Wednesday News Review

Huhne gets cross as ‘No’ lead grows

The fractious Coalition split over voting reform led to a Cabinet confrontation yesterday when the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary attacked David Cameron and George Osborne over the tactics being used by the ‘No’ campaign. The fractious Coalition split over voting reform led to a Cabinet confrontation yesterday when the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary attacked David Cameron and George Osborne over the tactics being used by the ‘No’ campaign. Chris Huhne expressed his anger with the Prime Minister and Chancellor over claims made by the ‘No’ campaign in leaflets published ahead of this Thursday’s referendum on whether to adopt the Alternative Vote system. Some sources described a “bit of a bust up” as the Energy secretary “went for” Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne. The Daily Telegraph understands that Mr Huhne waved the ‘No to AV’ leaflets at the pair at the beginning of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting in Downing Street and protested about their content. One Liberal Democrat source said that Mr Huhne wanted to raise concerns “felt by lots of Liberal Democrat supporters on the Yes side” about the No campaign. – the Telegraph

The No to AV campaign have opened up a 32 point lead according to a ComRes poll for the Independent. The poll follows a day of high profile clashes over campaign tactics, with Chris Huhne directly challenging David Cameron and George Osborne to “disassociate” themselves from the NO to AV campaign at this morning’s Cabinet meeting. The Chancellor rebuked the Energy Secretary, saying his behaviour was inappropriate and that Cabinet was the wrong place to raise such grievances. – Politics Home

Labour struggle to match SNP in Scotland

Over the course of the campaign that advantage has not just vanished, it has been turned into such a thumping SNP lead that the latest poll published last night by TNS-BMRB for Scottish Television forecast abject humiliation for Labour tomorrow. That poll gave the SNP a whopping 18-point lead on the constituency vote and a 13-point lead on the list vote. This was not a one-off, though. It was merely the latest in a series of polls creating “clear tartan water” between the Nationalists and their rivals – according to Alex Salmond. The SNP’s 2007 Scottish Parliament victory (by a single seat) was seen by many observers as a blip, an aberration, something which would be righted this year. But if Labour loses again tomorrow and, more importantly, if Labour loses by a substantial margin, then it will be clear that the ground has shifted in Scottish politics, perhaps forever. – the Independent

Early election speculation rumbles on

Many [Conservatives] hope a debacle for the Lib Dems and the pro-AV camp tomorrow will be the end of that party’s calling the shots. The common view is that the Lib Dems have nowhere else to go. Maybe over the coming weekend there will be calls for Mr Clegg’s head on a plate from his notional supporters. Maybe even some Lib Dem MPs not on the payroll will signal their unwillingness to co-operate further, for fear of their own demise at the next election. Most Tories are quite relaxed about this. Mr Cameron himself is so devoid of principle that he will no doubt be happy either way… Mr Cameron has probably the best opportunity he will ever have to win a majority if he were to choose after these polls to call a general election. Although Labour will do well on Thursday, it will be almost entirely at the expense of the Lib Dems. Its leader, Ed Miliband, would be damaged by his support for the presumably lost cause of AV. His party is badly split on it, and all those in it one feels the need to take seriously are not on his side. – the Telegraph

Lansley favourite to go

Buy Dorrell and sell Lansley. That is the advice doing the rounds at senior levels of the Whitehall stock exchange. Britain’s grandest share market, run by the Sir Humphreys who preside over Whitehall departments, has reached a settled view. Stephen Dorrell, Sir John Major’s last health secretary, is on course to replace Andrew Lansley, the current holder of the post, when the “listening exercise” on NHS reforms ends next month. The mandarins have concluded that Lansley is a busted flush for one simple reason: the coalition will never be able to sell its NHS reforms as long as he remains in office. Over the cheap coffee served at their meetings – the days of a whisky in grand clubs are long gone – the permanent secretaries believe Lansley is now a liability as David Cameron and Nick Clegg attempt to strike a difficult balance on the NHS. On one hand the prime minister and his deputy need to continue with the spirit of the reforms to hand commissioning powers to GPs. On the other hand Cameron and Clegg have to show that real and substantive changes are being introduced to the reforms. – the Guardian

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