Sunday News Review

Electoral reform

“Labour needs a thorough debate about voting reform now that the referendum moment is announced. It would be a mistake for leadership candidates to nail themselves to an alternative vote (AV) or a first-past-the-post (FPTP) mast. AV was spatchcocked into Labour’s manifesto in a desperate last-minute bid to paint some radical hues on to the good ship Gordon Brown. But voters, not unreasonably, asked why it took 13 years for Labour to discover the most timid of all voting reform systems.” – Denis MacShane, The Guardian

“But regardless of what happens on 5 May 2011, it’s clear that one group is already benefitting from the prospect of a referendum: the Labour leadership contenders.  Until now, they’ve been distinguished by their indistinguishability on policy grounds.  But, now, their different positions on AV have gifted the Labour faithful something, however small, to choose between.  David and Ed Miliband have said that they would campaign for a yes vote; Diane Abbot says she would like to see it implemented; Andy Burnham is vigorously opposing it; and Ed Balls has pitched himself somewhere in the middle.  It’s one of the clearest, most wide-ranging distinctions we’ve seen so far.” – The Spectator

David and Iraq

“I suspect that David Miliband, who – unlike the two Eds – had a vote in 2003, still agonises over Iraq. Nor, with the Chilcot inquiry reconvened, and the war raised at every hustings and meeting, can it easily be consigned to history. “I’ve done Chilcot. I’ve said if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have [backed] it.” Is he saying the war should never have been fought? “The way I put it is that if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn’t have been a war. I’ve set out that if we knew there were no WMD, there would have been no UN resolutions and no war.”” – The Telegraph

Policy posturing

“So is Scottish Labour more likely to back Ed or David? What is each brother’s vision for Scotland and its relationship with the rest of the UK? On the surface, it can seem as if they have adopted the same approach. They have pledged more autonomy for the Scottish party. Of the two, Ed has been the more vocal on this but, crucially, neither has really articulated what more autonomy” would mean or what it would look like.” – The Scotsman

“A LEADING candidate for the Labour leadership has ruled out backing a change to the way Wales is funded – saying people here already get too much in benefits. Shadow Children’s Secretary Ed Balls, a former chief economic adviser to Gordon Brown, told Wales on Sunday the controversial Barnett Formula was not unfair despite experts saying it robs Wales of £300m a year. A high proportion of people in Wales already received benefits and tax credits, he claimed.” – Wales on Sunday

“Roundly condemned by the two Eds – Balls and Miliband – and Miliband senior, Duncan Smith’s blundering version of Norman Tebbit’s “On yer bike” strategy has at least injected some verve into a lacklustre Labour leadership campaign. If I thought he was capable of it, I’d suspect it was an IDS plot to give Ed Balls much-needed publicity. But the former Tory leader is the “Quiet Man” with a great deal to be quiet about. He talks about “old coal mines and things” as if the industries Margaret Thatcher shut down were a quaint part of social history.” – Tribune

“SOUTH Shields MP David Miliband has called for England’s education system to be revamped, saying teenagers are “over-tested”. The Labour leadership candidate questioned whether GCSEs are still relevant qualifications when pupils are staying in school until the age of 18.” – The Shields Gazette

“Labour leadership contender and shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said the coalition’s decision was based on the “short-sightedness” of a Tory party which was against state intervention and Mr Huhne’s opposition to nuclear. Energy secretary Chris Huhne denied allegations his “prejudices” against nuclear energy contributed to the cancellation of the £80m loan. He insisted the loan was “simply unaffordable”.” – North West Evening Mail

Community backs David Miliband

“A TRADE union which was the only one to back Tony Blair for the Labour leadership in 1994 has come out in support of David Miliband. The Community Union, which represents steel, textiles, footwear, betting shop and disabled workers, wants the MP for South Shields to take over the party. General secretary Michael Leahy said: “It is my belief that, of all the candidates, David has the gravitas, the dignity and the commitment to the issues that will make him a successful leader.” – The Daily Star

“The only trade union to endorse Tony Blair for the Labour leadership in 1994 has come out in support of David Miliband. The Community Union, which represents steel, textiles, footwear, betting shop workers and blind and disabled workers, said it was backing the shadow foreign secretary to be the next Labour leader.” – Press Association

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