Sunday News Review

Cameron tells activists to hold back

The Prime Minister called off a planned campaigning push in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election in order to boost Liberal Democrat chances, this newspaper can reveal. Mr Cameron secretly instructed activists not to undertake a major leafleting drive because of fears the party could do so badly in the by-election next month it could destabilise Mr Clegg. As support appears to drain away from the Lib Dems, two of the party’s prominent backers – Bella Freud, the fashion designer, and Kate Mosse, the author – told The Sunday Telegraph they were no longer supporting it. The embarrassment comes days after Colin Firth, the actor, announced that he was leaving the party. On Saturday a senior Liberal Democrat councillor put the coalition under fresh strain by calling two senior Tory ministers “Laurel and Hardy”. – The Telegraph

The big overnight Old & Sad story is a report from Melissa Kite in the Sunday Telegraph saying that David Cameron personally asked party activists in the seat not to campaign too hard in order to help his coalition partner, the Lib Dems. As can be seen from the general election above the constituency is very much a three-way marginal that was won by Phil Woolas on less than a third of votes cast only 103 ahead of Elwyn Wilkins – the man who was to take the former Labour immigration minister to court. But the Tories were not that far behind and must have been in with a fair chance had they mounted a robust campaign – a move that could have had big consequences for the coalition. Cameron has apparently decided that beating Labour is the key objective and his statements on Friday are just about as far as he can go in suggesting that his party’s supporters should vote tactically. – PoliticalBetting

No more “coalition”

Ed Miliband has banned the shadow cabinet from using the word “coalition” to describe the government because it sounds too moderate and reasonable, and fails to convey what he says is its true “ideological, rightwing agenda”. In a memo to his front-bench team, obtained by the Observer, the Labourleader’s director of policy, Greg Beales, says that from now on they must use the term “Conservative-led government” to describe the alliance of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. “This is not a partnership and it is not a centre-ground coalition,” the memo says. “To highlight this, we are changing how we talk about the government. It is wrong to talk about their policies as coalition policies when so many are right-wing Conservative ideas.” – The Observer

Lib Dems continue poll decline

LABOUR have kept their lead over the Tories as the Lib Dems slumped to a new low, our exclusive poll shows today. The ComRes/Sunday Mirror survey puts Labour down one point at 39 per cent, ahead of the Tories who are up one point at 37 per cent. Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems also dropped one point to just 11 per cent – their lowest rating since the start of the ComRes poll in 2004. The Lib Dems have now lost more than half of the people who voted for them in May. The findings follow a week of bad news for the Government, which saw the jobless total rise by 35,000 to 2.5m and the cost of basic goods soar in the shops by 4.7pc. But it got even worse for Mr Clegg. Almost half of those quizzed did not believe he was doing a good job as leader after he failed to unite Lib Dem MPs over tuition fees. Just over one in four supporters thought he was doing well. – The Mirror

David leaves the door open

Aside from his constituency work in South Shields and his desire to stay in touch with foreign policy, what will he do with his time? For the merest moment, he looks confused. “Once you take away good dad, good husband, good politician…” Well, what about books and films? What is he reading? “I’m reading an incredibly frightening murder mystery by someone called Longbow or Legbow.” Does he mean The Snowman by the Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø? “Yes! That’s it. And someone gave me Jonathan Franzen’s book, so that’s nice. We downloaded a film the other day. Now, what was it? ProbablyPeppa Pig or something. Ah. I know. It was an episode of Mad Men. Bit out of date. Sorry. But we’re catching up.” There is something slightly forlorn about this wild clutching at cultural straws. My strong feeling is that the drama that began last spring, when Ed Miliband so dramatically entered the race for the Labour leadership, is not over yet. There will be a second act. David, of course, won’t comment. But nor, in spite of my best efforts, can he be persuaded to rule himself out. “I don’t want to think about being an ex-something,” he says. “I’d much rather think about being a future something.” – The Observer

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