Wednesday News Review

Liberal dilemma

Nick Clegg struggles with his new found unpopularity

Having won the leadership from the statist Labour left, Mili the Younger would have no option but to strike a hard bargain with the defenders of spending cuts that may, should the recent economic growth be sustained, have come to look a touch draconian. The studiedly centrist David, a stalwart of the Blairite bunker when a permanent “progressive realignment” with the Lib Dems (“the project”) was all the rage, makes a far more natural and amenable partner. With him as Labour leader, Mr Clegg would be a happy self-auctioneer, confident of repeating May’s trick by using Mili the Elder to force Mr Cameron to pay a steeper price than he would wish. – The Independent

Labour is to vote against legislation paving the way for a referendum on reforming the voting system. The shadow cabinet decided to oppose the Government’s Bill because it also includes provisions for equalising the size of constituencies. The move sets the stage for a major test of the coalition, with Labour MPs lining up alongside rebel Tories in a bid to derail the proposals. The commitment to a referendum on switching to Alternative Vote was a key concession obtained by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg as part of his deal with David Cameron. – Press Association


The future

If any of the candidates gets Labour’s need to reconnect with the middle class majority, it is David Miliband. He alone understands how far to the left the party has shifted since the departure of Blair, a man who said he didn’t want David Beckham to earn less money – and meant it, who shared Michael Gove’s zeal for education reform and Iain Duncan Smith’s ambition to shrink the welfare state. I suspect that when the second preference votes are counted, it is younger brother Ed who could emerge victorious. That would make an early exit from the wilderness much less likely. – City AM

Persuading members that victory next time isn’t assured must be the priority of whichever Milibrother wins the Labour leadership on September 25. Ed Balls fights a great campaign and Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott go down well on the hustings. But I reckon elder brother David will pip Ed Miliband, not least because he’ll scoop a lot of Balls’ and Burnham’s second preferences in the balloting system. That’s when the serious work begins. – The Mirror

Ed fights the good fight

Ed Balls remains committed to the leadership contest

With everyone from Mrs Duffy to his so-called “union mates” at Unite cruelly turning their backs on him in recent days, embattled Labour leadership contender Ed Balls would be forgiven for feeling a tad sorry for himself. Well, not a bit of it thank you very much! Indeed, clearly in contemplative mood, Balls now sees fit to movingly quote one George Eliot – albeit inaccurately – to sum up the task before him. “Only cowards fight fights that they know they are going to win,” the misty-eyed politician proclaims. “But it takes courage to fight a fight you might lose.” A courageous man indeed. – The Independent

Elsewhere in the Labour Parliamentary jungle … I’m told that Ed Balls’ departure from the leadership race is still “possible” though not imminent. He has a couple of weeks before ballot papers are printed. He has 33 MPs’ nominations. If Ed Balls recommended they shift to David Miliband that could have quite an impact. In total they represent 12 per cent of the MPs’ section of the electoral college which makes 4 per cent of the entire electoral college. There’s no guarantee that all of them would follow any possible Ed Balls recommendation to switch to Brother David but quite a chunk of them could. That would give David Miliband a big bit of momentum – as would a recommendation by Jon Cruddas. – Channel 4 blog

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