Thursday, 28 June 2012

Morning briefing..


Barclays’  £290m fine for distorting the cost of borrowing  covers the broadsheet front pages this morning. The Independent say the firm is “shamed”, while the Times homes in on the guys at the top with “Barclay’s chiefs’ jobs on line”

Andrew Tyrie of the Treasury Select Committee plans to summon Bob Diamond to give evidence, though to judge by the calls for his head that's the least of his troubles. The potential scale of this scandal is so huge that it is likely to have consequences for politics, as voters realise that the banks were rigging the price of money.

Politicians will want to distance themselves from bankers, and may choose to exploit the situation: when in trouble, find a bad guy. Labour will want to tread carefully given its record of bank deregulation. Let's see how No 10 and the Treasury play it.

And the fallout has already begun. In the Telegraph,  Damian Reece says this is “just the beginning of the Libor scandal” while the Mail’s  Alex Brummer says “The real scandal at RBS is how it sacked thousands of British workers - and sent their jobs abroad”.


This - and the Queen shaking hands with Martin McGuinness - has pushed the Lords controversy back a few pages. But it’s still as potent: the Mail says “Lords reform rebels threaten the biggest revolt in Tory history”  while the Guardian says there’s “no issue as lethal - or as likely to fade away”,  and that the “bill exposes deep rifts within parties”. The Independent has taken a slightly different angle, saying the Tories are “shocked as Cameron stands by Clegg”.

We’ve concentrated on Ken Clarke’s message to the Tories. They should stop larking about' and back Lords reform”, he says.

Northern Ireland PPS Conor Burns is the first senior figure to say he’s willing to lose his job over the issue, saying:   “If I lose my job for something that was a mainstream view within the Conservative Party within the last Parliament, which serving Cabinet ministers held as their view, so be it.”  Dave will be in trouble if many others may think the same.

Patrick Wintour says there are even doubts among the Lib Dems, but thinks that Nick Clegg has no choice: “After the rebuff over the alternative vote, he cannot afford to abandon all constitutional reform.”

Our leader column calls it a “wretched Bill” and says: “Any Tory or Labour MP who can help kill it off, by whatever means available, will be doing the nation a service.”  It also supports the view of Lord Kakkar  who has a column in today’s Telegraph. He argues that the democratic legitimacy of Parliament is vested in the House of Commons. The purpose of the Upper House is not to make law, but to ensure that the power of the elected chamber is kept in check and its legislation properly scrutinised.


While this is happening, Dave is off to another EU summit - and he’s going with a cash offer. The Times  reports that he will inject £1.3 billion from Britain into an EU-wide growth plan. The Mail’s calling it Dave’s “Backdoor bailout”. (I can practically hear Douglas Carswell’s head exploding.)

But there is some good EU news for the Tories. The FT  reports that William Hague wants to conduct an audit of EU powers, which sounds a little like what Tory backbencher Andrea Leadsom was calling for. Mr Hague best be careful, though, as he doesn’t want to get the backbenchers excited if he’s going to let them down.

James Kirkup, however, says the audit is already underway, and that the row is whether it should be published. Is this going to be Beecroft mark two?


Poor Chloe Smith. Not only has the Mail called her Newsnight performance  “the most humiliating interview ever ”, the affair also seems to have sparked a mini Tory row. Nadine Dorries tweeted that George was a coward for throwing her to the wolves rather than standing up for the U-turn himself (see tweet below).

The Guardian has latched on to this, saying that it’s “Fanning the flames of the fuel duty freeze”  and the FT reports on the grumblings in the ranks over the way he sprung his fuel U-turn on the party. Oh dear.


Damian McBride has written a blog to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Gordon Brown becoming PM. It’s definitely worth a read - it gives a fascinating insight into the workings of that government, and the power of the Treasury.


Treat of the day for Downing Street:  the Mail  carries a feature on The Curse of Cameron - the interweb suggestion that he jinxes everything he comes into contact with. Dave will particularly like the mock of him as a vampire with bloodied fangs.


In the Telegraph, Peter Oborne  argues Lord Ashcroft’s ownership of Conservative Home is responsible for the Tories swing to the Right. The website, under his ownership, has “transformed from a relatively loyal voice of the Conservative Party as a whole into the Prime Minister’s most damaging critic.”


The government appears to be coming good on part of  its “era of transparency”.  The Guardian reports that hundreds of pieces of government data– ranging from the success of different GPs treating patients with cancer to where British aid money is spent –  about public services will be published over the next year alongside an open data white paper. A brave move. Newspapers across the country will be looking to recruit a few more data journalists.  


It seems that Tony’s comeback is underway. Yesterday he guest edited the Evening Standard  and submitted to a revealing interview by Blair’s standards. He said he didn’t want to leave office in 2007, but it would have provoked “a bloody battle” in the party if he hadn’t. He said he still wants a public role and claimed that he pays 50 per cent tax in Britain on all his earnings.

He also had praise for Ed Miliband. He said: “Ed Miliband has made a conscious decision that he is going to keep the Labour Party in the centre, and that is sensible.”

Now that’s out of the way, the stage they’ll share at a sports’ charity event in August will more interesting. Not least because, I’m told, that they’ll be surrounded by celebs including “Alex Ferguson and other more surprising names”.  

He definitely gets quote of the day though. In the FT, Tony says: "This notion that I want to be a billionaire with a yacht: I don't!"


Nadine Dorries went out to bat for Treasury Minister Chloe Smith yesterday:  ‏

“@NadineDorriesMP: I was at a dinner last night so didn't see Newsnight, however, if Osborne sent Chloe on re scrapping 3p he is a coward as well as arrogant.”

No 10 responds:  “Nadine is Nadine, isn't she? What can you do?”


Latest YouGov/The Sun results 27th June CON 31%, LAB 45%, LD 9%, UKIP 7%; APP -31


In The Telegraph

Peter Oborne:  Lord Ashcroft’s Tory Right is stopping the Coalition working

Lord Kakkar:  Why Nick Clegg’s Senate is seriously flawed

Leader:  The Lords may need reform, but not like this

Leader:  Varsity blues

Best of the rest

Camilla Cavendish in the Times: Look away now: a tale of British immigration

Steve Richards in the Independent: At a time of crisis, we need more experience at the top than this 

Chris Giles in the Financial Times: The good, the bad and the ugly of Cameron’s welfare plan 
Zoe Williams in the Guardian: A future without growth need not be dismal if we use Plan C


Today:  Theresa Villiers to launch red tape challenge for aviation.

Today: Treasury Minister Mark Hoban will  launch a consultation on the future of building societies.

9.30am: The  Bank of England will release its credit conditions survey for the second quarter of this year.

9.30am: Rachel Reeves will give a speech to the Resolution Foundation on raising living standards. 23 Savile Row, London

9.30am: Third estimate of Q1 GDP is published by the Office for National Statistics.

10.30am: Transport Questions

10.45am: Ed Balls gives a speech to the Local Government Association.

1pm: David Cameron attends a European Council summit in Brussels. Justus Lipsius Building, Rue de la Loi 175, Brussels

3.30pm: Defence minister Peter Luff addresses the Rusi conference. Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall, London

3pm: Vince Cable gives evidence on executive pay to the Commons Business Committee.Room 8, Palace of Westminster, London

3.30pm: Eric Pickles gives a speech to the Local Government Association

6.30pm: Martin McGuinness will make a keynote address on future Irish/British relations. Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, House of Commons