by Stephen Tall on June 12, 2009
After the intensity of the last few weeks – MPs’ expenses, the Speaker resigning, local and Euro elections, the failed putsch against Gordon Brown, a hurried cabinet reshuffle – there’s a slight sense of anti-climax to political news at the end of the week. So much has happened, but nothing much seems to have changed.
2 Big Stories
Each of the so-called quality newspapers has a different lead story today, but both the Guardian and Financial Times focus on the economy, and specifically the perceived threat of rising inflation:
Homebuyers are facing their first rise in mortgage rates for a year in a move by banks and building societies that could extinguish the nascent recovery in the housing market. Nationwide was one of several leading mortgage lenders that today hiked the cost of its most popular deals, with others likely to follow suit in the coming days. … The news that mortgage costs are rising came as the Bank of England announced that up to 1.1 million households have been plunged into negative equity by the property crash. With prices down by 20% from their peak in autumn 2007, research by the Bank published tomorrow suggests that between 700,000 and 1.1 million homeowners now owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth.
Meanwhile the FT reports an interview with Alistair Darling, still Chancellor by the skin of his teeth:
Forecasters have said that Britain’s economy may be growing again, although Mr Darling said he was sticking to his Budget forecast and expected the recession to finish towards the end of 2009. But Mr Darling warned that a high and volatile oil price “has the potential to be a huge problem as far as the recovery is concerned”.
Amidst all the sound and fury of the pointless Labour/Tory row over which party intends to cut public spending more, it’s especially worth noting the article’s conclusion:
If a spending review was published on the basis of already announced spending totals, it would show big cuts for most government departments after adjusting for inflation. Robert Chote, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “The real choice is between Labour cuts and Tory cuts.” [my emphasis]
Labour remakes Get Carter
The Times reports there may be another ministerial resignation in the offing, with communications minister Lord (Stephen) Carter looking to move back into the private sector having been progressively sidelined by Gordon Brown since his high-profile move 18 months ago – Lord Carter was elbowed out by Damian McBride, the prime minister’s media pitbull, who was forced to quit in April in the wake of the so-called ‘Smeargate’ emails. Speaking of which, Paul Staines’ Guido Fawkes blog reports that Carter may be considering defecting from Labour to the Tories.
2 must-read blog-posts
On reflection … (Nich Starling)
… despite the lobbying of lots of people in the Lib Dems and beyond who have urged me to stand, I simply cannot spare the time, I do not believe it is in the interests of those I teach to do so at this time and quite frankly, I don’t actually want to work in London. I gather there has been a good number of applicants to be Lib Dem candidate for the Norwich North seat, some of whom are of a very high calibre, and I can only wish whoever is successful well in their task.
Much anticipation – I should have known better (Willie Rennie MP)
After three years in the Commons you would think I would have learnt not to get too excited about reports of radical reform proposals from this Government. This week we had the prospect of electoral reform. Perhaps, just maybe, at last, a death bed conversion – but no just a promise to think about it from our conservative, defender of the establishment PM.