Monday News Review


The Labour party and the unions seized on the 40 per cent figure as proof the Tory-Liberal coalition was about to wage an ideologically-driven war on the public sector. Ed Balls, the Labour leadership contender, said: “These reports will send a chill down the spines of millions of public sector workers and millions of people who rely on our vital public services.” And RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “With cuts of up to 40 per cent in the transport budget we are looking at thousands of job losses amongst the staff who operate and maintain services with dire consequences for passenger safety.” – City AM

Shadow education secretary Ed Balls said the first blow of the axe could fall as early as today with the review of the government’s building schools for the future programme. He claimed rebuilding projects at 750 schools, approved under the former Labour government, were set to be cancelled. Mr Balls, a contender for the Labour leadership, described the government plans for tackling the deficit as “economically unwise and socially deeply, deeply unfair”. “We know from the 1980s and from the 1930s, when we had the Great Depression, that if you try to cut spending and public services really hard and assume that the private sector is going to come along and create lots of new jobs, it doesn’t work out that way,” he said. – Irish Times

Tory Transport Secretary Philip Hammond admitted that if unprotected Whitehall departments faced an average of 25 per cent in cuts then some would have to suffer far more than originally. However, Mark Serwotka, head of the Public and Commercial Services Union, whose 300,000 members include many civil servants, said such cuts could lead to the worst industrial unrest for years. “They will face resistance the like of which we haven’t seen in this country for decades,” he said. – The Scotsman

Electoral Reform

Then the assumption was that the second preferences of Lib Dem voters would split roughly evenly between Labour and Conservatives. Now many left-leaning Lib Dem voters have already deserted the party. Those who remain are broadly well-disposed to the coalition and are more likely to give their second preferences to the Tory candidate. With Labour bashing the Lib Dems at every opportunity, this is only likely to increase. – The Independent

OPINION polls suggest that UK voters may well support AV but many Conservative MPs are sceptical. They regret that Cameron gave in to Clegg’s pleas and they are hoping that they can successfully campaign against the change. There has not been a referendum in the UK since 1975, when voters confirmed membership of what is now the EU, and the outcome of the vote on AV is extremely unpredictable. Nobody knows exactly how AV would change the make-up of the Commons but some experts say that back in 1997 the AV system would have added more than 100 seats to Tony Blair‘s massive election triumph. – Irish Independent


Among other things, Iraq raises the following questions: What does a Labour government do when it is presented with facts that contradict its convictions? How does it respond when most of the country demands that it change course? When have the candidates put their consciences before their careers? What internal democratic mechanisms exist within the Labour party to check the will of a determined leader? How does it deal with dissenters and dissent within its own ranks? How would a Labour government respond when it has clearly made a mistake? – The Guardian

The pitch

All five Labour leadership contenders have backed extra powers for the Welsh assembly as they took questions from party members across Wales. More than 300 members have quizzed Diane Abbott, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, David Miliband and Ed Miliband at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Questions also covered public spending, changing the party and the Middle East. – The BBC

For those on the look-out for the first inklings of a renewal of Labour’s purpose and thinking, the party’s leadership campaign has been hindered, as Tony Wright observes, by a reluctance to accept the scale and nature of the defeat in May. David Miliband’s article in last week’s New Statesman magazine is therefore striking. It represents one of the first attempts by any of the candidates to ponder deeper-lying causes for Labour’s defeat. Miliband stresses that in electoral terms Labour has been all but evicted from the south-east of England, with the big exception of London. – The Guardian

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