Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Brogan's morning briefing..


News from the G20 Summit in Mexico is that Spain and Italy are set to be bailed out to the tune of £600 billion. We've splashed  on it, saying it represents a substantial shift in policy for Angela Merkel. Of course, nothing is decided yet.

The summit is turning into a test of wills between the Americans and the EU specifically Germany. José Manuel Barroso's outburst against Anglo-Saxon capitalism added to the tensions. Our leader column  has called this delusional and said that resolving the crisis will be "be nigh on impossible if Mr Barroso and his colleagues insist on burying their heads so firmly in the sand."

Once again we will go through the ritual of waiting to see what the markets say a bit later, knowing that by lunchtime it could be judged insufficient.

The FT's splash  focuses on the fact that this is a bid to cut the cost of euro borrowing, reporting that Ms Merkel had subsequent conversations on the sidelines of the summit - something that has led her interlocutors to believe she may be willing to do more.

But it's the action on the sidelines that has really caught the overnight attention. Papers full of DC's confrontation with Kirchner. I like the detail that she spoke too fast for her interpreter to keep up. Pictures too. Mr Cameron will win points for both confronting Mrs Kirchner, and avoiding any traps.

The summit also produced the increasingly comic dispute between Mr Cameron and France. Francois Hollande has reacted coolly to Dave's cheeky taunt that new French tax policies would drive rich French people to London. Mr Hollande said: "Everyone should take responsibility for what he says. I do. At a time when European solidarity should be strong, I will do nothing to breach it."

But my favourite snippet this morning is the Times report of the ding-dong between the travelling Lobby and Craig Oliver. He took exception to the hacks sneaking pics of the view behind his carefully placed backdrop, so took pics of them by the pool and threatened to release them.

And since Dave is far away, William Hague will be taking to the dispatch box at PMQs today. Nick Clegg isn't available - he's at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.


As the Guardian's Simon Hoggart  says, yesterday's civil service plans can be summed up as:"there'll be fewer of you, you'll have to work harder, and if you don't you'll be fired". Mr Maude said the service needs "continuous improvement" - something Quentin Letts mocks in the Mail ,  as "permanent revolution" for those in power long enough to enforce such 'improvement'. "Elected politicians are here today, gone tomorrow."

The proposed reforms will do more than simply cut numbers though. They'll require civil servants at the very highest levels to have a broader range of skills. They will also be made accountable for devising and implementing policy. Ministers will be freer to take outside advice - although there is no suggestion that senior civil servants will become political appointments as they are in the US.

The Times' leader column says this is all well and good, but the real problem is how slow the civil service is to innovate, saying that more outside assistance is needed in the tougher task of administering austerity. It concludes that it's "a shame the Government did not see fit to go farther."

The FT's leader column is a bit tamer, saying: "the system has been designed to blend politics with good administration. Ministers who wage war on their civil servants rarely run the most successful departments. They would do better to work with officials rather than against them."


Meanwhile,  the Mail reports that the Treasury are fighting off calls from the PM to ditch the 3p fuel price rise planned for August.

Senior ministers have voiced concerns that failure to axe the tax rise will damage support for the Tories from poorer voters. And to make matters worse, leading businessmen such as the boss of Asda are demanding the tax gets cancelled.


The Independent  has stepped up its Lords business interests coverage. It reports that Lord Plumb, the former president of the European Parliament, has been an adviser to a European lobbying firm for five years without declaring it to Parliament. The report also highlights the undeclared interests of Lord Boateng and Lord St John of Bletso.  

This is an interesting time for this to emerge - could make it easier for the Coalition to make the case for Lords reform?


Things are looking up for Labour though. David Miliband is quoted in Guardian making an enthusiastic endorsement of his brother's electoral prospects, saying the next election was  "up for grabs". This gives the sense that Labour Blairite old guard are rallying behind the leader, which should concern CCHQ and No 10.

Kevin Maguire is not as charmed though. He has a column in today's Mirror titled: "Don't be misled Ed: the job's not done yet," warning against complacency.


It's also worth noting that Danny Alexander has spoken out against tax avoiders following yesterday's Times story on celebrities like Jimmy Carr avoiding tax. He's quoted in  the Sun,  saying: "People who dodge tax are the moral equivalent of benefit cheats."


And finally, the fun never ends for Nadine Dorries. The Mail  reports Ms Dorries' daughter - who it emerged yesterday earns up to £40,000 working part-time for her mum - is dating Tory MP Chris Kelly, the son of a multi-millionaire.

The article points out that Mr Kelly is unlikely to have any qualms about his girlfriend's well-remunerated part-time job with her mother, because he tops up his £65,000-a-year MP's salary by earning up to £4,000 a month working for his father's company. Last year, he earned more than £25,000 with Keltruck for just 16 hours a month.


Labour MP Debbie Abrahams greets us:

"@Debbie_abrahams: Beeeautiful day in London town tweetie pies"


Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 34%, Labour 44%, Lib Dems 7%, UKIP 6%

Overall government approval rating:  -34


In The Telegraph

Benedict Brogan:  The wind of change will give Tories something to cheer

Geoffrey Lean:  The Rio Earth Summit: is it destined to fail the world?

Ruth Dudley Edwards:   Gitta Sereny: women are not afraid to look evil in the eye

Leader:  Regional pay plans scuppered by politics

Best of the rest

David Aaronovitch in the Times: Pay tax according to conscience, not the law

Matthew Norman in the Independent:  Let Jimmy Carr's hypocrisy be a timely lesson to the Chancellors

Martin Wolf in the Financial Times:  A bitter fallout from a hasty union

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian:  The eurozone's people are like prisoners in Colditz


Today: David Cameron talks with Mexican Government. Mexico City

Today: Nick Clegg and Caroline Spelman will attend the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development

Today: Andrew Lansley will give a speech to the annual NHS Confederation conference

9.30am: Latest unemployment figures published by the ONS.

10.30am: Andy Burnham MP and Jamie Reed MP will hold a press conference for the publication of Labour's first NHS Check Report - a new monthly snapshot of what is happening on the ground in the NHS. The Labour Party, One Brewer's Green

10.30am: Sarah Teather appears before the  Education Select Committee

11.30am: Scotland Questions

12pm: William Hague at PMQs

1.30pm: Opposition Day (2nd allotted day)

12.30pm: Vince Cable publishes his report on pay reforms. Vince Cable making a statement to the House of Commons announcing a package of measures to reform the governance of directors' pay.

7pm: Compass host a debate whether the 'Can the Tories ever win again?' debate. Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jon Trickett and editor of the ConservativeHome blog Tim Montgomerie will be on the panel.. Committee Room 11, Palace of Westminster, London, UK