Thursday News Review

Panic over: Brown spotted


It was the rare appearance of the not-very-often-spotted glowering Gordon at the weekend which reminded the nation we were not just short of a few bob but a leader of the Labour Party. Gordon Brown, aware of his popularity in certain circles, chose that well known suburb of Kirkcudbright, Uganda, to re-emerge on the public scene. – Channel 4.


Labour is trying to score cheap party-political points. The Opposition wants to exploit potential Tory divisions on the issue, even if it means performing a policy somersault. Jack Straw (who has form, having first promised and then abandoned the EU referendum) sought to justify this shabby volte-face by insisting that it is not AV that Labour opposes but the other half of the Bill, which seeks to cut the number of MPs by 50 and make constituency sizes more equal. With an apparently straight face, Mr Straw claimed that redrawing constituency boundaries was “very, very partisan” and amounted to “gerrymandering”. – The Telegraph.

Straw on AV

A large number of Tory MPs are unhappy about the proposals for constitutional reform. They feel that these have not been thought through and that they could prove to be a second instalment of Blairite recklessness. The referendum on AV (the alternative vote) is the immediate challenge. It will require legislation. Bernard Jenkin and other Tory rebels would be ready to co-operate with the Labour front bench to defeat it. Mr Jenkin has form. In the 1992 parliament, he was one of the Tories who collaborated with Labour to sabotage legislation on the Maastricht treaty. Today’s Labour leadership might conclude the coalition could not survive the death of AV. – Financial Times.

…with Labour now likely to oppose the referendum bill, which also promises to cut the number of lawmakers and make boundary changes to electoral districts, the government could face its first defeat when parliament debates the issue in early September. And most Conservatives will line up against the referendum if a vote does happen. Under the terms of the coalition deal, Mr. Cameron’s party were free to campaign for a “no” vote just as the Liberal Democrats were allowed to abstain on certain issues in parliamentary votes. Mr. Cameron and his party support the current First Past the Post voting system which favors the two biggest parties: the Conservatives and Labour. – Wall Street Journal.

The leadership

“I am proud and honoured to receive the support of so many of Labour’s leaders in local government and grassroots activists. These are the people at the frontline of Labour’s fight against the Tory-Liberal coalition. These are the people we need to engage to rebuild and renew our party if we are to win back power.” – David Miliband,  Carlisle News and Star.

Like the Levellers, the Tolpuddle martyrs or the Jarrow marchers, the Chartists of the 1830s and 1840s are up there among the Labour party’s most venerated secular saints. And rightly so. For the Chartists long ago placed democracy, reform and fairness at the front of the British labour movement’s forward march. –
Martin Kettle,  The Guardian


It was at the Labour party conference in 1999 that Tony Blair announced that by 2010 that 50 per cent of school leavers would be enrolled in higher education. Although the Labour government quietly abandoned that target last year, the latest numbers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills show that they actually came pretty close to meeting it: by 2009, university participation rates among 17- to 30-year-olds had risen to 45 per cent. – Gulf News

And finally…

Celebrities and politicians including Peter Andre, Sarah Brown and David Miliband paid tribute to the World’s oldest tweeter following her death. Ivy Bean, 104, passed away in her sleep last night after being unwell for several weeks.
Leading the online tributes was Mrs Brown, who praised the late silver surfer for her ‘great spirit and sense of humour’. – The Mail.

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