Lord Adonis

Jim Pickard

When George Oborne addressed the cabinet this morning his message was the usual one about trying to make the cuts as fair as possible and to “fall on the broadest shoulders”. The chancellor admitted that this was an “anxious time for some in the public sector” who could now lose their jobs.

Lord Adonis meanwhile claims in this morning’s FT that “Whitehall is stunned and morale risks plummeting” as the cuts reality dawns. This chimes with what I’m told by several civil servants who read this blog.

Many departments are already going through a redundancy process – instigated in June – even before the new £83bn wave of cuts which will see an estimated half a million public sector jobs go.

I am told of one leaving party for BIS staff, held in a local pub, which attracted three or four hundred attendees. The atmosphere was utterly morose. Meanwhile some civil servants are receiving letters giving them only a week to decide whether or not they want to leave. As for those who are quitting, there are rumours that they may not be paid their redundancy payments until the end of November – a six week gap. “It feels really chaotic,” one tells me. Yet this is only a foretaste of the cuts to come. Read more

Jim Pickard

Political historians will be raking over May’s coalition talks for many years to come to establish an ever deeper level of detail and nuance.

We already know a fair amount about the talks that took place between a Lib Dem team of negotiators and their counterparts from the Tory and Labour parties. Yet there are still various interpretations of how the discussions played out.

This morning I watched David Laws and Lord Adonis give their subtly different versions of events five months after they occurred. Read more

Jim Pickard

I revealed last month that there were growing concerns within the rail industry that the £7.5bn order for new Hitachi trains to replace the ageing Inter-City fleet could be put on hold or cancelled.

Andrew Foster, former head of the Audit Commission, was asked in February (by Lord Adonis) to examine the case for the contract. Read more

Jim Pickard

To what extent was Stephen Byers exaggerating or even fantasising when he claimed that he was able to influence the process by which National Express exited a loss-making East coast rail franchise?

That is certainly the current view of Byers himself, who – perhaps after realising he had been the victim of a journalistic sting – retracted his claims. Hilariously, he has “regretted that my misleading comments might be taken seriously”.

Originally Byers, a former transport secretary (the picture is old but I love the moustache) told the fake lobbyist that he had enabled National Express to negotiate favourable terms in jettisoning the franchise without penalties.

The problem with his self-promoting claim is that the contract ended last year with the loss of £72m to the transport company, in the form of a £32m performance bond and a £40m loan which it walked away from. Read more