Thursday, 5 July 2012

Morning briefing..


Who knew that the Libor scandal would turn into an ugly game of politics? Yes, as sure as night follows day, this affair has stopped being about how to punish Barclays and started being one giant game of Dave vs Ed - or rather, Ed vs George.

Today, MPs decide on what type of inquiry we’ll have into the rate-rigging scandal - a probe by Andrew Tyrie or the full Leveson. No doubt the party-politicking will come to the fore.

In her column, Sue Cameron  makes the counter-argument: " No doubt there will be embarrassing revelations about Mr Balls and Baroness Vadera, both advisers to Gordon Brown when he was at the Treasury, and both renowned for their bullying tactics towards officials." But, she says, if the bankers are pushed too hard to name names, they may simply stop co-operating with the select committees at all.

Martin Kettle  in the Guardian thinks the Chancellor's actions are eroding Labour’s growing credibility on the economy. But pushing for an MPs' inquiry could leave the Tories liable to the charge that they’re trying to protect their "friends" in the City. Either way, expect some parliamentary fireworks - and hysterical accusations from whoever's on the losing side.


The papers were impressed by how often Bob Diamond said he loved Barclays at his Treasury Select Committee hearing yesterday, but unconvinced by his evidence. Even Andrew Tyrie, the committee’s chairman, couldn’t hold his tongue. saying: "I think, cumulatively, the whole package looks somewhat implausible." It’s understandable. How could he have known nothing of the actions of his 14 rogue traders when chairman Marcus Agius knew for two years?  Jeremy Warner wasn’t persuaded.

Nick Watt’s  analysis in the Guardian says there were two significant findings: "that Barclays traders did favours for colleagues (‘submitters’) to submit higher or lower rates to the Libor panel to help generate profits; and that during the 2008 banking crisis they reduced submissions to avoid any suggestion that the bank was in financial difficulty."  The Independent analyses Mr Diamond’s testimony line by line if you need to catch up.

Ann Treneman at the Times said his super-controlled manner screamed "media training", while  Michael Deacon draws on the MPs’ frustration with this:  "‘Get on with it!’ snapped Andrew Tyrie. ‘You must be living in a parallel universe!’ scolded Andrea Leadsom. John Mann shouted that if he wasn’t complicit he was ‘grossly incompetent’."  Mr Agius must be looking forward to his turn on the stand.


Poor Bob, he’s very unpopular. Mandrake  reports that he was planning to host a fundraiser for Mitt Romney. Mitt's not interested anymore.


Philip Hammond is setting out his vision for the Army today - and it’s a vision that involves substantial cuts. That said, it might unravel as quickly as this year’s Budget did.  The Times reports  that plans to bring home half the British troops in Germany by 2015 are expected to be delayed because it costs less to keep them there.

But General Sir Paul Wall defends Mr Hammond’s stance in the Times today, arguing the "The new Army won’t be fighting the old wars"  . But his predecessor, General Lord Dannett on the Today programme this morning said the cuts were "disappointing" and that they put British security at risk.


We’ve splashed  on Francois Hollande new mega-tax on holiday homes. Given that around 200,000 Brits own homes there, it makes you wonder if this is Francois’s revenge on Dave for his  red carpet comment?


Denis MacShane is finally off the hook over his expenses and has regained the Labour whip. You can read more in  the Guardian.


Yesterday in an interview with the Evening Standard , Nick Clegg said his kids wouldn’t the "Tebbit test":

"I’m not sure if my children, who were wearing their Spanish football kit, given to them by Miriam, would have passed the Norman Tebbit cricket test  [Tebbit suggested in 1990 that immigrants could not show loyalty to the UK until they supported the cricket team]. They know every single detail about every Spanish player."

That could have got awkward for Nick if England had got through to the final. Luckily, this is England we’re talking about.


And finally, the usual glittering assortment of the political great and good at last night's Spectator party, including a goodly assortment of Cabinet ministers. But who was that fellow holding court on the terrace in front of the marquee? Why, it was Labour leader Ed Miliband, basking in the glow of his soaring approval ratings. A whisper reaches me that Ed only attended once he was sure that Dave wouldn't. I suppose it could have got a bit awkward if they'd been pushed together in the crush...


Labour MP Kerry McCarthy comments on the large number bills that pass through Congress:

"@KerryMP: Most of those bills are things like National Chipmunk Day. Bit like EDMs."

Let’s hope she hasn’t fobbed off any of her constituents with EDMs lately.


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

Overall government approval rating: -39


In The Telegraph

Peter Oborne:  Yet another dismal repeat at the top of the BBC

Jeremy Warner:  Still no evidence of a growth plan as London buries its head in retribution

Sue Cameron:  George Osborne’s revenge on the Labour Party will turn sour

Leader:  Time to get a grip on the BBC's sprawling empire

Best of the rest

General Sir  Peter Wall in the Times: The new Army won’t be fighting the old wars

Steve Richards in the Independent: Change is in the air. Labour understands this, Tories don't

Andrea Leadsom in the Financial Times: How an old hand would change Barclays

Martin Kettle in the Guardian:  For Cameron and Osborne, the Barclays showdown is really about 2015


Today: MPs vote on the appropriate form of inquiry into bank the rate-rigging scandal

11am: Embargoed: Philip Hammond and the Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall give an off-camera, on the record briefing about Army 2020. MoD Main Building, Whitehall

10.30am: Environment Questions