Posts Tagged ‘Bob Roberts’

Into the Portakabin of confusion comes the risky Lord Glasman

21/01/2011, 11:15:27 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The Labour party currently resembles a building site.

Shadow ministerial teams are laying the foundations for policy, in the main, independently of each other. Various consultations are asking party members “what’s to be built on the foundations”, quite separately from the ministerial teams.  And at the front of the site, operating out of the political equivalent of a Portakabin, Ed Miliband and the shadow cabinet are trying to hold the government to account.

Into this melee have come two recent arrivals. They bring hope of deliverance from the mud and confusion.

Sat in the Portakabin is the first: Baldberts. Not a character from the Shire or a sixth-former at Hogwarts, but a bionic communications director made from the parts of former journalists Tom Baldwin and Bob Roberts –  Ed Miliband has the technology. (more…)

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Cheer up, comrade, and toast the leader

15/12/2010, 08:25:15 AM

by Tom Watson

Last week, every single Labour MP turned out to vote in the same division lobby. We voted ‘no’ to the tripling of tuition fees. There were no forgetful absences. Nobody rebelled. No-one sneaked off early. I couldn’t remember the last time this happened so I asked the House of Commons library to tell me. And guess what? It hadn’t happened in my parliamentary life. Not once since 2001 has the PLP felt collectively strong enough to march in complete unanimity through the same division lobby.

We’ve nearly ended our rollercoaster year with the whole Labour crew turning out resolutely to oppose David Cameron’s Tory-Lib Dem government. We’re ahead in the polls. Britain is now so broken that Nick Clegg can’t safely ride a bicycle – despite all those close protection officers. And the government is already a cabinet minister and a handful of PPSs down after resignations.

And when you started the New Year of 2010 would you, in your wildest dreams, have thought we’d be in such good shape today? I certainly didn’t. So cheer up, comrade. Your Christmas glass of sherry is half full, not half empty. (more…)

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Wednesday News Review

15/12/2010, 07:08:19 AM

Lords end student fees battle

Labour peers today mounted a strong challenge to plans to treble university tuition fees, including recruiting to their cause a crossbench peer and principal of an Oxford college, but were ultimately defeated in a House of Lords vote that allowed the government plans to clear parliament. The Lords chamber was packed for a vote in which a majority of peers chose not to back an amendment allowing for more consultation. Those voting in favour of the amendment numbered 215, but 283 voted against the call for more time. Peers also voted to support the government’s bid to raise the cap on tuition fees to £9,000. – Guardian

A minor rebellion headed by Baroness Sharp, the Liberal Democrat higher education spokesman, failed to cause significant damage, and the motion to allow fees of up to £9000 a year from 2012 was passed by 283 votes to 215 — a much greater margin than in the Commons last week where the Government’s majority fell to 21. In an eleventh-hour submission challenging the rise, John Saxbee, the Bishop of Lincoln told peers that it would normalise debt and was un-Christian. – Telegraph

Coalition urged to slow down over NHS reforms

Senior figures from across the health service have warned ministers that the NHS faces a “train crash” and could “implode” over the pace of the Government’s reform plans. The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will publish details today on how the Government intends to manage the process by which GPs will begin to take over the commissioning of patient care from primary care trusts (PCTs). – Independent

The ConDem shake-up of the NHS was blasted as ¬“unrealistic” yesterday, amid fears it will put the sick and elderly at risk. The “bruising” reforms would push the health service to the limit, the Commons Health Select Committee warned. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had “no credible plan” to make efficiency savings of £20billion over the next four years, it said. And they warned it is inevitable that councils would have to cut back on social care – potentially hitting thousands of elderly people who rely on it. – Mirror

Ed’s new boys

The Labour leader head-hunted two senior political journalists from the Mirror and the Times to revamp his campaigning operation, heralding a more aggressive media strategy. The new head of strategy and communications will be Tom Baldwin, whose reporting career has seen him both land scoops and land himself in controversy. A close friend of Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s spin doctor, Mr Baldwin ran a series of articles about senior Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft, resulting in a legal action and the peer making caustic allegations about the reporter in a book. While he plays a largely backroom role, daily media briefings will be carried out by Bob Roberts, Mirror political editor for three years. – Evening Standard

Tory grumbles over court closures

Tory MPs yesterday lined up to slam the Government for closing nearly 150 courts across England and Wales. Ministers sparked fury after saying 93 magistrates courts and 49 county courts would be axed. Sheryll Murray and Jonathan Lord, MPs for South East Cornwall and Woking, were among the Tories speaking out against closures of their local courts. Mr Lord said: “I’m extremely disappointed. Woking ¬magistrates court is purpose built with fantastic disabled access and excellent youth witness provision.” – Mirror

Cabinet member and Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield Andrew Mitchell has lost his battle to save the town’s magistrates court after the Government announced a series of closures across the West Midlands. It is one of more than 140 courts to be closed in England and Wales, following the announcement. Mr Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, successfully led a Keep Justice Local campaign eight years ago when the future of Sutton magistrates was in doubt. More than 5,500 people signed a petition in protest at proposals to move the court’s caseload to Birmingham. But while he managed to save the court under the Labour government, it is now due to be closed. – Birmingham Post

Final straw for Firth

The Lib Dems have lost one of their most famous supporters after actor Colin Firth today revealed he could no longer back the party. The Bridget Jones actor said he is now ‘without affiliation’ in a fresh blow for Nick Clegg’s party who have few celebrity actors. Mr Firth said he has become disillusioned with the party and his ‘compass has not stopped spinning’ after they switched several of their policies after the election. – Daily Mail

The star of Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’s Diary refused to criticise Clegg for forming a Coalition with the Conservative Party. “I’m not impugning his integrity, simply because I do believe he did what he thought was his only choice at that time, given the parliamentary situation and it being impossible to do a deal with Labour.” However, Firth, 50, said that the Coalition had compromised the LibDems and “made it difficult for us who thought progressive politics would be the way forward”. Firth and his wife, Livia, became friendly with Clegg and his wife, Miriam, in the run-up to the election. The actor joined Clegg on the election trail in May. – Telegraph

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