Friday, 2 November 2012

Boris attacks "inertia" over airports..

BREAKING NEWS: Boris Johnson has been on the Today programme talking about his favourite topic - the need for Boris Island. Sir Howard Davies will set out his air capacity report's goals today, which will include all the necessary preparation work for building to begin.

"In order to get mixed mode at Heathrow, which would be violently would take at least 10 years. On the current would take until 2020 to get permissions and that's very optimistic.

"The runway at Heathrow simply will not happen. There is absolutely no need for us to delay. In the next 10 years they will build 52 new runways in China. In the UK they will build nil. It is a policy of utter inertia."


The fallout from the European budget vote has plunged both Labour and the Conservatives into some form of existential crisis. Only the Lib Dems seem to have emerged with their faith in ever closer union undented. Nick Clegg rebuked "political opportunists" in his 
speech yesterday, adding that it was "wishful thinking" to attempt to negotiate out of certain single market provisions, a move which on the surface appears to make the case for an in/out vote if and when a referendum does come, rather than David Cameron's preferred in/in option. The Guardian saw his remarks as a "swipe" at Mr Cameron, who now finds himself pressed on both sides in Europe. Mr Clegg was rebuked in turn this morning, with the Telegraph's leader saying that Mr Clegg is "on the wrong side of history" and claims he is wedded to a "bloated autocracy".

For the Conservatives, the significance of the revolt lay not only in how starkly the disconnect between leaders and led was rendered, but also in that it seemed to mark the coming of age of the 2010 intake, an independent minded and spectacularly disobedient crowd. Quentin Letts hails them in today's 
Mail, attributing their attitude to having had "real jobs" before Parliament, and noting that Jacob Rees-Mogg is "43 going on 80". In any case, the Whip's Office will need to institutionalise them fast if they are to avoid paralysis.

Then, there is the question of what Labour do next. While their new-found euroscepticism mines a rich seam of public sentiment, it has outraged their metropolitan supporters, including the 
Independentcommentator who rages against a "betrayal of the EU" which was "shameful". In the Guardian , Polly Toynbee suggests the party can be pro-European without being pro-budget rises:
"To be a strong pro-European has never meant supporting whatever Brussels does. Few can justify the extravagant parliament travelling between Brussels and Strasbourg. There is no need for 27 commissioners, each with their own cabinet. Even the reformed common agricultural policy still pays most cash to the wrong farmers – the Queen and big landowners. Every organisation, public or private, needs constant vigilance over its accounts."

Three separate reports accused the Bank of England of creating a stifling culture infused with deference and hierarchy that have hampered its response to the financial crisis. As the 
FT (£) reports, the findings criticise the BoE's "opacity and culture that discourages independent thought". The investigations will add to calls made by the likes of Alastair Darling who argue that an outsider is needed to shake up the bank. In theMail, Alex Brummer lays the blame firmly at the door of the "Sun King":

"This shows how poorly served taxpayers - left with a £1trillion bailout bill - have been by the failure of successive governments to order a full-scale judicial inquiry."

Quite aside from the fist waving between best friends over Europe, the Conservatives and Lib Dems continue their public quarrels in two other high-visibility policy areas. Philip Hammond insisted yesterday that upgrading Trident was likely to be cheaper than any Lib Dem alternative, the 
Telegraph reports. Clearly he is still wedded to the idea of a deterrent "with the sole strategic purpose of flattening Moscow at the push of a button" as his friend and colleague Nick Clegg would put it.

Another Lib Dem favourite was at the dispatch box yesterday, John Hayes. As the 
Mail's Quentin Letts noted, he was on a tight leash: "when a question about wind power arose, Mr Davey reclaimed the dispatch box - perhaps not willing to risk further eruptions from his Tory junior". All going well on the  good ship Titanic Coalition, then.


Telegraph reports that David Gauke has likened those opposing benefits cuts to those who block developments in "their back yard". In an interview with The House, he claimed that while many wanted to cut the deficit, they were affected by a form of "fiscal Nimbyism". He also refused to rule out further cuts to age-related benefits and upheld the phasing out of pensioner allowances as "a matter of principle". Fortunately, readers are re-assured that Mr Gauke and his corporate lawyer wife "will cope" with the loss of their child benefit.

Shocking revelations from Dame Helen Ghosh who argues that Dave prefers to surround himself with chums from school and university. Truly shocking. Understandably, she felt a little left out. 
Her speech to students at Cambridge University (our report is herewill do little to assuage those who level the accusation that Dave has a "women problem".  Dame Helen added:
"Women don’t network. It is actually quite difficult for a woman to get in as part of an Old Etonian clique. They are far too busy doing other things, like bringing up their children, looking after their constituency."

The implication is that they need to be included in political networks earlier in life. Perhaps Dave could have done with some lessons from the  Deputy Prime Minister in this regard. Nick, of course,  had a large number of female friends in his younger days.

The Serious Fraud Office. The body safeguarding the financial probity of the nation has managed to make a £422,000 unauthorised payment to former head Phillipa Wiliamson, the 
Times (£) reports. The payment was made partly in pension contributions and partly in a special severance payment, but was not agreed by either the Cabinet Office or the Treasury. Whitehall clearly on top of its game as the Francis Maude reforms loom closer. 

Vince Cable will today lead a push to encourage high-end textile manufacturing in the UK, the 
FT (£) reports. Fresh from his senior moment over meetings, Mr Cable will tell a conference that the high hidden costs of buying in Asia can make it cheaper to establish themselves in Britain. Provided, that is, he remembers to attend.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, Anna Soubry's announcement that the Government would not be altering its abortion policy irrespective of the results of planned consultations, and that therefore the consultations would be cancelled, has gone down badly with Nadine Dorries. This time, it's personal, as Nad's 
Conservative Home article makes clear:
"The offhand manner and callous words used by Soubry to jettison the abortion counselling consultation tell us a great deal about her as a Minister. She is deeply unprofessional in allowing her personal views to have such an effect on policy. Such lack of impartiality will be carried through in all aspects of her work and there must be serious questions now about what else she has done in the few weeks since being appointed that adheres to her personal agenda rather than implementing Government policy."

The Big Society has long been in the hunt for a symbol to transform it from lofty phraeseology into something more meaningful. Charlote Leslie seems to have hit upon the solution. The local pub is "at the heart" of the Big Society, she said during a Commons debate on beer policy. As the
Telegraph reports, Sajid Javid told her he planned to help pubs by making alcohol more expensive. That should do the trick.

The Foreign Office was so short of money at the end of the Gordon Brown years that it sold off the contents of its library to meet costs. This wilful vandalism against an important part of the nation's history is one of the black marks against David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary at the time. Fortunately, we are obviously in happier times as the library's one remaining resident - a 20ft long stuffed anaconda, a gift from a 19th century bishop based in Guyana - has been given a £10,000 makeover, CT scans and re-stuffing. As the 
Telegraph reports, the FCO are sanguine about the cost, with a spokesman saying: "it is quite a lot of money, but he is a very big snake".

The week ends on a high note  for Dr Therese Coffey :

@theresecoffey: "Felt good to have great TV the day I renewed my tv licence


In The Telegraph

Fraser Nelson - The Big Apple shows the world how to live with climate change

Jeremy Warner - Britain shouldn't jump the gun on Europe

John Kampfner - The global war on free speech

Telegraph View - Nick Clegg is on the wrong side of history

Best of the Rest

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian - Labour, you've made your point - now make the case

Phillip Coillins in The Times (£) - We are all in the chorus of Dystopia Limited

Martin Wolf in the FT (£) - Radical policies for rebalancing Britain's economy
Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail - The Sun King's blunders and a £1 trillion bill
TODAY: State Visit to the UK by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, continues.

09:00 am: Photocall with Business Secretary Vince Cable and designer Paul Smith joining a textile conference to encourage UK retailers to buy British. Clothworkers Hall, Dunster Court.

09:00 am : The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, addresses the Royal United Services Institute conference on air power. Church House, Dean's Yard.