Tuesday News Review

Ed blasts Cam

David Cameron today joined the long line of British prime ministers who go to European summits and return, like Roman generals, to declare a historic triumph. It’s just that there is always a suspicious absence of gold, bejewelled elephants, or slaves to crucify along the roadside. In fact we’ve only got his word for it. Mr Cameron adopted a more aggressive tone than his predecessors. The demand for a 6% rise in EU spending was “frankly outrageous” he said, before claiming that thanks to his negotiating skills and crafty alliances, he had made sure the increase was limited to 2.9% or even stalled for a year. This was, Ed Miliband said in one of his rare references to his Jewish roots, “chutzpah” – of a kind his grandmother would have admired. The Labour leader, after some flabby performances, was on sparkly form. The prime minister, he said, was stuck between his old friends and his new friends on the frontbenches. “I want to say to him, very sincerely, we are here to help.” He said this rather in the manner of Michael Howard’s old TV catchphrase: “I’m not going to hurt you.” It sends a shudder down the backbone, like trick or treating children when you’ve just given away the last funsize Snickers. – The Guardian

Ed Miliband tore into David Cameron yesterday over the Prime Minister’s humiliating U-turn on the EU budget. The PM had promised to fight for a freeze but ended up agreeing a 2.9% rise that will cost £430million. Mr Miliband said: “You wished you could say no, no, no, but it’s a bit more like no, oh go on, have your 2.9%.”Mr Cameron claimed he had succeeded in getting a dozen countries to oppose a 6% rise, but ducked a call to guarantee that the bigger increase would not happen. The Tory leader was even heckled by members of his own party. Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell said: “Is it possible for you to give your country the referendum which was promised?” – The Mirror

Labour poll lead

Labour has moved ahead of the Conservatives after the public spending cuts announced last month, according to a ComRes poll for The Independent. It is the first time that ComRes has shown Labour in the lead since September 2007, when Gordon Brown was on the brink of calling a general election months after succeeding Tony Blair as Prime Minister. The new survey puts Labour on 37 per cent, up three points since a ComRes survey for The Independent on Sunday two weeks ago, just before the Chancellor, George Osborne, unveiled his spending review. The Tories have dropped five points to 35 per cent, while the Liberal Democrats are on 16 per cent (up two points) and other parties on 12 per cent (no change). The figures suggest that the deep spending cuts confirmed by the Chancellor are harming the Tories directly. Until now, the prospect of cuts appears to have hurt their Lib Dem partners, whose poll ratings have slumped from the 23 per cent share of the vote they won at the May election. In contrast, the Tories retained their lead over Labour – until now. – The Independent

LABOUR has a slight lead over the Tories in a newly published survey of British voting intentions for Westminster. An online survey of 2,015 British adults, taken at the end of October, showed that 37 per cent of those interviewed said they would back Labour in the next general election. However, Ed Miliband’s party’s support was down 1 percentage point from a survey held a month before, according to the Angus Reid public opinion poll. The latest poll also showed the Tories in second place with 35 per cent – the same level as September – while their coalition partners the Lib Dems polled 15 per cent, down from 14 per cent. – The Scotsman

Gordon makes first speech as backbencher

By coincidence, Gordon Brown returned to Westminster debate with a late-night speech to promote employment in his Fife constituency on the same day that Margaret Thatcher, who left Downing Street 20 years ago this month, went home from hospital. Life after No 10 can be tough on former prime ministers. Roy Jenkins, who failed to get to the very top, admitted in his memoirs that he would have liked to have done so, but immediately added that he had lived a happier old age than most who succeeded. It is too early to judge Tony Blair‘s retirement, let alone Brown’s, whose declared austerity in pursuit of good causes is modelled more on Jimmy Carter than on Blair’s high maintenance lifestyle. The former US president – now 86 and, like Brown, a better man than a politician – is still championing peace and the poor 30 years after his defeat by the wily Ronald Reagan. – The Guardian

The House was packed. When he rose to deliver his five-minute speech he was greeted by cheers from Labour MPs and jeers from the Coalition side. He acknowledged the “above average attendance” in the House. He hasn’t lose his sense of humour, then. Gordon was surrounded by his cronies – the Scottish Labour MPs from his back yard of Fife and thereabouts – and, to be fair, he made a passionate speech. The subject was “Options for maintenace of Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers” and the debate was staged by Gordon’s parliamentary next door neighbour, Thomas Docherty, an impressive new boy who ousted a Lib-Dem by-election winner. And as you’d expect, the former Prime Minister made a strong case for the Rosyth dockyard on the edge of his Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency. – Sky

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