Monday, 15 July 2013

Who has Dave's ear..

Good morning. After weeks of quiet, there's a bit of unfinished business before recess. Legislation will be published tomorrow under which Lynton Crosby will have to disclose the clients who use his lobbying consultancy amid questions over why the plan to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes was delayed, as The Times (£) reports.
Dave has been getting it in the neck for his failure to deal with perceived problems in the lobbying industry. Critics like to remind him as often as possible of what he said when he was in opposition - that lobbying was "the next big scandal waiting to happen" after MPs' expenses. Well, he's decided to act, and his enemies will interpret this as a belated reaction to the stick he's been getting over Lynton Crosby. As usual, it's the perception that hurts more than the reality. Labour will push for amendments to strengthen the Lobbying Bill, while the Lib Dems' Paul Burstow has called for Mr Crosby's resignation. It's not the best time for Susie Squire, one of Dave's most trusted aides, to announce she is leaving for South Africa to be with her husband. Dave is reportedly very keen for her to return to help with the 2015 election campaign. Her departure is a loss to Mr Cameron, as she brought a refreshing perspective from beyond the gilded world of the Oxbridge chumocracy to the operation.
There are other things Dave would rather talk about. One is the Benefit Cap limiting welfare payments to £26,000 a year: national roll out of the cap is today, and it is expected to affect 40,000 families. Grant Shapps has marked its launch by writing that Labour is "miles behind" on welfare.
There need not be any contradiction between this and wider efforts to win over the working class, as Tory MPs often remind us. David Skelton, a former deputy director of Policy Exchange and Conservative parliamentary candidate, today launches Renewal, a campaign group that aims to broaden the appeal of the Conservatives. Key recommendations include a freeze (or even a cut) in fuel duty, devolving planning powers to stir a private sector-led Northern economic revival and renewed efforts to win the support of trade unionists. As Mr Skelton writes in an article for us, "the majority of Tory target seats have an above-average proportion of public sector workers." The Guardian thinks that the Conservatives are asking the right questions for a party in need of a majority - and that there are lessons for Labour. If that's right, then the formation of Renewal could yet seem far more significant than the lobbying affair.
But it's not only Renewal who are trying to get Dave to listen. In a very different area, Samantha Cameron is pushing her husband to act. A Cabinet minister says that Samantha is the "biggest reason" for her husband's posturing on Syria, The Times (£) reports. It wouldn't be the only area in which this is true, with Tim Montgomerie writing in The Times (£) that "behind the scenes, Mrs Cameron — green, international humanitarian, tolerant, liberal, feminist — will remain the Conservative Party’s most influential moderniser."    
One potential obstacle to a second term of a Con-Lib coalition is disagreements over Trident. Danny Alexander will this week outline ways in which Trident can be downgraded, with cutting the number of nuclear submarines a preferred option. Even that seems unpalatable to Philip Hammond, who writes in the Mail that it is "No time to lower our guard". There is an element of posturing about both positions. If the arithmetic was right and the will existed to continue on the economic programme, it's hard to envisage rows over Trident scuppering a second coalition term.
Vince Cable will give a speech at the London Stock Exchange at 08:50 in which he will outline proposals to tackle corporate excess and stop Britain becoming a haven for “shell” companies, as the FT (£) reports. Negligent directors could also be made personally liable for repaying failed companies’ debts. Much as with Danny Alexander's report on Trident, the Lib Dem strategy of differentiation runs at the heart of Mr Cable's speech. Tories might joke that they wish that the name of the discussion paper Mr Cable launches - Trust and Transparency - was also an apt description of Vince's role in the coalition. 
Boris Johnson will today call for the Government to buy Heathrow for £15 billion and convert the site into a London borough for 250,000 people, notes The Times (£). Boris is publishing three solutions to Britain’s aviation needs: "Boris island" in the Thames Estuary, a four-runway hub on reclaimed land on the Isle of Grain and a four-runway hub at Stansted. 
The deadline has passed for applications to be the next deputy governor of the Bank of England. Although Mark Carney has no formal involvement in the process, the FT (£) reports that George Osborne will ensure that Mr Carney is instrumental in making the choice. Four men lead the list of potential candidates, two from within the BoE – Andy Haldane and Paul Fisher – and two from the Treasury – Tom Scholar and John Kingman. Whoever gets the job will become the frontrunner to replace Mr Carney if he steps down, as expected, at the end of his five-year term in 2018. 
Nick de Bois is a busy man:
@nickdebois: My sons graduation day tomorrow and my daughters graduation on the same day-challenging more so with #insomnia the night before! 
In the Telegraph 
Best of the rest 
Tim Montgomerie in The Times (£) - You've been Sammed 
Philip Hammond in The Daily Mail - No time to lower our guard
The Agenda
Renewal group launched.

08:50 London: 'Responsible Capitalism' policy conference, examining the debate around the 'crisis of capitalism'. Speakers include Business Sec Vince Cable and London Stock Exchange Chairman Chris Gibson-Smith. 45 Great Peter Street, London.