Saturday News Review

Luring Lib Dems

Mr Miliband is playing a longer game. He criticised the Iraq war not to embarrass his brother but to send a powerful signal to Liberal Democrat voters. It appears to have worked. A poll of 1,023 people by the PoliticsHome website found that 47 per cent of Liberal Democrat supporters have more respect for Mr Miliband as a result of his remarks about Iraq (as do 48 per cent of Labour voters). He also talked up his credentials on civil liberties and promised to back the alternative vote in next May’s referendum. – The Independent

Lib Dems were also the only group to favour Ed Miliband over his brother David, with 34% of members thinking him the better leadership candidate. The survey will confirm fears in Lib Dem HQ that Ed Miliband represented the most serious threat to the party. By being sympathetic to Liberal views on civil liberties and foreign policy but against the spending cuts being implemented by the Conservatives, the younger Miliband brother can attract Lib Dem supporters alienated by the deficit reduction plan. –

Strike Breaker

Labour’s new leader had kept quiet over next week’s scheduled walkout. But yesterday, in an effort to rid himself of his ‘Red Ed’ tag, he said Mr Cameron’s address should be broadcast in the “interests of impartiality and fairness”. Mr Miliband, voted leader on the back of union support, stopped short of condemning broadcasting union Bectu’s strike plan. He said: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the dispute between Bectu and the BBC, they should not be blacking out the PM’s speech. “My speech was seen and heard on the BBC … so the Prime Minister’s should be.” – The Sun

Gerry Morrissey, the general secretary of Bectu, expressed the union’s “dissatisfaction” with Miliband’s intervention. “As a Labour party affiliate, Bectu places on record its dissatisfaction with Ed Miliband’s statement today. The leader’s intervention is not helpful and is dismissive of our actions as a responsible trade union which has been negotiating with the employer on this issue for three long months,” Morrissey said. Miliband this week sought to allay fears that he would reward affiliated trade unions for backing him in the leadership race in his first keynote speech since being elected Labour leader. – The Guardian

Ed’s Shadow Chancellor

The word is out that Ed Miliband would prefer Yvette for the role. Why? Because Balls’s very public pronouncements against the coalition government’s draconian spending cuts would box Miliband into a corner. He needs wriggle-room, and Balls won’t allow him any.

But what if Yvette was to come top easily? What if her support was to be miles ahead of her husband’s? Would it not be reasonable to make her shadow Chancellor and effective number two?  The answer is, of course, yes. Which is why – according to the Mole’s old lag – the phone lines will be humming this weekend with Ed’s supporters urging a good turnout for Yvette. –

Nightmare for the NHS

In a letter to the health secretary Andrew Lansley, shadow and former health secretary Andy Burnham has backed the British Medical Association’s critical response to the white paper consultation. The letter says: “Your plans are completely unacceptable to us and if you proceed on the basis you have set out, we will launch a major campaign in every community.” – Nursing Times

Mixed Message

As activists gathered for the Tory conference in Birmingham, research by ComRes for the Independent newspaper found the party had marginally extended its advantage since the middle of last month. The Conservatives were up two points on 39%, while Labour’s rating went up one to 36%. The Liberal Democrats were unchanged on 15%. – The Press Association

Labour have a slender lead over the Conservatives as they end their annual conference in Manchester, according to an ICM poll released today. Support for Labour is unchanged at 37 per cent while the Conservative Party has dropped two points and is now on 35 per cent. – The Scotsman

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