James Forsyth

A reminder of two of the political battles ahead for the coalition

A reminder of two of the political battles ahead for the coalition
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If anyone had any doubts about how difficult the politics of banking reform and planning would be for the Conservatives, they’ll be dispelled by a glance at a couple of tomorrow’s front pages.

 ‘Osborne to let banks off the hook—for now’ screams The Independent. This a reference to the Chancellor’s plans to consult with the banks on the conclusions of the Vickers report—which the government has seen but is officially published tomorrow morning.

The political problem for Osborne is that anything other than the immediate implementation of Vickers’ recommendations will be seen as a favour to the banks. But pushing the reforms through now could undermine an already weak economy.

Meanwhile the Telegraph is continuing its campaign against the coalition’s planned simplification of the planning system. Its splash is ‘Planning Minister’s pact with property developers’. It is a sign of how determined the opposition to these changes is going to be and a reminder of one of the oddities of life, that so many people who consider themselves free-marketers are staunch defenders of that most socialist of concepts—planning.

I still think the coalition won’t back down on planning reform because of how crucial it is to its plans for both growth and housing. Indeed, there are no signs of Number 10—which does have a tendency to u-turn—going wobbly on the matter.