Westminster Times

Pensions minister Steve Webb has taken a novel approach to getting out of the hole he dug himself by suggesting pensioners could take their entire savings and blow them on Lamborghinis if that is what they choose.

His solution – to dig another hole and jump into that one instead. This time he has announced the government will send all pensioner "death letters" (my words not his) telling them how much longer they can expect to live.

Alright, that might be putting it crudely. What he is actually planning is to offer retirees "broad brush" estimates of life expectancy so they can plan what to do with all their money.

That is because people will be surprised at how long they might live nowadays. Probably not half as surprised as they will be when the death letter drops onto their doormat just as they are planning to buy that supercar.

Webb's latest wheeze has come after chancellor George Osborne announced he would get rid of rules that require most people to use their pension pots to buy an annuity, which guarantees an annual income.

The plan raised immediate concerns that it would destroy the annuity industry (oh dear) and encourage profligate pensioners to splash out on flashy cars and so on.

Then, when they run out of money and find they are still alive, they will throw themselves onto the mercy of the state, quite a concept in its own right nowadays.

I don't know about anybody else, but when I shuffle off this mortal coil I would prefer it to come as one heck of a big surprise not as part of a carefully mapped out timetable.

Ed Balls
Ed Balls miscalculated the distance behind him

Reverse gear

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has walked right into the Tories' trap after accidentally reversing into a parked car and driving away without hanging around to apologise to the owner.

Yorkshire police got it all on CCTV and Balls has explained he wasn't aware any damage had been done, offered his profuse apologies, took full responsibility and promised to foot the repair bill in full.

Now that sounds like the script the Tories have written for him about his role in the economic crash.

And all the jokes about handing him the keys to the car and needing a reverse gear are being rehearsed even as we speak.

Vince Cable
Business Secretary Vince Cable has all the time in the worldReuters

Top tune

There is always something faintly distasteful about politicians going onto BBC Radio Four's Desert Island Discs and choosing their favourite songs based entirely on political considerations and what will make them look cool and not silly – actually the one usually leads to the other.

After all, Margaret Thatcher didn't give much consideration to such things when she once declared her favourite tune was Rolf Harris' "Two Little Boys". And if you have never heard it please seek it out, but remember to keep a paper bag handy.

But it was hard to tell whether Business Secretary Vince Cable was being politically astute, ironic, or just honest when he told a BBC programme this week that his top tune was Louis Armstrong's "We have all the time in the world".

The chorus of "oh no you haven't" that went up across Westminster was deafening.

Fashion crime

Thank heaven's David "We're all in it together" Cameron isn't insensitive enough to jet out for a foreign holiday in the sun at a time of austerity and as the Ukraine slides into civil war.

What's that? There are pictures of him in his shorts (why, oh why do British men do that) at what looks like a very pleasant, sunny café in Lanzarote?

It's OK, before you come over all affronted, not to say downright jealous, it has been stressed that he flew budget air. Well that is some punishment at least.