Wednesday News Review

Closest since 2007

Factor in the usual caveats about polling so soon after a change of government, but the latest Sun/YouGov poll is still pretty eyecatching. It has the Tories on 40 percent, Labour on 39 and the Lib Dems on 12 – the smallest gap between the two main parties since the election-that-never-was in October 2007. Here’s a graph of the the two parties’ positions since the beginnning of the general election campaign:

The Spectator

David twice as popular

David Miliband is the choice of Labour voters to be the next leader of the party, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent. He is more than twice as popular as his nearest rival, his younger brother Ed, when Labour supporters are asked to name their preferred candidate; who would make the best leader of the opposition; the best prime minister and have the best chance of leading Labour back to power. The poll, conducted among more than 1,500 people who have voted Labour at least once since 1992, found that David Miliband was also the most likely of the five Labour leadership candidates to win over floating voters and those people who backed Labour in 2005 but switched to the Liberal Democrats or Conservative Party this year. – The Independent

On the doorstep, many people told me they thought Labour had stopped listening, was out of touch and had badly let them down. Labour needs a leader who understands how to regain people’s trust and support and who has the vision, experience and courage to be our next Prime Minister. I think David Miliband is that man. David came into politics for the right reasons. He is passionate about giving everyone the help they need to get on in life and ensuring power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of ordinary people, not the privileged few. David is young and energetic, with the gravitas and experience to lead our party and our country. – Liz Kendall MP, Leicester Mercury

Gone fishing

Charlie Whelan, the infamous Labour spin doctor, has quit his role as political director of the Unite union to concentrate on fishing and write his own account of the New Labour government. Whelan was part of the media campaign behind Labour’s 1997 victory – which also included Peter (now Lord) Mandelson, Alastair Campbell and David Hill.

Gordon Brown’s spin doctor in the 1990s, Whelan became political director of Unite in 2007, charged with steering the union through the election. Whelan said he was planning to write a book that would focus on New Labour’s relationship with the media and hoped to make another series for BBC Scotland on his passion, fishing. – The Guardian

Lord McConnell to step down

Former First Minister Jack McConnell has announced that he will not be putting himself forward for re-election as an MSP. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, a former maths teacher, issued a statement in which he said: “I have been an elected representative for most of the last 30 years and it is time to move on. “I will be forever grateful to the many people locally and nationally who have helped me in the causes I have promoted.” As a young councillor and political activist during the 1980s Lord McConnell argued strongly for devolution, and in the 90s he worked to make the Scottish Parliament a reality. Tributes to Lord McConnell were led by Harriet Harman, Labour’s acting leader. She said: “The success of devolution is in no small part due to Jack’s determination and commitment…to make devolution work for Scotland.” – The Journal

Lib Dems backlash

Nick Clegg is facing a backlash at next week’s Liberal Democrat conference, it emerged yesterday – as activists tabled a series of motions critical of coalition policy. The agenda for the party’s annual conference in Liverpool reveals growing tensions between activists and the party leadership over the decision to form a coalition with the Conservatives.

In a move which threatens to embarrass Mr Clegg activists have tabled a highly critical motion on the Government’s education policy. It warns that the Tory policy of introducing so-called free schools will ‘increase social divisiveness and inequity’ and ‘waste precious resources’. – The Express

The outrider has returned to stables. Nick Boles MP, a one-time Cameroon confidante tipped for promotion, formally introduced the possibility of a Tory-Lib Dem electoral pact, it made a few cursory headlines and then David Cameron and Nick Clegg promptly denied any such intention. It had the appearance of the classic three-card trick. A formal alliance or non-aggression pact is highly unlikely unless the coalition survives to 2015. The government will collapse before then if enough Liberal Democrats believe its record is indefensible. However, if it doesn’t then the parties must defend their joint record and in doing so will offer a collaborative future.

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