downing street

Jim Pickard

This morning we reported the perplexion in Downing Street around some of Steve Hilton’s more extreme ideas. Five of the following suggestions were made by Hilton, the PM’s head of strategy; five were not. Can you guess which are which? For the answer here’s our original story.

1] Abolish all maternity leave Read more

Jim Pickard

Andy Coulson has set himself up as an independent freelance consultant offering communications advice and has just won approval for his first client, a global conference for young future world leaders.

Mr Coulson, former director of communications at 10 Downing Street (pictured back left) resigned in January after the furore caused by allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World, which he previously edited. He has always denied knowledge of hacking under his watch, although he resigned as editor in 2007 when one of his journalists and a private detective were jailed for intercepting voicemails.

His new role was confirmed by Kate Robertson, the co-founder of “One Young World“, who is also UK group chairman of Euro RSCG Worldwide, part of the French marketing group Havas.

Ms Robertson told me she met the former spin-doctor after the Conservatives hired her company in 2007 ahead of the “election that never was”.

She said that Mr Coulson would only be working on a paid ad hoc basis for One Young World and not Read more

Jim Pickard

I revealed back in August that David Cameron wanted to invite Britain’s union leaders for a meeting, a surprising overture given the hostility between the two sides. The process has been complicated by the fact that the prime minister – unsurprisingly – did not want to give the brothers an excuse to publically snub him.

Yet the meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow. Patrick Hennessy at the Sunday Telegraph revealed this morning that a delegation of unnamed TUC officials is poised to go into Downing Street to meet Mr Cameron. Read more

Jim Pickard

I provided a link earlier today to Philip Stephens’ scoop on the Sir Gus O’Donnell memo asking for potential stimulus measures to have on standby if the economy deteriorates.

At this morning’s Downing Street press conference there was a hint that the memo had not gone down very well with senior cabinet ministers: Read more

Jim Pickard

It would be a volte-face to prompt an angry backlash from the right. But there are a few smoke signals emerging from above 10 Downing Street that a rethink of the immigration cap could be underway.

David Cameron’s spokesman insisted this morning that no decision had been made over the cap, which applies to the number of visitors from outside the EU. (The vast majority come from inside the free market and thus cannot be halted). Read more

Jim Pickard

You might have thought that David Cameron would be steering clear of foreign policy gaffes after his “news-rich” visit to Turkey and India*.

But he has just been accused by Labour of making a new blunder by mistakenly claiming that Iran has a nuclear weapon (at least, we are still assuming he’s wrong) during a PM Direct meeting.

The prime minister was asked why he was backing Turkey to join the EU and said it could help solve the world’s problems….”like the Middle East peace process, like the fact that Iran has got a nuclear weapon”.

Chris Bryant, shadow Europe minister, said Mr Cameron was becoming a “foreign policy klutz”.

“This is less of a hiccup, more of a dangerous habit,” he said. “Considering Iran’s nuclear ambitions constitute one of the most important foreign policy challenges facing us all, it is not just downright embarrassing that the prime minister has made this basic mistake, it’s dangerous.”

 Read more

Jim Pickard

The thousands of people who have signed up to a Raoul Moat fanclub on Facebook are clearly moronic on any level. But what exactly is David Cameron trying to achieve today by asking the website to take down the offending page? Read more