political speeches. But to see free school meals only through the prism of living standards is simplistic. Quite a lot of policy announcements concern living standards.

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NHS protests

By Sarah Neville

Comments to the FT from one of the most important figures in the NHS this morning ask the most fundamental question that can be asked about the NHS: in an era of austerity can a universal free health service survive?

Malcolm Grant, chairman of NHS England, told us that he thinks a future government will have to consider more widespread user charges in the health service unless the economy picks up.

Grant made clear that he would not support any departure from the defining principle of a free-at-the-point-of-use NHS. But that doesn’t matter – these are macro-economic decisions for government that fall beyond his remit. Read more

What was your response to the Budget? We asked readers on social media what the most important decisions were for them.

For Peter Curnow-Ford it was the stamp duty cut: Read more

The UK government has revealed the planned route of the second stage of the proposed high speed rail link from London to the north of England. Lex’s Stuart Kirk and Oliver Ralph discuss who’ll invest in a project where any returns would be a long way off.

For Tony Blair, they were the “forces of conservatism”. For Margaret Thatcher they were an inefficient bureaucracy that needed to be scaled back. British civil servants have been described as the envy of the world but to many ministers they are little more than a block on their most coveted policy ambitions.

Yes, Prime Minister, the sitcom that personified the devious and obstructive mandarin in the character of Sir Humphrey Appleby, returned to British television this week after a 15-year gap. And, for many ministers, the world it depicts, in which officials prevent them from carrying out manifesto promises and protect the status quo at all costs, is as true today as it was in the sitcom’s 1980s heyday.

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Being prepared for big economic statements, such as tomorrow’s Autumn Statement, is a must, given the quantity of information released in such a short time. Even though this will be the 41st Budget, Autumn Statement or pre-Budget report I have covered, I try not to be complacent.

Here’s what I think is important (sorry about the length), what type of analysis is relevant to understanding Britain’s economy and public finances, and at the bottom is a moan about the way in which George Osborne has decided to follow Gordon Brown down the road of playing games with numbers.

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Anyone who reads Sir Howard Davies’s acerbic regular diary column in Management Today magazine will know that the former head of the CBI and London School of Economics is extremely well-qualified to lead an independent inquiry into UK airport capacity. He seems to spend much of his time travelling by air between international destinations – dropping in the occasional barb about the airports he passes through.

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The government has given in to pressure today for more disclosure of David Cameron’s meetings with wealthy Conservative party donors amid the “cash-for-access” storm. Read more

From the FT’s Tech Hub:

A hacking group – no, not that one or the other one, a new one – has published scores of names and phone numbers that it says came from former UK prime minister Tony Blair’s address book 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