Thursday, 13 June 2013

May's courage..

Good morning. Theresa May is the subject of a renewed bout of leadership speculation today after a speech she gave yesterday. Sounding every inch a PM-in-waiting, Mrs May showed no inclination of being limited to her Home Office brief, speaking of the need to "reassure people about our motives and values" and imploring her party: "Let’s have the courage of our convictions – and keep making the case for reform." She also said the Government needed to attack monopolies: "Big, unaccountable businesses that manipulate markets or abuse their monopoly positions should also be in our sights."
Her speech, marking the 10th anniversary of the Reform think-tank, was described by one guest as "Prime Ministerial in its canvas". This acts as a reminder of how well Mrs May has coped with the daunting job of Home Secretary: five people held the post between 2004 and 2010 under New Labour, but Mrs May has proved that it need not be cursed.
As far as her leadership ambitions go, Mrs May will be a strong contender to replace Dave if he loses in 2015. I would be shocked if she issued a leadership challenge in this Parliament, but the signs are clear that she is building a powerbase within the parliamentary party. Yes, she would be 63 in 2020 - almost certainly the earliest date at which she could become PM - but after the struggles of Dave and Nick, the pendulum may just be swinging against the 40-something brigade.
Dave has more advice than he might care for this morning, and not just from Mrs May's intervention. The CBI have attacked ringfencing, saying cutting back "growth-enhancing" areas of spending - especially in the business department - risks endangering the recovery, as the FT (£) notes. Meanwhile Peter Oborne urges Dave to rid himself of that turbulent Lord Ashcroft:
And here is a word of advice for the Prime Minister. If Lord Ashcroft carries on using this treacherous and disloyal language, stop pretending not to notice. Strip him of the Conservative whip, kick him out of the party, and set an example.
Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS, is to step down. George Osborne was involved in the process, wanting a new chief executive to lead the privatisation process, which he intends to be complete by the end of 2014. Mr Osborne is due to deliver his annual Mansion House on June 19, at which he is expected to outline his plans for the privatisation process for both RBS and Lloyds Banking Group.
Tim Yeo faces the prospect of deselection at a meeting of his local association later this month, reports The Times (£). Mr Yeo will face questions at a meeting of the South Suffolk Conservative Association, with Toby Kramers, the constituency association chairman, saying he would be "guided by the opinions of colleagues and the rules of the party".
Tom Harris, the Shadow Minister for the Environment, is stepping down to spend more time with his wife and young childrenWe salute his "uncommon sense to choose the door marked Exit."
It’s absolutely necessary. If we’re to win the election in 2015, every shadow minister will have to be willing to commit whatever time is needed to win all those hearts and minds before polling day.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has accused Google of "aggressive tax avoidance". A PAC report describes Google's defence as "deeply unconvincing", and asks for the Government to strengthen the role of the taxman "and to simplify the tax code so that there are fewer loopholes." Google have given no indication of planning to change their tax arrangements, but the PAC report will increase pressure for action on tax avoidance ahead of the G8 summit chaired by Mr Cameron. But there are already signs that Bermuda has no intention of signing up to a multilateral agreement on sharing tax information, as The Times (£) reports.
Margaret Hodge told BBC News this morning that, even if the G8 summit is unsuccessful, Mr Cameron can still act on tax avoidance:
I wish the Prime Minister well on his international negotiations, that's what I said, but I don't think that excuses him from taking action here domestically. So I want him to toughen up HMRC, I want him to simplify the code, I want him to have greater transparency about what happens.
The New Statesman has an interesting piece on Ed's problems today, with Rafael Behr writing of the "palpable disbelief at the assertion that Miliband will make it to Downing Street" within Labour ranks. The comment from a 2010 cohort member who backed Ed in the leadership election may be particularly worrying for Labour: "I backed Ed because I thought he would grow into the role... Now I don’t think he can. I don’t think we can win from here." As Mr Behr writes:
Miliband pushes his luck, leaving crucial decisions untaken for so long that the party starts to sound restive and discipline looks close to breaking down. Then the leader emerges from his meditations carrying tablets of stone engraved with policy pronouncements.
It's a reminder that, for all the trouble of Team Dave and the Tories' infatuation with discussing potential leadership successors, Mr Cameron retains a fighting chance of remaining PM after 2015.
Julian Huppert has complained over constant groans before he speaks in the Commons, reports The Times (£). Dr Huppert is regarded as being long-winded and said the jeers he receives amounted to bullying.

David Jones takes the attack to Labour:
@DavidJonesMP: Serial Labour frontbenchers denying they were "profligate, spent too much, had too much national debt "; today, the shadow Welsh secretary.

In the Telegraph
Best of the rest
David Aaronovitch in The Times (£) - Do you mind being snooped on? Take a test
Mary Dejevsky in The Independent - Clegg's veto on arming Syria
John Gapper in The Financial Times (£) - Big data has to show that it's not Big Brother
0900: Call Clegg on LBC 97.3
1000 London: House of Commons Constitutional Reform Committee hearing on House of Lords reform. Wilson Room, Portcullis House.
1100 London: House of Commons backbench debate about the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.
1200 London: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speech to MPs and peers at the House of Lords. Mr Harper will also meet David Cameron for talks at 10 Downing Street.
1630 London: Mayor of London Boris Johnson, joined by judges Deborah Meaden, Vivienne Westwood and Zac Goldsmith, to announce the winner of his 2013 Low Carbon Prize Award. The Crystal, One Siemens Brothers Way, Royal Victoria Docks.

Today's email was edited by Tim Wigmore