Work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, is a weak link in the Tory cabinet (for that is what it is). He is neither as clever as he thinks he is, nor as clever as he needs to be. Both of which he is too stupid to realise. He is a series of accidents which are starting to happen. (more…)
Archive for June, 2010
So I get a call to go on the Politics Show, for this post budget debate thing with Clegg and Cameron.
This producer guy – we’ll call him “Ian”, because that’s his name – wants a “mum”, and I bite because I have some things to say about the budget, and this and that; plus I score high for both vanity and gullibility in personality tests.
I don’t make a fuss about the mum-in-inverted-commas thing. (more…)
On your bike mark II
“Labour leadership candidate Ed Balls said yesterday Mr Duncan Smith was going further than Norman Tebbit. Mr Balls said: “The remarks suggest that he’s thinking of taking away the housing tenure, the right to a social house and saying you’ve got to move. “So actually he’s going further than saying on your bike. It’s on your bike and lose your home.” – The Mirror
“Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband – who is backed by former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain – said the proposals were a retreat “back to the 1980s”. He said: “[What] he is saying to whole parts of the country is: ‘we have no hope as a government of getting work into your area so you are going to have to move out of your communities’. And that is frankly disgraceful.” – Western Mail
“I hear from one of the other panel members that Vince Cable was deeply uncomfortable defending the VAT rise and the Budget and coalition in general on BBC1’s Question Time last week. I’m told that Cable, who has just been distancing himself from his party’s “VAT Bombshell” poster during the election, “simply got through it by a form of meditation.” – James Macintyre, New Statesman
“Up to half a dozen Lib Dem MPs are understood to have unofficially met Labour counterparts late last week to discuss co-ordinating their opposition. Two early day motions protesting about the rise have attracted the support of almost 70 Labour MPs and Lib Dem MP Bob Russell has already threatened to vote against the Budget.” – The Daily Mail
All you need to know about the candidates in one place
“On 25 September the result of Labour’s leadership election will be announced at the party’s annual conference in Manchester, but what will this change of management herald for a new New Labour? We invited David Miliband, Ed Balls, Diane Abbott, Andy Burnham and Ed Miliband to talk politics, purse strings and the perfect night’s television.” – The Observer
Daily roundup highlights Liberal meltdown
“Nick Clegg is suffering a fierce public backlash over the coalition’s VAT rise, with almost half of Liberal Democrat supporters saying the tax U-turn makes them more likely to desert the party. A YouGov/Brand Democracy survey, which will alarm already restive Lib Dem MPs, shows 48% of those who voted Lib Dem at the election are now less inclined to back them again as a direct result of the increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20%.” – The Observer
“A senior Lib Dem MP confirmed that a number of disgruntled colleagues had “talked tactics” with Labour opponents over the possibility of at least obstructing key measures, including the increase in the rate of VAT from 17.5 to 20 per cent.” – The Independent
A fullish week for June: a big Commons debate on the strategic defence review, an ‘emergency’ budget, the first ever select committee elections and David Miliband’s desert island discs.
The most important thing in all of which was George Osborne’s demeanour. It was a political coming of age. An uncertain boy made man by the advantages of office. For the first time in his Parliamentary career, he knew what he was talking about. He had the facts at his fingertips; the fat ballast of her majesty’s treasury behind him. (more…)
The first out of the blocks
“David Miliband received an early boost in the battle for the Labour Party leadership as he secured the backing of one of Britain’s biggest trade unions yesterday. The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), which has 386,000 members, became the first union to endorse one of the five candidates for the leadership.” – The Independent
“General secretary John Hannett said: “David is a long-time friend of Usdaw and is someone who really understands the needs and aspirations of our members.” – The Shields Gazette
“Mr Cable told the Standard: “I was angry. I was trying to restrain my anger and give a reasoned response. He was trying to wind me up. “The Labour people are being very provocative but it is having no effect. The coalition is solid. I think the behaviour of people like Ed Balls does not reflect well on them and I don’t think the public find it attractive.” Labour has launched a campaign to embarrass Left-leaning Lib-Dems known to have felt uncomfortable about going into government with Tories.” – Evening Standard
“Despite widespread public unease about the war and the British mission, none of the major political party leaderships oppose the deployment or significantly question the current Western strategy. But is that about to change? The Labour leadership election has seen recently-removed Cabinet members chucking the party’s former policies overboard with gay abandon: the Iraq war, mass immigration and even European integration have all been decried by various men called Ed or Miliband or both.” – The Telegraph
“Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham used the social networking site Twitter to exclaim ‘god bless the Treasury’. ‘Lansley’s on a 1-man mission to turn NHS from order to chaos. They’re right to block him,’ he wrote.” – Healthcare Republic
“Labour’s leadership election in Wales saw a genuine battle of ideas that was good for the party. One can only hope that now nominations have closed, the same will be true of the UK leadership contest. It matters to Labour in Wales that Labour in Great Britain is in a position to win again at the next general election. But a battle of the bland won’t do it for us. So let’s see the same preparedness to argue out ideas that we had in Wales last year, rather than a rolling-out of platitudes. Hyperactivity is no substitute for deep thinking. A leadership election should not be a form of distraction therapy after a political defeat.” – The Guardian
“Labour leadership frontrunner David Miliband has stepped into the row between Europe and America over Government loans to the Airbus factory in Flintshire. During a visit to the site yesterday he defended the aircraft manufacturer which is embroiled in a bitter row over alleged illegal subsidies for the development of new airliners.” – The Daily Post
“Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband believes UK universities could be better funded if graduates were to pay extra tax rather than tuition fees. Writing in today’s Guardian, Miliband says he would consult vice-chancellors and universities to produce a plan to replace tuition fees with a graduate tax.” – The Guardian
“The government’s academies programme is a “Trojan horse for selection”, the shadow schools secretary says today, as he tables an amendment to legislation that, if passed, would block academies from being allowed to cherrypick pupils. Ed Balls claims a mechanism he brought in to allow good schools to expand will now be used by the Tories to give grammar schools the right to do the same, in a “perversion” of the system.” – The Guardian
“On Thursday, the Labour party announced that its two principal contenders to be Labour’s mayoral candidate in 2012 would be the former mayor Ken Livingstone and Oona King. Earlier this week, the London Evening Standard reported that Johnson had been “toying with the idea” of running for a mayoral second term and is expected to declare his candidacy in the next few weeks. A spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats said that the party was aware of Öpik’s desire to run, but added that no decision had been made on who would stand as the Lib Dem candidate.” – The Guardian
State of the race
“On the hustings, Abbott has proved the left of the Labour Party has attractive and relevant policies. Scrapping the hugely expensive weapon of mass destruction that is son of Trident can be popular with the electorate and earns loud applause from audiences whenever she raises it. The living wage has been adopted as one of Ed Miliband’s selling points. David Miliband publicly acknowledges that George W Bush was a disaster for Britain and the world. Ed Balls and Andy Burnham concede that Labour lost touch with traditional, working-class voters who are the party’s base.” – Kevin Maguire, Tribune
We asked each of the leadership candidates to choose 8 favourite tracks, a book and a luxury which they might take to a desert island.
We will be publishing them one candidate at a time.
David Miliband is first because he sent his back first. (more…)
Two chance Westminster meetings this week set me thinking about one of the big tactical problems facing Labour.
The first involved a discussion with two Labour supporting members of the Parliamentary lobby, the elite squadron of registered press hawks who follow politics from an exclusive eyrie in the House of Commons.
From debating great matters of state (why Fabio Capello should persevere with Emile Heskey), the conversation drifted to the merits of their key contacts. Routine enough, except that the names were suddenly unfamiliar. Where once were Charlie, Dugher and Damian, now it was Andy, Gaby and Henry. This was the beltway equivalent of the wrong picture coming into your head when you hear the words “prime minister”. For me, it was almost worse. (more…)
Liberal lies and more post budget fallout
“Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband seized on Mr Hughes’s remarks as evidence that cracks were beginning to appear in the coalition. Privately, LibDems are concerned that capital gains tax was not raised enough for those on high wages.” – The Daily Mail
“What’s really going on is that Paddy Ashdown would love to have been Deputy Prime Minister and he has leader envy. He sits there looking at two nodding Lib-Dem dogs on the front bench and he’s not one of them. And it hurts.” – David Miliband, The Mirror
“Two things in life are inevitable, said Benjamin Franklin, death and taxes. The Conservatives campaigned against “Labour’s death tax” and against “Labour’s jobs tax”. But Labour left it to the Lib Dems to campaign against the Tory VAT tax bombshell. So how will Labour characterise the VAT rise that will bring an end to the New Year sales? They’ve got a little time to work it out…” – The New Statesman
“Labour leadership contender Ed Balls makes clear in today’s Mirror, VAT is a regressive Tory levy on the people of Britain. Mr Osborne’s raid on ordinary, hard-working families was avoidable.” – The Mirror
“The Labour leadership contenders have all declared that they will vote against the legislation to enable “free schools”. But once the genie of choice is out of the bottle, it is a brave socialist who tries to stuff it back in. Parents who send their children to these schools will have reason and motivation to vote Conservative as long as Labour opposes them.” – The Telegraph
Housing takes to the stage
“David Miliband – “For me, community is one of the things that makes life worth living. And while it’s often said how fast moving the modern world is, a sense of belonging to the place where we live is still just as important as ever. That’s my starting point for thinking about housing policy.” – Inside Housing
“Abbott also predicted that, “I am going to see thousands of people in London evicted precisely as a consequence of these housing benefit changes.” Is she right?” – The Guardian
The other race
“Labour nationally is now going through a process of renewal and change to a new generation of leadership. We in London need to do the same and choose a mayoral candidate for 2012 who reflects the modern 21st century London. London is a dynamic vibrant melting pot of different cultures. We need new leadership which reflects that dynamism and vitality. We need a…” – Mike Gapes, Progress
Eyes down under
“When Julia Gillard’s family emigrated to Australia from South Wales in 1966, little did they dream that their daughter would make history as the country’s first female prime minister. Yesterday, after her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, was unceremoniously dumped by his own party, Ms Gillard was sworn in – appropriately enough by the nation’s first female Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.” – The Independent
Labour Uncut has seen an unpublished list of MPs who failed to vote in yesterday’s select committee elections.
There were 25 non-voters, one of whom was leadership candidate Diane Abbott. Turnout in the election was 90%.
In the you-scratch-my-back world of the PLP, not voting in this secret ballot was a tactical mistake by Abbott, who was in the House of Commons during the voting hours of 10am till 5pm. (more…)