Daily Archives: 14 March 2006

Honest Jim

Paul Davies reminds me to recount a story from my dim and distant student days.

Back when I was a stude, Jim “trust me!” Murphy was NUS President. At the time, we’re talking 1996 here, there was a lot of talk about the Dearing Commission and the Tories’ threat to introduce tuition fees.

Jim came to my student union (Manchester Uni) to speak at a debate on whether or not to drop the union’s campaign for restoring grants, which Ken Clarke had announced were to be phased out. Jim’s argument was that we had to drop this policy as the entire student movement had to concentrate on its campaign to oppose the dreaded fees.

You know the rest – Tony Blair fights the 1997 campaign pledging to not introduce fees, and then makes creating them one of his first acts. The irony being of course that Dearing also recommended restoring grants to the poorest students. Which didn’t happen.

And our boy Jim got to be a brand spanking new MP, happily championing the very policies he had built his student career in opposing.

So, when he turns up, 10 years later, and Saddam-Hussain-in-South-Park-like says “relax feller!” over his Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill you will forgive my unnease.

Boy George unnerves Merv

The annoying talking donkey hasn’t just been getting up Gordo’s nose:

In a policy document handed to the Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank, in January and published yesterday, Mr Osborne raised the idea of removing the majority that the Bank’s staff currently hold on the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

However, the Bank was annoyed by a newspaper report that said the shadow Chancellor was “in constant dialogue with the Bank at every level”.

In an unusual move, the Bank issued a statement saying: “The Governor has never met George Osborne and has not had discussions with him on any of these ideas”.

Mr Osborne’s advisers sought to play down the significance of the gaffe, saying the shadow Chancellor had not used the words that were used in the newspaper.

As for the policy itself, I’m unclear at the moment whether this is an attempt to make the Bank even more independent or to bring it back under government control by stealth. Given that the extra nominees appear to be government, rather than parliamentary, ones, I would suspect the latter. Only Old School Ties need apply, eh George?