Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Morning briefing..


Everyone expected the Lords Bill to test Tory/Lib Dem relations - but it's certainly soured the mood within the Conservative Party as well. Dave apparently found yesterday’s rebellion on Lords reform - or rather, Jesse Norman's claim that he was encouraging his colleagues to vote against the Bill "to help" the PM - to be too much to take. In colourful scenes, he confronted Norman outside the division lobbies: witnesses say he shouted at his colleague before instructing four whips to kick him out of the parliamentary estate.
Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome thinks it was a little less dramatic than made out: the whips, he says, were seeking to protect Mr Norman from one of their colleagues "doing an Eric Joyce"; in  his account, “Mr  Cameron was ‘testy’ but not intimidatory”. Either way, the tense mood was heightened by the resignation of Conor Burns as a PPS and the sacking of Angie Bray, not to mention the largest rebellion of this parliament.
What does this mean for the Coalition? Simon Hughes has been on the Today programme, calling the vote in favour of the principle (without a parliamentary timetable attached) “a huge triumph” since the “overwhelming majority” want reform. But he also threatened to wreak havoc if it’s not delivered: “The Tories have to work out how to deliver the deal” because a “deal is a deal”.

He wouldn’t say he how the Lib Dems would punish the Tories if they failed, but he hinted at - yes - sabotaging  the boundary review. Nick Clegg seems to think Dave will get it together at the next attempt, though. Government sources have told  the Guardian that Dave is  seeking to table a "time motion" that imposes a limit on the debate to force Ed Miliband's hand.

This is a clever move, since the Labour leader instructed his party to vote for the principle, but against the timetable. The question is, will Ed be able to resist backing a format that allows the Bill to be talked into oblivion - and creates more fissures within the Conservative Party and the Coalition in the process?


The papers have differing views on the consequences of vote.  Our leader says the Bill has been “sent scurrying back to the drawing board” and “there will doubtless be a greater distance between the two sides of the Coalition, and probably an attempt to torpedo the boundary review.”

But the Mail’s James Chapman was a little more forceful saying: “last night’s shenanigans have prompted an unprecedented outpouring of bad blood,” while the  The Guardian leader was calmer saying that he coalition "lives to fight another day.”


Perhaps to distract us from the Lords embarrassment, the Government has finally announced its reaction to dilnot report. The idea is to enable older people to pay for care after their death. It’s a new loan scheme that will allow the elderly to keep their homes during their lifetime, leaving their children to pay off the debt by selling the property after their death. The plans will be published alongside the long-awaited White Paper. The Government are hamming it up as the the biggest reform to social care since Labour scrapped the Poor Laws (you can read Andrew Lansley’s view in the Telegraph here).

The key observation from this is that it’s not the full Dilnot. It leaves out the cap on personal liability that would be the real game-changer. Understandable, given that it would cost £1.7 billion a year.

Jeremy Warner thinks the Government is right to leave the cap out. In  his column, he says it will “open up a new front of public spending at a time when the priority should be to persuade voters to go back to first principles and provide for themselves.”

The Mail leader suggests the Government should do more to reward the thrifty through making private insurance policies compulsory, for instance. It asks: “Whatever became of David Cameron’s oft-repeated election promise to stand up for people who ‘do the right thing’?”

Dave probably forgot about it after the thirteenth launch of the Big Society. Asking the public to take more personal responsibility hasn’t gone well for him.


And sure enough, Dave and François Hollande clashed over tax policies again yesterday. Speaking at an otherwise pleasant press conference, Mr Hollande insisted that the new tax rate would not send business running.
But  Dave couldn’t let it go though without another (more subtle) comment. He said “I want Britain to be the most competitive country in the world. We have cut business taxes, we have cut personal taxes.” You can read more analysis in the FT here.

And if you were wondering how David Miliband is feeling these days, there’s quite a cuddly interview in  G2 today. The most revealing admissions include the hint that he regrets not going for Baroness Ashton’s job and that it’s his “absolute golden rule” not to talk about Ed anymore  “because whatever I say is going to be Kremlinology and so, you know, you can't win.” He’s probably right.


All Hell Let Loose, Savage Continent and End This Depression Now might sound like Tory Party mantras at the moment, but they’re actually book titles recommended by the Foreign Office for MPs this summer.

The list, written by Foreign Office PPS Keith Simpson, includes a lot of history books (William Hague’s speciality), but also a plug for the Chancellor’s wife’s latest novel, Park Lane. Mr Simpson says the book has “a touch of Downton Abbey meets Upstairs Downstairs”, to which a number of jokes come to mind, but I’ll bite my tongue.  


Labour MP Jamie Reed ‏:

“@jreedmp: I love ignoring Lib Dems on Twitter.”

Such a meany, but then again many Tory backbenchers try to ignore them in Government.


Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 33%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 11%, UKIP 6%

Overall government approval rating: -33


In The Telegraph

Jeremy Warner: Robbing the elderly won't pay the Government's rising care bills

Dan Hodges: In Frances O'Grady, the TUC brothers have a sister to reckon with

Mats Persson:  Britain should pick-and-mix over Europe instead of apeing Norway

Leader: Nick Clegg’s foolish fantasy comes crashing down

Best of the rest

Danny Finkelstein in the Times:  Lib Dems head for their baseball bat moment

Christina Patterson in the Independent:  Don't worry, Bob, you'll be fine for the caravan and custard creams

Max Hastings in the Mail:  Cleggie's bluff has been called. Now it’s time the PM put him back in his playpen

John Nelson in the Financial Times:  The City must get rid of banks’ top brass


Today: Ken Clarke gives a speech at the City of London Corporation's HM Judges Dinner

Today: David Cameron attends an international family planning conference hosted by Andrew Mitchell

9am:  Philip Hammond,  General Sir Peter Wall, and First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope attend Farnborough International Airshow.

11.30am: International Development Questions

12pm: David Cameron at the last PMQs before the Commons rises for recess

1pm: Caroline Spelman and Oliver Letwin give evidence on sustainable development to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee. Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

6pm: Ed Davey gives a speech on climate change. Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House

6.30pm: Tony and Cherie Blair, Ed Miliband MP, Alex Ferguson and other celebrity guests attend a Labour Party sports dinner. Emirates Stadium, Ashburton Grove