Archive for October, 2010


26/10/2010, 04:30:28 PM

by Chris Bryant

One arm stretched out behind my head, dipped back,
I push the other through the water’s swirl
And past my thigh before the next attack,
Propelling me, with languorous aqueous grace
I could not possibly repeat at pace.
The rhythm of the stroke, as lengths unfurl,
Calms down my daily work obsessions,
Inspires free-style inquisitive reflections,
About what happens when we all cut back.
Above me, on the polycarb’nate roof
A single leaf is twisting in the gale.
Each time I pass beneath, it spins above
And chases some imaginary tail.
When I return next week, will it be there?
And will the baths be open in a year?

Chris Bryant is Labour MP for Rhondda and a shadow justice minister.

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There’s no excuse for cuts. Public spending is the solution.

26/10/2010, 02:00:06 PM

by Katy Clark

Public spending is the way to overcome the economic mess that bankers’ greed created. In an extensive report, Dave Hall of Greenwich university business school nails the lie that cuts are inevitable. The fair way out of this crisis is to restore sustained economic growth. The empirical evidence contained within Dave Hall’s report, Why we Need Public Spending, provides the weapons that our movement needs to win the battle of ideas. There are no economic justifications for these cuts.

During the last Parliament, I voted against our government when it introduced legislation to cut the deficit in half by 2010. I was not willing to vote for such massive cuts and thought that having a fixed timetable was far too rigid, took no account of what future economic challenges we might face and was largely silent on growth. I was blissfully unaware that a debate supporting my concerns was taking place around the cabinet table. Ed Balls was leading the charge against setting a timetable while also arguing that we needed to prioritise policies that deliver growth.

He was right to do so. If history has taught anything, it is that you don’t cut public expenditure during a period of sluggish growth. We need look no further than the Republic of Ireland to see this. During the last two years, a series of emergency budgets have been introduced to supposedly combat the effects of the economic crisis. They each brought additional cuts that went further and further into the bone. Yet, their economy is once again on the brink of recession, having contracted during the last quarter. The real spectre haunting us is the possibility of a decade-long depression and a return to the disastrous economic failures of the 1930s. (more…)

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PLP elections today: Parliamentary committee and select committees

26/10/2010, 11:15:29 AM

From: O’DONOVAN, Martin
Sent: 25 October 2010 17:17
Subject: PLP elections – CLOSE OF NOMINATIONS

FAO Labour MPs

At 5pm this evening nominations closed ahead of tomorrow’s PLP elections.

We now move to ballot to fill the following vacancies:

(i) PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE – SIX VACANCIES (please note only backbench MPs can vote in this contest)
Please note you must vote for at least two women
CANDIDATES: John Cryer, Nic Dakin, Geraint Davies, Clive Efford, Bill Esterton, Sheila Gilmore, Kate Green, Steve McCabe, Siobhain McDonagh, Jim Sheridan, Valerie Vaz

(ii) FOREIGN AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE – ONE VACANCY (all Labour MPs may vote in this contest)
CANDIDATES: Bob Ainsworth, Jeremy Corbyn, Fabian Hamilton, Mark Hendrick, Yasmin Qureshi

CANDIDATES: Michael McCann, Alison McGovern, Pamela Nash

(iv) NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY – FOUR REMAINING VACANCIES (all Labour MPs may vote in this contest)
Please note – Madeleine Moon has been elected as there is not a contest to fill the two vacancies for women members
CANDIDATES: Hugh Bayley, David Crausby, Mike Gapes, Jim Hood, Ian Murray, John Robertson

(v) OSCE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY – TWO REMAINING VACANCIES (all Labour MPs may vote in this contest)
Please note Linda Riordan has been elected as there is not a contest to fill the vacancy for women members
CANDIDATES: Tony Lloyd, Dai Havard, Nick Smith, Linda Riordan, Mark Hendrick

The ballot will run from 10am to 5pm tomorrow in the PLP Office, West Cloister.

Please note the following colleagues have been elected unopposed to fill the following vacancies:

BIS – Gregg McClymont, Paul Blomfield, Ian Murray, Katy Clark
CLG – Simon Danczuk, David Heyes
Defence – Thomas Docherty, Dai Havard, Sandra Osborne
Education – Bill Esterton
DECC – Barry Gardiner, Ian Lavery
Health – Yvonne Fovargue
Northern Ireland – Kate Hoey
Transport – Julie Hilling, Gavin Shuker
Work and Pensions – Teresa Pearce, Alex Cunningham, Glenda Jackson
Finance and Services – Clive Betts
Public Accounts – Stella Creasy
Public Administration – Lindsay Roy

Council of Europe – Paul Flynn, Geraint Davies, Alan Meale, Jim Hood, Virendra Sharma, Jim Sheridan, Joe Benton, Sandra Osborne, Ann Coffey, Yasmin Qureshi, Michael Connarty, Jim Dobbin

House of Commons Commission – Frank Doran

We still have the following vacancies. Frontbench colleagues will be asked to remain on these Committees until such time as we elect a successor.

Political and Constitutional (2)
Science and Technology
Welsh Affairs (2)
Environmental Audit
Human Rights
Public Administration (2)
Finance and Services

Martin O’Donovan
Director of Unit and PLP Secretary

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PMQs is no playground. Parliament matters.

26/10/2010, 09:50:47 AM

by Dan Hodges

Does the House of Commons matter? Not the institution per se. Temple of democracy or den of inequity? On that you pays your money, or Stephen Byers’ cab fare, and takes your choice.

The chamber itself. Amphitheatre. Cockpit. Arena of the absurd.

There is a fashionable perception that Parliament, in all its forms, is now an irrelevance. Purists bemoan the callow tenor of its discourse. Modernists its arcane, anachronistic traditions. The right sees a shell, gutted by the faceless bureaucrats of Brussels. The left an inflexible monument to establishment orthodoxy.

In a way, all are right. And all wrong. What happens in the Commons chamber changes nothing. But it influences everything.

Take last week’s CSR. One of the more widely covered political showpieces of recent years. Wall to wall live coverage on the TV news channels. Six, seven, eight pages cleared in the national broadsheets. Not a Chilean miner in sight. (more…)

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Tuesday News Review

26/10/2010, 08:04:57 AM

Labour take poll lead

David Cameron has been braced for a reaction to his and George Osborne’s austerity measures. The Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review has, it seems, provided the impetus for Ed Miliband’s party to inch ahead of the Tories. According to a new Populus poll, Labour was one point ahead of the Conservatives on 38 per cent, a rise of one point since September. The Tories have seen their ratings fall two points to 37 per cent in a month. The survey, for The Times, provided an early boost for Labour’s new leader. – The Telegraph

The latest Populus poll is only the third national voting intention survey from the firm to be published since the general election and gives a slightly different picture although well within the margin or error on all three party shares. This is the first time that Labour has been in the lead with the firm since November 2007 and that will surely cheer the Ed Miliband camp. Broadly all three parties are in the same sort of areas with both pollsters who operate in very similar manners. In May the two firms finished with the same ranking of second equal in the polling accuracy table. – Political Betting


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Assistant met police commissioner John Yates tells Tom Watson MP to get lost

25/10/2010, 03:57:28 PM

Letter to Tom Watson_22 10 10

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Liverpool FC and Man Utd: the fans’ next step

25/10/2010, 12:00:49 PM

by Jonathan Todd and Alison McGovern

Blood, sweat and tears have spilt recently in Liverpool. Too much by supporters anguished at the financial plight of a great institution and the grim reality of listless defeat at Goodison Park; more by millionaires who gained control of this institution than by the millionaires responsible for this loss.

The illusion that Liverpool FC would emerge fighting fit from the Tom Hicks and George Gillett era was shattered by Everton. While the reds battled to victory against Blackburn yesterday, much needs to improve. But it isn’t only on the pitch that the lessons of recent years need to be learnt.

The promise of New England sports ventures (NESV), the new owners, to listen to supporters is welcome. Talk, however, is cheap. Fans have been left jaded after previous commitments have been reneged upon.

Now this promise should be backed up by institutional reform. This should mean, at least, a fan on the board. More ambitiously, this might mean taking up Rogan Taylor’s proposal that NESV look towards fans holding a significant minority of shares in the club; perhaps, as much as 25 percent. While the dream of full mutualisation and Liverpool FC being owned and run such that it embeds Scouse pride in a similar way to the fan-owned FC Barcelona in Catalonia may be distant, this proposal would have radical consequences. (more…)

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John Woodcock finds glimmers of hope amid the grey

25/10/2010, 09:00:00 AM

And so we charge on into the new landscape. It is cold and bleak. And it is dominated by the comprehensive spending review.

While I am not as pessimistic as some Uncut contributors (you, Dan Hodges) about how the announcement played out last week, we shouldn’t for a moment think it was a good week for the Labour party, or, more importantly, for the country.

Even accounting for a little slanting of questions and selective reporting of the answers, the YouGov poll in last week’s Sun was sobering. Taken after the CSR announcement, it suggested that 47 per cent of respondents blamed the last Labour government for the programme of cuts compared to 17 per cent who blamed the Tory-Lib Dem coalition that is making them, and 20 per cent who cast a plague on both our houses. Sure, respondents didn’t get the option to blame the bankers – but even accounting for that bias, the figures suggest that the Tory message machine is having some considerable success. (more…)

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Monday News Review

25/10/2010, 08:19:33 AM

Leaders pitch to business

Ed Miliband and David Cameron will trade blows at the Confederation for British Industry (CBI) today, as both men make their pitch to the country’s business leaders. Mr Miliband will argue that the Tories have failed to understand the lessons of the financial crisis and are devoid of plans to stimulate growth in the economy. The crisis has led to realisation among Labour figures that government must support enterprise more robustly, Mr Miliband will admit. “Without profound change in the way we manage our economy, we are at risk of, at best, sleepwalking back to an economy riddled with the same risks as we saw before the recession hit,” he will say. “The way to support business and ensure a return to prosperity is to tackle these risks, not ignore them.” Mr Cameron will use his speech to promise a tougher competition regime to help small companies break into existing markets and the creation of ‘technology innovation centres’ so British companies can be at the forefront of innovation. –

THE GOVERNMENT should take a more active role in the private sector, Ed Miliband will say today, as he warns against returning to “business as usual” in the wake of the slump. Speaking at the CBI’s annual conference, Miliband will argue that government should not shy away from pursuing a policy of industrial interventionism. “What it means to be pro-business in the 2010s is different to what it meant in the 1990s. It means more than just getting out of the way,” he is expected to say. “Government should not be afraid to provide support to business that the market will not offer. That is the way to rebalance our economy.” Miliband will also claim the government has become obsessed with spending cuts at the expense of an economic strategy, a charge the Prime Minister will try to deflect with a series of pro-growth announcements to day. – City AM

Nobel Prize-winner questions Osborne

There are particular concerns about where the private sector jobs will come from for the 490,000 public-sector workers who are expected to lose their jobs. The chancellor, George Osborne, was yesterday accused by Britain’s new Nobel Prize-winning economist, Christopher Pissarides, of exaggerating the risk of a Greek-style economic crisis affecting the UK economy. In an article for the Sunday Mirror, the professor warned that Osborne’s swingeing cuts package was taking “unnecessary risks” with the economy. “It is important to avoid this ‘sovereign risk’. But in my view Britain is a long way from such a threat, and the chancellor has exaggerated the sovereign risks threatening the country. Unemployment is high and job vacancies few. By taking the action that the chancellor outlined in his statement, this situation might well become worse.” – The Guardian


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The week Uncut: supping with Banquo’s ghost

24/10/2010, 02:00:38 PM

This was the week David Cameron and Ed Miliband supped with Banquo’s ghost. Savage Tory cuts cheered by gleeful knights of the shire. Labour’s metropolitan factionalism dragging it to electoral defeat. One nation Conservatives professing shame at the callousness of their party. Ineffectual shadow ministers unable to capitalise. Margaret Thatcher and Ken Livingstone united in one final danse macabre.

Cameron was first to feel the icy touch. As the blade fell, the baying of the mob echoed around Westminster. And beyond. The coalition was blooded. Jobs, homes and benefits lost beneath Osborne’s cold steel. Innocence and optimism too. Cameron and Clegg had once yearned for a new politics. It was savage awakening.

Then, amid the waving arms and fluttering order papers, the prime minister noticed her. A woman. Elegant. With stately bearing. She smiled. A hard smile. And was gone.

Labour’s young leader was next to notice a stillness in the air. But not before being forced to watch the flower of a new generation cut down before him. Wave after wave of Labour MP’s hurled themselves ineffectually across the commons chamber. And as each new charge was repulsed, the Bullingdon butchers taunted: “We are the masters now”.

It was not over. A tortured sleep interrupted. More cruel tidings. The citadel of Tower Hamlets breached. Treachery suspected.

Again, the vision was fleeting. An elderly figure, slightly stooped. But with eyes that still burned. One hand resting on an old walking stick. The other clenched in defiance. Then he too had vanished.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband are similar in many ways. Anointed ahead of their time, they have a mandate, and an imperative, to break with the past. Yet this week history out-ran them both.

Cameron can afford the cuts. Indeed, they form a key part of his narrative. A nation united in hardship. A coalition united in leadership.

But his chancellor’s blade cut that narrative in two. Doing hard, dirty work is one thing. Whistling while you do so is something else. This was not the politics of the big society. This was the politics of those who once told us society had ceased to exist.

Ed Miliband was also slammed back into the future. Fiscally, the CSR took us back to the mid-70s. But the Tower Hamlets debacle was pure 80s. A local party riven by divisions. A flagship Labour council seized by political extremists. The leadership of the party seemingly paralysed and impotent.

There though, the equity in the parallel ends. Because history is written by the victors. And we are the vanquished. As it was in the eighties, so it is now.

Images of Tories cheering cuts are toxic for Cameron. But images of extremism, division and indiscipline are potentially terminal for Labour. The issues in Tower Hamlets may seem a quarrel in a far-away borough between people of whom we know little. But couple them with the broader challenges we face, and they represent a real danger to Labour’s future electoral success.

This week both David Cameron and Ed Miliband were haunted by visions from the past. It’s Ed who should feel most afraid.

Here are half a dozen of Uncut’s best-read pieces of the week.

Siôn Simon says the Labour right needs a new leader

David Prescott says Ken must go

Tom Watson says goodbye to Walworth Road

Nick Keehan on an alternative to the Tories’ seedy foreign policy

Kevin Meagher says it’s wrong to hate Margaret Thatcher

Dan Hodges says the CSR was a disaster for Labour

Jessica Asato on the Tower Hamlets debacle

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