Saturday News Review

Hain on tax

One of Ed Miliband’s closest allies has backed a tax increase for higher earners as Labour prepares to reveal new details about his plan to deal with Britain’s budget deficit. Peter Hain, who was part of Mr Miliband’s leadership campaign team, said an increase in tax on the wealthy would “square the circle”, allowing Labour to avoid the Coalition Government’s controversial cut to child benefit. His intervention comes as the new shadow Chancellor, Alan Johnson, prepares to make his first major speech in the role on Monday. Mr Johnson has also agreed to television interviews over the weekend. – The Independent

Mr Hain told website Labour Uncut: “I think the Tories and Liberals are making a very big mistake on child benefit. “There’s an answer to people on higher incomes – they pay higher taxes. And that is the answer to squaring that circle.” Former Welsh Secretary Mr Hain is party leader Red Ed’s new policy chief. He also hinted that new Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson may be overruled by Mr Miliband to set the party’s economic policy. It could mean paying back the deficit more slowly than Mr Johnson would like. Mr Hain said: “People forget Ed is an economist. He’s got a very clear idea of where he wants to go on the economy and the deficit and we’ll set that out. We’ll both be offering a serious alternative.” – The Sun

Ed’s week

Reflecting on his performance in the Commons, Mr Miliband is pleased. He wants to set a new tone, although he stops short of falling into the same trap as the Prime Minister who pledged to end “Punch and Judy” politics when he became Leader of the Opposition, only to fail miserably. “I want to use PMQs to ask serious questions the country wants to know the answer to, because I don’t think people particularly want a lot of political point scoring,” he says. “I think it’s unrealistic to say you’re never going to have that – and I didn’t say that – but I think you need it to be a place where serious issues get debated. It went well this week, it’s a long game and we’ll see what happens in future weeks.” In preparation for the big event, Mr Miliband’s team considered the topics they could raise and plumped for child benefit, a raid on the incomes of higher-rate taxpayers in middle England – voters whose support he will need to win power. – The Yorkshire Post

The press’ attention was temporarily distracted on Wednesday, when Ed Miliband entered the Commons for his first PMQs as opposition leader. The press gallery was stunned to find the man they had patronised for two weeks easily beat David Cameron in a confident and businesslike manner. –

No one would begrudge Ed Miliband the plaudits for his fine first performance at PMQs. He has made a good start and seemed to take David Cameron by surprise. The Labour leader has a small, under-resourced team, which has been devoted much of the last week to preparing him for the task of his first confrontation with the Prime MInister. This is simply not sustainable. The weekly duel, terrifying though it may be, cannot come to dominate his thinking – however good he comes to be at it. – The Spectator

Lord Sugar on the new Politics

He is restrained on the new face of politics – Gordon was his man; he knew he shouldn’t have agreed to those TV debates, he told him so at the time. “I’ve deliberately kept out of the leadership [race] because the truth of the matter is I don’t know the people. My advice to Ed [Miliband] is to keep it honest and he’ll get the respect of the public.” On David Cameron: “Look. I don’t know. I like to be a very fair person. Let’s see what he does.” […] “One thing that’s for sure, this coalition thing is an absolute joke. It’s got to be sorted out. It can’t last for long with these Lib Dems and all that. These two people, [Nick] Clegg and [Vince] Cable, in their heart of hearts never thought they would get into power, now it’s as if Leyton Orient suddenly found themselves in the Champions League. Fish out of water! Unbelievable! They don’t know what they are doing! I think Cable should … he should just give it up. They should put him in a field somewhere and give him a bit of hay.” – The Guardian

What price a pre 2015 election?

Back in May, it all looked so easy, relaxed and natural. Cameron and Clegg joking at the press conference in the Number Ten garden, negotiations concluded smoothly between the parties, ministers working together round the cabinet table and so on. This week, it was a lot harder, with Lib Dem MP’s voting for huge rises in tuition fees and Tory MP’s voting for the UK’s contribution to the EU budget and for a referendum on the voting system. Next week it gets a lot harder again. The first half of the week in the Commons will be dominated by more debate and voting on Clegg’s mega-reform bill. In and amongst, we get Cameron making the Strategic Defence review on Tuesday and then Osborne’s Spending Review on Wednesday. There are any number of government decisions that could spark backbench anger and revolts in that lot. What ties them all together is the Coalition Agreement, which underlies the whole basis of the government. Given the possibility for trouble, this then might be a good time to look at the market for when the next General Election will be held. – Political Betting

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