The week according to Sean Dilley

Broadcaster and general nuisance Sean Dilley gives us his take on the week in politics.

Shock and horror has hit Number 10 and the MoD this week after former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has cast fresh doubt over the already questionable ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US.

This of course all sparks from an interview on the Today Programme with the former Bush and Obama defence secretary warning that Britain’s diminishing military numbers means the two countries could no longer be a “full military partner”, particularly when Britain no longer has an operational aircraft carrier – but more so, the UK’s lack of full air land and sea spectrum threatens our global position.

But David Cameron hit back angrily on a visit to the Crossrail site saying he thinks Mr Gates has “got it wrong” and with Britain having the fourth largest defence budget in the world, the PM’s certain everything’s all fine and dandy.

Sorry Prime Minister, to coin a phrase (or steal one) have I got news for you… former US defence secretaries don’t just simply do unsanctioned interviews on flagship foreign national programmes. Retired though he may be, Robert Gates is still highly trusted and valued by the US establishment and he’s trying to join US diplomats in sending a clear message. In fact it seems to be a case of criticism hurting but the truth hurting most of all.

Am I the only one who isn’t shocked, or are the government in fact the only ones who are?


Distressing news reaches me of a Westminster bust-up as Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has the right old hump…. Erm… again.

The Chancellor’s sudden about turn on the minimum wage is what’s causing so much upset with accusations of the Tories nicking Lib Dem policies and fishing in their pond without consultation.

Last week, George Osborne warned that a large increase in the minimum wage could cost jobs and damage the economy – now he’s not only convinced an increase would not damage the economy but that we suddenly need an increase of over 10%, raising the current £6.31 to a suspected £7.01 – £7.20.

But this apparent movement on last week’s position can, according to the treasury be explained by the due process of them having now reported to the Low Pay Commission, the body responsible for making official recommendations on the minimum wage. It goes like this, civil servants have had their say, so the chancellor can’t now influence their decision by speaking up. Come on… we’ve all seen Yes Minister, and the reality is frighteningly similar… civil servants won’t listen to ministers at the best of times so instead I suggest the Lib Dem’s belief on the apparent U-turn is probably the correct one – and now in the run up to the General Election and all.


Labour Leader Ed Miliband let the genie of union integration and affiliation with the Labour Party out of the bottle last year with wide ranging reforms floated around changing the block voting structure and giving individual union members the choice whether to pay in to the Labour Party or not – in effect limiting greatly the powers and voice of the union leaders.

This week the bulldozer continues to roll with talk of changes to the way in which the Labour Leader is elected – abolishing the current electoral college system and offering a one member one vote system.

Already the Labour Party and the Unions who form part of it are deadlocked on proposed changes with unions making it clear they are not prepared to willingly lose or change voting rights at Labour conference.

It’s all terribly complicated, but talk about biting the hand that feeds you… Ed Miliband narrowly beat brother David in 2010 thanks to the union block vote… without the unions backing Ed, it seems likely that today’s reforms would be tomorrow’s reforms at the most



With YouGov predicting that the Conservatives will come a devastating third in May’s European elections – some readers may be surprised to hear why many in the Labour Party are just as worried as their blue counterparts.

“Ukip are super tories” said one Labour Councillor as we sat over a cup of coffee in one of the country’s major swing seats. There’s a general welcoming from the reds that the Tories look certain to suffer a bloody nose, but with reporting and rhetoric from politicians in Whitehall politicians on Eastern European immigration, coupled with general concerns in the court of public opinion on immigration more generally, “there is a very real concern that certain of my colleagues will not be here after the election” said the councillor – with Ukip the major winner in their probably accurate prediction.

Go back to your constituencies and prepare for mayhem!