Allegra Stratton, Political editor, Newsnight

Allegra Stratton Political editor, BBC Newsnight

Right now, somewhere in Whitehall or Westminster, politicians are discussing changes that are going to affect your life - I will try to give you a sense of what is being said and why

Lib Dems push for early 2015 Budget to stop Tory 'giveaway'

George Osborne with Budget dispatch box
George Osborne normally announces his Budget in March

The Lib Dems want the 2015 Budget to be brought forward to stop the chancellor using it as a pre-general election giveaway, BBC Newsnight understands.

They will push for a February Budget, instead of one in March, in a bid to deny George Osborne a moment similar to Nigel Lawson's 1987 pre-election cut in the basic rate of tax, from 29% to 27%.

They also want more opportunity to promote their own policies.

Conservatives say a flashy pre-election Budget would be counter-productive.

They insist they think it would weaken the credibility of their central message of economic revival and fiscal rectitude.

Read full article Lib Dems push for early 2015 Budget to stop Tory 'giveaway'

Lib Dems 'ignored chance to soften bedroom benefits cut impact'

Row of terraced houses
The policy is known as the "spare room subsidy" by supporters...

The Lib Dems were given the chance in March to soften the impact of benefit cuts for people judged to have too many bedrooms, BBC Newsnight has been told.

As Nick Clegg's party announces it will seek to change the policy in this coalition, or pledge to do so in its next manifesto, Newsnight understands there was an opportunity within government for the Lib Dems to amend the policy four months ago.

Read full article Lib Dems 'ignored chance to soften bedroom benefits cut impact'

Allegra added analysis to:

Lib Dems accused of 'hypocrisy' over bedroom benefit rules

The Lib Dems were given the chance in March to soften the impact of benefit cuts for people judged to have too many bedrooms, BBC Newsnight has been told. As Nick Clegg's party announces it will seek to change the policy in this coalition, or pledge to do so in its next manifesto, Newsnight understands there was an opportunity within government for the Lib Dems to amend the policy four months ago.

Read full article Lib Dems accused of 'hypocrisy' over bedroom benefit rules

Francis Maude attacks civil service over job document

Whitehall sign

The Cabinet Office minister has accused the civil service of drafting a job description for permanent secretaries without "constitutional propriety".

The document sets out the qualities for permanent secretaries, who are the UK's most powerful government officials.

Read full article Francis Maude attacks civil service over job document

Ministers warned of decrease in house building

Work on a new housing development
The PM said in January that new housing starts were up 16%

The government is exploring emergency measures to kick-start house-building, amid an expected decrease in new build this year, BBC Newsnight has learned.

In leaked documents, officials warn the last set of figures before the 2015 general election will reveal house building to have decreased by 4%.

Read full article Ministers warned of decrease in house building

A pregnant pause

  • 26 November 2013
  • From the section World

Newsnight's political editor is currently on maternity leave and this blog will not be updated for a while.

Read full article A pregnant pause

Plan to divert benefits of troubled families scrapped

Boy on bike rides past boarded-up shop
The Troubled Families Programme was launched in the wake of the England riots

A plan to put benefits paid to some of Britain's most troubled families under their caseworker's control has been shelved, BBC Newsnight has learned.

The Downing Street Conservative Policy Unit wanted to give managers of the Troubled Families Programme more power to prevent the misuse of payments.

Read full article Plan to divert benefits of troubled families scrapped

Conservatives 'considering ways to raise minimum wage'

Pound coins
In 2012 there were 1.4 million workers earning the national minimum wage

The Conservative party is examining ways to raise the national minimum wage, BBC Newsnight has learned.

Measures being considered include offering tax breaks to companies paying a wage level higher than the current national minimum of £6.19 an hour.

Read full article Conservatives 'considering ways to raise minimum wage'

Tories hire Obama campaign chief Jim Messina

Jim Messina and President Obama
A fellow presidential aide described Jim Messina as "the most powerful person in Washington you've never heard of"

The Conservative Party has hired Barack Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina for its general election campaign team, BBC Newsnight has learned.

Sources confirmed that he would act as a campaign strategy adviser to the Conservative party.

Read full article Tories hire Obama campaign chief Jim Messina

Senior politicians unite to issue call for data bill

Senior politicians from across the political divide have united to call for UK security services to be given greater internet monitoring powers.

In a letter to The Times newspaper three former Labour home secretaries, three senior Tories and one Liberal Democrat urge changes.

Read full article Senior politicians unite to issue call for data bill

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About Allegra

Allegra has worked in Westminster for a decade. She arrived via an unusual route, studying archaeology and anthropology which took her to banana plantations in east Africa, a monastery high in the Alps and the permafrost of Siberia. She started writing about these projects, and was soon hooked on reporting.

She went on to work for the Times newspaper's war desk in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the BBC - including two years as a producer on Newsnight - and then the Guardian newspaper where she was political correspondent and a columnist.

In 2005 Allegra travelled to the Middle East to report on what was then an underreported phenomenon - how the fact that two-thirds of the population were under the age of 25 was changing politics in the region. She might say she had predicted the Arab Spring, except she didn't. Her resulting book, Muhajababes, was a best-seller in the Middle East.

Allegra's job means she has to turn her hand to any story, but her particular interests are these: how skilled is the UK, how will people make a livelihood now and in years to come and so find a place in the world.

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