Archives for December 2008

2008 in review

Andrew Neil | 10:42 UK time, Friday, 19 December 2008


So we have finally reached the end of 2008.

The house has risen and MPs are off on their Christmas break. It has been a remarkable year. christmas.jpg

We will be looking back at the year and testing three leading politicians on their memory of events.

Employment Minister, Tony McNulty, Shadow Arts Minister, Ed Vaizey and LibDem Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable will be the MPs in the spotlight. But to give them and you a little headstart here is a clue to some of the big stories of the year:

12 months of Cleggy
11 spinners sniping
10p tax band weeping
9 MPs revolting
8 per cent GDP borrowed
G7 coffers slimming
6 backbenchers braying
5 by-elections to campaign in
4 bailing banks
Mandy's third return
2 yachting foes
And a Barack Obama presidency

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Poisonous effects of banking crisis

Andrew Neil | 10:47 UK time, Thursday, 18 December 2008


The daily drumbeat of grim economic news continues unabated. There was one glimmer of light: retail sales rose by 0.3% between October and November, but that's partly seasonal and probably also the result of the massive discounts peppered across every High Street window. shopping.jpg

Every other statistic is gloomy: this morning we learned that net mortgage lending will be negative during 2009 and that around 75,000 people will have their homes repossessed, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. That should extinguish what life there is left in retail sales.

The poisonous effects of the banking crisis are now fully infiltrating the so-called "real" economy: UK car production slumped by a third last month as the motor industry was increasingly hit by the economic downturn. The number of cars built in factories in the UK was 97,604, down by 33% on November last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. In America the carnage is even worse: US Motor giant Chrysler is closing all 30 of its factories for a month. chrysler.jpg

From banks to car-makers, everybody is looking to the government for a bail out. So it's hardly surprising Business Secretary Peter Mandelson confirmed last night he's been in talks with Jaguar Landrover, famous British names whose new Indian owners are seeking help with their cash flow -- perhaps upwards of £1 billion of taxpayers' money over two years -- because of "the unprecedented cash climate".

If you're heading for Europe for Christmas, don't expect much cheer when the bills arrive. News that the Bank of England is likely to cut interest rates yet again (they're already only 2%) sent sterling spiraling down even lower against the euro: though they have not yet officially reached parity, in some transactions you will find a pound already buys you LESS than one Euro. dougrichard.jpg

All that and 2m unemployed, which some think might soon be closer to 3m. So we make no excuses for turning to the economy again today: I'll be taking stock of the economic year today with former Business Minister Digby Jones and Doug Richard, former Dragon from the Den and also Chairman of the Tory Task force on small business.

Also today the prime minister is this morning telling the Commons about how British Troops will effectively be gone from Iraq by July of next year. The armed forces, of course, can leave with their heads held high; not everyone says the same about those who sent them there almost six years ago -- or set their rules of engagement and deployment once the invasion was over.

The blunt truth might well be that nobody on the ground will much notice the British withdrawal. After all, our troops have spent most of the past 15 months hunkered down at Basra's airport, well outside the city. Most effort has gone into to defending that base -- and until they retreated, the Basra Palace base -- rather than enforcing law and order in Basra and the surrounding southern provinces.

Basra is now relatively safe and normal, though still without enough clean water or 24-hour electricity. But it is a stretch for the British to claim that as their own success. Indeed many locals had come to hate the British not because we were occupiers but because they believed we had turned their city over to foreign-backed extremists intent on imposing hardline Iranian-style Islamist doctrines. It was during this time that I received a number of reports from people on the ground of women being murdered for wearing western dress and barbers being killed for shaving beards, while the British stayed holed up in their airport base and much of the British media looked the other way.

Andrew Gilligan tells what happened next in this morning's Evening Standard: "The turning-point, this spring, was a military offensive, Charge of the Knights, in which we took no part. The troops who expelled the militias and criminals tormenting the people of Basra were Iraqi and American. To the intense frustration of British troops - no cowards they - Britain stayed in its secure base in the outskirts, looking on.
"Still not fully appreciated by the [British] public, Charge of the Knights marked one of the lowest moments in the proud history of the British Army. What prompted the operation was the Iraqi government's horrified realisation that we [The British] had secretly signed what was effectively a surrender agreement with the Mahdi Army to turn Basra over to them, in return for a promise that they would stop attacking us. Part of the agreement was that British troops would no longer enter the city.

"So Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, ordered in his own troops (deliberately keeping the British in the dark until the last minute) to take Basra back. At first, it was a rout but then Iraq's crack 1st Division, American-trained, was sent in from Baghdad, backed by 800 US soldiers and marines also from the centre of the country, and they prevailed. Britain, held back by London and constrained by its surrender agreement, barely lifted a finger to help."

British officials would challenge Gilligan's version of events but it is backed up, privately at least, by American and Iraqi officers and by other independent commentators. So we'll be assessing the real record of Britain's Iraq adventure with General Sir Mike Jackson, the former Chief of General Staff who was in Iraq during the war.

And - as you all know - politics is never without it's comic moments -- so Comedian Andy Zaltzman will be serving up his very own 2008 annual of political stories he thinks tops the list for sheer giggle factor.

Don't forget we want your views on all the stories that are making the news: How are you being affected by the economic downturn? What are your comic moments from the year? Email us at, then take your seat for the Daily Politics show at Noon on BBC-2.

At least 2m unemployed this Christmas

Andrew Neil | 10:36 UK time, Wednesday, 17 December 2008


job_centre2.jpgUnemployment continues its relentless rise, increasing by 137,000 to 1.86 million between August and October. The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (a narrower measure of the jobless) last month increased by 75,700 to 1.07 million. It is likely, given the huge number of redundancies announced since these figures were compiled, that there will be at least 2m unemployed this Christmas -- and rising.

Some are already predicting it will reach 3m before the recession has run its course; the gloomsters include David Blanchflower, the Bank of England's labour market specialist (so he should know!), and several City forecasters.

If it does reach 3m then this will be significantly worse than the legendary 3m of the Thatcher years because now it would be 3m on top of the 3m-4m who are of working age but living on various benefits, excluding unemployment benefit. This would be a scary number of people without a job and depending on welfare payments.

Yet the politics of this are still not going the Tory way. The latest ICM poll shows Labour still cutting into the Tories' lead. In just over a month the gap between the two parties has narrowed from 15 points to five. Significantly, the Tories have fallen below the benchmark 40% to 38% (down seven points on last month) while Labour is up three points to 33%. This places the ICM poll in what this Blog called on Monday the "new poll consensus", which gives the Tories a lead of around five or six points -- something any government could live with in mid-term.

So plenty to talk about on the programme today with Neil Kinnock and Michael Heseltine. We'll look at one industry particularly badly hit by the downturn - motor manufacturing. We're told Peter Mandelson is drawing up a package to help the sector. With a huge fall in sales and thousands of jobs on the line, how far should the Government intervene?

Our bad news comes as the US Federal Reserve slashes interest rates effectively to zero and President Elect Barack Obama warns the country is running out of 'ammunition' to avert a deep recession. The Fed has also announced it will indulge in some "quantitative easing" ... ie pumping a lot more money into the system. We'll be looking at whether Britain will be following suit.

Also on the show today, a resignation from the Government as a ministerial aide decides to go over Lord Mandelson's plans to part privatise the Royal Mail. We've got the latest.

brown_in_iraq.jpgGordon Brown arrives in Baghdad to meet the Iraqi Prime Minister. He confirms British troops will leave the country by the end of July next year. We've got the details.

While the PM is abroad, it falls to his party deputy Harriet Harman to field questions in the last PMQs before Christmas. We'll have all the debate live, with expert analysis from the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson. We'll be keeping an eye out for signs of Labour party rebellion over the planned part-privatisation of the Royal Mail, and looking at whether favourable opinion polls could be tempting Mr Brown to go for a snap election in the New Year. We've also been taking a look at the divisions in Cabinet over Heathrow expansion.

And last but not least, we'll be joined by legend of stage and screen, star of the Carry On films and many others, Leslie Phillips. He's fed up with cyclists - and wants the Government to introduce a permit system for anyone riding a bike.

It's the last PMQs of the year and we're live from 11.30 on BBC2 this morning. Hope you can join us.

Where's the Christmas cheer?

Andrew Neil | 09:59 UK time, Tuesday, 16 December 2008


tessa_jowell.jpgTessa Jowell's remark on yesterday's Daily Politics that Britain is facing a recession "deeper than any that we have known" is widely repeated this morning in the papers and on the political blogs.

Some will see it as jarring with the Prime Minister's oft-repeated claim that the British economy is in better shape to weather the recession than most other major economies. If so, the Minister for the Olympics is in good company because yesterday the Chancellor seemed to agree with her.

Alistair Darling told the Commons that in some areas we will be hit worse than most: "We are going to be affected more substantially in relation to the loss of revenues that we are now experiencing because of the lack of profitability in the financial services sector ... Of course we are more likely to be more severely affected as a result [of] profitability being reduced ... We are also affected by the downturn in the housing market because of reduced revenues in relation to stamp duty".

The likelihood that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better is fuelling speculation, yet again, that Mr Brown is considering calling an election in the Spring (some are even mulling over the possibility of a February poll). Such is the febrile atmosphere that every tea leaf is examined for meaning, the latest being blogger Iain Dale's report that he has heard from a friend in the ad business that Labour is buying up advertising space for January.

My own guess is still that Mr Brown will hold on until the last minute in the Spring of 2010 because he believes his fiscal stimulus really will rescue us from recession. But I fear we're in for another sustained bout of election speculation which, given what happened last time, the PM will want to dampen down, even if he does see merit in a Spring 2009 poll.

We may be in the run up to Christmas but there's no Christmas cheer this morning if you're a public-sector pensioner: a letter from the Government could be about to drop on your door mat telling you you've been overpaid for years and to expect a future cut in your pension. And if that news leaves you in need of cheering up ... how about a timely Whitehall farce? The plot involves an efficiency drive that was meant to save £57m ending up costing the tax payer over £80m. The farce took place at the Department of Transport and involved -- yes, you guessed it -- an IT project (but I bet you didn't guess it spoke German). We'll try and get to the bottom of it.

pupil_white.jpgAlso today is the Government failing white working class boys? A study published today identifies a group of nearly 2.4 million young children in deprived Northern neighbourhoods who have low aspirations and fall well below the national target of five A-C grades at GCSE. For a Government which put social exclusion at the heart of it's agenda back in 1997 surely these are the very people who should be achieving more? We'll hear from Cabinet Office Minister Kevin Brennan.

Also today how important is class when it comes to politics (or broadcasting for that matter)? There were reports over the weekend that David Cameron is fretting over the image of his front bench because of the numbers who hail from public school and Oxbridge. So is being posh a handicap when trying to appeal to the wider electorate? And how far should politicians go when it comes to looking and sounding like the people they want to vote for them?

With me throughout the show today will be Camila Batmanghelidjh - founder of the children's charity Kids Company well placed to explore the issues arising from the Cabinet office report on aspiration aswell as all the other stories making the news.

Don't forget we want your views on all the stories on today's programme, email me at

Hope you can join us on the Daily Politics at Noon here on BBC2. There's a lot going on!

The dangers of consulting the public ...

Andrew Neil | 10:20 UK time, Monday, 15 December 2008


royal_mail.jpgThe Government is scratching its head and mulling over what to do about the Royal Mail. Business Secretary Peter Mandelson received Richard Hooper's report on the Royal Mail's future over the weekend. It paints a bleak picture of the business and says radical action is needed to secure the future of the universal postal service. So what could be on the cards?

Apparently the government will stick to its manifesto pledge to keep it in the public sector but will bring in private sector involvement ... possibly selling off almost half of the business.

Also on the show today: David Cameron makes another speech about the economy. He does so as yet another poll -- Ipsos Mori in the Mirror -- shows the Tory lead over Labour down, this time to just six points. It's pretty much in line with two other polls over the weekend. Indeed you could say there's a new polling consensus, with the current economic problems still working in the government's favour.

The Mirror poll gives Gordon Brown a strong lead on the question of which party leader is best to steer the country through the recession: The PM is on 41%, David Cameron on 29%. This could change as the recession really starts to hurt in 2009 but for the moment Mr Brown will be quietly pleased with his poll ratings.

will_self.jpgWill Self takes former sports minister Richard Caborn to task over the cost of the Olympics,strictly.jpg
and when voting goes wrong - after the latest problems at Strictly Come Dancing, we look at the dangers of consulting the public.

All that on BBC2 from noon today.

The perfect time to ditch the pound?

Andrew Neil | 10:03 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008


As usual on Fridays, I shall leave you in the more than capable hands of my co-presenter Anita Anand. anita.jpg

Are you under the weather?

Well, Manchester might just have the remedy for that bunged up feeling. Yes, today the result of the city's ballot on congestion charging is announced. The citizens of Manchester have been voting on whether they should be charged up to £5 a day to drive in and out of their city. We will find out the result live and analyse the implications for other potential schemes across the country with former Transport Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott .

Then again maybe the euro is just the pill that our ailing economy needs. With the pound approaching parity with the euro, the former Tory MEP, John Stevens, certainly thinks so. We will be examining whether an economic downturn is the perfect time to ditch the pound. money.jpg

Or perhaps Gordon Brown is the man to help. After all he admitted on Wednesday that he saved the world and yesterday, his deputy Harriet Harman, said that he was her superman.

Also we will have leading commentator Peter Hitchens of the Mail and Chuka Umunna, from the think-tank, Compass.

And as ever we'll have our Friday run down of what's up and what's down in the political charts.

All that on the Daily Politics at Noon on BBC2.

Europe and the recession

Andrew Neil | 10:27 UK time, Thursday, 11 December 2008


Probably best Gordon Brown skips this morning's papers. They are full of stories about the "plunging pound" (almost parity with the euro and heading that way with the dollar), which some see as undermining his constant claim that Britain is better equipped to weather the recession than other major economies. His welfare reforms get a bashing from left and right and the sketch writers have a field day with his slip at PMQs yesterday that he had "saved the world". gordon.jpg

Clearly the Germans don't buy that. Their finance minister attacks the Brown-Darling fiscal boost as "tossing around billions", "crass Keynsianism" and "reckless" - and he's a socialist! But even left-wing Germans have an aversion to debt and a distaste for the massive "borrowing binge" on which Mr Brown has now embarked.

On today's Daily Politics we'll be talking Europe and the economy on the eve of another Brussels summit and looking at the divisions in Europe over how best to handle the recession, which is hitting all European economies. Downing Street this morning was quick to play down the Anglo-German row, pointing out that Germany had already introduced its own package of extra spending - which is true, but the Germans start from a balanced budget and plan to borrow nothing like as much as the British.

Downing Street also insisted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sympathetic to the British approach, which I must confess is news to me - everything I've heard out of Berlin is that she is closer to the Tory approach to coping with the recession. We hope to be live from Brussels. knives.jpg

Also on today's programme we'll be talking knife crime. Police forces which have taken a tough new approach to fighting knife crime are reporting encouraging results this morning. Ten forces in England and Wales have been taking part in the government's Tackling Knives Action Plan and they say they've experienced a 17% drop in cases of serious injury or death caused by knives. Some people are still questioning the statistics. We'll have the latest.

Tomorrow Manchester will know whether it's voted for or against the congestion charge. We'll be reporting from there and discussing the pros and cons.

And should MPs drink and legislate? Quentin Letts takes his breathalyser to Parliament.

Throughout today's programme we have Rachel Elnough, of Dragons Den fame. All that on the Daily Politics at Noon on BBC2.

"Tough love" in benefits overhaul

Andrew Neil | 11:08 UK time, Wednesday, 10 December 2008


benefits.jpgOn today's programme, we discuss the end of the "money for nothing" culture when it comes to welfare payments. The government has talked about welfare reform since it came to power in 1997 but so far has only tinkered with the system.

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair used to vow that "staying at home and doing nothing" would not be an option for the able-bodied of working age receiving welfare benefits, but it is clear that for many it is. So now ministers are promising "tough love" and a radical overhaul of the benefits system when today it publishes its White Paper on welfare reform.

Ministers are now saying that most claimants will have to do something in return for their benefits, though it is not quite clear what -- or when this will happen. Ministers are nervous about attacks from the poverty lobby and rebellions from their own backbenches. They also wonder privately about the efficacy of beginning real welfare-to-work reform, with a battery of serious carrots and sticks, at a time when work is going to be in short supply.

American welfare reform, which began in Wisconsin and was then rolled out across the country with largely bipartisan support was relatively simple: the state took on an obligation to train, educate and help find jobs; but in return if you were offered a job you had to take it, or lose your welfare benefits. The British version of welfare reform looks like being a lot more complicated and less clear cut. To that extent, it risks creating much sound and fury -- but not doing that much to reduce welfare rolls. We'll be looking at the arguments on today's show.

We'll also be discussing house prices, which continue to plummet. They are now over 16% down on their peak and could easily fall by that amount again. Bad news for home-owners, who judge their wealth -- and hence their propensity to consume -- by the value of their house. But good news for wanabee homeowners? Maybe - the fall in prices is a necessary correction to bring houses more in line with average earnings and lower interest rates make mortgages more affordable. But the defining feature of the current credit crunch is the lack of lending at any price. So houses and mortgages might be cheaper but that's no help if you can't get a mortgage in the first place. We'll be looking at mortgages and the latest repossession bail-out plan.

troops.jpgWe'll also be looking at Iraq. Senior Defence sources have disclosed that the last British troops will begin pulling out in March, with the last to leave Basra in June. But they won't be handing over entirely to the Iraqi authorities: it looks like they'll be replaced at Basra Airport by a large force of US troops, who will set up their own headquarters there. The Americans have long despaired at the British performance in the South; within the last year they and an Iraqi force had to clear the extremists out of Basra, after Britain effectively abandoned it (at least that's what the Americans and Iraqis think). Now it looks like the Americans have decided to use the British departure as the opportunity to do the job themselves. The Iraqi government seems to agree with this.

Also today, of course, it's show-down time at PMQs. So who has the X factor today? Nick Robinson will be joining us for all the live action at Noon.

And if that's not enough we're live from Sark, yes Sark, where they're holding their first elections in a very long time ... and we'll be talking apathy with Raza Jaffrey from Spooks.

Throughout the programme we'll have Europe Minster Caroline Flint and Conservative education spokesman, Michael Gove.

That's all on the Daily Politics today from 11.30am until 1pm. How could miss it?

Be careful what you wish for ...

Andrew Neil | 10:30 UK time, Tuesday, 9 December 2008


david_cameron.jpgDavid Cameron is calling for an immediate general election to allow people to vote on whether or not they support the Government's strategy for getting us through recession. The Conservative leader, developing the theme of "Tory sound money" he first unveiled at his party's Manchester conference in early October, condemns Gordon Brown's plan to borrow his way through the downturn, claiming that it could make the recession worse.

I don't believe there will be a snap election but Mr Cameron should be careful that what he wishes for does not come true. A poll in today's Times shows the Tory lead down to four points and the Tories under the benchmark 40% they need for a working majority (Tories 39%, Labour 35%, Lib Dems 17%). The poll also shows Mr Brown and Chancellor Darling well ahead of Mr Cameron and Shadow Chancellor Osborne (40% to 31%) as the team most trusted to to deal with the recession.

This is a bad poll for the Tories, the only comfort they can take is hoping it might be a rogue. But my guess is it's still not good enough for Labour for Mr Brown to risk all in an early throw of the dice.

fags.jpgAlso on the show today, after last summer's ban on smoking in public places the government announces the next wave of anti-smoking measures, including banning of displays of cigarettes in shops, in an attempt to reduce the number of young people who start smoking. We hope to be speaking to Health Secretary Alan Johnson about why he's ignoring the pleas of small businesses who say the moves could hit their income just as the recession starts to bite.

tonybenn.jpgAfter yesterday's climate change protests at Stansted airport, we ask - do peaceful political protests ever achieve anything? Veteran political campaigner Tony Benn will be here.

And we report from Sheffield on the changes to the benefits system due to be announced by the Government tomorrow.

All that on the Daily Politics on BBC2 from Noon today.

Should he stay or should he go?

Andrew Neil | 11:29 UK time, Monday, 8 December 2008


speaker.jpgThe Speaker of the House of Commons comes under more pressure today over his role in the Damian Green affair, with many MPs still seething that he did nothing to stop the police search of the MP's parliamentary office.

A BBC survey over the weekend identified thirty MPs who now want Speaker Martin to stand down, which is quite a lot since MPs are notoriously reluctant to criticise any Speaker. He's in the unenviable position this afternoon of having to chair a debate during which he will be criticised by the Commons' braver souls.

We're looking at the role of Speaker and trying to assess Michael Martin's chances of survival.

Also on the show today, as Gordon Brown prepares to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in London to discuss the global economy, we ask: has the Government's 'fiscal stimulus' started to have an effect?

It would be startling if it had - economic stimuli take a frustratingly long time to have any effect. And the economic news just keeps getting worse, wherever you look - everywhere. In Spain, factory output has collapsed by 13%, Germany's BMW has seen sales plummet by over 25%, partly because even sales in China are now falling, and American jobs have just fallen off a cliff in the worst job destruction in 34 years.

In America it is now widely accepted that it is in for the longest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Slowly but surely it is also dawning on policy-makers in Whitehall and investors in the City that this is going to a much deeper and more prolonged recession than they first envisaged: some City economists are now predicting that UK unemployment will soar to over 3m by 2010, which may be unnecessarily gloomy -- but it is certainly going to shoot over 2.5m in the course of 2009.

We report from Worcester on how small businesses are faring in the run up to Christmas. The retail trade is being helped by a pre-Christmas splurge, but only because they are discounting like mad, which will hit their bottom lines. Most are preparing for a serious hangover early in the New Year.

The immigration minister has made headlines (again) today, telling the Sun he will make it harder for immigrants to claim benefits in the future ... we look at Phil Woolas's plans for the new Immigration Bill announced in last week's Queen's Speech.

And a Labour MP is calling for lads' magazines like Nuts and Zoo to carry '18' certificates ... we debate whether these mainstream publications should be sold from under the counter -- or the top shelf.

All that on the Daily Politics today on BBC2 from noon.

An act of pure evil?

Andrew Neil | 10:10 UK time, Friday, 5 December 2008


As usual on Fridays, I shall leave you in the more than capable hands of my co-presenter Anita Anand.anita.jpg

On today's programme we'll be discussing the dreadful case of Karen Matthews, who yesterday was found guilty of kidnapping her own daughter. The need to seek an explanation for what happened has dominated today's papers. An act of pure evil? An act of stupidity? A result of benefit dependancy and broken society? Or was it as some have suggested inspired by an episode of the television programme.

Also today we'll be taking a look at the banks. And here's another set of questions. Why are some not passing on the latest interest rate cut? What can the government do to persuade them? How hard hit are savers? We'll be talking to the former banker and Conservative MP John Redwood. matthews.jpg

There's been a lot about leaks this week. In fact it's dominated events in the commons, despite the Queen turning up to give her speech. She might stay at home next year.

We'll have a potted history of leaks for you, Churchill was quite fond of them you know.

And to make you happy we'll be dishing up some credit crunch cheer. It's not all doom and gloom you know, some people are actually benefitting from the downturn.

We'll have all of that and with us throughout today's programme will be the Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror and from the Spectator, their Political Editor, Fraser Nelson.

The daily grim economic news

Andrew Neil | 10:45 UK time, Thursday, 4 December 2008


bank.jpgAll eyes on the Bank of England this morning, with much speculation about how much it will cut interest rates, currently at 3% after it axed them by a record 1.5% a month ago.

The decision will be taken against the drum beat of daily grim economic news: only this morning we learned that new car sales were almost 37% down last month on November 2007, a devastating drop, while house prices continue to spiral down too: last month they were over 16% lower, on average, than a year ago.

All economic indicators suggest this recession is going to be deep and prolonged, which might encourage the Bank to be bold for a second month in a row. The credit markets are expecting another 1.5% cut while City economists predict 0.75%. Split the difference and 1% would seem a reasonable guess. Whatever it is, we will bring it to you live as we come on air at Noon.damiangreen.jpg

Unusually, the economy is not the only story in town. The fallout from Damian Green's arrest continues to rumble through the political system, threatening everybody from senior police officers to the Speaker of the Commons in the process. Westminster is still pretty dumbfounded by Speaker Martin's blaming of Jill Pay, the Sergeant at Arms whom he helped to appoint, for been responsible for allowing police officers to search Mr Green's Commons office last week without a legal warrant. The row overshadowed yesterday's Queen Speech. If she'd watched any of the bulletins last night she might have thought why did I bother to turn up. This morning Home Secretary Jaqui Smith will be making a statement to the Commons.

But we won't be ignoring the Queens Speech! 14 bills with crime, welfare and finance topping agenda, the lowest number of bills since Labour came to power. Mr Brown said the measures announced yesterday would help Britain through the economic downturn and prepare it for the upturn that would follow (whenever that might be!). We'll be discussing the measures in greater detail and also be discussing what Bills didn't make the Queen Speech - no sign of the Bill of Rights, for instance, even though that had been a long-standing pledge. queen.jpg

We'll have a panel from all three main parties to discuss all of this. From the government, the Transport Secretary, Geoff Hoon. From the Conservative party, the Shadow Business Secretary Alan Duncan. And from the Liberal Democrats, their Treasury Spokesman, Vince Cable.
Hope to see you at Noon on BBC2 for a packed edition of the Daily Politics.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.