Friday News Review

Spending Review

When Mr Osborne moved into No 11 in May, he could plausibly argue that the UK and its major trading partners were through the worst of the slump and on a straight road to recovery. Couple that with the panic over European government debt, and coalition ministers had (in their eyes) sufficient grounds to argue that they needed a serious plan to tackle government borrowing – and needed it now. Both parts of that argument no longer look so solid. The undoubtedly real alarm over government debt that gripped international markets this spring has eased. And besides, the truth is that the UK – a major economy with a good credit history, whose deficit is largely financed by domestic investors – was never in the same boat as Greece or Iceland. Meanwhile, the economic outlook has become considerably bleaker. – The Guardian

The government wants to eliminate the UK’s budget deficit – which currently stands at 10 per cent of GDP – by 2015. To that end, the coalition has decided to slash £83bn from its budget, with cuts to government departments of up to 25 per cent expected. On October 20, Chancellor George Osborne will deliver his comprehensive spending review, which will reveal where the axe will fall. But how bad could it be… – The First Post

Britain’s economy is still in “grave danger” of collapse, Ken Clarke warned yesterday. The Justice Minister also said Wednesday’s spending review will be “the most dramatic in living memory”. He added: “We’re in grave danger of financial collapse. We’re not out of the woods yet.” Mr Clarke, speaking in Derbyshire, said the debt crisis was unprecedented and people must brace themselves for tough economic times. His comments put him at odds with the Prime Minister who said two weeks ago the economy was “out of danger”. – The Mirror

Team Ed

A leader’s back-room team is as important, and sometimes as famous, as his front-line personnel. Alastair Campbell and Philip Gould were indispensable to Tony Blair; Steve Hilton and Andy Coulson are closer to David Cameron than most cabinet ministers. Among the most senior members of Mr Miliband’s kitchen cabinet is Stewart Wood, an academic and aide to Mr Brown who advises on policy and media strategy. Greg Beales, who also served Mr Brown, helps Mr Miliband with policy and speeches. Gatekeepers include Polly Billington, a former journalist, and Katie Myler, a ministerial adviser when Labour was in office. They are a strikingly young bunch. Mr Miliband owes his leadership in part to grizzled trade-union bosses, but his most ardent supporters have always been youthful idealists who hear echoes of Barack Obama in his talk of “a new generation”. The Tories, who privately think Mr Miliband will have to draft in some more heavyweights before long, are unworried. – The Economist

Good first week

Congratulations to Labour’s new leader Ed Miliband on a brilliant Commons debut at Prime Minister’s Questions! He got under the skin of Dodgy Dave Cameron with sharp, hard questions about the abolition of child benefit that the PM couldn’t – or wouldn’t – answer. Round One to the Leeds lad. The boy done well, confirming the wisdom of our choice. His next big hurdle is the Opposition’s response to Wee Georgie Osborne’s programme of draconian spending cuts unveiled in five days’ time. At least he’s up for the fight. Labour might have lost the election, but it hasn’t lost heart. – The Mirror

MP suspended

An MP has been suspended from the Labour Party after an expenses complaint about him was sent to Scotland Yard, while a former Scottish MP insists she is prepared go to court over a dispute with the Commons authorities. Denis MacShane, the Rotherham MP and former Europe minister, announced he would “co-operate fully” with the Metropolitan Police after John Lyon, the parliamentary standards commissioner, said a complaint he was investigating about the backbencher had been suspended “until the question of possible criminal proceedings has been resolved”. – The Herald

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