Tuesday News Review

Liberal rebellion

Clegg’s speech was overshadowed by a massive revolt over the coalition’s schools policy. Party members overwhelmingly passed a motion opposing plans to create more academies and free schools, which are free from local authority control. The motion, which took party leaders by surprise, said there was a risk that the new schools would increase “social divisiveness and inequity in a system that is already unfair”. The defeat is particularly troubling for the Liberal Democrats because members are supposed to set official party policy at conference. That means the party leadership is in the uncomfortable position of promoting a policy that has been vetoed by grass roots members. – City AM

Liberal Democrat councils are on a collision course with Nick Clegg by campaigning against the creation of “free schools” in their communities. Following a rebellion by party activists against the Coalition’s flagship education policy, the conference voted to boycott the new schools because they increased “social divisiveness and inequity”. A succession of activists, including many councillors, protested that allowing parents to set up new schools beyond town hall control would benefit better-off families to the detriment of those in poorer areas, and could also lead to selection by the back door. In a snub to the party leadership, they convincingly defeated an attempt to water down a motion critical of free schools. – The Independent

Former MPs and PCCs back David and Ed (Balls)

The poll of former Labour MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates by Channel 4 News found overwhelming support for David Miliband, with former chancellor Ed Balls just pipping Mr Miliband’s younger brother Ed Miliband for second place.  Channel 4 News spoke to former MPs who lost their marginal seats in May and to candidates who lost, despite standing in seats where there had been a sitting Labour MP.They all aspire to win back the seats Labour will need to secure if the party is to return to government. – Channel 4

Pressure on Clegg over cuts

Labour’s Ed Miliband said: “For all the smoke and mirrors, Nick Clegg cannot obscure the fact that he is propping up a government with policies that will make Britain more unfair, unjust and unequal. “However long this coalition lasts, that will be his legacy.” The RMT’s Bob Crow added: “They went into the election promising one thing and then sold out their principles the minute the Tories offered them a sniff of power. “The Lib Dems have become nothing less than the outriders for the most reactionary and right-wing government in a generation.” Even Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who stood against Mr Clegg for the leadership in 2007, only rated his colleague’s speech an unflattering “eight out of 10”. – The Mirror

The Liberal Democrat leadership is being urged by a forum of members to ensure spending cuts do not hit the poorest in society disproportionately. A motion to be debated at the party’s conference in Liverpool also demands the “inequality gap does not widen”. It comes as the coalition prepares for next month’s spending review. On Monday, leader Nick Clegg urged the party to hold its nerve over its coalition agreement and said planned cuts were the “only choice”. TUC leader Brendan Barber, a vehement critic of the cuts programme, is due to address Lib Dem activists at a fringe meeting on Tuesday. – The BBC

Oh Mandy

The Dark Lord persists in knocking Miliband (E) in the hope of propelling his brother to the leadership, this time criticising Ed for his role in writing the party’s 2010 manifesto: “A lowest-common-denominator manifesto, a crowd-pleasing Guardianista manifesto that completely passed by that vast swath of the population who weren’t natural Labour voters.” Few would doubt Mandelson’s assertion that the manifesto was written by “Gordon and Ed [M]”. But then, before the party lost the election for which he was its campaign supremo, The Dark Lord described the document rather differently: “I would describe it as Blair plus … New Labour plus,” he said on 12 April (it’s still on iPlayer, m’lud), before bullishly reminding his interviewer that he, Blair and Brown had invented New Labour together – with the intention, I recall, of appealing to that vast swath of the population who weren’t naturally Labour voters. – The Independent

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