Friday, 3 July 2009

Osborne's detractor

Here is the chair of Tatton Labour Party giving his reasons for making a complaint against the shadow chancellor on Sky News.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Acid test burns

The Royal Mail stand down will have left Mandy fuming, though only inside of course. He’s far too polished to let his hair get out of place.

There were rumours that an unspoken deal was done over the issue at the Labour meeting, which saved Brown’s premiership, last month.

If Brown had to stay, said angry backbenchers, so too did Royal Mail.

The Government’s struggle to get the institution part-privatised was branded by Ken Clarke as an acid test of the leadership’s strength.

That it failed is not a huge surprise, we all knew the Government was weak. But what may become of Royal Mail now could still be a huge shock.

Royal Mail makes a profit of more than £320m but has a £10bn pension deficit, that makes paying for tech upgrades – and everyone admits they need it to survive – very difficult.

In other words without substantial amounts of new cash from somewhere it’s going down the toilet.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Tessa Jowell's face is a picture

Immediately after PMQs 25 to 30 hacks surrounded Michael Ellam, Brown’s spokesman, and harangued him over what – in the name of jumping jehosifa – a 0% rise is.

The likes of the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson, the FT’s George Parker and the Sun’s George Pasco Watson – who were leading the interrogation – looked astonished as Ellam attempted to explain that a 0% rise was indeed a rise.

The weird claim, along with Brown’s equally bizarre statement that Tory policy was to increase unemployment, made this a particularly desperate performance for the PM.

Hat tip to Crown Blog, speedy as ever.

Second wave of repossession coming

Amid talk of hope and stability came a little dose of reality yesterday.

Official figures showing the number of people in arrears on their mortgage and repossessions are apparently dropping.

But housing experts reminded MPs on the Treasury Select Committee that the figures are still at their highest level since 1991.

Dominic Lindley of Which actually said arrears were rising right now and that official figures were misleading.

Meanwhile Kay Boycott of Shelter warned there was a second wave of repossessions coming in 2010.

The first factor was that interest rates are low and are keeping arrears down – when they inevitably rise they will send mortgage payments beyond people’s means.

Market conditions and rising unemployment count – for every 10% in sustained unemployment, she said, you get 30% in increase in arrears.

Finally – the mortgage rescue schemes that are in place are time limited, they start to run out at the end of next year.

Without the extra support, she said, the people who would have had their houses repossessed or gone into arrears may do anyway – leading to the second wave.

Which begs the question – if we were only prolonging the inevitable was it worth it?

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Reprioritising Britian's Future

Regional hacks did a right hatchet job on Building Britain’s Future last night.

In question was the promise to spend £1.5bn building homes, creating 45,000 construction jobs.

Half of the money would come from "underspends" at the Home Office and the health, education and transport departments.

Another £750m would be raised by "reprioritising" existing housing budgets at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Hold on. If you’re moving money from one budget to another, isn’t one of those budgets being boosted and the other being cut?

Apparently not, officials said – there are no cuts, only reprioritisations.
So which budgets are being reprioritised?

In the end a DCLG spokesman suggested that they didn’t exactly know yet.

We’ve got a briefing with Brown later today – if all funding for proposals are this shambolic it’s going to be ugly.

MP jostles for slither of celebrity limelight

Not much passes in the celebrity world these days without Gordon Brown making a trite statement shortly after.

And after the PM got involved in the Susan Boyle affair it was only to be expected he’d make some statement on Michael Jackson’s death.

Only one other person could possibly match such a level of bandwagonism – and today that person inevitably came through.