Thursday News Review

What did he know?

Ex-News Of The World editor Andy Coulson’s ‘position is becoming very difficult indeed’, Mr Burnham said after the issue was raised at PMQs. ‘The question I had in my mind during prime minister’s questions, when I saw Nick Clegg answering on the issue, was that Andy Coulson could have had a hand in preparing the lines that government ministers are using,’ he said ‘If he isn’t voluntarily suspended I think the prime minister should ask him to step back from his role.’ Shadow health secretary Mr Burnham also said the NHS was facing ‘its biggest threat in its 62 years’ from a government White Paper proposing to axe health trusts. – Metro

The police are to reopen their investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking next week and plan to interview former journalists from the newspaper for the first time to discover who else was involved in hacking the voicemails of public figures. The pressure on David Cameron’s spin doctor Andy Coulson will be intensified by the fact that Scotland Yard detectives are preparing to speak with Greg Miskiw – the former head of news and so far the only senior executive at the newspaper to be conclusively linked to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for tapping phones on behalf of the Sunday tabloid. – The Independent

A senior former News of the World journalist goes public to corroborate claims that phone hacking and other illegal reporting techniques were rife at the tabloid while the prime minister’s media adviser, Andy Coulson, was deputy editor and then editor of the paper. Paul McMullan, a former features executive and then member of the newspaper’s investigations team, says that he personally commissioned private investigators to commit several hundred acts which could be regarded as unlawful, that the use of illegal techniques was no secret at the paper and that senior editors, including Coulson, were aware that this was going on. “How can Coulson possibly say he didn’t know what was going on with the private investigators?” he said. – The Guardian

Here come the cuts

Mr Cameron can ill afford to have the man in charge of organising the Government’s message appearing on the ten o’clock news night after night, with cameramen on his doorstep. At some point, resisting such attention is no longer worthwhile. Yet all this turbulence is nothing compared with what will hit the Coalition next month when George Osborne unveils his Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) – at that point, all hell will break loose. “We are in a canoe paddling down the Zambezi, and Victoria Falls lie dead ahead. Once we’ve gone over the edge, none of this will matter,” one leading Cameroon told me. The edge, for those at Westminster who worry about it, is the moment we discover just how bad the cuts are going to be. To judge by what Cabinet ministers and officials are saying, many worry that the Coalition has not done nearly enough to warn the public of the abyss into which the country is about to plunge. “If we have had a collective failure,” one Cabinet minister says, “it is that we have underplayed the scale of the problem.” – The Telegraph

PLP vote for 100% elected shadow cabinet

Labour MPs have rejected a move to allow the new party leader to choose who serves in the shadow cabinet. Instead the party will revert to its usual practice in opposition, whereby a ballot of MPs decides which 19 will serve on the front bench. But the leader will be able to choose which portfolios shadow ministers get. The Parliamentary Labour Party also rejected moves to make at least 40% or 50% of them women, settling for 31.5% – or at least six women or men. – BBC

Harman had called for a 50:50 split in the early days of her tenure as acting leader but with time softened her position. Instead, she proposed the initial proportion should reflect that of the parliamentary party at large — 31.5% — but rise to 50% over the course of this parliament. In the event, MPs opted only for a quota of 31.5% with no possibility of the compulsory ratio increasing with time. MPs had disliked the proposal, saying men would be forced to contemplate vacating their shadow cabinet portfolios to make way for women over a period of time. An alternative vote system was used, and while equal numbers supported the 50:50 option and the 31.5% option, in the second round more MPs opted for the lower quota. – The Guardian

Labour MPs have rejected proposals to give their new leader the right to choose his or her own shadow cabinet. The Parliamentary Labour Party voted down reforms which would have ended the party’s practice in opposition of selecting the shadow cabinet by a ballot of MPs. The vote – which also rejected alternatives under which the leader could have appointed half or one-third of the top team – will create a headache for whoever is elected Gordon Brown’s successor on September 25. – Press Association

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