19 June 2009

One Black Day in Brown’s country


If Britain has got talent there was not much of it in evidence yesterday. The cover-up by Parliament over MPs expenses was there for all to see, or, more to the point, not to see.

Other matters that were not blacked out:

1. A U-turn on the Iraq inquiry.  Steve Richards answers one of my questions as to who Brown consulted over his original decision to hold the inquiry in secret. I should has guessed.  One Alastair Campbell has totally misjudged the situation:

I am told Brown did give some thought to opening up parts of the inquiry from the beginning, but in the end he followed the advice of Alastair Campbell and Blair's other most senior ally in No 10, Jonathan Powell, in opting for an investigation behind closed doors. Both Powell and Campbell were involved in discussions that preceded the decision. In particular Campbell warned that parts of the media would become obsessed once more in the run up to an election.

Richards continues:

Brown also worried that an open inquiry would be seen as a snub to Blair. He had a long conversation with Blair last week.

Butler was right.  The Government are “putting its political interests ahead of the national interest”.

2. Public sector net borrowing was £19.9bn in May, and has already reached £30bn in the first two months of the financial year.

"The public finances for May were absolutely dire, deteriorating even more than feared as tax revenues continued to be decimated across the board," said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.

And Capital Economics estimated that the total public borrowing was now on course to reach £200bn, or 14% of GDP.

3. Retail sales volumes fell by 1.6 per cent in May.  The Office of National Statistics reported that total sales volumes grew by only 0.6 per cent for the three months to May – one of the three worst quarterly performances since December 1995.

4. And on a good day to bury other embarrassing news, Fred Goodwin has agreed to manage on a £342,500 inflation-protected income for life plus a tax-free £2.8 million lump sum.

Sir Philip Hampton, the RBS chairman, said: “On any measure, this represents a very substantial reduction to Fred’s pension and is an acceptable amount to all parties to the discussion.”

Rob MacGregor, national officer of the Unite union, said: “This decision will do nothing for the thousands of staff who have already lost their jobs in RBS.” The bank plans to shed 9,000 jobs over the next two years.”

As for our Dear Leader, he could take no more and left to attend another meaningless summit.

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