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Eric Pickles

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Eric Pickles doesn't mind jokes about his weight.  At least, if he makes them himself.  Or if he's making them about other people.  Or if they're made by people he gets along with.  At a meeting when I was part of his Shadow CLG team, he welcomed Stephen Greenhalgh, the former leader of Hammersmith Council and now Boris Johnson's Deputy Mayor, with a paean of praise, culminating in the highest compliment of all – that "like me, he's nice and fat".

The question is whether or not George Osborne is on the list of people that the Communities Secretary gets along with.  The Guardian has a detailed account this morning of how the Treasury negotiated the spending review, and makes the point that CLG is one of the two departments that was especially helpful (the other was Justice).  But relations between them aren't always as harmonious – particularly over housing and planning.

The Chancellor has been given a rough ride over his burger snap, particularly by the Sun, which seems particularly ill-disposed to him.  Pickles is a master of publicity, and will have known the effect that his tweet would have when he published it.  Osborne is grinning and bearing it – "Nice one, Eric" – he tweeted back yesterday, but the exchanges speak eloquently about how the Chancellor's relationship with some of his colleagues. Were I him, I would lay off the Fat Jokes.

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