Posts Tagged ‘news review’

Wednesday News Review

04/08/2010, 07:38:14 AM

Bounce for Balls?

Ed Balls has won praise for his opposition to Tory plans

Coverage of him in the media has been too dismissive. Recently, when he failed to secure the endorsement of the massive Unite trade union (which he had long been cultivating), there was talk of his “humiliation”, and his impending withdrawal from the race. Some in the press make him out to be a figure of fun (an honourable exception was this Spectator editorial). In fact, many within Labour think Mr Balls has had his reputation more enhanced by the contest than either David or Ed Miliband, one of whom will nevertheless win the election in September. He has landed blows on Michael Gove, the Tory education secretary. His resilience in the face of difficult odds has impressed many. He now has a good chance of being appointed shadow chancellor by whichever Miliband wins the leadership. That was not so certain when the race began in May. – The Economist

Yet if you look at what the five have said and done in the past month or so then a different picture emerges – for the one who is demonstrating again and again that he’s the best equipped politician is the same Mr Balls. Just read his thinking and analysis of Labour’s challenge in his recent interview with the Times and you see observations and insights that are not coming from the other four. Take his assertion that Labour has allowed itself to be distracted by the Lib Dems when the main target for the party’s fire-power should be the Tories. Take also his observation that Labour did not lose the election because of its lack of appeal to middle income groups – rather it was the failure of the party to engage traditional supporters at the bottom end where they lost out. – Political Betting


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Tuesday News Review

03/08/2010, 08:18:55 AM

The David & Ed show

The next Labour leader is unlikely to be an Abbott, Balls or Burnham. Gordon Brown’s successor will be a Miliband. But I’m more interested in whether he will be Mr Sun or Mr Wind. Aesop captured the dilemma in a fable. If you want a man to take off his cloak, do you huff and puff and force him to give it up or do you cover him with warmth until he discards it freely? In Aesop, the sun scores a predictable victory. Politics isn’t so easy. Harriet Harman’s blasts at Nick Clegg’s alleged betrayal of left-wing voters has undoubtedly blown many Liberal Democrat voters towards Labour. In the long term, however, Mr Miliband (for surely it will be Ed or David) is more likely to prosper by offering flowers to Liberal Democrats than by throwing the vase at them. – The Spectator

 He accepts that it looks “odd” for Ed to be running against him and appears to have separated his sibling into two distinct mental compartments: Ed the Brother and Ed the Rival. On the shelves of his office, it’s striking that there is no photo of Ed. This strangeness is reflected in the way the normal rules of politics are blurred by the family affair. Normally, the runner-up in a leadership race can expect to get the shadow chancellor’s post. But wouldn’t it just look weird in the modern age to have two brothers in these two posts? Mr Miliband is firm: “I can honestly say I’ve not started giving out jobs to anybody. It’s certainly presumptuous to start giving out jobs to people and I’m resisting all temptations to do that”. – The Evening Standard


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Monday News Review

02/08/2010, 08:09:57 AM

Labour likes an idealist; but it hates being in opposition even more

And David Miliband, the man in pole position? He looks relaxed in an open-necked blue shirt. But he is sombre, statesmanlike, low-risk. There are no sound-bites, promises or grand gestures. Instead he warns the party that it could be out of power for ‘a long time’, and needs to pick a credible alternative prime minister to take the fight to the Tories. The coded message is simple: this is no time for an idealist. We’ve been here before, and we don’t want to make the same mistakes. Follow your head and not necessarily your heart. It is a tough, pragmatic argument. But it is one that just might work. Labour likes an idealist; but it hates being in opposition even more. – Manchester Evening News

Text campaigning first

Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband said tonight he had recruited 1,300 potential campaign volunteers in 24 hours in an Obama-style two-way text message drive. His campaign team claimed the mobile marketing exercise was a first for British politics. Miliband’s team sent thousands of text messages to Labour party members through data supplied to all candidates by the party and instead of just sending a message, asked for a response. About half of the recipients replied, of whom 45% said they were supporting the former energy secretary. – The Guardian


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Sunday News Review

01/08/2010, 08:54:20 AM

Manchester #hustings

Mr Burnham, who was Health Secretary, Culture Secretary and Chief Secretary to the Treasury during his time in government, argues that Labour will only make itself electable again if it ditches the “hollow” elements of the Blair-Brown years. “We need to keep the best of New Labour and ditch some of the hollowness of it, it looked hollow and rootless at times.” Asked what he would do to counter this, he says he would ban the practise of parachuting candidates into safe seats for a start: No more “favourite sons or daughters. No more fixing shortlists at national level. This is where the style of politics really cost us electorally.” – The Telegraph

David Miliband has warned Labour could be out of power for years as he made his bid for the party leadership at the final hustings before September’s vote. The front-runner in the race to replace Gordon Brown went head-to-head with his brother Ed, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and Diane Abbott in a question-and-answer session for 600 party members in Manchester. The former foreign secretary told the audience that each time Labour had been thrown out of government they had stayed in opposition for between 14 and 18 years. “We could be out of power for a long time; history tells us we will,” he said. “I want to buck that trend.” – The Sunday Herald


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Saturday News Review

31/07/2010, 08:45:38 AM

Home straight

The five candidates vying to suceed former prime minister Gordon Brown as the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party face their final hustings Sunday before voting gets under way. The five will face questions from an audience of hundreds of party members in Manchester, northwest England. – AFP

David’s campaign is now confident he will win but is determined not to appear complacent in public. Ed’s campaign, though, still believes he can win on the basis of second preference votes. Under party rules, after the votes have been counted, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated until one has a simple majority of more than 50 per cent of the votes cast. The other three candidates know they are some way behind in the race but all are determined not to give up. Ed Balls, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, rejected speculation that he was thinking of throwing in the towel. He said: “I’m fighting to the end and I’m fighting to win.” – Tribune


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Saturday News Review

24/07/2010, 09:42:49 AM

Cash money

David Miliband has raised more in donations than any of the other candidates

David Miliband, the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest, has raised at least £200,000, his campaign has revealed, as the disparity in financial backing for the five candidates emerges as a big issue. Two wealthy donors have each given him £50,000, sparking accusations within the party that the former foreign secretary is deploying far more staff than his rivals and is in danger of “buying the election” with “Blairite” support. – The Guardian


More than 2 million people have a vote in the Labour leadership election, which will trudge on through the summer to a crescendo on 25 September. But how many will avail themselves of the chance to vote must be a cause for concern. The Society of Labour Lawyers has completed a ballot of its 598 members to decide which candidates would receive the society’s formal backing. Labour lawyers, you might think, would be among the more motivated sections of the electorate, yet turn out in this ballot was a dismal eight per cent. In other word, 48 out of 598 bothered to vote. The result was Ed Miliband 18, David Miliband 17, Diane Abbott 8, Andy Burnham 9, and Ed Balls nil. If that reflects the level of enthusiasm, it is not going to be a resounding mandate. – The Independent

The contest has raised barely an eyebrow of public interest, though whoever wins may find low expectations a blessing. There is nowhere to go but up, as opinion polls offer cold comfort. Guardian readers should not be deceived by our daily reasoned critiques of profoundly misguided government policies. The coalition may be about to crash the economy, shipwreck the NHS and splinter the education system but the public does not agree, as yet. The coalition’s honeymoon may last a while. – The Guardian


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