The Week According to Sean Dilley
Good news everyone! Attorney General Dom Grieve QC has a plan to protect against the unwitting perversion of justice. No, he's not shutting all family courts in the UK, but from now on, whenever an advisory is issued to the press about the potential danger of commenting on active cases, that advice will be given to Twitter and Facebook users too.
But given that the government don't have access to user contact details, or at least not 'officially', the way in which Her Majesty's Government intend to furnish social media users with such advice will be to post it on the website and Twitter feeds of the Attorney General's Office.
Fantastic plan… I'm quite sure the next time Vincent the vigilante from Vauxhall high street wants to mistakenly out a paediatrician as one of James Bulger's killers, he'll take a few moments to check out the attorney general's advice on the matter – oh wait a minute… how much is this costing us?
Commons Leader Andrew Lansley has stuck the proverbial two fingers up to more than 60 rebel Tory MPs who have signed a proposed amendment to the immigration bill which would prevent Bulgarians and Romanians working in the UK until 2018.
The government is rather big on Romanian and Bulgarian bashing at the moment, focussing on the possible increase in those wishing to work in the UK from these two countries – and ignoring totally that two thirds of migration to the UK comes from outside the EU, a socially acceptable form of xenophobia it would seem. Anecdotally, this hysteria seems to be hitting home with the public, with the topic featuring more than most among those random people I subtly poll (without their knowledge of course).
Lansley, responding to a grilling by fellow Conservative Mark Reckless said: "I can assure you that it is not being delayed. It is simply that I have announced in the future business before Christmas progress on five government bills. We have a lot of legislation before the House."
By the time the bill next comes before the House, Romanians and Bulgarians will already have full rights to come and work in the UK. It's interesting how priorities work. Much of the government has been squealing about some kind of nightmare scenario of an "influx", but they choose not to put it before the House. Could they possibly be fearing defeat on the facts?
George Osborne told a packed House of Commons this week that the aim of his autumn statement was to "fix the roof while the sun is shining". An unfortunate turn of phrase on the same day that two people died due to horrific winter conditions and tidal surges.
With the chancellor insisting the plan is working and unveiling encouraging forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, some viewers could be forgiven for failing to choke on their lunchtime salads when it was revealed that the notoriously shaky fortune telling abilities of the independent experts "expects" national debt to be 75.5% of GDP this year.
Now this is a spectacular reduction from the £18 billion previously predicted – but what kind of opinionated pontificator would I be if I didn't remind you, dear reader, that the chancellor, backed by the prime minister chirped very loudly indeed at the start of the parliament about how the deficit would be eliminated by the end of this parliament.
There were a few bits of common sense in the autumn statement, such as the abolition of the requirement to display a tax disc. It would be nice if they bothered to repeal the law requiring it, instead of leaving it on the books like that one about pregnant women being allowed to urinate inside a policeman's helmet. Trust me, they don't like it if you try it. But those bankers in the City weren't happy with the increased bank levy to pay for the introduction of measures like the incredibly specific married couples tax allowance that hardly anyone will be entitled to. HSBC say they may look again at moving their HQ away from the City – a journey that may not concern too many voters but could re-cripple the economy.
But for 36 year-old Fred the Butcher, a nice chap I spoke with on the train, all the statement revealed was that the Treasury was ripping up all the DWP-projected pension advisories he's received over the years. The Chancellor told him he'd have to work until he's 69. One might be forgiven for asking, given that we're told to ignore previous promises on pensions, why we should believe the ones being made now.
Comment pieces like this are rightly quick to criticise all political parties and politicians – particularly the government of the day – for a string of inevitable cock-ups. But it's right to offer praise when it's due.
And so this pat on the back goes firmly to the government and George Osborne for channelling £100 million in libor fines to military and emergency service charities. Well done. No really. Genuinely.