All 177 entries tagged Politics
November 19, 2008
Dizzy has found some great quotes from recent budgets.
“borrowing for this year and future years is therefore £27 billion (2003), £24 billion (2004), £23 billion (2005), £22 billion (2006) and £22 billion (2007).” - Budget 2003
“borrowing for this year will fall to £34 billions (2004) and in future years fall further to £33 billions (2005), falling again to £29 billions (2006), then falling to £28 billions (2007), £24 billions (2008) and £22 billions (2009). - Budget 2004
“[it] will be £34bn (2005) this year falling to £32bn (2006) next year, then falling again to £29bn (2007), falling to £27bn (2008), then to £24bn (2009) and then £22bn (2010).” - Budget 2005
“[borrowing] will be £37bn this year, £36bn next year, then £30bn, falling to £25bn, £24bn and £23bn in 2010-11” - Budget 2006
“the figure for [borrowing] this and future years will be £35 billion (2007) – over 1 billion less than forecast at the Pre Budget Report – then 34 (2008), 30 (2009), 28 (2009), 26 (2010) and 24 billion (2011)” - Budget 2007
If Gordon Brown were a normal person, would he need a) advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, or b) sectioning?
November 18, 2008
Cartoon: Tom Toles, Washington Post
An incredible four million people are expected to watch Barack Obama be sworn in as President in January.
That’s more than 1% of the country’s population.
Websites like this one will help you get there, but warn that journeys to D.C. will begin a whole day beforehand!
There’s been increasing talk of the media loving Obama just a bit too much. As one commentator put it, journalism is ‘on hold’.
Does the media lead, or is it led by the public? On this one, I think the people are putting their foot down.
The government’s pledged to end homelessness in London in time for the 2012 Olympics.
I suspect this should be added to a long list of promises that almost certainly won’t be kept.
There’ve been great strides made in getting people off the street over the past ten years – the number of people living rough has dropped by 70% in the last ten years.
But whenever I’ve interviewed homeless people – and those who work with them – they all acknowledge there’s a hardcore who actually prefer life without a roof.
More importantly, they’re not all beggars, drug addicts or troublemakers. Many are the victims of crime themselves as people hurl abuse, or worse, at them on a Friday night.
This bid to ‘clear the streets’ is a noble aim, but it’s futile. And more than that, a little bit of London might be lost if this crackdown becomes too severe.
One of my former colleagues, Emily Tolloczko, did a really good piece on homelessness which you can hear here:
November 15, 2008
I sometimes wonder if George Osborne is making calculated decisions to try and put himself out of a job.
Whether it’s because he doesn’t really want to be Chancellor, or because he knows someone else could do the job better and he doesn’t want to admit it, the Shadow Chancellor seems to be digging his own grave as fast as he can.
After accusations that he’s been too soft on the government’s handling of the economic crisis, he comes out with this:
You bet it is when the Shadow Chancellor predicts it. Just watch the price of Sterling collapse on Monday morning. I’ve always thought Osborne came across as incredibly naive – this is the best example so far.
There are a million ways to tackle Brown and Darling on the economy. The Tories’ chosen ones haven’t been working. Labour is gaining on them in the polls, and the Lib Dems have been making the running on the issue for months.
Opinion is split on Conservative Home, between those who want Osborne gone (probably in favour of David Davis) and those who defend him mainly because he’s a Conservative. The Telegraph’s opinion of Osborne is pretty rock-bottom, with countless critical pieces written about him this week.
There’s no way that David Cameron can win an election and then keep Osborne in the second-most important job in the government. He might as well make the switch sooner rather than later.
November 06, 2008
I’m going to start a list. In fact, it’s more of a league table of moronism. Added to it will be MPs who jump on a ludicrous bandwagon.
1. Chris Mole
Chris Mole is the Labour MP for Ipswich.
He’s called on the BBC to sack Jeremy Clarkson for comments he made on this weekend’s Top Gear.
Clarkson was driving a lorry, and in a moment of humour suggested that lorry drivers might occasionally kill a prostitute.
Ipswich, of course, is particularly sensitive to the killing of prostitutes.
There’s only one problem – the Ipswich murders were carried out by a forklift truck driver. Which last time I checked, was quite different.
Anyone with a modicum of a smidgen of a sense of humour would realise Clarkson was taking the piss – even lorry drivers found it funny.
This is obviously all to do with the Brand/Ross, and if
Adrian Chris Mole thinks this will get him taken seriously, he’s quite a bit wrong.
September 23, 2007
If you had three years left of a cushy job, nice wage, and free houses dotted around the UK, you’d be considered barmy for gambling it all just for an extra two years, wouldn’t you?
Of course, Gordon Brown’s dilemma isn’t as simple as that, and there’s potentially more to gain.
- A new mandate for him and his policies.
- A clean break from the Blair era
- A shortened political career for Mr Cameron
- He could be the PM during the London 2012 Olympics
- Make the most of his handling of recent crises
- Polls put him in the lead
- The Labour Party is united behind him
- Things can only get
better worse© D:Ream
- Northern Rock might be the tip of the iceberg
- Northern Rock might be the tip of the iceberg (the rest might appear before November)
- The public might get restless about an unnecessary election
- Scotland and Wales – the nationalists are on the rise
- Polls might change in the next few weeks
- Another crisis might happen that he can’t handle
- Oh… he might lose.
If I was him… it might just be a gamble worth taking.
July 31, 2007
I can’t decide which is in a bigger state of crisis: Britain’s railways or its housing?
Ruth Kelly must have been stifling her laughter last week as she announced exciting plans to essentially cut the number of train seats in Britain. Oh yes, she’s going to increase the actual numbers by about 2-3%, but compare that with the 10% rise in passengers and you can see what sort of mess we’re in. We either need double-decker trains or a new high-speed line up and down the country. But that would put us in danger of getting something right, and we can’t have that.
But then there’s Andrew Gilligan’s documentary on housing which was broadcast on Channel 4 last night. The first section didn’t quite work (it was new homeowners whinging about the quality of new-build homes, and naturally wasn’t very surprising), but the levels of corruption between the government and the construction industry in the latter two-thirds of the programme was incredible, and ultimately depressing.
Remember John Prescott’s miracle £60,000 house that was wildly trumpeted in the heady days of New Labour? He showed us all a prototype and said it would solve all our problems.
Well, it will if you’re willing to pay £255,000 instead. Because that’s what it sells for in reality.
Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised to hear that I have a solution (albeit pilfered). Will Hutton has the right idea, as usual. Debt-financed railway building, as proven by the wonderful world of private equity. But more surprisingly, Germaine Greer has the right idea on housing: we need to build upwards. Not only that, but we need to make high-rise attractive. There’s not enough land, we all seem to want to work in cities, and it’s the only answer.
If I was in a sarcastic mood, I’d suggest letting Guardian columnists just launch a coup and be done with it. The Polly Toynbee-loving Tories might not complain any more.
July 22, 2007
Worn down by the British weather, bored of the bloody Beckhams and fed up with the falling dollar (okay, maybe not that last one), Britain seems to have become fond of the quiet life.
Lewis Hamilton isn’t the only quiet yet determined person to be enjoying a summer of popularity. Gordon Brown, too, is feeling groovy.
Today’s Sunday Times/YouGov poll puts the government on 40%, Labour’s best in nearly two years. David Cameron, meanwhile, is off to Rwanda, hoping things can’t get much worse while he’s gone. He’s staring at a seven-point abyss between him and the dour one.
I was one of many who thought the popularity chasm created by Blair’s departure would cause a headache for Brown. But if anything, the workmanlike approach from the new Prime Minister is winning people over. The closest the government has had to a scandal has been the cannabis revelations this week. But this will be a non-issue for Labour while the opposition is led by a man with a (what’s the word…) colourful past.
As Rod Liddle hints in the Sunday Times this morning:
When I was at university – around the same time as Ruth Kelly, as it happens – habitual drug use was divided strictly on party lines. The lefties smoked dope… Coke was seen, back then, as an upwardly mobile, aspirational, Thatcherite drug. I think we need to hear a few more specific confessions from Conservative Central Office, don’t you?
This is not an issue on which the Tories can make much hay, and they were predictably quiet this week.
But if silence is a virtue, it is one Labour have grasped more effectively. While David Cameron practically carpet-bombed Ealing Southall with his presence, Gordon Brown left the by-election to local lieutenants. The result – third for the Tories, a modestly reduced majority for Labour – says it all.
He might be boring, but so far he’s been effective (to use one of his buzzwords, ‘resolute’).
The test will come in the Autumn, when election fever reaches a crescendo. How well can he do rabble-rousing?
July 02, 2007
June 28, 2007
A couple of points.
Newsnight have just used a picture of Tessa Jowell to represent Harriet Harman. I admit it’s hard to tell the difference, but they could have done better than that.
And Shaun Woodward has the worst job in the new Cabinet. Not only does he have the minefield of Northern Ireland to deal with, he won’t even get paid for it. Not that he needs the cash anyway.
My view on Gordon’s Cabinet members, as they’re announced.
|Chancellor||Alistair Darling||A shoo-in for the role, he’ll be a safe pair of hands, friendly to the Chancellor.|
|Foreign Secretary||David Miliband||A bit of a surprise. It’ll be spun as giving the rising star one of the great ‘offices of state’, but you only have to look at the low profile of Margaret Beckett in the past year to see he’s being slightly sidelined from Gordon’s priorities.|
|Home Secretary||Jacqui Smith||The big surprise. The former Chief Whip gets a massive promotion. The first female Home Secretary and her gender may have played a big part in the decision. She’s not run a department before, so not sure what Brown’s up to here.|
|Health Secretary||Alan Johnson||A poisoned chalice, but at least he’ll be more popular with the public – and probably health professionals – than Patricia Hewitt|
|Education Secretary||Ed Balls||Gordon Brown’s “representative on Earth”. Not a great surprise, but presumably a step on the ladder to Chancellor.|
|Universities, Skills and Innovation||John Denham||A return for the able former minister who resigned over Iraq. I’m not convinced that splitting Universities from the Education Department was a good idea.|
|Environment||Hilary Benn||He might have hoped for something better than this if he’d done better in the Deputy Leadership campaign. Well-liked, but should have done better.|
|Business and Enterprise||John Hutton||Essentially the Department of Trade and Industry. A safe, but ultimately quite dull, pair of hands.|
|Communities||Hazel Blears||The ‘chipmunk’ is popular in Conservative circles, simply because she’s such a liability. Personally, I can’t stand her, so this fairly insignificant role is fine by me.|
|Transport||Ruth Kelly||The Opus Dei member can’t cause much damage from here. Low-key.|
|Treasury||Andy Burnham||A second Treasury role in the Cabinet. Another rising star.|
|Work and Pensions & Wales||Peter Hain||Lucky to still be in the Cabinet after a poor performance in the Deputy Leadership campaign, and a general sense of incompetence whenever he’s on TV.|
|Northern Ireland||Shaun Woodward||A major surprise. A big jump to go from Minister for Digital Switchover to Secretary of State for N.I. A chequered past – there’ll be plenty of headlines about the former Tory.|
|Culture, Media and Sport||James Purnell||No surprise at all, really. He’s worked in the department before and is a rising star.|
|International Development||Douglas Alexander||Good friends with David Miliband, who he’ll have to work with at the Foreign Office. Perhaps he could have claimed a bigger department, but he’s also the party’s general election coordinator (in his spare time!)|
|Defence & Scotland||Des Browne||Perhaps the only bit of continuity in Gordon’s cabinet. Not sure if the armed forces will be pleased or not!|
|Justice||Jack Straw||Jack loves his constitutional reform, and he’ll get to manage it from here.|
|Chief Whip||Geoff Hoon||An interesting return for Geoff Buffoon. An important enforcer role within government – he probably won’t be turning up on the chat shows.|
|Commons Leader||Harriet Harman||Giving her three jobs is a strange decision, but it means that her salary will come from the Government, not the Labour Party, which might be significant given their financial woes. I assume she won’t be trusted with House of Lords reform (you can bet she’d cock it up) so Jack Straw will probably take this bit of the role with him.|
|Cabinet Office||Ed Miliband||Well-regarded Brownite, likely to take charge of Gordon’s special cross-government projects.|
|Lords Leader||Baroness Ashton||Never heard of her.|
|Attorney General||Baroness Scotland||Or her.|
Waiting nervously to hear their fate…
Yvette Cooper, John Denham, Tessa Jowell
12:20 Blair steals the limelight after all
Tony’s been busy. As well as resigning as an MP, he’s found time to talk to the police again about the Cash for Honours inquiry.
11:54 The winner takes
it all little
An anonymous contributor to Iain Dale’s blog makes a good point: “It strikes me that it may be better to lose a labour deputy leadership campaign than it is to win it.”
Traditionally there’s a couple of Lords in the Cabinet. Who will they be? I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of them wasn’t a Labour card-carrier. Incidentally, Peter Hain apparently keeps the Wales brief. Lucky them. Not.
Tessa Jowell will – according to the BBC – remain in government, but not in the cabinet. Will Gordon give her a role managing the Olympics or casinos, or move her elsewhere?
11:30 Jobs for the Boys?
As a footnote, does Gordon Brown’s cabinet send out a message about his relationship with women? He seems to have put his male friends (and potential rivals) in some of the big jobs very easily, and the women (with the possible exception of Home Sec) seem to be filling in the gaps a bit.
June 27, 2007
It’s truly the end of a political era today. Perhaps knowing about it for over a year has taken the fizz out of it, but the departure of Tony Blair – and the arrival of Gordon Brown – is still a major shift in British politics. Throughout the day I’ll let you know what’s going on and offer my own analysis on the news that comes out about the country’s political future.
12pm Prime Minister’s Questions
1.30pm Tony Blair goes to the Queen
1.45pm Gordon Brown goes to the Queen
2.15pm Gordon Brown enters Number 10
4.30pm Details emerge of PM Brown’s first cabinet members
5.00pm Tony Blair goes to his constituency, Sedgefield
19:27 Margaret Beckett and Baroness Amos are both out. Iain Dale says the rumour mill has (Tory) Chris Patten as Foreign Secretary. I doubt it very much.
16:54 Bush and Sarkozy have apparently been in touch. There’s a lobby briefing in Westminster at 5pm, so we might hear some more gossip after that.
16:48 Only 18mins out on my prediction (above). Patricia Hewitt is stepping down as Health Secretary. I don’t know why she didn’t announce this herself weeks ago.
15:02 Nick Robinson’s latest rumour: David Miliband to the Home Office or Foreign Office?
14:56 His wife, Sarah, looks pretty uncomfortable in the camera’s glare. I suspect she’ll be extremely nervous if she’s had any advice from Mrs Blair.
14:53 Brown walks up Downing Street and over the noise of the helicopters and the anti-war protesters, announces he has accepted the invitation to become Prime Minister. His voice is slightly strained, his manner more Chancellor-like than Prime Ministerial, to be honest. There’s the ‘c’-word: Change. He repeats his school motto: I will try my utmost.
14:47 Britain’s new Prime Minister leaves Buckingham Palace for his new home, Number 10.
A New PM
14:18 Gordon’s new car doesn’t look as smart as Tony’s old one. Has he requested something a little more low-key?
14:11 Latest rumours: The BBC will be told the name of the new chancellor by 6pm tonight (I could tell them now, if they asked). And John Bercow is rumoured to be the defecting Tory MP. The Times has a rumour that he’ll be Secretary of State for International Development. I doubt it.
14:05 The BBC’s Robert Peston seems to have been one of the first to be briefed about departmental changes. That, or he’s speculating. Apparently the DTI will be refocused on deregulation and competitiveness, while a new ministry of skills and innovation will take on some of the DTI’s former role. Here’s a name for you: Lord Digby Jones?
13:58 Oh dear, oh dear. It looks like 7pm in Downing Street – dark clouds are overhead and it’s about to pour with rain. Not a great start!
13:55 Assuming all is well, Gordon Brown is now Prime Minister. He’s inside the Palace and will be having a quick chat with the monarch about his future plans. If there’s any policy shocks coming, the Queen’s probably the first outsider to hear them.
13:50 Who will be the first foreign leader to congratulate Britain’s new Prime Minister? George Bush would be likely, although I wonder if he will symbolically answer the call of Nicolas Sarkozy or Angela Merkel first.
13:47 I’d just point out that my timetable (above) has been far more accurate than either the BBC’s or Sky. I doubt he’ll be in No 10 by 2.15pm though.
13:46 Calm down, Harriet. Gordon’s got the call and is on his way.
13:44 All eyes are on the Treasury, as we wait for the Queen to call on Gordon Brown. Assuming she thinks he’s the most suitable person to call… Harriet Harman’s the only one actually elected by her party’s members, after all!
13:40 Plain, old Mr Blair has left the palace. No longer Prime Minister, although for some reason he’s still in the PM’s car. I hope Gordon has a moped.
13:33 Don’t panic – Mr Blair’s not the only person with the keys to the nuclear button. But then we should be worried if the other person needs to use it!
Britain is without a Government
13:30 The BBC aren’t the only people choosing a silly day to make a big announcement. Plaid Cymru and Labour are going into coalition in Cardiff. Certain Plaid AMs won’t be happy at all.
13:16 The handover begins and we see Tony Blair for the last time as Prime Minister as he enters Buckingham Palace.
13:12 And in an echo of 1997, Mr Blair and family (with an additional member) stand on the doorstep of Number 10 as Tony and Cherie head off to Buckingham Palace. Cherie Blair: (to the press) “Bye! I don’t think we’ll miss you!”
13:11 John Prescott’s just had a good old poke at Rupert Murdoch. I doubt we’ve heard the last of him on the relationship between the media barons and the government.
12:59 And the rain’s started pouring in Downing Street. Nothing like the sunny day that Blair arrived on in 1997.
12:58 Tony’s having a quick reception at No 10, and seeing as I didn’t get an invite, I’ve helped myself to some lunch while blogging. Seeing the replay of PMQs, David Cameron led the opposition benches’ standing ovation, although not everyone on the opposite side of the house was clapping.
12:35 So what’s next? Blair will return to Number 10 and pay an emotional farewell to his staff, and in around half an hour will head to Buckingham Palace to ‘kiss hands’ with the Queen. Unlike the film, the ‘kissing of hands’ doesn’t actually take place, and is just figurative.
Prime Minister’s Questions
12:32 Nope, the final question goes to Alan Williams, the longest-serving member of the House of Commons, who thanks him for his Premiership. Blair: “I’ve never pretended to be the greatest House of Commons man, but I can say I always feared it.” Mr Blair sounds slightly choked. A pat on the back from Gordon Brown, a standing ovation and Tony Blair is gone.
12:30 And the last question goes to… Ian Paisley, who feels the exasperation Mr Blair felt whenever he visited him! “Perhaps he even lost his temper…but we faced our difficulties and I’m glad I can stand here and say to the PM the people of Northern Ireland felt the same way as he did”. The Commons is silent. A very good ending to Tony Blair’s ten years in power.
12:29 And more local rubbish: “What message do you have for the people of Sheffield?” You’d think their local MP could have asked something constructive about the flooding, wouldn’t you?
12:28 It’s Blair’s 319th PMQs. It makes you realise how little Parliament is in session: That’s only 32 per year!
12:27 The Conservative member for Banbury manages to use this occasion to waffle on about local politics. Yawn…
12:25 David Blunkett’s stood up to ask a question which sounds an awful lot like his way of saying “Wasn’t I a good education minister and Home Secretary, Tony?” Go away, David.
12:24 An unsurprising question from Sir Nicholas Winterton about the expense of the European Union. What a pompous old fool! He thinks he’s Churchill and the Speaker’s told him to shut up. Blair says “Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehen and Arrivederci!”. Very funny.
12:23 A joke from a LWLMP about the Terminator who visited yesterday: “If my Rt Hon friend came back from the future, what would he do to save the planet?”
12:22 Blair’s telling a joke about picking up his P45 yesterday. Not up to his Catherine Tate cameo. Followed by a bizarre question about the Church of England. Blair’s brilliant reply: “I think I’m really not bothered about that one!” He’s back on form!
12:20 According to Sky, Gordon Brown was considering doubling PMQs’ length. I can see why. No-one would watch! It would show more accountability to Parliament, but you can bet BBC Two wouldn’t show the whole thing.
12:18 Nick Robinson is pondering whether Mr Blair will know how to use the telephone. Virtually every call he’s made in the last ten years will have gone through the Number 10 switchboard, and as Nick points out, he might not know about the ‘new’ area codes!
12:15 And here’s another left-wing Labour MP, or LWLMP as I’ll refer to them from now. “When will troops be withdrawn from Iraq?” The answer should be “Ask the next guy!” Blair’s getting a roasting from his own backbenchers and an easy ride by the front benches!
12:14 Ming’s in a bright red tie, incidentally. He’s extending his best wishes to Blair and his family.
12:12 Time for Ming, who’s doing very poorly in the polls. He’s asking about the mental health of armed forces coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.
12:10 Another left-wing Labour MP. Who calls Brown ‘his predecessor’.
12:09 Fifth question is a congratulation on serving for ten years. A heartfelt statement with no jokes, and no question! Blair says he can’t wish Cameron well politically, but does so personally.
12:08 Fourth question – “Will the PM agree that the Palestinians’ interest is best served if Alan Johnston is freed immediately?” It’s taken many weeks for Cameron to raise this at PMQs.
12:07 Third question – “Can the PM tell us what his first priority is in his new Middle East envoy role?”
12:06 Cameron’s second question – “Can military resources be deployed regarding the flooding, if need be?”. Er, yes, but it won’t be Blair’s job to send them in!
12:04 Today’s all-important tie-choice sees Blair in red, Brown in light blue and David Cameron in a burgundy. Talking of which, he’s just stood up. He’s asking about the floods and the Middle East. A very easy first question. He’s playing nice for now.
12:03 The first question comes from a Tory who asked the public for a question. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t very good, and wasn’t very well delivered either. The second question comes from a left-wing Labour backbencher.
12:02 He usually tells the House what business he has later today. His answer today? “I’ll have no such meetings later today, or on any other day”.
12:00 Blair is giving quite a poignant thought on the British armed forces. He says: “Sorry for the dangers troops face in Afghanistan and Iraq”. That’s the closest we’re getting to an apology then.
11:59 The House of Commons is packed. Not a spare seat in the house. And for the first time PMQs starts early.
The morning in Westminster
11:57 Oh dear – that music choice is even worse than Doctor Who’s use of Voodoo Child last weekend. BBC News 24 is playing Justin Timberlake over an entirely pointless montage of shots from today.
11:56 Tonight could be a bit of a nightmare for BBC TV schedulers. Do they go with special news programmes about the new PM, or do they focus on Tim Henman’s primetime match at Wimbledon?
11:55 Just minutes until his last PMQs. Will it be a funny occasion, or will some choose today to stick the boot in one last time?
11:32 Ooh yes. My book comes out today. The Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze is written by lots of
bloggers political commentators and it’s in all good bookshops from today for the very reasonably price of £9.99.
11:28 As D:Ream said in 1997, “Things Can Only Get Better”. “Iain Dale”: thinks another Tory MP might defect tomorrow, based on remarks made by Ed Balls.
11:16 The Prime Minister leaves Number 10 for the penultimate time. I hope he’s not too attached to that nice car he’s traveling in.
11:13 Blair has got the job of Middle East envoy that he wanted. That means he’ll almost certainly head to Sedgefield tonight and announce he’s stepping down as an MP.
11:10 Ironic, don’t you think, that Tony Blair’s last public words as PM will be in the House of Commons. He’s never shown such devotion to the place before.
10:15 What do the newspapers have to say about Blair’s legacy? The Guardian: “Tony Blair’s habit of cherry-picking ideas from across the political spectrum was brilliantly effective as a strategy for holding on to power, but it has seriously disrupted the old system of party politics.” The Times: “There is the risk that Mr Blair could become something of an embarrassment for his successor. Every word that he utters (or fails to utter) will be scrutinised for additional evidence that the titanic feud of old with Gordon Brown has continued after Mr Blair’s exit from Downing Street.” Daily Telegraph: “It ends today as it began, stage-managed to the last detail. From the “new dawn” he spoke of just as the sun rose on that May morning a decade ago through to today’s meticulously choreographed exit, Tony Blair has not had a spontaneous public moment.”
10.07 Personally, I prefer packing to unpacking. But while Tony Blair’s belongings are paraded in front of the world’s press, Gordon Brown won’t have to do any moving at all. He already lives above Number 10 after a house-swap with Tony Blair since 1997. Blair’s big family needed the extra space that Number 11 afforded them.
10:00 If I was an MP, what would I ask at Prime Minister’s Questions this lunchtime? “With Channel Five having recently bought the rights to a certain Australian soap opera, could the Prime Minister advise them on whether good neighbours really do become good friends?”
09:54 What will Gordon leak to the newspapers tonight? It’s almost inevitable that his agenda for the rest of this Parliament will start to be revealed once he’s got his slippers under the Number 10 desk. So what will he announce? It’s highly likely he’ll have a ‘Bank of England’ idea – a major proposal which is easy to carry out and can be announced ASAP. Rumours include splitting the Treasury in two or a promise of electoral reform. I’m not convinced by either. I think Gordon will pull a surprise rabbit out of a hat.
09:42 How much will we hear about Gordon’s cabinet today? Not much. I think we’ll hear that Alistair Darling is the new Chancellor and Jack Straw is the new Home/Foreign Secretary later today, but that’s probably about it. The rest of the jobs will be announced tomorrow. Expect a Cabinet job for Lord Neil Kinnock – he’s been very visible in recent weeks.
09:37 The world’s most careful removal men are taking the Blair’s belongings from Number 10. As there are several entrances to No 10, you have to wonder if the removal van in Downing Street is entirely necessary or whether it’s mostly for effect. I wonder how much of the government crockery is being quietly sneaked out by Cherie?
Spot the deliberate pun in the blog’s title. And yes, my anti-spam question will remain correct all day.
June 12, 2007
The media is threatening politicians’ “capacity to take the right decisions for the country”. Modern media means that reports are “driven by impact”. The relationship between the media and politics has been “damaged”.
Blair’s back in cuckoo land. His first statement assumes that politicians always know what the right decisions are. The second one is a joke when you consider how the Alastair Campbells of this world have timed announcements for maximum impact. And finally, politicians are equally to blame for the damaged relationship.
Contrary to popular belief, there wasn’t a snap change overnight in May 1997. The Thatcher era expanded the divide between reporters and the reported. But 24-hour news did make a difference. It led to constant analysis of decisions, so that the cooling-down period offered by the newspapers’ life-cycle was destroyed. The new diversity of media sources also made a difference. There is now an outlet for every viewpoint, however extreme or forthright.
But the preferential treatment and spinning dealt out by New Labour put unbearable pressure on the always difficult relationship between journalists and politicians.
It’s right that journalism should ask challenging questions of the powerful. In its perfect form, journalism is the voice of the people, although in practice it only sometimes achieves that aim. But Tony Blair and co took these challenges as a personal slight.
It is the way in which modern politicians react to the modern media which has damaged the relationship between the two.
June 07, 2007
Is the Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper, the most boring woman ever to set foot on the planet?
She makes Ruth Kelly look like a children’s TV presenter.
June 06, 2007
Tony Blair’s got twenty-one days until he moves home and finds himself relatively unemployed. The removal vans have already arrived. But you have to wonder why it’s only the furniture that’s moving out today, and not the owners too.
Blair was supposed to go on a six-week legacy tour, saving the world and reminding us how much he’s achieved since 1997.
So what’s he managed to do?
- Helped BP find some business in Libya
- Pissed off the Russians
- Delayed the cash-for-honours investigation a bit longer
- Er… and that’s it.
So this week’s G8 meeting had better be good. Nothing short of a deal with the United States on climate change would be enough to have made this six-week holiday worthwhile.