As our one-time columnist has departed for Number Ten, we highlight some of the ideas advanced by the man described in today’s papers as the Prime Minister’s ‘political brain’.

On Treasury tactics:

“Typically, a Spending Review goes something like this. Informal conversations between Treasury officials and a department’s finance officials begin several months before the main event. The Treasury starts with the upper hand: its officials have been directed by their ministers, while ministers in the department are often not even told that the meetings are taking place. Worse still, the department’s finance officials dream of working (you’ve guessed it) in the Treasury, so you can never be certain whose side they are on. Next, the Chancellor officially launches the Spending Review. The cuts proposed are huge: the departments are asked to cut up to 40 per cent of their spending over four years. Neither the Treasury nor the departments believe this is the real number. Some ministers openly dismiss the Treasury’s proposals as “initial pitching”. – November 2015

ConHome summary: There is no grand plan behind Spending Reviews. Might be an idea, though.

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