Monday News Review

Gove faces grilling

Michael Gove faces the Commons for education questions today

Ed Balls piled fresh pressure on Michael Gove, the beleaguered education secretary, by calling on him on Sunday night to answer questions over the withdrawal of funding from the schools construction programme. Mr Balls, shadow education secretary, wrote to Mr Gove demanding to know what advice he had from officials over the need to consult on last week’s decision and whether it had left the government open to legal claims. – The FT

The Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Simon Hughes, today distanced his party from education secretary Michael Gove over the contentious decision to cancel 700 school rebuilding projects. Hughes said he was not entirely comfortable with the handling of the announcement, adding it would be “a nonsense” to build the new free schools proposed by Gove using cash that could have improved existing buildings. Gove has agreed to meet Lib Dem councillors concerned by his announcement, and the issue is likely to be raised at a Liberal Democrat meeting of its MPs organised by Nick Clegg, the party’s leader and the coalition deputy prime minister.  – The Guardian

Education Secretary Michael Gove will come up against rising anger in the Commons about his decision to axe Labour’s £55 billion school building programme. Amid growing discontent from within his own party, Mr Gove will be grilled by Tory MP Philip Davies about the impact on schools in his constituency. Other MPs are certain to weigh in. A number of Tory backbenchers were joined by Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes on Sunday in expressing concerns about the cancellation of hundreds of school building projects. – The Formby Times

Oh Mandy

There are concerns that the former Business secretary could open old political wounds by publishing his memoirs at such a sensitive time for the party. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is also due to publish his autobiography in September. Peter Kenyon, a member of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, said the memoirs could be a “distraction” to the leadership campaign. – The Telegraph

Peter Mandelson gets more free advertising than even he would have expected

Burnham said: “Never again can the people’s party be run in this way, with egotistical factions and their friends in the media meeting on the London dinner party circuit to plot each others’ demise.” He went on: “The losers were the party members who were demoralised by the disunity at the top of the party while they were flying the flag for Labour on doorsteps across the country. Party members are fed up to the back teeth with the arrogance of those who say and write what they like while telling members how it’s going to be.” – The Guardian

Lord Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, led a series of prominent Labour figures urging the party to lower the temperature and look forwards rather than rake over the past. Speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “We lost the election when we started attacking each other internally about Brown and Blair – now being reiterated in Peter’s book.” Harriet Harman, Labour’s acting leader, said memoirs “have their place” but insisted: “We are now where we are and our job is to hold the Government to account.’ – The Independent

Labour’s public leadership debates suggest why this is so. Miliband E. fizzes with easy charm, and does much to reassure the party faithful that his “values” line up with theirs. Almost everything he says—be it that the Iraq War was a “mistake,” or that “being a socialist is about being willing to criticise capitalism”—gives the audience what it wants to hear. It may be a cynical approach, but it guarantees the younger Miliband a warm response. By contrast, Miliband D. can seem cold, clinical and difficult. “Paranoid android” is how one Labour activist sums him up. – The Daily Beast

John Prescott has demanded an end to damaging Labour feuds – as Peter Mandelson’s memoirs sparked a fresh bout of rows.The battling peer yesterday said bitter spats between supporters of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair cost the party power at the last election and he warned more in-fighting would derail attempts to defeat the ConDems. – The Mirror

The future

The absence of any real Lib Dem outreach on Labour’s part is a bit like the absence of a cuts candidate from their leadership race: something which may play well with the party faithful for now, but which could exclude Labour from any serious political debate in the years to come.  In which case, I’m sure that they will look to rectify the situation at some point.  But when?  If Labour delay this thought process until after their leadership election – and put someone like Ed Balls in charge – then it would already be too late. – The Spectator

David Miliband made his best intervention in the rather dreary leadership contest so far, during a speech last Friday when he sought to distance himself from both the Blair and the Brown years. He attacked the “excesses of a celebrity drenched culture” under Blair, while anatomising what had gone wrong in the Brown years. While acknowledging the grandeur of the original hopes of the Brown era, he pointed out that when it came to party reform, meaningful internationalism and civil morality, “it didn’t happen”. Instead, the failures of “tactics, spin and high-handedness” overwhelmed Gordon Brown’s agenda. – The Guardian

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