Wednesday, 18 July 2012
George Osborne’s big infrastructure drive is still in motion. Today he and Danny Alexander host their own Coalition love-in to launch a £50 billion loan guarantee scheme to inject growth into the economy. Is this Plan A? Plan A+? Or a different plan altogether? Whatever it is, their messaging sounds like a fudge, or at least falls somewhere in between. George is expected to claim:
"The credibility the government has earned through tackling the deficit is already helping millions of British families and businesses through keeping down the cost of borrowing... Now UK Guarantees will use that hard-won fiscal credibility to provide public guarantees of up to £50bn of private investment in infrastructure and exports.”
Danny Alexander was on the Today programme earlier. He insisted that “this is not about spending new money,” but instead using the strength of the government’s balance sheet.
How will business react? After all, the requirement for applicants to be ready to go in the next 12 months is unlikely to do much for the construction industry, and a lot of the programmes - as Labour are already pointing out - were going to go ahead anyway.
In the Times, James Dyson is supportive, but wants the government to go further by investing more in road and air travel (that third runway issue is clearly not going to go away anytime soon).
It’s a bold move by George, not least since speculation on his continued Chancellorship is growing. The FT reports that the PM’s aides have shouted it down. “David couldn’t be more supportive of George,” apparently.
In his Telegraph column, Allister Heath says:
“Tony Blair’s greatest political mistake was failing to sack Gordon Brown when he still had the chance; Osborne’s task over the summer holidays will be to convince his close friend and ally the Prime Minister that he deserves a second chance. But for such a grown-up conversation to take place, the two men need to accept that their economic woes are not all due to the eurozone, and that a drastic U-turn is urgently required.”
Plan A+++, maybe?
The banking sector continues to store up trouble for government with the HSBC scandal that broke yesterday casting dark clouds over the Trade Minister Lord Green - the man at the head of HSBC throughout the period in question. David Hughes considers this in his blog here .
The Mail's leader thinks this makes holding a judicial inquiry into banking more important, asking why the Government “thinks voicemail hacking is a worthier subject for a judicial inquiry?” Our leader, however, warns against ministers “reaching for the 'impartial inquiry' as a handy get-out”.
And the Olympic troubles rumble on since the Government are still trying to plug the security personnel gap left by the firm G4s. A further 2,000 troops have been deployed by the MoD on top of the 3,500 who were called up last week.
This is not looking good for the Government, particularly as it’s already taking its toll on the Games. The Sun reports that the opening ceremony has been cut short by 30 mins because of fears of delays at G4S checkpoints and a travel shambles.
Any hopes of the event giving No 10 a poll boost may have flown of the window. Especially if they end up paying G4S the £57 million management fee that Nick Buckles, the chief executive, refused to give up when he appeared before the Home Office Select Committee yesterday (you can read more about what happened here ).
And finally, Dave has failed to come good on his pledge to reduce the number of SpAds shuttling around the halls of power. Christopher Hope reports that the government has finally managed to employ more SpAds than Gordon Brown’s government - by one - despite stating they’d limit the numbers in the Coalition Agreement.
TWEETS AND TWITS
Labour MP John Woodcock tweets:
“@JWoodcockMP: What do you do? I'm an MP. Oh. What do you do? I'm a cage fighter. Oh!”
Don’t feel bad, John. It’s almost the same thing, isnt it?
Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 34%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 8%, UKIP 7%
Overall government approval rating: -36
In The Telegraph
David Laws: I still believe the Coalition will last the course
Allister Heath: UK needs a U-turn to stop slide into skid row
Toby Young: My first free school has passed the test – now for the next one
Leader: Helping with inquiries
Best of the rest
James Dyson in the Times: Cash for rail? Good. Now do the same for roads and air
John Kay in the Financial Times: Why elitism will bring Britain Olympic joy
Seumas Milne in the Guardian: G4S should make it easier to beat the privatisation racket
David Wighton in the Times: Turn your guns on the really big rip-off, Ed
Today: Eric Pickles provides an update on his troubled families programme.
9.30am: Chris Grayling will respond to the latest unemployment figures published by Office for National Statistics
11am: Charles Clarke gives evidence to the Lords Home Affairs Committee on the EU's approach to migration. Committee Room 3, House of Lords, London
11am: LOCOG/IOC daily briefing. Main Press Centre, Olympic Park
11.15am: Sports minister Hugh Robertson gives a press conference on Olympic finances. 1 Great George Street, London
2.30pm: Francis Maude, Sir Jeremy Heywood and Sir Bob Kerslake give evidence to the Lords Constitution Committee on the accountability of civil servants. Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster Committee Room 2, House of Lords, London