Posts Tagged ‘Liam Fox’

This Fox has been ripped to pieces, but his colleagues elude the hounds

21/10/2011, 02:47:55 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The blood lust of our “feral” media, combined with the unmistakeable whiff of a politician in distress, always ends the same way. But despite Liam Fox’s exit this remains quite simply, the luckiest government in living memory.

There have been no shortage of political scandals and pratfalls over the past 17 months that could have seen any number of Dr. Fox’s colleagues beat him to the ignominious honour of being the first cabinet minister kicked to Whitehall’s curb.

But Tory and Lib Dem ministers seem to be blessed with nine lives. Perhaps rabbits’ feet are handed out to ministers with their red boxes?

Take Andrew Lansley. Surely it is only a matter of time before a piano drops on his head? He has made a complete hash of the health bill, finding himself in the curious position of pleasing absolutely no-one with his proposals, yet he remains in situ.

And then there’s Michael Gove. Although he is a true Cameroon, of which great things were not unreasonably expected, his career has never quite been the same since he was pranged early on by Ed Balls, colliding into him over the scrapping of the building schools for the future programme. He wobbled, but has recovered, of sorts, only to now find himself caught up in revelations that he and his advisers operated a secretive email network, by-passing his department’s official channels. If compelled to publish the messages under freedom of information obligations, he may find he has strayed down a Fox-hole in terms of ministerial propriety.

Before Liam Fox, the previous holder of the dubious title “cabinet-minister-most-likely–to-resign” had long been held by energy secretary Chris Huhne. He has spent the past few months on the precipice of a resignation, as the excruciating half-life of his messy divorce sees both him and his ex-wife embroiled in an unseemly “he said, she said” squabble over one or the other’s penalty points for speeding. Although a fairly mediocre crime, in the grand scheme of things, it has acquired epic proportions given the energy secretary’s career is essentially being strafed by friendly fire.

Yet he clings on. Your average rhino resembles an Oil of Olay model in the skin suppleness stakes when measured alongside Huhne. His leader, however, is forced to develop a thick hide on the job. Nick Clegg has spent most of his 17 month tenure as deputy prime minister as a pariah. He is the unhappiest looking bloke in British politics, and with good reason; he is the most hated. He has scuppered the very essence of the Lib Dems’ brand by doing the coalition’s dirty work, and now his own constituency is set to be eviscerated in a pointless parliamentary boundary review he only signed up to in order the secure the doomed referendum on AV; yet he hangs on too.

But these are just the top-drawer near-death experiences of the coalition. There are another set of ministers who have had a close shave through good old-fashioned political bumbling. Take Ken Clarke’s howler of a radio interview about rape sentencing, coming on top of his faltering handling of his brief, which has seen Tory backbenchers turn puce at what they see is the forfeiting of their credibility on law and order due to Clarke’s leniency on sending criminals to jail.

Or Vince Cable’s silly self-aggrandising, bragging that he could bring down the government if he chose to by deploying his “nuclear option” as he sought to impress a couple of fetching young female undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph. Dufferish, old bloke failings, but indicative of senior politicians who have difficulty keeping their political antennae erect.

The last category is the weird and wonderful. Think of William Hague’s hotel arrangements. Or Oliver Letwin’s curious al fresco filing system. Or Caroline Spelman not being able to see the wood for the trees in relation to the flogging-off of national forestry management.

Any one or all of these ministers could have plausibly walked the plank during the course of the last year for either political or personal difficulties. Paradoxically, Liam Fox looked likely to become a cabinet mainstay. Meanwhile, the scalp to end all scalps, remains tantalisingly out of reach. For now.

The jet-black pelt of the chancellor is worth a dozen Fox skins. Osborne’s eventual embrace of a plan B for the economy warrants his resignation. The change of direction that will eventually come – and which Osborne puts off for the narrowest political considerations – should make his position utterly untenable.

Liam Fox will doubtless feel rather lonely as the first occupier of the cabinet’s sin bin. But he should content himself. He won’t be the last.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut.

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Cameron is far more interested in Fox’s job than your job

17/10/2011, 11:09:04 AM

by Michael Dugher

According to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, one Downing Street aide described the events of last week as “very weird”. Certainly the fall-out from Liam Fox’s resignation will continue to dominate events at Westminster this week, not least with the report of the inquiry into Dr Fox by the cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, expected tomorrow.

Andrew Rawnsley correctly observed in his column that “in the grand scheme of things, most resignations from the cabinet don’t have a discernibly lasting impact. They only do so if the voters and media draw from them larger conclusions about the government”.  But the events of the last week were not just weird, but telling. And we have learnt a lot about both the character and conduct of David Cameron’s out of touch government.
Ed Miliband spent last week out and about. He visited businesses in Worcester, Southend and London, talking to apprentices and company directors about the big challenges facing our economy. Together with Ed Balls, he has launched a five point plan for jobs and growth which would help get Britain’s economy moving again.  In Parliament and outside, Labour has been challenging the Tory led-government to do more to help businesses and help get people back into work, so that we can reduce government borrowing and help build a better economy for the future. (more…)

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Miliband versus Cameron? It’s all in the team they pick

10/10/2011, 09:10:26 AM

by John Woodcock

By winning the right to pick his own shadow cabinet and using the reshuffle to exert his authority, Ed has rightly dispensed with generations of Labour tradition. The result is a refreshed, highly capable team that is hungry to take on the Tories and make the case to the British people that there is a credible alternative to this failing economic masochism.

By contrast, the weakness inherent in David Cameron’s reluctance to reshuffle his pack is shown to be more pronounced with every misdemeanour that goes unpunished. If the cabinet secretary’s report suggests Liam Fox has breached the ministerial code, today may finally be the day the dam bursts. But it is worth reflecting on how much the prime minister has let slide in the meantime:

  • The leaking of embarrassing private letters from Fox to Cameron is the kind of unfortunate incident that would have led to previous secretaries of state having their empire reduced. Yet his smiling denials provoke nothing more than dark muttering from Number Ten
  • Ken Clarke has been given a dressing down on more than one occasion for offences ranging from his soft sentencing policy to picking fights over cats. Yet he carries on regardless


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Fox’s cuts bite as new figures reveal plunging troop morale

09/09/2011, 07:00:28 AM

by Atul Hatwal

As the findings of the Baha Moussa inquiry cast a shadow over the British army, new figures sneaked out by the MoD in the last week lay bare the slump in morale across the armed forces in the past year.

44% of personnel reported low morale in their service – army, navy, royal air force (RAF) or royal marines – according to the 2011 forces survey, a rise of 11% since 2010.

It reverses a five year trend of improving morale in the forces since the survey began in 2007.

The figures were slipped out by the government last Thursday, via the office of national statistics website. Unlike previous surveys, the ministry of defence did not issue a press release or give any indication the survey was being released. (more…)

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Thursday News Review

01/09/2011, 05:59:16 AM

Kick in the teeth for our best and bravest

Almost 500 RAF personnel will be told on Thursday that they are to be forced out of their jobs when the Ministry of Defence sets out the first details of its controversial redundancy programme aimed at reshaping Britain’s armed forces. The Gurkhas have also been hit hard, with infantrymen from the historic Nepalese brigade making up most of those in the army who will be told that they have been selected for compulsory redundancy. The announcement is likely to reopen bitter arguments about cuts to the defence budget that are being pushed through even though the UK is committed to fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan and has been asked to play a lead role in Libya. It will also spur on those who have demanded the government reconsiders the main conclusions of last year’s strategic defence and security review (SDSR) – calls that the defence secretary, Liam Fox, has dismissed outright. – the Guardian

Gurkhas will be among the first members of the British army to be made redundant as part of cuts to the defence budget. There will be 260 complusory redundancies in the army and among them will be 140 members of the 3,500 strong Brigade of Gurkhas. About 920 soldiers and 930 RAF personnel will be told they are being made redundant, 750 of them against their will. The cuts are being implemented to the Gurkha regiment after a change to their terms of service which put them on the same footing as the rest of the army. The Ministry of Defence, however, says he expects some of the Gurkhas facing redundancy to transfer to other regiments who are below strength. Those serving with the RAF on the front line in Libya and Afghanistan will be exempt from the cuts, however ground support and operational staff are at risk. – Sky News

Ed calls for quivker G20 action

The G20 group of leading world economies are due to meet in France in early November but Mr Miliband says it is clear the economic recovery has “stalled” and more prompt action is needed. Writing in the FT, Mr Miliband said the prime minister should press French President Nicolas Sarkozy for an earlier meeting when they hold talks at a Anglo-Frech summit on Libya on Thursday. As it currently holds the G20 presidency, France determines when meetings take place. In recent weeks, there have been a succession of warnings from key figures that the world economy is fragile and much more co-ordinated action is required to prevent a repeat of the 2009 global slowdown triggered by the banking crisis. But although IMF head Christine Lagarde said immediate action was required to boost economic growth, US central bank head Ben Bernanke signalled no immediate steps to stimulate demand. – BBC News

David Cameron is “standing on the sidelines” instead of tackling the latest wave of global economic turmoil, Ed Miliband has said. The Labour leader called on the Prime Minister to press for an early meeting of the G20 group of wealthy nations to address the crisis. He challenged the assertion made by Chancellor George Osborne that the UK was a “safe haven”, claiming it was “naive” to believe the UK was immune from the problems.” Mr Miliband said he was concerned by reports that splits within the Government and pressure from the banks could delay reform of the financial sector. “Neither should be used as an excuse for failing to deliver the change we need,” he said. In a bleak assessment of the global economy, Mr Miliband said the recovery which appeared to be taking hold a year ago “has now stalled”. – Press Association

Common sense at last

The Prime Minister and Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will vote against the proposals put forward by pro-life groups and campaigning MPs, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Their opposition follows claims that ministers were preparing to change long-established rules on advice given to pregnant women. The matter will still be debated in the Commons, but No?10 made it clear for the first time that Mr Cameron would vote against the amendments to the Health Bill tabled by Nadine Dorries, a backbench Tory MP. Downing Street sources said that the proposed amendments would “exclude proper choice”. It is understood that senior Liberal Democrats including Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, were angry at suggestions that the Department of Health was prepared to back the changes which would introduce a mandatory obligation on abortion clinics to offer women access to independent counselling, to be run on separate premises by a group which does not itself carry out abortions. – Daily Telegraph

Cameron’s ‘real’ U-turn

David Cameron was forced to make yet another hasty retreat yesterday – fortunately for the country, he was only reversing a Mini. The Prime Minister was behind the wheel of the 2,000,000th new-look Mini off the production line at a plant in Cowley, Oxford. He was meant to steer the silver motor on to the assembly area floor. But true to form, the MP for nearby Witney overshot his mark and was forced to back-track and try again. Mr Cameron told workers: “Minis have been a fantastic success story, not just for Oxford but for the UK. For me personally, it’s a bit of a thrill because I don’t get to drive any more, even though it was only 20 yards.” – Daily Mirror

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The latest round of Army cuts confirms that the Conservative Party, like News International, use the military for their own ends

26/07/2011, 08:00:01 AM

by Matt Cavanagh

David Cameron’s Downing Street machine may have endured its biggest crisis so far over phone hacking, but at least its media strategy is working well in one area: defence cuts. As with October’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, bad news in defence is only cleared for release when there is enough other bad news to bury it. The SDSR announced the biggest defence cuts for 20 years, including cutting 7,000 soldiers, but with the spending review setting out even bigger cuts elsewhere the next day, the defence settlement didn’t make a single front page, and broadcast coverage was similarly muted. Likewise last week, when Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced that 10,000 more soldiers would be cut, even Telegraph readers had to turn past ten pages of hacking coverage before they saw it.

How much attention an announcement gets will always depend on what other news is around, and it would have been hard for any story to compete with the hacking scandal. But it is a shame for defence, because the Government’s treatment has been both dishonest and shambolic, and deserves greater scrutiny.

Fox’s dishonesty on Army numbers goes back many years. In opposition he repeatedly lied that Labour had ‘cut the Army by 10,000’: in fact, numbers remained fairly stable, and the Army was bigger in 2010 than 1997. He also promised that a Conservative government would give the Army ‘three new battalions’, a promise which Cameron endorsed in his Conference speech in 2007 at the end of another hard summer in Afghanistan and Iraq – a predictable move from a party which has long seen defence as an issue to be milked for maximum political effect. Some in the Army may be wishing they had paid less attention to these speeches and more attention to history. The bean-counters in the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury have always wanted to cut the Army – it is so much easier than dealing with the bigger problems in the defence budget – and generally it has been Conservative ministers who give them the go-ahead, perhaps because they think they can get away with it. In the 1990s, they cut the Army by 35,000, alongside deep cuts in the defence budget and reductions in military capability. The script has changed – then it was the ‘peace dividend’ after the Cold War, now it is the deficit – but from the Army’s point of view, they could be forgiven for thinking history is repeating itself.

Even now, with the Government’s real agenda for the Army exposed, ministers are still not being honest. In early July, Labour’s Dan Jarvis, a former Parachute Regiment major, confronted Fox at the despatch box and asked him whether he had any plans for further cuts to the Army. Fox replied that ‘nothing has changed since the SDSR’. This was two weeks before he announced further cuts of 10,000 soldiers. When he did finally announce the cuts, he attempted to preserve some semblance of consistency with the SDSR by claiming that none of this would happen before 2015, and that when it did, it would be offset by more generous funding. That was contradicted yesterday by a leaked letter in the Telegraph from the head of the Army, suggesting that 5,000 more soldiers will indeed be cut before 2015, biting deep into the combat units which have been serving in Afghanistan.

We should not deny that there is a funding crisis in the MOD – even if its true nature tends to be obscured by the ministerial rhetoric rather than illuminated by it. There is also a case to be made for a smaller Army. In the continuing absence of an existential threat of the kind we faced in the Cold War, and with the nation losing its appetite for manpower-intensive counter-insurgency, ministers could have come out and argued for a redistribution of resources away from a standing army and towards new threats and new capabilities – like cyber security, or drones and other surveillance. But they haven’t had the courage, or strategic vision, to do so. Fox did try to use the Reserves Review to put a strategic spin on last week’s cuts, arguing that overall ‘deployability’, across regular and reserve forces, is the key – with a reformed and more deployable T.A. offsetting cuts to regular soldiers. Leaving aside the hypocrisy of Fox objecting to Labour questions about overall numbers (“they talk about total numbers all the time”, he complains, “but they do not talk about deployability”) given his own approach in opposition, this is an dangerous tack for a Defence Secretary who has announced a radical cut of one-third in, precisely, deployability. (This was tucked away on p19 of the SDSR document, glossed over by Fox and Cameron in their statements at the time: the admission that in future, in a one-off operation like the invasion of Iraq, we will be able to deploy 30,000, rather than 45,000; and that in an enduring operation like Afghanistan, we will be able to deploy 6,500 rather than 10,000.) (more…)

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Tuesday News Review

28/06/2011, 06:37:15 AM

University challenge

Universities could be handed over to private firms and run for profit under plans to be announced this week. The Government wants to let companies set up or take over existing colleges and offer student loans. The plans are included in Universities Minister David Willetts’s delayed universities white paper. But a report by the Government-funded Higher Education Funding Council for England warned businesses would be able to cherry-pick the most profitable courses. And it added there was no guarantee they would work to widen the participation of less-profitable students. Sally Hunt of the University and College Union said: “Millions of students face being ripped off by operators whose main interest is their own profits, not education.” – Daily Mirror

Ministers say their plans will sustain the country’s world class universities and improve higher education opportunities. They also argue the proposals – which are linked to those that will triple tuition fees to £9,000 pounds by 2012 – will increase social mobility. As part of the changes, universities will be forced to provide potential students with more information about their entry requirements, job prospects and the quality of teaching. Popular universities will be able to accept any student achieving at least two A grades and a B at A-level – in a move aimed at increasing access and helping the institutions grow. Universities and higher education colleges charging low fees could also be allowed to increase their numbers. It is hoped that would encourage the more expensive establishments to reduce what they charge. And the White Paper is also likely to contain measures to boost the powers of the regulator, the Office for Fair Access (Offa). The watchdog is tasked with ensuring universities do not price out poorer students with higher fees. But the University and College Union warned against reforms that would allow the expansion of private universities, which are not subject to the cap on numbers. – Sky News

Strike breakers

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has written to schools throughout England and Wales telling them they could be in breach of employment law and health and safety regulations if they keep schools open during the pensions-related dispute. The letter emerged as Downing Street yesterday backed plans for parents to staff classrooms during the walkout, with ministers appearing increasingly determined to face down militant trade unions. David Cameron will make a last-ditch direct appeal to public sector workers today not to go on strike on Thursday, insisting their current pension arrangements are “not fair to the taxpayer”. The Prime Minister will address the Local Government Association’s annual conference to warn council workers and teachers that the “situation is unsustainable” and that they must accept changes. Downing Street sources said that Mr Cameron would be “robust” but would attempt to set out a “fair argument” over why reform of pensions was essential. – Daily Telegraph

People support calls for a change in the law to ban strikes by public sector workers if there is a low turnout in strike ballots, according to a survey for The Independent. They also believe that trade unions will fail to win public sympathy if they carry out their threat to stage co-ordinated strikes in their battle over pensions. Unions vowed last night to press ahead with a strike by up to 750,000 public employees on Thursday, after talks with ministers ended without a last-minute breakthrough. The survey by ComRes found that, by a margin of 50 per cent to 32 per cent, people agreed that the Government should ban public sector strikes unless there has been a turnout of at least 50 per cent in the ballot to approve the industrial action. The finding will increase the pressure on ministers to bring in a legal minimum turnout – an idea favoured by the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, the Confederation of British Industry and some Tory ministers and backbenchers. – the Independent

Fox brings top brass into line

Senior members of the military will lose their jobs if they allow costs to get out of control and fail to manage budgets, under radical reforms to the Ministry of Defence published on Monday. The heads of the army, Royal Navy and RAF will be held accountable as never before, and will also be responsible for making significant cuts to the numbers of officers in their ranks. All three services have become overladen with top brass, according to a report by Lord Levene, chairman of Lloyd’s of London. His proposals have been accepted wholesale by the coalition government, with the defence secretary, Liam Fox, saying the MoD had been bedevilled by poor management. In his 84-page report, Levene noted that inter-service rivalry had added to the problems and recommended the creation of a new joint forces command, headed by a high-ranked military commander, as one way of breaking down the barriers between them. In one startling admission, Levene said the MoD and military chiefs often showed a disregard for costs. “Finance and the need for affordability are not regarded as sufficiently important throughout the organisation,” he said, adding that service chiefs who failed to bring in projects on time and within budget should face the axe.” – the Guardian

What Mrs Bone wants, Mrs Bone gets

Conservative MP Peter Bone, claimed that his wife, Mrs Bone, had been singing the praises of the Prime Minister because the UK would not be involved in the Greek bail-out. He then sought assurances from Mr Cameron on behalf of Mrs Bone, that the UK would not be required to participate in a bail-out before 2013, saying that “she would be very happy if he could give her that undertaking”. Mr Cameron replied that he felt that a very big part of his life “was giving pleasure to Mrs Bone.” And added that on this occasion “he could only go so far”. In March, the Tory MP demanded David Cameron call for a referendum about whether the UK should remain in the EU, saying it would please, among others, Mrs Bone. – Daily Telegraph

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Monday News Review

30/05/2011, 06:48:15 AM

There’s life in the old dog yet

David Cameron was forced to issue a vote of confidence in his Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, yesterday as ministers search for an NHS reform blueprint acceptable to both parts of the Coalition. There has been growing speculation over Mr Lansley’s future since his plans to overhaul the NHS were dramatically halted by Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg in the face of a rebellion from health professionals. The Health Secretary, who has spent years drawing up proposals to restructure the service, has made it clear he would quit the Cabinet rather than move to another post. There were also reports yesterday that the Prime Minister would be prepared to accept his resignation on the grounds that a new face would be needed to make the case for the heavily modified plans. – the Independent

Downing Street has moved to quash growing speculation that health secretary Andrew Lansley will quit if the government’s review of proposed health reforms ends in wholesale changes. It has been reported that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been discussing how to handle Lansley’s cabinet future when the review by Professor Steve Field concludes in mid-June. Downing Street issued a statement of support for Lansley, saying: “The speculation in the papers is nonsense. Andrew Lansley is doing an excellent job.” In a sign Lansley has become fed up with horsetrading over his plans, he has said: “I’ve stopped being a politician – I just want to get the NHS to a place where it will deliver results. I don’t want to do any other cabinet job. I’m someone who cares about the NHS who happens to be a politician, not the other way around.” – the Guardian

Fox hits out at MOD leaks

Liam Fox has said the leaks which have hit his department in recent months are “unethical and unprofessional”. The defence secretary’s comments come after reports earlier this month that he believes a Cabinet colleague may have been responsible for the most recent leak. A letter from Dr Fox to David Cameron, seen by members of the Cabinet on the national security council, in which he questioned Britain’s overseas aid spending raised eyebrows in Whitehall. It followed a similar leaked letter last year in which Dr Fox warned against drastic cuts to the armed forces in the comprehensive spending review. “You never know and that’s the whole thing with leaks,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr programme. –

Earlier this month, another of Dr Fox’s private letters to the PM was leaked. It questioned whether the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on overseas development aid by 2013 should be enshrined in law at a time of severe defence and other cuts. He made it clear he could not support the proposal “in its current form”. Putting the 0.7% commitment on the statute books “could limit HM Government’s ability to change its mind about the pace at which it reaches the target”, he said. It has been suggested Dr Fox – regarded as one of the most right-wing Tories in Cabinet – believes another member of the National Security Council is responsible for the leaks, although he has ruled out Conservative colleague William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, as the culprit. Yesterday, asked if a Cabinet colleague had leaked his letters, he replied: “You never know. That’s the whole things with leaks,” which he labelled “unprofessional, unethical and cowardly”. – Daily Herald

Cash incentives for weekly collections

The Government is to announce a deal under which councils will be offered financial incentives to collect household rubbish every week. A similar plan using government grants was successfully introduced to encourage local authorities to freeze council tax this year. The policy is expected to be announced as the centrepiece of a review of waste policy being conducted by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). A source close to the review said the funding plans for councils to restore weekly bin collections – estimated to be about £100 million a year – had been agreed and the scheme will be unveiled within the next fortnight. More than half of councils are thought to have abandoned weekly bin collections over the past few years, depriving more than 18 million people of the service. – the Telegraph

Cameron symbolically cuts ties with Jewish charity

David Cameron has resigned as a patron of a top Jewish charity in a move hailed by pro-Palestinian campaigners. The Prime Minister has cut ties with the Jewish National Fund, which describes itself as Britain’s leading Jewish charity. Downing Street insisted the decision was taken as part of a wider review of the Prime Minister’s involvement with charities. But the move is a break with convention, as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both stayed on  as patrons while at Number 10. Mr Cameron has already experienced controversy when it comes to affairs in the Middle East – on a trip to Turkey last July he caused huge offence by calling Gaza a ‘prison camp’. – Daily Mail

Forget D:Ream, Adele is a Labour girl

Adele has branded David Cameron a “wally” – ­dashing hopes she might back his Big Society idea. A Government insider said: “We are looking for big names to back the Big Society, but there aren’t many takers right now.” The ­singer said: “Wally… I’m a Labour girl through and through.” She also slammed his policies on taxes, trains and schools. – Daily Mirror

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Have some ministerial jobs become too hot to handle?

22/11/2010, 02:00:41 PM

by Kevin Meagher

PHIL Woolas’ current predicament owes at least something to his being a tough immigration minister in the last government. With a large Muslim population in his Oldham backyard and with boundary changes making his marginal seat more ethnically diverse, his day job hardly endeared him to a big chunk of his local electorate. The rest is history.

Would Woolas have faced the same little local difficulty if he had not been immigration minister? And would he then have run the campaign he ran?

However this story eventually plays itself out, what it serves to remind us is that there are certain ministerial jobs that are not for the faint-hearted. Immigration minister is the obvious role that is always difficult for Labour politicians. It is the type of posting where you are not going to get any thanks, whatever you do. Too hardline for some, too wishy-washy for others.

Ironically, for such a complex issue, there are, ultimately, only three positions you can have on immigration. There is too much of it. Not enough of it. Or the balance is just right. You can discount the last option because no-one is ever happy with the status quo. Most people in the country opt for the first. Many in the Labour party for the second. On this issue, more than just about any other, you will never please all of the people all of the time.

Labour is, of course, instinctively sympathetic to the plight of refugees and immigrants. And justly so. But the hard reality is that not all deserve to stay. Most rational people accept that. Some, however, do not want to follow through the brutal logic. (more…)

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The Tories are handing defence to Jim Murphy, says John McTernan

18/10/2010, 04:00:08 PM

The first rule of spin club is that there’s no such thing as spin club. The
second rule of spin club is that there’s no such thing as spin. Why? Because
the members of spin club, if such a thing existed (which it doesn’t), know that spin never stays spun. It always unravels.

David Cameron and Liam Fox are going to find this out the hard way this
week. Presentationally, the run-up to the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) has been almost perfect. Liam Fox’s leaked letter set out the
prospect of cuts that would be so deep they would devastate our forces.
It also set up a villain – the treasury. With the scene set, the prime minister was able to ride to the rescue. And briefings over the weekend suggested that the defence budget had got a great deal – only an eight per cent cut. (more…)

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