Friday, 15 June 2012

Brogan's brief..


BREAKING: Treasury Minister Mark Hoban and Ed Balls have just come off the Today Programme.

Ed Balls on his reaction to George Osborne's speech yesterday:  "I welcome any action... but it's also about confidence... this is the deeper problem with the Government's strategy.. the Chancellor's diagnosis is wrong."

He admitted that the problems faced by the British economy were partly to do with the eurozone and the price of oil, but pointed out that Italy wasn't in recession.

He won't put a number on how much additional money the country would spent if we followed his plan but Evan Davis implied it would be so small as to have almost no effect on GDP, whilst increasing borrowing. 

Mr Hoban said this builds on previous programmes, refusing to admit that it being implemented because the other schemes hadn't worked. He wouldn't put a number on the expected take up.


George Osborne's £100bn injection into the economy - announced yesterday during his Mansion House speech - cover the papers today. This kickstart will come in the form of cheap loans to business, totalling potentially £80 billion, according to the Treasury. This is alongside a scheme to give emergency liquidity to banks in tranches of no less than £5bn a month and the implementation of much of the Vickers Report on Banking regulation. George's aides call this "maxing out plan A" in  the FT.

The language was certainly dramatic. In the Mail,  Alex Brummer said Sir Mervyn's speech "sent a shiver down the spine" and that in "40 years I've never heard such apocalyptic talk."

George tried to sound in control, saying: "'We are not powerless in the face of the euro debt storm". But this sounded like an answer to the question I posed in my column on Wednesday.

"King hits panic button" is the Independent's verdict, as the papers point out that the Governor appears to be the one who has blinked.

On banking reform, Jeremy Warner says the proposals are an  "expensive waste of effort... a bit like designing an early warning system for future asteroid hits even as the one that's already been missed hurtles down on us"

Whereas  Martin Wolf is broadly pleased (unsurprising, really. He sat on the Commission that wrote the proposals). His only concerns are the rejected proposals from the ICB (that equity should fund at least 4 per cent of the balance sheet of systemically important banks).


George's massive announcement did a good job of pushing David Cameron's uncomfortable performance in front of Leveson back a few pages in the papers.  Michael Deacon sketches out the most awkward moment:

"Robert Jay QC produced a text that Rebekah Brooks had once sent Mr Cameron. "I am so rooting for you," it cooed. "Professionally we definitely are in this together! Speech of your life? Yes he Cam!" It's safe to say that "all in this together" is a slogan the Prime Minister is unlikely to use again."

The Guardian captures this with its "Yes he Cam" headline and Nick Watt has some fascinating analysis, saying there were "no smoking guns – but an awkward day for Cameron" and that the text was "an unpleasant odour rather than a smoking gun."

Quentin Letts says it was like watching "a little girl take to her bicycle without its stabilisers". Quite.


Fraser Nelson has an excellent column in today's Telegraph. He argues that Mr Cameron operates a "chumocracy," preferring palatability rather than political debate to win people over. Bitingly, he warns:  "The Prime Minister yesterday called for 'a bit more distance' between politicians and the press. It is his lesson to learn."


Meanwhile, Iain Duncan Smith boldly ploughs on with his campaign to tackle Britain's pension liability. We report  that wealthier pensioners could lose their winter fuel allowance and free bus passes. He's said that there is currently a "debate" within Government over whether some pensioner benefits should be means-tested.


And finally, the Mental Health debate yesterday, eclipsed by Leveson and Mansion House, drew up some interesting admissions. A series of MPs made emotional confessions to mental health problems. Labour MP Kevan Jones – who appeared close to tears in a Commons speech during which he revealed he suffered from deep depression – argued that mental illness should not be seen as a weakness in politics.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, a Tory MP and former GP, said she had felt suicidal after the birth of her child. And Tory backbencher Charles Walker revealed he had had OCD for the last 31 years, requiring him to do everything four times. You can read the full report in the Mail .


Labour MP Ian Austin says what we were all thinking:

"@IanAustinMP: Is it just me or is Cameron's face really that funny pink colour? Either that or there's something wrong with the colour control on my telly"


Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 31%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 8%

Overall government approval rating: -39


In The Telegraph 

Fraser Nelson: David Cameron's 'chumocracy' is no substitute for a political mission 

Jeremy Warner: Banking reform is a costly waste of effort 

Theresa May:  Look at Boris Johnson to see the benefits of local police commissioners

Leader:  Only through work will we beat the poverty trap

Best of the rest

Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail: A debacle that will dog him forever  

Owen Jones in the Independent: Working-class Toryism is dying and it's taking the party with it

Philip Collins in the Times: A waste of good talent – give Gordon a job 

Martin Wolf in the Financial Times:  Two cheers for Britain's bank reform plans


Today: Greg Clark sets out a range of measures on land use planning

Today: WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy meets David Miliband

Today: Mario Draghi speech at 'The ECB and Its Watchers' conference

Today: Centre for Policy Studies report on boosting savings culture in the UK

9.30am: Birthday Honours briefing at the Cabinet Office. Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall

9.30am: Institute for Fiscal Studies conference to launch its report on poverty. Institute for Fiscal Studies, 7 Ridgmount Street London

11.30am: Dalai Lama talks about ethics and business. The Lowry Hotel, Manchester