Follow the money

Kenneth Clarke Ed Miliband called for Mr Clarke to quit following his remarks about rape in a radio interview

Up until now George Osborne has been able to boast that he has not given extra money to any government department since the spending round.

Up until now.

He is about to face a demand from the Ministry of Justice to help fill a £130m hole in its budget thanks to the decision to shelve Ken Clarke's controversial plan to halve the sentences of those who plead guilty early, saving victims the trauma of a trial and the court system cash.

The idea was barely noticed when it was included in last October's Treasury Spending Review which required the MoJ to find savings of £2bn from a budget of £8.7bn.

It only became controversial after an outraged Daily Mail front page and a BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in in which Ken Clarke was accused of insulting rape victims.

There is one irony in all this. Gabrielle Brown, the victim of the attempted rape who clashed with Mr Clarke on that phone in, said she accepted his proposals after meeting with him and having them explained.

She said: "I accept his argument now that he's been clearer in his definition of when the 50% reduction would apply.

"So if, let's say in my case, the offender had been arrested and charged and had pleaded guilty, I wouldn't have gone on to suffer the trauma I suffered."

Political editor Nick Robinson reports that sentencing reform has been dropped by the government and there is "no other description for it than a U-turn"

This may prove to be the first of a long line of political concessions with economic consequences.

Although £130m is not a lot of money if the Treasury stumps up even a portion of it, expect other departments to come knocking and demanding that the chancellor use his newly declared flexibility to help them.

If he refuses they will, no doubt, tell him that he may get more Daily Mail front pages, more backbencher rumblings and more political pain.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

What a difference a day makes

In just 24 hours, Sir Malcolm Rifkind went from angry defiance to a grim-faced acceptance that he would have to quit his job as an MP and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Read full article

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  • rate this

    Comment number 84.


    He [Osborne] doesn`t shine because he`s so good but the othersare so awful.


    A bit surprised to read that Bryhers, I must admit. Perhaps I haven't been paying attention. We're agreed about the rest, and as regards G.O., I shall only say that I hope you're right and I'm wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Is it true that the tax evaders and 'socially useless bankers' are among the Tories major paymasters? If so are we likely to see any 'top down' reform?

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Thanks for link HS (80). Good read. Some will try to discount it due to the source but the figures quoted are from 'respectable' sources. It may seem common sense that the moderate deficits between 2002-7 added to our problems come the recession. The stats seem tell a different story. You can find countries that ran bigger deficits who suffered less and those that ran surpluses but suffered more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    @ 1 the womans not for turning but cameron can infact its all he does blow about in the wind wreaking UK PLC for the benefit of his rich mates.I think perhaps i should go expat for teh next 3.5 years while they destroy it all and come back once we get someone with morals and honesty back in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    @ BassMan

    Here is some links to some defecit Myths:

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.


    I disagree:

    Note how the defecit spirals when we bailed the banks out. Before that it was within limits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    JB@68 & 70

    Have to agree with a lot of what you are saying, JB. The electorate are desperately fickle with little appreciation of political issues and tend to vote against rather than for.

    Also concur with your assessment of Brown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.


    My name relates to the fact the chickens that the Tories planted in the 80's have come home to roost big time. They sold off the UK to the highest bidder.

    -Privitisation of the Utilities
    -Privitisation of Railways
    -Right to Buy - not using reciepts to build more housing.
    -our manufacturing base and shift to service.

    I could go on. All used to underwrite tax cuts for rich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I didn't want to comment on Ed, but I thought he had a bad day at PMQ's yesterday by his standards, because normally he gives Cameron a mauling. I did notice later on that Ed managed to get the right phrases in the news headlines accusing the Government of a "Mess".

    Also what has Ed's honeymon got to do with events in the house? That made Cameron look like a bully.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    JB @ 70
    We are constantly asked to congratulate the Tories for their economic 'achievements' 79-97 despite them almost quadrupling debt. I seem to remember plenty of easy growth then too. Bottom line is that 30-40 years of economic mismanagement will take the same amount of time to turn around.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    i agree ToriesBrokeBritain
    Cameron the Cameleon
    Maybe big tough guy Clegg stood up to him?

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    does anyone agree nick seems to be sticking up for old chum Ken in his report by saying the following "There is one irony in all
    this. Gabrielle Brown, the victim of the attempted rape who clashed with Mr Clarke on that phone in, said she accepted his proposals after meeting with him and having them explained" no mention of other rape victims views, amazing considering the uproar to his remarks

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Yes, interesting comments on the Cleggmeron, and yes, I can confirm that he was the the man under Lamont when the stocks fell. Nice to know we have a student of Lamont in charge what with the economy in a mess. And let us hope the Waily Mail pages are bad poodle Clegg.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    IDB, I think you’re pushing the Tory story angle a bit too far.

    Nobody would shoulder GB with sole blame, its not even close. But, there is simply no argument against the fact that he was a poor chancellor. You can’t preside over an era of easy growth but still manage to increase debt (prior to 2008) and expect to be congratulated. That’s not realistic!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    But John 68, everyone knew the economy was stuffed last year - Osborne never tired of telling us we were broke and it was Labour's fault. Tories stutter in mid 30s, Labour up from 29% to 44% - surely something to slightly worry Tory strategists. Key strategy of blame Labour looks to be dead and buried. Not trying to make a big pro Labour point, just that figures cant be good news for DC and GO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Come on Ginger @ 67

    They’re never going to sail away in the polls faced with the financial black hole we have now. At the end of the day the electorate are fickle. They don’t like bad news, and if someone else is selling fairytales (like the 2 Ed’s) then their collective heads will be turned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I would have thought that the Tories might be a little worried that when faced with an opposition leader struggling to find his feet and a shadow chancellor who doubles as a mud attracter that they are not sailing away in the polls. They risk being left rolling the dice on the economy making a stunning recovery - less likely every day with policy in such disarray.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    It`s an outrage.

    He doesn`t shine because he`s so good but the othersare so awful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Evening John 61
    Yes, my point entirely. It was the perception that GB somehow caused the problem he actually dealt with quite well that did for him. Making the spend, spend, spend image stick was essential to the 'tory story' working despite obvious serious evidence to the contrary. IFS assessment 2007 is that he left the public finances in a better state than he found them. Go figure.


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