Diary: David Cameron and Nick Clegg value their special relationships

 

Before they were united in coalition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg agreed on one thing, that the Labour government was employing too many special advisers. There is a serious case for having more, not fewer, of these political appointees who serve their ministers without being restricted by civil service rules about impartiality, despite the controversy surrounding some of them, such as Alastair Campbell or Andy Coulson. But Cameron promised to cap their numbers, while Clegg's position was that there should not be any at all, unless their salaries were paid from party funds.

How odd then that a Downing Street notice yesterday revealed that there are 81 special advisers now in post, compared with 74 in 2009. Nick Clegg alone has 14, while David Cameron has 18, two of whom – the spin doctor Craig Oliver and pollster Andrew Cooper – are paid £140,000 a year.

The Government's defence is that the special advisers' total wage bill is £600,000, 10 per cent less than under Gordon Brown. They have more of them, but pay them less.

Shapps quiet over Twitter robot claim

Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, went very quiet after the Political Scrapbook website accused him of using special software to inflate his Twitter following, as I reported yesterday. My own attempts to contact him failed. Even when Lord Prescott joined in the fun by creating a "grantshappsfollowedme" hashtag on Twitter, there was no reaction from a politician normally so communicative that he is popularly known as the Minister for Daybreak. Then he resurfaced yesterday afternoon, putting jocular replies on Twitter to jokes running at his expense. He even retweeted Prescott's crack that "as Andy Warhol said, in the future everyone will be followed & unfollowed by Grant Shapps". Note that what he did not do was deny using a "robot" to pad his Twitter following.

The Boss: a true health and safety champion

The Right love inventing myths about health and safety, so it's good to see the health and safety professionals getting feisty when they are traduced. Live Nation, promoters of Bruce Springsteen's live concert in Hyde Park, blamed "health and safety" for the event's abrupt termination at 10.30pm on Saturday, a falsehood that Kevin Myers, deputy chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive, and Bruce Springsteen devotee, has not let go unanswered.

"The fans deserve the truth: there are no health and safety issues involved here," he said. "While public events may have licensing conditions dictating when they should end, this is not health and safety and it is disingenuous of Live Nation to say so. It's ironic that this excuse has been used in relation to Bruce Springsteen, who certainly knows what real health and safety is all about – look at the words of 'Factory' from Darkness on the Edge of Town referring to the toll that factory work can take on the health of blue collar workers." Rock on, Kevin.

PM keeps watchdog on short leash

It is not often that MPs decide anything important on the last day before the Commons rises for the long summer break, but yesterday they decided that Sir Alex Allan, the "independent" adviser on ministers' interests, should have more clout. This, unfortunately, makes no difference as David Cameron does not intend to take a blind bit of notice, and doesn't "see the case for changing the remit".

Sir Alex can investigate ministers only when the PM lets him. He was let loose on the Tory chairman, Baroness Warsi, but kept away from the Culture Secretary, Mr Cameron's chum Jeremy Hunt.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn