Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Brogan's briefing..


David Cameron is in Mexico today. He's given his big speech, saying that the crisis in the eurozone may rumble on "for some time". He urged the parties involved move "decisively and swiftly" to form a new administration.

Of course, he did this to the backdrop of a dull blue banner, disguising spectacular beach views (check out the Sun's pictures here ). The Sun has suggested that No 10 staff put it there deliberately

And that wasn't the only headline worthy moment - he also said he'd "roll out the red carpet" for French businesses if they wanted to flee an "uncompetitive top rate of tax".

Ed Miliband has a different approach to the French though. In Mary Riddell's column  today, she says he's "hitching" himself to Francois Hollande. They're planning an an anti-austerity summit for the autumn apparently. Mr Miliband's adviser Lord Wood and the shadow Europe minister, Emma Reynolds, are all travelling to Paris to discuss details of the growth summit with them soon.

Meanwhile, Vince Cable has his own ideas. In a speech to the Centre Forum think tank, he suggested it was time for the Government to move to a 'Plan A+', urging ministers to accelerate plans for kick-starting growth, including a multi-billion scheme that could pave the way for the construction of tens of thousands of new homes. Of course, Downing Street insists there's been no shift in policy. You can read more in the  Mail's report.


Today Francis Maude sets out plan for a slimmer Whitehall - it's a story for the connoisseurs, though ministers say if they get this right it will help over time the drive to a leaner, more effective and therefore more conducive to growth Government. It has taken months of a fraught process that had to survive Steve Hilton's attempts to take the Civil Service through a Year Zero cull.

The FT  has the full details, along with a helpful profile of Sir Jeremy Heywood, the essential force at the centre of Whitehall (according to this, friends say his key qualities are 'an incredible work ethic and intellectual rigour'; enemies call him 'windsock' and 'snake').

This won't be as exciting as first thought. The Mail says Steve Hilton's plans for paring down the Civil Service have been 'ditched'. And we carry an outline of the plans in a joint piece by  Francis Maude and Sir Bob Kerslake.

The pair say:  "This is a joint plan. The two of us will be overseeing it together and we are responding to an organisation that is hungry for change." They have suggested that they will address the slow-moving culture, manage poor performers better and ensure that policy is rigorously scrutinised.


Meanwhile, the papers are having fun with another U-turn. This time on plans for regional pay. Introducing regional pay for the public services was one of George Osborne's big structural reform plans in the Budget. He thought it was a vital way of restoring the public sector north of the Wash to some sort of

But he's faced a rearguard action from northern Lib Dems - and even Tories - who worry about their seats. Today's headlines tell us it's been dumped. The Mail's called it a "cave-in" , the FT says it's "on its way out", while we've said it's  "under review". The Times' headline is striking though - "No 10 rethinks local pay plans after fierce opposition": we don't usually see No 10 making a decision on behalf of the Treasury.

The Mail and  the FT  also point out another U-turn on the Beecroft's 'fire at will' proposals. It appears to have been buried by a "call for evidence". And instead, implementing a new law that will allow firms to offer a voluntary pay-off to workers they wish to dismiss.


Dave's chief treasurer Lord Fink is facing calls for his resignation after booking a room in the House of Lords for paying American Express card-holders.

The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism have found that Lord Fink arranged the event, which was part of a $10,000-per-head "Wimbledon Championships" package available to AmEx Platinum and Centurion card-holders.

This is an embarrassing one for Mr Cameron because Stanley Fink is his chief fundraiser, and it comes after the self-defenestration of Peter Cruddas in not dissimilar circumstances. Lord Fink conceded something wasn't right when he cancelled the booking last night after being 'made aware' it might break the rules. But his swift action won't be enough to head off calls for his resignation today.


The Mail's  splashed on the doctors' strike. Apparently, they will still be paid despite the fact that 1.25 millions appointments are cancelled. Daniel Poulter, a Tory MP who is also a hospital doctor, has said: "A doctors primary duty is to look after patients, and yet a strike will see operations cancelled, and patients lives being potentially put at risk".


Labour has launched its police commissioners campaign yesterday, featuring a large number of ex-Labour MPs, including Lord Prescott, Vera Baird (previously solicitor-general); Jane Kennedy (who was environment minister) and James Plaskitt (a former work and pensions minister). Where's the Tory campaign for its own policy? You can read more in the FT report.


We've splashed on the fact that Armed Forces personnel face having to serve for another five years before qualifying for their pensions. The result would be that the effective minimum age for leaving the Services with an immediate pension would increase from 40 to 45.


Boris Johnson couldn't have gone to New York without making a few interesting remarks. In an interview with New York magazine, he said that he wanted to "assume supreme power in England" to get London a new airport and that the "number one" reason people come to London is "greater range of girls at the bar, of


Nadine Dorries, however, can do no right.  We've featured a story on her paying her law student daughter "up to £39,000" to be her office manager. Will this revive the row over MPs employing relatives?

Other parliamentarians seems to be shedding pounds though.  The Times  reports that politicians tend to gain a stone in weight - known as the "Parliamentary stone"- in their first five years. Apparently this has sparked a new rivalry in the corridors of power - that of Slimming World vs Weight Watchers.


Another MP double jobbing...

"@stellacreasy: in response to tweets- yes my dj'ing skills are available 4 weddings/bar mitvahs etc -only rule is no arguing back from the dancefloor...."


Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 33%, Labour 44%, Lib Dems 7%, UKIP 8%

Overall government approval rating: -39


In The Telegraph

Mary Riddell:  Labour leader Ed Miliband's anti-austerity alliance will fight for the European dream

Philip Johnston: Doctors get a nasty taste of Gordon Brown's pension medicine

Niall Ferguson: Reith Lecture:  'We're mortgaging the future of the younger generation'

Leader: Political timidity stops airport plans taking off

Best of the rest

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian:  To end this impasse, let us tap Europe's vast wealth

Max Hastings in the Daily Mail:  Europe's on the brink of probably the gravest and most frightening tumult of our lifetime

Rachel Sylvester in the Times:  All politicians can do now is hold our hands

Dominic Lawson in the Independent:  Greed is the reason your doctor won't see you on Thursday


Today: David Cameron attends G20 summit. Mexico
Today: Sarah Teather gives a speech to the Early Years 2012 conference. QEII Conference Centre, London

Today: Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in UK

Today: General Secretary Dave Prentis gives a speech at Unison's Annual National Delegate Conference

9.30am: UK monthly inflation figures

10.15am: Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State for Human Rights and FCO officials, appears before the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. Committee Room 16, House of Commons, London

11am: Policing Minister Nick Herbert speaks at a conference on police and crime commissioners. Deloitte, 2 New Street Square, London

11.30am: Liberty to stage a protest against the Justice and Security Bill, as it receives its second reading in the House of Lords. The Supreme Court, Parliament Square, London

2.30pm: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions

3.30pm: Debate on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights