Archive for April, 2011

The Sunday Review: the interim report of the independent commission on banking

24/04/2011, 01:00:13 PM

by Anthony Painter

There is nothing more British than an establishment fudge. And as establishment fudges go, the interim report of the independent commission on banking (ICB) is an absolute belter. It lays out the case for a fundamental reassessment of the UK’s financial sector, but proposes nothing like that. It is like a flood risk report saying that only a twenty foot high concrete wall will protect a town from flooding but then actually only recommends the installation of sandbags. And given that George Osborne is in compromising mood, it will be watered down further. Get ready for the flood.

Don’t worry, the UK might get lucky. Maybe there won’t be a flood at all. We didn’t think floods happened – or we forgot. Then one did. But still, they are rare right? Well, The ICB doesn’t seem to think so:

“There is an inherent uncertainty about the nature of the next financial crisis”.

So we are not dealing with “ifs” here; we are dealing with “when”. This staggering statement, buried in section 4.173 comes after a long section on the need to protect the competitiveness of the UK financial sector. It provides jobs and £50 billion of tax revenues, after all (though £10 billion or so are from the retail operation, which presumably isn’t going to be off-shored any time soon). That is not insignificant. As we have discovered, that is not a cost and risk free income. In fact, it is highly risky and costly.

This graph helpfully provided on p.22 of the report tells us why:

In financial terms, the UK is more flood-exposed than any other nation. It may not feel this way given the massive output loss, fiscal disaster, and unemployment, but the UK was “lucky” this time. For Ireland, it was far worse:

“Had the asset quality of UK banks turned out to be as bad as that in Ireland, the hit to the UK’s fiscal position would have been significantly worse than it was”.

Oh, those Irish with their junk investments. How silly of them. Only it’s not quite like that. Financial crises don’t generally occur because people are buying junk. They occur because people are buying high quality assets that turn out to be junk. If people are buying junk then investors notice. If it’s AAA grade prime then they are relaxed. The global financial crisis occurred in no small part because AAA assets turned out to be useful only for composting.

At enormous cost, it’s all been quarantined, sanitised and disposed of now right? Perhaps. But there’s still lots of other risks that may be underpriced. An obvious example is the sovereign debt that banks hold. What happens if governments start to default on their debt just as owners of subprime mortgages started to default on their repayments?

Calamity is what happens. If Greece, Portugal, Spain, or Ireland were to default then suddenly the bonds held by German, Dutch, British banks et al are turned from prime to subprime in an instant. Mark Blyth on Crooked Timber has war gamed the shock that would be sent through the European economy. Fantasy? No actually, it’s a completely plausible scenario. The eurozone crumbles but, worse than that, the fiscal hit will be tremendous. What on earth will the Royal Bank of Scotland’s balance sheet look like if that happens and how will we keep a flow of credit to the real economy?

According to the ICB report, there are four functions of a banking system:

• providing payments systems;

• providing deposit-taking facilities and a store-of-value system;

• lending to households, businesses and governments; and

• helping households and businesses to manage their risks and financial needs

over time.

Its measures only aim to safeguard two of them: keeping the payments system going and providing deposit-taking facilities. In the event of another flood, it means that lives will be saved which is clearly a good thing. However, the damage and economic cost to the unprotected town will be enormous. If the flood is a eurozone flood, then governments will need to fiscally intervene once again if credit and lending are to be maintained (and we do have a £141billion deficit to finance as well a businesses and mortgages to finance). The question is – again one posed by the ICB – at what point does “too big to fail” become “too big to save”?

The harsh reality is that we have a financial system that would be too big to save if the flood were big enough. It is a bigger weight on our shoulders than that any on other country’s. We have broad shoulders, but they can’t take unlimited pressure.

And this is the real issue with the ICB interim report. It lays out the evidence that UK may face a financial catastrophe even greater than was experienced in 2008. And then it defaults to the traditional defence of the UK financial sector’s competitive position as an unarguable good. It has been criticised for not doing enough to promote further competition (and our banking sector is monocultured and uncompetitive), or to separate casino from utility banking. In a sense, these criticisms – though fair – miss the point also.

The UK economy and UK taxpayers may not be able to sustain the risk of a financial sector this large at all – even with better regulation. Actually, “competitiveness” may be economically calamitous. So the ICB should have been more honest with us. It should have said:

“We are recommending a 20-foot high concrete wall. This is expensive and it will cause much pain but that is our honest assessment of what it will take to protect us from the flood. It is not unreasonable if we do want to protect ourselves from what could be an adverse event that we see in the not too distant future. This needs a bigger debate than the one we are having. It is about the whole way we run our economy and requires real long-term vision, explanation, and courage. This is a choice but we don’t feel it is a choice that should be brushed under the carpet because of vocal interests or political compromise. We have experienced a calamity but it may only have been a warning. Next time we may not be able to cope at all”.

It didn’t say that. It said, it’s bad but let’s not overact. For that reason, the report is a failure. Meanwhile, Bank of England figures show lending to small and medium sized businesses falling again and the cost of finance increasing. And consumers are starting to borrow to consume more once more.

Here we go again. And did I mention the flood risk?

Anthony Painter is an author and economist.

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Sunday News Review

24/04/2011, 09:00:55 AM

Clegg and Cameron’s choreographed war

Nick Clegg is spoiling for a fight with just about everyone – David Cameron, Andrew Lansley, all Tories, Ed Miliband, John Reid, universities, the Daily Mail, Germany, even his own MPs. Rivals will dismiss this as mere pre-election posturing: creating false dividing lines in a desperate attempt to avert a bloodbath in town halls the length of the country. But it seems to go deeper than that. After he has attacked in all but name by every Tory from the PM down, the rules of engagement have changed. Aides say Clegg has woken up to pleas from his party to make clear the Liberal Democrat influence in government, even if that means rocking the coalition boat. As a final effort to save his own skin, it could be too late. But he is going down fighting. The main battleground is over his attempt to ditch first past the post for the alternative vote in 5 May’s referendum. The stakes are high, which explains the escalation of tensions at the heart of government. The Prime Minister, in particular, gets both barrels: accused of telling “lies”, using big Tory money to fund “the very nastiest reactionary politics”. – the Independent

The criticism is seen by some in Westminster as an attempt by the Liberal Democrats to create clear dividing lines between the Lib Dems and the Tories in the run-up to the local elections. It follows yesterday’s public spat between Cameron and Clegg over internships which centred on comments made in an interview in which the prime minister admitted to recently giving work experience to a neighbour’s son. Cameron said he was “very relaxed” about the situation and that he would continue to help friends by offering their children internships. The remarks appeared to contradict a policy unveiled by Clegg earlier this month that seeks to reduce the number of unpaid internships, described by the deputy prime minister as a bar on social mobility. Yesterday, Clegg admitted he disagreed with Cameron. “I’m not relaxed about this at all,” he said. “It just can’t be right that plum internships are decided by who you know, not what you know.” – the Observer

Cameron’s new lords cost tax payer £18.25million a year

DAVID Cameron has broken his pledge to slash the cost of politics by packing the House of Lords with his cronies. The PM vowed the Coalition would bring in a plan to save £12million a year by cutting the number of MPs from 650 to 600 at the next election. But Mr Cameron’s move to appoint 117 new peers since the last General Election a year ago will cost taxpayers a staggering £18.25million a year – £6.25million a year more than his promised savings. Each new peer will cost an average of £156,000 a year, according to figures ­released by the House of Lords. The total cost of the 117 new peers will land ­taxpayers with an extra bill of at least £91million over a five-year ­Parliament. Labour MP Thomas Docherty said: “David Cameron said he wanted to cut the cost of politics. But, by creating a record number of new peers, he’s the one making the cost of politics go up.” – the Sunday Mirror

David Cameron has broken his manifesto promise to cut the cost of politics by creating an unprecedented number of peerages, Labour claimed last night. New figures show that the taxpayer will have to foot the £6m-plus balance from the creation of 117 new peers by the Prime Minister since the election. In the Conservative manifesto last year, Mr Cameron promised to slash the number of MPs from 650 to 600, saving £12m a year. But the cost of swelling ranks in the House of Lords – at £156,000 per member – was £18.25m, more than £6m more. A report last week claimed that Mr Cameron’s decision to elevate 117 people to the Lords, more than any other PM in his first year, had led to a cramped upper chamber, with 792 peers. No 10 indicated he will continue to create peerages to redress the balance in the Lords, where Labour is the main party. – the Independent

Mandelson says ‘Yes’

The ruthless and increasingly shrill determination they have shown in protecting their party interest in the AV campaign is part of a wider ambition to rebuild the same foundations for electoral success in this century that saw them dominate the last. I do not criticise them for it. Long-term majority Conservative government is their project and it will be greatly emboldened by a no vote on 5 May.  Equally, a yes vote would greatly undermine Cameron and spark a rupture in his party. The strains are already starting to show and we need to understand what’s going on. Cameron is fighting to retain the long-term advantage of a split between the progressive parties. But at the same time he is fighting to retain the unity of his party and his job. That’s why we have seen his more rightwing crowd-pleasing interventions of late. If he lost the referendum, a sin the Tory right would not forgive, it could fatally weaken and shatter his leadership. So progressives must wake up, including Liberal Democrats who need to reassert their own interests and self-confidence, just as their coalition partners are doing. Labour needs to recover the hunger we had in the 1990s, born from years in the wilderness. That means, above all, doing the hard work to regain trust in our capacity to manage the economy and public finances responsibly. – the Observer

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Clegg’s phoney war on social immobility

23/04/2011, 12:30:27 PM

by Susanna Bellino

David Cameron’s comments a few weeks ago about Oxford university’s lack of black students might have annoyed its dons and PR team but he made a valid point. Granted he skewed the statistics but the truth remains that only 27 black undergraduates – approximately 1% – made its undergraduate intake that year.

The results of a freedom of information request by David Lammy MP revealed, among other startling facts, that Merton College, Oxford, had not admitted a single black student for five years. And although it pains me to say it, my own alma mater doesn’t fair much better – despite its more liberal reputation, white students were more likely to be successful than black applicants at every Cambridge college except one.

These figures are in stark contrast to Oxbridge’s American counterpart, Harvard, where 11% of students were black. Affirmative action no doubt plays a large part in this but Oxbridge does run its own access programmes although – if rumours are to be believed – aiming these schemes at a comprehensive school in Hackney might better achieve social mobility than running them at Marlborough College.

For once, we can’t blame the coalition for something. Oxbridge’s unrepresentative undergraduate intake and the general trend of the lack of upward social mobility in the UK has long been an issue. When I went up to Cambridge in 2007, 57% of the student body were state school educated – a decent enough figure perhaps but we need to consider that in 1997, 55% of the student body were state school educated – hardly an improvement. (more…)

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The week Uncut

23/04/2011, 10:30:13 AM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

Dan Hodges wants the Guardianistas to get dirty

Kevin Meagher thinks it is time Prezza put the gloves back on

Tom Watson told Douglas Alexander off and then said sorry

Sunder Katwala reports on the “purple bookers”

Jim Murphy wants a ‘No’ vote, but not because of Clegg

Alex Hilton is sick of the “we work hard defence” of fptp

Atul Hatwal reveals the real Labour untruth on immigration

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Saturday News Review

23/04/2011, 07:30:14 AM

Need an internship? Move next door to Dave

David Cameron backs right of middle-class families to give children a ‘leg-up’ by exploiting their contacts — despite the practice being condemned by Nick Clegg […]His decision to disagree publicly with one of Mr Clegg’s most high-profile policy interventions is likely to anger Liberal Democrats, who already resented Mr Cameron’s recent attacks in the debate on the Alternative Vote. In the interview, Mr Cameron said it was “fine” to help people you knew. “I’ve got my neighbour coming in for an internship,” he said. “In the modern world, of course you’re always going to have internships and interns – people who come and help in your office who come through all sorts of contacts, friendly, political, whatever. “I do that and I’ll go on doing that. I feel very relaxed about it.” Earlier this month, Mr Clegg attacked the system that Mr Cameron has now endorsed, describing it as one of the barriers to poor Britons rising up the social hierarchy. – the Telegraph

Tory members sick of Clegg concessions

David Cameron has been given a stark warning by Conservative Party activists not to offer any new policy concessions to Nick Clegg if the Liberal Democrats suffer big losses at the local elections next month. A survey of 1,115 Tory members for The Independent found that an overwhelming 92 per cent want the Prime Minister to refuse to bolster Mr Clegg’s position, because the Tories have already made enough concessions on issues such as Europe, defence, crime and the family. Only 8 per cent want Mr Cameron to find new ways to keep Mr Clegg happy, such as speeding up reform of the House of Lords and slowing down the Government’s controversial shake-up of the NHS. The poll, conducted by the ConservativeHome website, found that only 19 per cent of Tory members believe that their party secured the best deal from the Coalition Agreement. A majority (52 per cent) believe that the Liberal Democrats got the best deal, while 29 per cent regard the agreement as equally good for both parties. – the Independent

Cable continues to throw rocks

Earlier this week Matthew Barrett compiled a list of Vince Cable’s long list of attempts to undermine the Coalition. They are now arriving every 72 hours. No senior Tory has attacked Mr Cable for his acts of disloyalty but the tantrums continue. When he fails to get a response this small man escalates his rhetoric, constantly daring Cameron to act against him. The Business Secretary ups the rhetoric again tomorrow – shooting at Cameron on two fronts: He calls for Labour, Greens and Liberal Democrats to come together to win the AV referendum so that they can then come together and exclude the Conservatives from power […] He then calls for Mr Cameron to disown the “no” campaign for its “brutal personal attack on Clegg”. It is one thing to have a coalition of two parties where each party wants to advance its own interests. It is an entirely different thing to see a senior member of one those parties plotting to build a coalition that excludes the other. – Conservative Home

Gordon Brown to take post at World Economic Forum

Gordon Brown may have been black-balled for the top job at the International Monetary Fund by the prime minister, but he has won a modest consolation prize in the form of a new post at the World Economic Forum. The Geneva-based thinktank, which runs the annual Davos summit, said the former prime minister had agreed to chair a new “policy and initiatives co-ordination board”, which will oversee talks about the future of the global economic system. “With the challenges the world faces, it is vital that all stakeholders are engaged in solving them. The World Economic Forum is uniquely placed to bring those stakeholders together and support the global agenda,” Brown said. Brown’s committee will bring together policymakers and heads of international organisations, such as the IMF, to discuss how to prevent financial crises such as the one that rocked the world in 2008. Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the WEF, said: “Gordon Brown will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the World Economic Forum … His counsel will help ensure the Forum remains rigorous and focused — true to its commitment to improve the state of the world.” – the Guardian

Independent poll gives ‘Yes’ camp hope

The battle between the Yes and No camps before next month’s referendum on the voting system is still wide open, according to a poll for The Independent. The findings will come as a relief to supporters of a switch to the alternative vote (AV) after recent surveys gave the No camp a lead of more than 10 points. The poll, by research agency TNS, found that 34 per cent of people oppose AV and 32 per cent support it, with 21 per cent replying “don’t know” and 13 per cent saying they would probably not vote in the 5 May referendum. According to TNS, one in four people who voted Liberal Democrat at last year’s general election oppose AV (26 per cent), while 74 per cent support it. In a mirror image, one in four people who backed the Conservatives last year favour AV (23 per cent), with 77 per cent opposing it. Labour voters are against a switch to AV by a margin of 53 to 47 per cent. The rival camps believe that this group could hold the key to the result. The pro-AV organisation will mount a major push to win over Labour supporters. – the Independent

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In Australia AV doesn’t live up to the rhetoric of the ‘No’ or ‘Yes’ campaigns

22/04/2011, 12:00:07 PM

by Andy Bagnall

I’ve just returned from a five-month stint down under – advising the Australian Labor Party (ALP) on the New South Wales state elections – to a pile of post several inches high. Among the bank statements and the pizza adverts was a leaflet from each of the campaigns for the AV referendum. A hand-delivered, two-colour flyer from the YES campaign and a full-colour glossy, posted direct mail from the NO campaign – perhaps reflecting the differing financial resources of the two sides.

Although I’ve followed the AV debate from afar, I read the two flyers with interest, only to be disappointed by the simplistic level of the debate and the exaggerated claims of both sides.

As far as the YES camp is concerned, I can categorically assure them from my New South Wales experience that optional AV will not make MPs work harder. It will not end safe seats or jobs for life, and it most certainly won’t stop MPs becoming embroiled in scandals.

If that were the case someone forgot to give the memo to the two dozen New South Wales MPs  who, during the last parliamentary cycle, were tainted by accusations of domestic violence; marital infidelity; sex for planning consents; child molestation; or having their hands in the till. Sadly, all of these were Labor MPs and the charge sheet explains, at least in part, the scale of the Labor government’s defeat in NSW.

The most colourful scandal was the then police minister being accused of dancing in his underpants at a post-budget party simulating a sex act with a fellow MP while saying to her daughter “look, I’m t***y-f*****g your mother.” This has been strenuously denied by all concerned. No-one’s been sued but the Minister still resigned. No, my friends, not even the awesome power of an AV electoral system can stop that level of error of judgement even if it could stop an MP fiddling their expenses.

Similarly, to the NO camp, AV will not mean the rise of extremist parties in and of itself. Nor will it mean that some people’s votes are counted twice – everyone’s vote is counted the same number of times no matter how many rounds of counting. Nor will it lead to more broken promises. This last one made me laugh out loud. (more…)

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The real Labour lie on immigration

22/04/2011, 08:00:36 AM

by Atul Hatwal

David Cameron’s speech on immigration last week sparked a predictably incoherent response from Labour.

The official line was to not have a line on what Cameron was talking about. Nor was it to have a line on Vince Cable’s response.

Instead, Labour just talked about there being a government split. While several elephants trampled around Labour’s room. Did the party agree with Cameron? Or Cable? Did it want to defend its record?

Questions, questions.

No answers were immediately forthcoming, but some clues on leadership thinking, beyond abject terror at the use of the ‘I’ word, have begun to seep out in the past week.

Up popped Maurice Glasman in the pages of Progress, Labour’s very own pearly king, or at least Lord. He had lots to say about Labour’s “lie” on the levels of immigration, the impact on traditional working class folk and the need to “reconnect” with members of the English Defence League.

Gor blimey guvnor.

Then Ed Miliband chipped in to Nick Robinson. Citing the mythical conversation with the average punter, so beloved of politicians reaching for some authenticity, he said:

“I think we clearly underestimated the number of people coming from Poland…People say to me, look I’m worried about the pressure on my wages of people coming into the country, I’m worried about what it does to housing supply”.

Looking beyond it being unlikely anyone really said that to him, given no-one outside of a think tank actually talks like that, Miliband’s words marked the complete triumph of a new narrative for Labour on immigration. He might have skirted around the topic during the leadership election, but this was the first time he had articulated the narrative as leader of the Labour party.

While the right wail about identity, security and look suspiciously at the Pakistani migrants and their children; Labour has gone down the Duffy road with an invading army of eastern Europeans pushing hard pressed Brits out of jobs.

Increased labour supply at the lower income end of the labour market, driving down wages, increasing unemployment and increasing pressure on public services is the more salon-friendly version of this thesis.

But here’s the problem. Regardless of the way it’s expressed, it’s wrong. Not morally or ethically, but factually. (more…)

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Friday News Review

22/04/2011, 05:47:42 AM

Mixed news on AV referendum

The battle between the Yes and No camps before next month’s referendum on the voting system is still wide open, according to a poll for The Independent. The findings will come as a relief to supporters of a switch to the alternative vote (AV) after recent surveys gave the No camp a lead of more than 10 points. The poll, by research agency TNS, found that 34 per cent of people oppose AV and 32 per cent support it, with 21 per cent replying “don’t know” and 13 per cent saying they would probably not vote in the 5 May referendum. According to TNS, one in four people who voted Liberal Democrat at last year’s general election oppose AV (26 per cent), while 74 per cent support it. In a mirror image, one in four people who backed the Conservatives last year favour AV (23 per cent), with 77 per cent opposing it. Labour voters are against a switch to AV by a margin of 53 to 47 per cent. The rival camps believe that this group could hold the key to the result. The pro-AV organisation will mount a major push to win over Labour supporters. – the Independent

The ‘Yes to AV’ campaign was dealt a fresh blow after a poll showed older voters were largely opposed to ditching the one person, one vote system. A survey of nearly 12,000 over-50s by Saga showed just 32 per cent were in favour of AV while 50 per cent wanted to stick with first-past-the-post. English over-50s were especially sceptical about AV, with more than 50 per cent opposed to it. Meanwhile older Scots are 41 per cent in favour, compared to 50 per cent of over-50s in Northern Ireland. Mature voters are more likely to turn out to vote and less likely to change their minds, which could make the battle for the Yes campaign even harder. The poll came as David Cameron risked controversy by using John Major’s Conservative administration as an example of a ‘bad government’ which only first-past-the-post could conclusively boot out. – Daily Mail

Gordon’s back

Gordon Brown claimed yesterday he was “not interested” in polls showing Labour heading for defeat to the SNP, as campaign chiefs insisted they would not change course, despite the sudden slump in their fortunes. In his first intervention on the campaign trail, he dismissed the surge in SNP support, saying Labour’s focus on job creation would resonate with “worried” voters as polling day drew near. But the latest poll finding, which suggests the SNP is within touching distance of an overall majority, will only confirm growing concerns within the party that the election is slipping out of their grasp as election day comes into view. Some Labour candidates insist they are untroubled by the poll ratings, claiming voters “on the ground” are backing Labour more enthusiastically than in the 2007 election. – the Scotsman (more…)

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The final figures are in for the government’s borrowing: a total of £141.1bn.

21/04/2011, 06:50:41 PM

We made a back of an envelope prediction last month about what we expected the outturn to be and plumped for £135bn on the basis of the arguments we have persistently been making about the dividend from the previous government’s stabilisation of the economy and the growth it enabled.

The OBR also had its chance in the March 2011 budget – with all those models and only eight days left of spending before the end of the financial year – to make their prediction. They went for £144bn. Well, we’ll have to split the difference. The outturn for 2011 was (again) lower, thanks (again) to Labour’s growth dividend.

So the previous Labour government’s strategy of growth-supportive deficit reduction reduced the deficit from a prediction in March 2010 £163bn to today’s outturn of £141bn; a reduction of £22bn.

The new government’s strategy of cutting growth to crowd in private sector investment has meant that the OBR has added a further £35bn that this government will borrow over the lifetime of this parliament. And given that the OBR record is to be wrong, about 10% or so out, this could be a lot higher.

It’s distasteful that the benefit cuts of £7bn were justified by the OBR’s prediction of a £149bn deficit. That June prediction was wrong by £7.9bn –  enough to pay for those benefit cuts. We wonder if they will sleep well tonight in the north Oxford beds.

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This government’s back-of-the-envelope approach to national security must change

21/04/2011, 04:05:03 PM

by Matt Cavanagh

Con Coughlin’s article in today’s Telegraph will make uncomfortable reading for those Conservatives (and News International journalists) who like to pretend that Cameron’s national security council (NSC) is a genuinely radical reform based on a serious attempt to learn the lessons of the last decade. Coughlin writes:

“To judge by the NSC’s increasingly inchoate response to the challenge presented by Gaddafi’s regime, it seems to me that all it has achieved so far is the replacement of Blair’s much-derided “sofa government” with a new, back-of-the-envelope approach.”

argued in November that Cameron had persistently over-sold his reforms to our national security machinery, which really amounted to “a tinkering and re-badging exercise”. In the first couple of weeks of the Libyan crisis, the continuing lack of strategy, coherence, and grip was obvious.

The narrative changed when Cameron was able to take the credit for British diplomatic efforts to secure UNSCR 1973, and for being one of the first leaders to call for military intervention. The changed narrative didn’t change the facts – that Cameron’s call for intervention was more a response to immediate domestic pressure than part of a real strategy, and that UNSCR 1973 itself didn’t seem to be part of a real strategy – but it did push these inconvenient facts into the background. At that stage, what mattered was that Cameron seemed to be winning the international argument.

Now what matters is who is winning on the ground. The curiously timed joint letter by Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama, insisting that Gaddafi must go, hasn’t made that outcome any more likely compared to the various possible outcomes which leave him in place – the potential collapse of the revolution outlined by Anthony Loyd in this month’s Prospect, or a protracted stalemate, or a messy negotiated settlement. The letter has, however, increased the extent to which the West’s reputation, as well as Libyans’ future, is on the line.

It might therefore be time to look again, not just at the implications of the Libyan crisis for our defence and foreign policy – reopening or updating the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) – but also at the implications for our national security machinery. It needs real reform, rather than tinkering and re-badging, if we are to increase the chances of our foreign and security policy being driven by strategy rather than emerging out of the interaction between media coverage, domestic politics, and bureaucratic dysfunction.

Matt Cavanagh was a special adviser on defence in the ministry of defence, treasury, and Downing Street from 2005 to 2010.

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