Wednesday News Review

Clegg humiliated on Lords reform

In vain Mr Clegg tried to persuade MPs that House of Lords reform is a noble cause which should command cross-party support. The Deputy Prime Minister looked and sounded like a victim, and MPs moved in for the kill… The House very soon got into a mood where anything Mr Clegg said sounded absurd. When he said, “I don’t accept the assertion that if you have the audacity to stand for election you somehow lack talent,” people howled with laughter. Mr Clegg did not look over the moon. He did not even look over the Huhne. A parliamentary success can restore morale after a failure in some other field. But Mr Clegg does not look as if he is going to make up for his thumping defeat in the AV referendum by cracking the perhaps insoluble problem of Lords reform. The poor man just looked useless. – the Telegraph

A fightback by Nick Clegg ran into trouble on Tuesday when the deputy prime minister faced Tory and Labour hostility bordering on contempt in both houses of parliament as he vowed to push through an elected second chamber by 2015. In a sign of the bruising battle awaiting Clegg as he seeks to rejuvenate his Lib Dem leadership after an overwhelming defeat in the alternative vote referendum, the Tory cabinet minister charged with selling the Lords reform plans cast doubt over the deputy prime minister’s timetable. Lord Strathclyde, who has privately left Tory peers in no doubt of his scepticism about Clegg’s plans to ensure that at least 80% of the upper house is elected, indicated that a parliamentary bill may not be introduced before the next general election. “If a bill came forward, it would be a government bill and it would be treated as such,” Strathclyde said, appearing to cast doubt on the timetable. The intervention by the leader of the Lords, who joked with Tory peers as they tore into Clegg’s plans during an hour-long statement in the upper house, flew in the face of a commitment from David Cameron at Tuesday’s meeting of the cabinet. – the Guardian

Fox points the finger at colleagues

Defence secretary is said by a source to be convinced that someone on the national security council is out to damage him. Liam Fox believes that a fellow cabinet minister on the national security council tried to damage him by leaking a private letter to David Cameronin which he appeared to challenge the Tories’ pledge to meet a UN target on overseas aid. As William Hague expressed irritation with the defence secretary after the leaking of a second private letter to the prime minister, one senior Whitehall source said that Fox is convinced that a cabinet minister sanctioned the leaking in a deliberate act of sabotage. Fox found himself under pressure when a private letter, in which he raised questions about plans to place Britain’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid by 2013 on a statutory footing, appeared in the Times. The defence secretary does not believe that the foreign secretary or Downing Street was behind the leak. But he does believe that another minister on the national security council is seeking to damage him.  “That letter was distributed to the national security council which means that every cabinet minister with a seat on the NSC saw it,” the Whitehall source said. “There are departments which have form.”  – the Guardian

Huhne still under fire

Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, was forced to issue a fresh denial of wrongdoing last night after senior figures from within his own party raised doubts about his response to claims that he illegally persuaded his wife to take speeding points on his behalf. It was suggested yesterday that, when Mr Huhne went on camera earlier this week to dismiss the allegations, he was addressing historic claims that a female aide had taken the points on his behalf, rather than his estranged wife, Vicky Pryce. As the Cabinet minister faced growing calls to step aside, a leading Liberal Democrat told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Huhne’s response to Miss Pryce’s allegations “did not stack up” and “sharks are circling”. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, was yet to speak to Mr Huhne directly about the issue and had refrained from giving the minister his “full confidence”. Instead Mr Cameron relied on Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, to discuss the matter with his Lib Dem counterpart. The scale of Mr Huhne’s political isolation became clear yesterday when he was supported by just five ministers as he made a statement on climate change. – the Telegraph

Miliband calls for progressive council coalitions

Ed Miliband has urged Labour councillors to forge coalitions with the Liberal Democrats to run local authorities despite his party’s hostility to Nick Clegg for joining forces with David Cameron. A Labour circular leaked to The Independenttells the party’s councillors: “If Liberal Democrat groups/ councillors, who are committed to standing up to the unfair policies imposed by the Government, wish to join Labour in running the council then we should look to form locally progressive coalitions.” The move will be seen as Mr Miliband’s latest attempt to build links with the Liberal Democrats which could pave the way for a Lib-Lab coalition after the next general election. Although some Labour figures believe the party may struggle to win a majority under its own steam, Mr Miliband insists his strategy is to go all out for a Labour victory. – the Independent

One Response to “Wednesday News Review”

  1. thunderchild says:

    Clegg might talk of “getting tough” over NHS reforms, but, let’s face it, when push comes to shove, he’ll capitulate just as he did over tuition fees. While Clegg remains happy to prostitute principle for power, “muscular liberalism” will remain oxymoronic. Goodbye NHS , hello HMO. Thanks Nick!

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