Sunday News Review

A new consensus politics?

Ed Balls, the shadow home secretary, used an interview with The Sunday Telegraph to signal that Labour was ready to abandon its support for the current 28-day regime, introduced by the party when in government. In the party’s most significant move away from the Blair-Brown era, which led to Britain imposing some of the harshest anti-terror laws in any Western democracy, Mr Balls also said Labour was prepared to consider alternatives to control orders. Mr Balls, in his first newspaper interview since being appointed shadow home secretary, admitted Labour’s policies under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which led to failed attempts to get Parliament to pass laws to permit suspects to be detained without charge for 90 and 42 days, had been a mistake. – Sunday Telegraph

Shadow home secretary Ed Balls said he would support Government plans to reduce the current limit from 28 days to 14 providing it did not hinder police and the security services. “Even 42 days was a step too far. Our reputation as a party which protected liberty as well as security suffered as a result,” he said. “Our approach should always be that, if the evidence shows we can go down from 28 days without impeding the police and security services from doing their jobs, then we ought to do it.” Home Secretary Theresa May announced a review of counter-terror legislation in July in which she backed a 14-day limit, a move supported by the Liberal Democrats. Mr Ball’s admission opens the way for a cross-party consensus. – Sky News

Mandelson vs Miliband

Peter Mandelson has added to the growing pressure on Ed Miliband, claiming the Labour leader had insulted him by saying he should be ‘packed off to an old folk’s home’. In a new war of words between the two men, Lord Mandelson suggested Mr Miliband was devious and had secretly plotted against Tony Blair. And he contemptuously dismissed him, saying he had ‘never seriously thought of him’ as a leader. His scathing comments follow a growing revolt against Mr Miliband from both sides of the Labour Party. Blairite figures such as Lord Mandelson, who backed Mr Miliband’s older brother David in the leadership contest, have launched a new bid to stop the Left-winger’s attempt to bury Tony Blair’s New Labour. – Mail on Sunday

Lib Dem meltdown

Business Secretary Vince Cable has denied breaking promises on university fees, insisting the Lib Dems’ pledge to oppose any rise was not binding. Signing such a pledge on fees before the election might have been the wrong “political judgment”, he acknowledged. But Mr Cable told BBC1’s Politics Show coalition plans to lift the ceiling on tuition fees to £9,000 did not indicate his party was untrustworthy. Labour has attacked the Lib Dem U-turn, which provoked angry student protests. – BBC News

The Liberal Democrats are to adopt a new strategy of laying claim to aspects of coalition policy in an attempt to reverse the impact of government spending cuts on their poll ratings. In a significant U-turn from the pledge to “own” the entire government programme, Lib Dem strategists at the party’s Cowley Street HQ will spell out where key reforms would not have happened if the Tories had been in power alone. This includes taking the credit for significant areas of policy covering welfare, energy, housing, and constitutional reform. Party managers are confident that careful management of announcements, pointing to Lib Dem “wins” without criticising the Tories, will ensure a strong record on which to campaign at the next election. – Independent on Sunday

More than half of those interviewed (56 per cent) slammed the cuts as “unfair”. And an overwhelming 65 per cent said they would be worse off, the Sunday Mirror/ComRes survey found. Just 32 per cent thought the Government was slashing spending in a way that was fair to all sections of society. And 51 per cent disagreed with the statement that the coalition was making sure the most vulnerable were protected. The findings will shatter George Osborne’s claim that “we’re all in this together” over the £80bn cuts unveiled last month.
The growing resentment meant Labour maintained its lead over the Tories. Our poll found 38 per cent would vote Labour, 37 per cent Tory and just 13 per cent Lib Dem – down three points on a month earlier. – Sunday Mirror

Anyone for tennis?

With an ornate candelabra hanging from the elaborately-carved ceiling and walls adorned with the finest 18th Century art, it is hardly the most conventional setting – let alone the safest – for a quick game of tennis. But David Cameron may have made history last week after challenging British number one Andy Murray to an impromptu match in Downing Street’s elegant State Dining Room. The wood-panelled room, designed by Sir John Soane in 1825, has hosted the political dinners of Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher as they thrashed out matters of state. But in what must have been the room’s most unusual battle of wills to date, keen tennis player Mr Cameron ordered the room to be cleared of furniture so he could have a knock-around with a bemused Murray. – Mail on Sunday

23-year-old Murray revealed: “I was scared. I didn’t want to break anything. Honestly, he was hitting the ball really, really hard at me and I’d no idea if everything in there is really expensive or what. There was a chandelier above where the table would normally be and a few of the balls were dangerously close to that. I was more scared than embarrassed, I think.” – Scotland on Sunday

Tennis for Cameron, but no sport for the kids

A battle is raging at the heart of government over a decision by the education secretary, Michael Gove, to slash £162m of sports funding in English schools as the country prepares for the 2012 Olympics and bids for the 2018 World Cup. The Observer has learned that fears about sports provision being cut back dramatically in the state sector have been voiced in cabinet by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, and the health secretary, Andrew Lansley. England World Cup goalkeeper David James says: “David Cameron plans to jet off to Zurich to support England’s World Cup bid when his government is about to cut off all funds to the country’s school sports partnerships from next spring.” – Observer

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