Monday, 21 October 2013

Reveling in good news..

Breaking News: Ed Davey has been speaking to the Today programme about the opening of a new nuclear plant.
Mr Davey said that the "majority of 5,600 workers employed at Hinkley will be British". As Andrew Neil has tweeted, it isn't clear how this fits into EU law.
He also said: "A key part of our negotiation was making sure this deal helps us rebuild Britain's nuclear industry." Mr Davey added: "If we just rely on gas, we'll see prices going through the roof. We want a mixed, diverse approach to our energy system.

Good morning. This morning's confirmation that the Government has done a deal with EdF and the Chinese to build two new EPR reactors at Hinkley Point kicks off a week of economic activity that will
culminate in Friday's Q3 growth figures. David Cameron will want to convey the impression of action on all fronts and a sense of purpose. It will all go to advancing his narrative of an administration - as George Osborne put it when I interviewed him in Hong Kong - of grown up decisions for a grown up country. The nuclear deal is, he would say, a case in point. Agreeing a strike price of double the wholesale price - £92.50 - is not obviously a crowd pleaser. It means a subsidy (the Government covers the risk of building the damn things by giving EdF and its partners certainty for decades on the price they will be able to sell their electricity for) which means consumers paying higher bills than they would otherwise. The estimate is of about an extra £8 a year. It's a decision that comes with pain for politicians: the headlines this morning tell the story, as they highlight the pain for the consumer. There's also the anxiety about giving the Chinese a hold over British infrastructure. Ministers believe the Hinkley deal, and the strike price, will lure more investors into nuclear and speed up the construction of other plants. We can argue about the detail, but perhaps we might if only briefly rejoice that a government had come to a decision. Any decision. Note too, on a morning when the Lib Dems are getting it in the neck for a U-turn on free schools, that Ed Davey's announcement relied on a change of tune on nuclear subsidies. They were opposed to begin with, but now accept the inevitability.
Ministers then want to be seen to be acting. The upturn has given them a sense of possibility. On the back of Royal Mail shares hitting 500p on Friday, the FT reports that Mr Cameron is now contemplating selling off the £1.5bn rump of shares the state still holds, and two tranches of Lloyds shares, to tap in to the evident public appetite for share ownership. But the main event will be the expected 0.7pc growth recorded in Q3 announced to be announced on Friday. Expect ministers to use every opportunity to lay in to Labour (there's a cheesy YouTube video about the Mystic Eds) but also to hint at what might be possible by 2015. At this rate there will be a temptation to talk about sharing the proceeds of growth. At some point the debate will shift towards a discussion about what George Osborne does with the recovery.
So Nick Clegg is rather less enthusiastic about free schools than we thought. His suggestion that schools should employ only qualified teachers and adhere to the national curriculum, ahead of a speech this week, has not impressed the Conservatives, who had no idea that it was coming. And it probably hasn't impressed David Laws either, who gave an impassioned defence of free schools - and all their freedoms - only last Thursday. Mr Clegg's intervention will add to the impression aired by Jeremy Browne last week that the Lib Dems are lurching to their comfort zone on the Left, and C0nservatives would be wise not to give up on poaching Mr Laws or Mr Browne before the next election. We argue that "is it not telling that Mr Clegg has chosen to part company with the Tories on an issue where the Left-liberal consensus of the past 50 years has been so disastrous?" The Mail is similarly unimpressed, saying that "Even members of his own party recognise this tawdry U-turn as a transparent attempt to suck up to Labour in the hope of clinging to his job in any future Lib-Lab coalition." But Melissa Kite, normally no Clegg fan, takes a different view, writing that "Pushy parents who want to dictate how their child is educated should send them to private school, not set up a free one." The question now is: is this just another Coalition row, or is this something which could prevent another Lib-Con deal after 2015?
While the Lib Dems may be split on free schools, there's also an internal Tory row over immigration brewing. Following Douglas Carswell's Sunday Telegraph piece arguing that mass immigration threatened "the sustainability of our system of welfare and benefits",Boris has made the alternative case today. He says "The Brits: we’re the biggest load of bloody foreigners on earth. It’s been good for us, and on the whole it’s been good for the world." Rather than scapegoating foreigners, Boris writes that "The answer to house-price inflation is to build more homes – as we can, on London’s 33 brownfield opportunity areas. We can build hundreds of thousands of homes for rent, for affordable rent, for market sale and for part-buy-part-rent."
The £7,600 pay rise for MPs could come within weeks. Charles Walker MP, the vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee told the Daily Mailthat Parliament could not ignore Ipsa's recommendation of an 11 per cent rise as that would mean returning matters of pay and expenses back to MPs.
Yvette Cooper has become the latest politician to complain about the IPPC, writing that "Andrew Mitchell deserves justice and the police need reform" and "We can't continue with a situation where the independent watchdog concludes there is a serious problem, but nothing happens because the police disagree and the watchdog lacks the authority to act." Meanwhile policing minister Damian Green has joined the chorus of those calling for Mr Mitchell to get his job back.
What do you tell a one-legged drug addict begging outside Parliament? If you're Daniel Kawczynski, a Tory MP and aide to David Jones, the answer is "Get a job, find some work. Yes, I know it is hard, I have struggled too",as the Mail reports
Elizabeth Truss takes education very seriously. So she should know an education minister shouldn't be sloppy with her spelling on Twitter. She tweeted: "We shouldn't forget that OECD report showed we were only country where literacy and numeracy had not improved over 40 yrs.#reformimperitive" But Mrs Truss soon saw the funny side of her faux pas, tweeting: "I think I have just demonstrated need for improvement. Should have been imperative!" Michael Gove's advisers, already said to watch Mrs Truss like a hawk, will not have been impressed.
There's a bit of a surprise in today's Indy: the op-ed slot normally reserved for Owen Jones is taken by Left-wing firebrand Nigel Farage. Mr Farage argues against "the draconian measures you are seeking to impose on our media" in making his case for rejecting Leveson and keeping a free press.
If you missed it over the weekend, here's Nicholas Soames's attack on Adam Afriyie in the Commons Tea room:  "You are a chateau bottled nuclear powered ****. You are totally f***ing disloyal, a f***ing disgrace to your party, your fellow MPs, your Prime Minister and your country." Mr Soames isn't about to apologise, either, telling the Mail on Sunday: "I have no regrets. I feel very angry about what Afriyie has done. He has made no secret of the fact that he is running a putative leadership campaign against the PM. Hardly a single MP supports him."
Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson gets a little over-excited. Still, everyone loves an optimist:
@grahamwatsonmep: Great news: our liberal Democratic Party friends in Luxembourg election upped their vote from 15 to 19%! Boost for new leader Xavier Bettel!
In the Telegraph 
Best of the rest
Melissa Kite in the Guardian - Nick Clegg is right to reject free schools
Today: A deal to build Britain's first new nuclear plant in a generation is due to be announced
From 14.30 House of Commons: Communities and Local Government Questions.
Backbench business debates: i) Future of the BBC. ii) State of natural capital in England and Wales.

A short debate on the provision for dealing with the emotional and psychological consequences of stroke.