Saturday News Review

Ed to announce reforms

Ed Miliband today lays out far-reaching reforms designed to moderniseLabour‘s relations with the trade unions, open the party up to the public, and reinvigorate what he describes as its boring annual conference. The Labour leader regards these changes as critical to his efforts to get the party back in touch with the electorate, and ensure it stays in opposition for only one term. He also for the first time tells the public sector unions that it would be a mistake for them to strike next week, saying they need to do more to persuade the public of their argument over the perceived injustices in the government’s changes to public sector pensions. In a Guardian interview Miliband says: “I want to open up the leadership to the party and the party to the country. In a society that is changing so fast in so many ways, we cannot continue as we are, with essentially a closed structure that was formed a century ago.” – the Guardian

Ed Miliband was facing a left-wing backlash last night over his move to scrap elections for places around Labour’s top table. The Labour leader will argue today that the current system, whereby votes for 19 places are held every two years, forces Shadow Cabinet members to “look inwards”. His plan would give him full power to decide Shadow Cabinet positions. But left-wingers say the move is an attack on the party’s democratic traditions. – the Independent

Lib Dem plot to stop Tory health reforms

The “Yellow Bastards”, as the Tories now call the Liberal Democrats, are still not happy with the government’s NHS reforms plans. In a leaked email the former Lib Dem MP Evan Harris, who has led the charge against the original Andrew Lansley blueprint, has condemned the revised plans as “bad”. This is what Harris wrote in the email, part of an email chain seen by the Guardian: “There is a view that we should keep quiet, say we had a victory and hope no-one notices this stuff – but I think that is not realistic. The plans remain bad for the NHS, go beyond the coalition agreement and we must insist on sovreignty (sic) of conference on major issues not in the CA.” Harris has already indicated publicly that he is not happy with the revised plans which were launched by David CameronNick Clegg and Andrew Lansley at Guy’s Hospital on 14 June. On 18 June Harris told the Guardian there were “new threats” hidden within the reworked NHS. – the Guardian

Cameron faux fury on EU HQ

David Cameron yesterday accused fellow European Union leaders of squandering £280m on a new Brussels building for themselves at a time when the public is being hit by spending cuts. At a dinner of EU leaders, the Prime Minister was furious when Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, circulated a glossy, 14-page brochure trumpeting the 27 leaders’ new headquarters. The Europa building, next door to the Justus Lipsius Building where the leaders currently hold their meetings, will include three conference halls, five meeting rooms and offices for Mr Van Rompuy, as well as for the country which holds the EU’s rotating chairmanship, delegations from EU member states, the press and refreshment areas. Mr Cameron’s attack caused surprise in Brussels since the project was approved in 2004 and would now be more expensive to halt than complete. Some EU officials accused him of pandering to Eurosceptics when the EU should pull together because of the economic crisis in Greece.

ED and Ted

Ed Miliband’s aides claimed this week that he was inspired by Baroness Thatcher. However, one of his biggest cheerleaders tells Mandrake that the Tory prime minister with whom he should really be compared is Sir Edward Heath. “Let’s not forget that Ted Heath was a hugely controversial figure in his time and he was a strongly disliked man, but, as we look back now, much of what he predicted turned out to be the case,” says Flora Fraser. The historian, who donated £2,000 to his Labour leadership campaign, adds: “This is what I am saying about the history of the future … you must be modern. I think he is a very modern man and it is so important that we look to the future rather than always focusing on the present.” Flora is the daughter of Dame Antonia Fraser and her first husband, the late Conservative MP Sir Hugh Fraser, who stood against Heath in the party’s 1975 leadership election that was eventually won by Margaret Thatcher. – the Telegraph

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