Monday News Review

Ed is back, and ready to fight

Ed Miliband launches his party on “the hard road back to power”, saying it has to move beyond New Labour and commit to changes in policy and organisation as profound as those introduced by Tony Blair in 1994. He also appears to clash with the shadow chancellor, Alan Johnson, by saying a 50p tax rate for those earning more than £150,000 should be permanent, as a way of creating greater equality in Britain. Making the country more equal, he says, is one of the issues that gets him out of bed in the morning. – The Guardian

He disclosed that a commission on Labour’s organisation would be launched at the weekend. It will cover the contentious issue of leadership elections, including the influence of the unions which ensured he beat his brother, David, despite having less support from Labour MPs and members. There is also to be a policy review starting with “a blank page”, although “not in terms of values”. His views on the tax rate appears to contradict Alan Johnson, the Shadow chancellor, who has said previously that Labour “might not see the need for a 50p tax rate in five years’ time”. But Mr Miliband said the tax rate was not simply about cutting the deficit. “It’s about values and fairness and about the kind of society you believe in and it’s important to me.” – The Telegraph

Former Blairites who carp at Ed Miliband’s leadership are like “twitching corpses”, the Labour leader’s former rival, Ed Balls, said yesterday. Mr Miliband is returning to work today, having taken two weeks’ paternity leave after the birth of his second son, Samuel, amid grumbling in Labour ranks that he has not done enough to define what his leadership stands for. There have also been fresh rumours about plots to unseat Gordon Brown before the general election. But this talk was contemptuously dismissed by Mr Balls yesterday. “The papers are full of all of this sort of twitching of the old corpses of the past. Who cares?” he told the BBC. He also defended the Labour leader’s temporary absence from frontline politics. “He is on paternity leave and I think that’s a really good thing. One of the great changes in the last 10, 15 years under the Labour government was things like paternity leave becoming an accepted part of life. But he’s coming back and he’s going to be fighting hard.” – The Independent

What promise?

The Lib Dems and their leader, Nick Clegg, have been savagely criticised by students and supporters for signing up to government plans that will raise the cap on tuition fees from £3,290 to as much as £9,000 per year. Activists are nervous that support for the policy is hitting their party’s already perilous poll ratings. But Dr Cable, who along with Mr Clegg signed an election pledge to abolish fees, is still refusing to admit to a broken promise. He said: “We didn’t break a promise. We made a commitment in our manifesto, and we didn’t win the election. “We then entered into a coalition agreement, and it’s the coalition agreement that is binding upon us and which I’m trying to honour.” The National Union of Students (NUS) reacted bitterly to the Lib Dem decision to back the rise in tuition fees. The student body has vowed to “chase down” Lib Dem MPs who vote in the Commons for the increase in fees. – The Telegraph

Labour went too far with 90 days

Labour went too far in trying to bring in a law allowing terror suspects to be held for up to 90 days without charge, the shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls admitted yesterday. Instead of wanting to increase the length of time prisoners could be held for questioning before a court appearance, Mr Balls indicated that Labour is ready to co-operate with the Government in bringing the limit down to 14 days. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced in June that she had ordered a review of counter-terrorism laws, adding that her personal view was that the limit on detention without charge should be 14 days. Mr Balls’s comments yesterday make it increasingly probable that this will happen, although the review, headed by the former director of public prosecutions and Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, is not yet complete. – The Independent

Expenses trial begins

Elliott Morley, a former environment minister, faces trial today in the first criminal case arising from MPs’ expenses. It is thought to be the first time for several centuries that an MP has faced a criminal trial over his dealings with Parliament. Two other former Labour MPs, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, also faces charges. All three deny theft by false accounting. This month, the Supreme Court dismissed a claim by the three that they are protected by parliamentary privilege and cannot be tried in a criminal court. Mr Morley, 58, MP for Scunthorpe from 1987 to 2005, faces three charges of claiming for a mortgage that had already been paid. Mr Chaytor, 61, a former MP for Bury North, is charged with using false invoices, as is Mr Devine, a former MP for Livingstone. A Conservative peer, Lord Hanningfield, is also to appear on six charges relating to travel expenses. All four will be tried separately. Eric Illsley, who was re-elected Labour MP for Barnsley Central in May, and Tory peer Lord Taylor also face charges over expenses. – The Independent

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