Tag Archives: eric pickles

Chris White writes: trust me – this really is going to hurt

We all knew there would be cuts and some have recently received rather a high profile (and yes – I do condemn the outcome of the tuition fees march).

Local government rarely gets sympathetic headlines at the best of times but it has done extraordinarily badly in the Comprehensive Spending Review – and without much media interest.

Local government will receive cuts in grant of 28%, compared with the 19% in other ‘unprotected’ departments (ie departments other than education and health). Local communities will also see 20% cuts in police funding and 25% cuts in fire and rescue.

On top of the simple …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 30 Comments

Should someone doing 3 days a month work get £14,358 per year?

Two vacancies on the soon to be abolished Audit Commission have just been advertised, seeking people willing to do 3 days a month work in return for an annual salary of £14,358.

Audit  CommissionThat generous salary for someone helping to head up a body aimed at ensuring value for money might raise eyebrows at any time, but given that the Audit Commission’s audit practice is due to be moved into private hands in two years time it is particularly generous. Because who is going to …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 26 Comments

Opinion: a conference of cuts

Last week saw Bournemouth hosting the thirteenth Local Government Association annual conference. These conferences started in 1997, shortly after the election of a shiny new Labour Government.

Delegates do a double take: LGA conferences take place in the same places as party conferences but you find that you are standing at the bar with people from other parties. And council officers.

Altogether the LGA version is less intense and, shall we say, less exuberant than the annual outings of the major political parties (although until last year London Councils put on a disco – a bit like the Glee Club but …

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Andrew Stunell at the Local Government Association conference: putting our ideas into practice

Three months ago, if I had said that the Liberal Democrats would be in government, and I’d be a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, you would have laughed at me. Yet here we are. I’ve fought no less than eight general elections and at the first seven, all we did was tell people what the Liberal Democrats would do if we got into power. This time we get to show them instead.

And with the Local Government Association Conference coming up this week, our priorities on local government will get their turn in the spotlight.

In …

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Freeing up local council finances: details published

The Government has today published details of its plans to reduce the ring-fencing restrictions around how local government can spend money. The timing is rather double-edged; giving more control over their own finances to local councils has long been a Liberal Democrat demand, but there’s no doubt that Eric Pickles will also have been attracted by the idea of making councils decide where to make future cuts. Even so, it’s a step in the right direction.

The overall effect is a:

Reduction in revenue and capital non-schools ring-fencing this year from 10.7 per cent (£4.5bn) to only 7.7 per cent (£3.2bn) as

Posted in Local government | 4 Comments

Coalition to rule out ‘pay as you throw’ waste charge – but why do they think it’s their job?

The Guardian reports:

Ministers are expected to announce that they are scrapping Labour plans to introduce “pay as you throw” rubbish schemes. Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, and Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, will confirm that they will end schemes in which people are charged for household waste collections or for producing too much rubbish.

In one sense this is a bit of a non-story. Labour didn’t, despite the Guardian’s misleading report, plan to introduce ‘pay as you throw’ rubbish schemes – what they did was enable councils to pilot such schemes if they wished. Unsurprisingly, not least given the furore …

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As you were…three new unitaries cancelled

Labour’s plan to replace the existing councils in Exeter, Norwich and Suffolk with new unitary authorities has been cancelled by the coalition government.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles today announced that the existing local government structures would remain.

The argument for the decision seems to be that the move to unitaries didn’t have the support of the local populations, two didn’t have the support of the independent boundaries commission and they were going to cause a lot of hassle for very little savings.

The real meat on this story looks to be down in note 4 to

Posted in Local government | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

So, what is the Conservative Party strategy now?

In recent days we’ve had:

It’s not happening! It’s not happening!

Hence Eric Pickles telling the media the weekend that there was no Lib Dem surge detectable in the Conservative Party’s canvassing and Boris Johnson writing in the Telegraph that Nick Clegg was “by far the worst”. Yeah right.

Go right! Go right!

Hence William Hague warning of a European Union inspired catastrophe if the Lib Dems win. Guess he’s not on talking terms with Eric Pickles or Boris Johnson, because how could the Lib Dems win if they are both right? But also I guess he’s hoping we’ve all forgotten the number of …

Posted in General Election | Also tagged , , , and | 22 Comments

General election: what have we learnt today?

After yesterday’s revelations about how the party leaders want to be seen, what did we learn today?

a) We learnt that David Cameron likes bare elbows on TV more than he likes George Osborne (plenty of clips of David Cameron with sleeves rolled up and elbows showing whilst Osborne appeared to be auditioning for the role of Lord Lucan)

b) We learnt that the public think the Liberal Democrats have run the most impressive campaign so far*

c) We learnt that Kevin Maguire doesn’t like being quoted by Zac Goldsmith

Posted in General Election | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

LDVideo Easter Monday special: a quattro of Tory gaffes

Welcome to this latest LDVideo instalment, and today as a special holiday treat we’re highlighting four political video clips showing the Tory leadership team at their most embarrassingly gaffe-prone.

First up is this one from Tory shadow chancellor George Osborne, committing a diplomatic faux pas by referring to “the Sarkozy box” used by the diminutive French president when speaking from behind lecterns. (Yes, it’s sort of funny. But when you’re hoping to be this country’s chief finance minister, it really is better to avoid needlessly antagonising world leaders – as David Cameron might also learn) …


(Also available via PoliticsHome here).

Then, secondly, a pair of Cameron clips. The first from his recent stumbling interview with Martin Popplewell for Gay Times:

Posted in YouTube | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

How Euro-sceptic journalism works

A relatively inexpensive (£1.1 million) project kicked off in 2007.  The idea was for local authorities on each side of the English Channel to work together for mutual benefit in some specific and limited areas.

As the Espace Manche Development Initiative website explains:

Identification of the challenges in the Channel area and publication of a document defining the strategic orientations for the horizon 2007 – 2013;

Deployment of tangible initiatives structured around five themes:

* Tourism: creation of a common database on target tourist populations.
* Fishing and fish resources: constitution of a consultative regional council for fishing in the Channel area.
* Integrated coastal

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Clegg blasts Tory MP Sir Nicholas Winterton: “Sadly some MPs still just don’t get it …”

Nick Clegg has just tweeted his reaction to Sir Nicholas Winterton’s railing against moves to reduce first-class train travel by MPs – the Tory MP said he needed “peace and quiet” while travelling, and that standard class carriages are occupied by “a totally different type of people.”

The Lib Dem leader’s having none of it, slamming Sir Nicholas’s plea with an exasperated one-liner:

“Sadly some MPs still just don’t get it …”

Well quite. The Tories have been quick to disown Sir Nicholas, acidly dismissing “the out-of-touch views of a soon-to-retire backbench MP”.

The trouble is the Tory party does have a bit of form. As Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson reminds us, the Tory chairman Eric Pickles hardly covered himself in glory on the BBC’s Question Time last year when he defended his second home on the more-than-dubious grounds that as an MP he has to be in work on time. Let’s remind ourselves once again of that perfect moment of car-crash telly:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

Make your mind up, Dave – should peers’ tax affairs be private or not?

Confusion reigns in the Conservative Party over whether or not MPs’ and Peers’ tax affairs should be private.

Back in December, Cameron said

If you want to be in the Houses of Parliament… you need to be, or be treated as, a full UK taxpayer. We would pass that law if we get elected… as rapidly as we could.

Now we have Eric Pickles saying

Lord Aschcroft is entitled to his privacy.

and George Osborne saying

We live in a country where people are entitled to a private relationship with the Inland Revenue.

So which is it?

Are MPs and peers entitled …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Eric v Paddy: who’s the “frail and confused” one?

Eric Pickles has, we hear, labelled Paddy Ashdown “frail and confused”. It seems an odd charge for the lifelong political hack and current Tory chairman, Mr Pickles, to level against Paddy – a former Marine, diplomat and spy, who’s placed himself in danger in service of his country more times than Eric’s had hot dinners (no mean feat).

Here’s a picture of Eric.

And here’s a picture of Paddy (taken just last week, I believe).

And now let’s see Eric in action – in his infamous car-crash appearance on BBC1’s Question Time. A cruel person might observe that Eric seems a little, well, “frail and confused” as he tries to justify his second home allowance:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 15 January 2010

Welcome, Daily Viewers, to January 15th – and a public engagement special.

There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick... on TwitpicA year ago today US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing into New York’s Hudson River. Eyewitness Janis Krums took this famous photo of the plane (right) and immediately shared it with the internet via Twitter, thus proving the website could be used for so much more than telling the world what you had for breakfast. (The only twitpic photo that’s come close since then was of a fox on the London Underground, but I live in hope and carry a camera…)

And as Mark reminds us, today’s a very good day for having your say on MPs’ expenses.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • A vote for ‘None of the above’ is a vote for pusillanimity
  • Adam Bell at Decline of the Logos: from fence-sitting to barricading the streets.

  • Enquiries and the state of Brown’s trousers – a historical note
  • MKNE political information looks at public protest, 1812-style.

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Engaging Stories

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Spelman drops Conservative pledges to abolish RDAs

So, what is the Conservative Party policy on Regional Development Agencies (RDAs)?

Well, here is Iain Dale on the matter in February:

Cameron Reinforces Pledge to Abolish RDA’s & Assemblies
David Cameron has given an interview to BBC South East, to be shown at lunchtime tomorrow in which he pledges to abolish Regional Development Agencies. Good. There had been some speculation that the Tories were wavering on that commitment.

Or here is what Public Servant magazine reported last year of both Cameron and Eric Pickles:

Tory leader David Cameron has confirmed what Public Servant magazine reported in its April issue, that the Conservatives

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

Queen’s speech not much fun for local government either

The Government has long had a knack of turning a good idea into an operational nightmare. One case in point is the Queen’s Speech proposal for personal care at home. The Prime Minister has given an undertaking to find a way of ensuring that older people with the highest needs can remain at home, regardless of means.

The bill will attempt to help 400,000 people (‘guaranteeing’ free personal care for 280,000 and providing assistance to 130,000 others). Difficult to argue with? In the small print not covered by the nationals screaming about the General Election is the fact that this will …

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

YouTube ‘cos we want to: bumper conference catch-up special edition

Welcome to this very special bumper conference edition of our occasional LDV feature, YouTube ‘cos we want to, featuring some of the most memorable moments from the past week. For those Lib Dems who’ve been isolated inside the ‘Bournemouth bubble’, missing out on all the media coverage I hope this selection of clips gives you a sense of what you missed while you were, erm, there.

From Nick’s leader’s speech to Vince’s dust-up with Paxman on Newsnight, Chris Davies’s rant to the Huhne ‘n’ Pickles show on Radio 4 – it’s all collected here for your viewing/listening pleasure. Enjoy …

Posted in Conference and YouTube | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 2 Comments

The Tories are not a progressive party

It’s little wonder Eric Pickles is trying to persuade Liberal Democrats to vote for him; we’ve been winning council seats off the Conservatives in his constituency and he’s obviously rattled.

The Tory Chairman says liberal democracy is “part of the Conservative family”, but I’m certain I’m no part of his family. His flawed view of history is matched only by his arrogance in assuming that he’s got the General Election in the bag and can now order people to vote for him.

Let’s remember, the Conservatives are the party that opposed social welfare in 1909 and the creation of the NHS forty …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Pickles ‘n’ Python: the remix

As if Eric Pickles’ crash ‘n’ burn performance on last week’s BBC1 Question Time weren’t comedy gold enough, Beau Bo D’or thought it needed a bit of splicing up with Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch – here’s the result:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

At last, it’s the Eric Pickles cock-up on YouTube

There may be one or two of you who haven’t yet seen the toe-curling embarrassment that was last week’s attempt by Tory party chairman Eric Pickles to defend MPs’ second homes on BBC1’s Question Time. Well, if you’re one of those those two people, then sit back and enjoy because it’s now been uploaded to YouTube for our viewing pleasure:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Eric Pickles’ QT cock-up – the eerie silence of the right-wing blogs

I blogged earlier today on LDV about Eric Pickles’ pitifully embarrassing performance on last night’s Question Time, the Tory chairman riling the audience with his tone-deaf defence of MPs’ second homes. It’s not just in Lib Dem circles that this attracted attention – it’s provided much water-cooler comment in the office, and PoliticsHome.com has uploaded the transcript and video here.

You might have though it would have merited some coverage in the right-wing blogosphere, whether springing to the Tory party chairman’s aid, or brushing it aside as a momentary gaffe. I’ve checked a couple of times today on …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 13 Comments

Missed BBC QT? Then catch up now with the Eric Pickles’ slow-mo car crash

I didn’t imagine that last night’s BBC1 Question Time would be an especially memorable one – but my expectations were confounded by the efforts of Tory chairman Eric Pickles to dig himself into a deep, deep hole on MPs’ expenses. And then to keep on digging and digging.

Even if QT normally drives you round the bend, I do urge you to watch the three minute segment on the BBC website HERE. (Public appeal: can someone please, please, please put up this clip on YouTube for the benefit of posterity?)

Not since Welsh First Minister Rhoddri Morgan made

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Brian Coleman and large sums of money – again

The Evening Standard reports:

‘Marmite mayor’ with four different jobs earns £104,000 plus expenses
A leading London Tory at the centre of an expenses row is on a six-figure pay package funded by the taxpayer.

Brian Coleman will become Mayor of Barnet in May after he was nominated by fellow councillors – taking his annual pay for a variety of public roles to £104,503.50.

He is also a London Assembly member and chairman of the capital’s fire authority. As a council mayor, he will be able to claim thousands of pounds extra in expenses.

It comes after Mr Coleman was criticised for claiming £2,275 travel

Posted in News | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Ouch! Someone doesn’t like Steve Hilton

The latest edition of Standpoint casts David Cameron’s top adviser Steve Hilton into its “Overrated” column:

Between David Cameron’s election as leader and his hoped-for entry into 10 Downing Street, Steve Hilton will have cost the Conservative party at least a million pounds. Despite vast debts, the Tories are reported to be paying their chief strategist an unprecedented £270,000-a- year salary.* Yet, apart from having helped to make Cameron leader, Hilton has no other notable political successes to his name. In the disastrous 1997 and 2005 general election campaigns, Michael Portillo’s two failed leadership bids, and Steve Norris’s two doomed efforts

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Is David Cameron a progressive? Discuss…

There’s some coverage today of David Cameron’s speech to the left-of-centre Demos think-tank yesterday, in which he set out how the Tory party under his leadership would follow a progressive agenda. You can read the BBC report here, and the speech in full here.

I’ll pick up two points. The first is made by Mary Wakefield over at the Spectator’s Coffee House blog, in which she praises Tory education policy but warns Mr Cameron against appearing a one-trick pony:

… when education came up during the Q and A (after an hour of generalised and fairly soporific Burkean rhetoric) Cameron’s whole demeanor changed. He had actual, even workable, policies to communicate (courtesy of the excellent Gove) and he was suddenly charismatic, believable — even a little Obama-ish?

But having energised his audience, DC’s lack of anything concrete to say on any other subject became all too woefully apparent: no economic policy but sneering at Brown’s debt; nothing on Health but a fondness for the NHS…and the speed with which he scampered away from a question about foreign policy — progressive or otherwise– was embarrassing.

This strikes me as a real danger for the Tories. Indeed, if I were a this is one of the key considerations which would lead me to urge Gordon Brown to call an election for June 2009. The plain fact is that the Tories are not yet remotely ready for government (just as Mr Blair would have struggled – even more than he did – to present Labour as a government-in-waiting in spring 2006).

And if you look at the quality of the Lib Dem shadow cabinet members in key policy areas – folk like Chris Huhne, David Laws, Norman Lamb, Steve Webb – and compare it with their Tory counterparts, I know whose line-up I have more confidence in.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

What does Eric Pickles think of Andy Coulson’s salary?

I only wonder but … the job of being a local council Chief Executive involves being responsible for far more staff, far bigger budgets and (much though I think my colleagues in our media team are important) far more important issues than heading up a media team.

The awful fallout if a council bungles its Children’s Services is perhaps the starkest indication of how much more important running a council is than running a media team.

Yesterday Eric Pickles was in the news attacking councils, some of whom paying their chief executives six figures salaries. Leaving aside the embarrassing for him …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

Eric Pickles slams Conservative councils for wasting money

What else can one make of this? Eric Pickles has been in the media today calling for pay cuts for the most highly paid local council chief executives. But what’s this at the foot of the report about Eric Pickles and his proposals The Times? It’s a list of the eight highest paid local council chief executives.

I think you can guess what might be coming next …

Yes indeed, let’s look at who runs these councils:

Bexley (Conservative)
Ealing (Conservative)
Hertfordshire (Conservative)
Kensington & Chelsea (Conservative)
Kingston upon Hull (Lib Dem)
Newham (Labour)
Suffolk County Council (Conservative)
Surrey County Council (Conservative)

Yup, that would be six out of eight …

Posted in Local government | 3 Comments

Top Conservatives fall out over waste collection policies

Via the BBC:

From January English councils will be able to bid for pilot schemes to incentivise people for recycling more and deter them from throwing stuff away …

Eric Pickles, Conservative local government spokesman, has regularly criticised the “hated bin taxes”…

But Paul Bettison, a Conservative councillor responsible for waste on the Local Government Association said: “I wish Eric Pickles would stop calling them bin taxes. It is very galling.

“They are bin charges. They are not taxes at all. You pay for the service you get. The current system of invisible waste charges is much more like a tax.

“I know

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Is it time for the Tories to ditch George Osborne?

None of our biz, of course, but that shouldn’t stop us poking our big yellow beak in, should it?

In a time of headlines like London shares slump is worst for 21 years, Panic selling piles pressure on G7 leaders and Councils trapped in £1bn black hole (and that’s just today’s), the old grandees of economics are increasingly on a media roll. These are people who can interpret moment-by-moment macro-economic unravelling with a nimbleness and acuity that can’t be faked with slick presentation and a good researcher. Suppose, for example, HSBC went into receivership in the middle of Newsnight? You can’t just get on your Blackberry and ask for three paragraphs and a killer metaphor involving rooves and sunshine with Jeremy Paxman glaring at you. Big serious suits containing big serious people fill (often literally) our screens every evening.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 15 Comments
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