Thursday News Review

Ed’s new year message

BRITAIN faces a year of pain as reckless ConDem cuts and tax rises bite, Labour leader Ed Miliband warned today. In a New Year message, he said the full impact of the coalition austerity measures are now about to hit home. He blasted David Cam-eron and Nick Clegg for breaking election promises and being indifferent to the unnecessary pain they are about to inflict.Mr Miliband said: “2011 will be a year of consequen-ces for Britain. Consequences felt by hard-working families all across the country. Consequences of reducing the deficit at an irresponsible pace and scale.” – The Mirror

Ed Miliband is warning Britons to be braced for the pain of deep spending cuts – and accuses Coalition ministers of being callous in how they wield the axe. In his New Year message, the Labour leader denounces the “irresponsible pace and scale” of austerity measures which he says will be felt “by hard-working families”. “Many people feel powerless in the face of these decisions that will affect their lives, families and communities. The political forces in Whitehall which have made these choices appear forbidding and unheeding,” he says. Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, warned that 2011 would be “horrible”, with rising unemployment and cuts to benefits and services. – Independent

2011: Year of social and economic misery

Support for the coalition has now collapsed from 59% to 43%, backing for the Lib Dems from 23% at the general election to 8% in some polls, and Nick Clegg has become one of the most hated men in Britain as his party prepares to pay a savage political price in next May’s elections – and quite possibly in his lifeline electoral reform referendum as well. Given that Brown was still fighting off Blairite cabinet coups last January, this really has been a year of dizzying political change. By the same token, 2011 promises to be a year of social and economic misery, as the coalition’s cuts and the heaviest costs of the bankers’ crisis are loaded on to the poorest under the slogan “we’re all in this together”. Everything from cuts in housing benefit and childcare support for those on low and middle incomes, to the abolition of the educational maintenance allowance and the slashing of basic council services will move from the realm of political debate to real life in the new year. – The Guardian

Polling in Oldham

I’ve just had word that the automated phone pollster, Survation, is carrying out a survey in Oldham East & Saddleworth ahead of the by-election. Survation is not a member of the British Polling Council and I had heard little of it until now. According to its website it carried out polling during the Labour leadership race and I am told it also did a general election exit poll. I don’t know where or when the Old & Sad poll will be published but it’s findings could play a key part in establishing whether the blues or yellows are best placed to challenge Labour. At the general election it was LAB 31.9%: LD 31.6%: CON 26.4%. – PoliticalBetting

AV contest warms up

The referendum on changes to the electoral system is shaping up to be the political event of next year. As it should be. Voting is a serious matter, and no alteration to the established way of doing things should be undertaken lightly or without exhaustive discussion. While not as fundamental a reform as The Independent and other advocates of proportional representation would like, a move to the Alternative Vote system would still be a landmark change for a country that has used first-past-the-post since modern elections began. The battle lines are already being drawn up. Late last month, the “no” campaign introduced its leaders: Margaret Beckett was named president; David Blunkett and Lord Prescott were given supporting roles, along with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, making it a truly crossbench affair. – Independent

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