Monday, 10 September 2012

Bonfire of red tape..

Today’s “bonfire of red tape” kicks off a week in which the business department - freshly bolstered by Right-wingers Michael Fallon and Matthew Hancock - will try to show it’s serious about boosting growth. 

Vince Cable and Mr Fallon are appearing together in White Bear Yard, London, at 9.30am, to announce a war on red tape, which will see 3,000 rules scrapped including health and safety inspections for offices, shops and pubs (more details are available in the FT). 

The act of unity provides a fitting contrast with tensions building over the weekend. 

Mr Cable told Marr: 

"The problem of growth is that we have a very serious shortage of demand. It's nothing to do with those supply side measures basically. It's a demand issue.” 

While Mr Fallon told Murnaghan that: 

“What we’ve got to do now is accelerate our agenda. We’ve got to show that we’re supporting British business, and cutting red tape to allow business to get on and create the jobs we need.” 

Doesn’t sound like they’re on the same page, does it?

The measures announced today will be scrutinised for what we might call “Toryfication”. In the Mail the phrase “grand bargain” is used to describe the accommodation between Lib Dems and Tories, but again it is hard to see accommodation breaking out where there is already war. 

The Guardian assures us that Mr Cable “reasserted his control” over policy, which is not quite the script the reshuffle writers imagined. Mr Cable talked about learning from the spirit of the Olympics, but any comparisons will look unflattering if it emerges that the Government is not trying as hard as an Olympian prepared to risk all. 

The Mail’s leader wishes Mr Fallon well, but warns: “he will need every ounce of it if he is to overcome his  obdurate Lib Dem ‘boss’ and ensure  that fine words are translated into  desperately needed action.”


And the intrigue over the Lib Dem “boss” doesn’t end there. He shared the Marr sofa with Ed Balls who heaped praise on him before adding:  "I would be very surprised if Nick Clegg fights the next election for the Liberal Democrats, and I don't think it's in the Liberal Democrat or in the national interest." 

Mr Cable is unimpressed by the courting. The Times quotes an ally, saying:  “Talk about overcooking the turkey... Vince was inching away like a dame not wanting to be kissed.”

I don’t imagine that’ll stop the text messages coming... 


Meanwhile, the story about a plot to overthrow the PM is whipping up interest. Tales of two tea room plots have emerged. 

The first comes as a result of Boris Johnson meeting with Zac Goldsmith to discuss their opposition to Heathrow expansion.  Boris’s aides confirm that the meeting happened, but insist that plans for Mr Goldsmith to step aside for Boris to re-enter parliament were not discussed.  The Times says it was discussed, but not taken seriously. The pair “laughed” at the suggestion. 

The second is Tory MP Colonel Bob Stewart’s revelation that he was asked by two backbench colleagues to stand as a “stalking horse” to trigger a leadership election against the PM. The Colonel told them to get lost because he was loyal to the present regime. 

But as Tim Bale points out in the Guardian, there’s no need for a stalking horse:

“those supposedly behind the putative plot to persuade Bob Stewart to stand as a stalking horse don't seem to have a clue about the Conservative party's rules for hiring and firing its leaders – one of the many reasons he was well-advised to send them packing.” 

All that’s needed is 46 Tory MPs to write to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee. Neither, therefore, sound like a serious threat. The stories are summer confections, but they speak to David Cameron's internal weakness: that such rumours circulate and are discussed publicly by his own side tells us his position is not quite as strong as it should be. As Peter McKay put it "There would be no report about London Mayor Boris Johnson plotting to succeed David Cameron as Tory leader if the Prime Minister was secure in his job." One for Thrasher Mitchell.


But there is a plot Boris isn’t keeping secret. He’s holding a rival inquiry into the future of aviation capacity which will specifically exclude a third runway at Heathrow. 

Bold. You can read more in the Telegraph here


Grant Shapps - also known as Michael Green these days - has got off to a bumpy start in his new role of Tory Party Chairman. Not only has Google blacklisted a network of websites run by his family business for breaching copyright rules, he’s also been caught airbrushing his own Wikipedia page without revealing his identity (against Wikipedia’s rules). Mr Shapps tried to blot out his school record and details on private donations to his office. 

Oh dear, Grant. You’re supposed to be fighting political fires in your job - but ideally not your own. You can read more in the Telegraph here


"It isn't so much about keeping an eye on Vince, as keeping both eyes on growth." Michael Fallon interviewed in the Sunday Telegraph , where he also said: "We've got to get away from the politics of envy in this country, and salute those who risk their own money to create jobs for other people. They're the Olympian champions."

"When consulted about the reshuffle, Craig Oliver, Cameron's communications director, requested that each department have at least one practised communicator in its ranks." Matthew D'Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph. He also said Helen Grant was the minister who shed tears - of joy on being appointed.

"Incidentally, to sacked Lib Dem ministers, Nick Clegg offered the interesting explanation that he had to share jobs around because the Lib Dems would probably not be in power again." Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer.

"There have been (polite) tensions about Labour's conference in Manchester...I understand Balls thought the conference theme should be how right he had been on the economy, while Miliband thought that it should not be, but did not provide a clear alternative." John Rentoul's latest on Ed v Ed in the Independent on Sunday.


And finally, just in case you missed it in Saturday’s papers, Tory MP Sir Tony Baldry crashed his Mercedes into the wall of Poundland in Banbury, Oxfordshire. The Metro reports that Sir Tony emerged from the damaged car, which was covered in blue toilet paper from the loo, shaken but uninjured. 

You couldn’t make it up. 


Tory MP Glyn Davies‏:

“@GlynDaviesMP: While all have watched closing ceremony, I've been writing article on dairy farming for the Tory Conference House Magazine. Pleased with it.”

We wait with baited breath, Glyn. 


Latest YouGov/Sunday Times results: Conservatives 33%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 10%, UKIP 7%

Overall government approval rate: -38 

It’s not been looking good for the Tories for a while, but the YouGov poll in today’s Mirror will not make happy reading for No 10. It claims that two-thirds of people have lost confidence in the Government to keep them safe after budget cuts to the police. 


In The Telegraph

Boris Johnson: Britain shines as a beacon of enlightenment in the world 

Sean Worth: Let us face down the enemies of social reform

Peter Stanford: The can-do Games have lit a flame

Leader: This glorious summer merits a golden autumn 

Best of the rest 

Tim Bale in the Guardian: Conservatives may be sharpening their stilettos, but this is not a poleaxe moment

Owen Jones in the Independent: Supporters of the NHS should fear Jeremy Hunt

Ken Macdonald in the Times: Chris Grayling will need soul, not a law degree

Tim Leunig in the Financial Times: People power – how to transform UK energy


Today: The TUC host their annual conference. Brighton Centre

9.30am: Michael Fallon announces a "radical action plan on deregulation". 2nd Floor, White Bear Yard, 144a Clerkenwell Road, London

10.30am: Embargoed briefing for OECD's Education at a Glance report. The Work Foundation, 21 Palmer Street, London

12.30pm: The new Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, takes part in a question and answers session at the Green Party Conference. The Council House, College Green, Bristol

2.30pm: Work and Pensions questions

3.30pm: The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude gives evidence to Commons Communities Committee on the Co-operative Council. Wilson Room, Portcullis House, London

4.05pm: Sir Richard Branson and FirstGroup chief Tim O'Toole give evidence to House of Commons Transport Committee over Government's decision to award West Coast main line rail franchise to FirstGroup. Grimond Room, House of Commons

4.15pm: Foreign minister Alistair Burt gives evidence about the negotiations on an arms trade treaty to the Commons Committee on Arms Export Controls. House of Commons, London

4.45pm: The Prime Minister hosts a reception at the QE2 for all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes