Wednesday News Review

Clegg pleads with students

Clegg said he would defend the planned trebling of tuition fees, despite campaigning for their total abolition during the election: “I will defend the government’s plan for reforming the funding of universities, even though it is not the one I campaigned for. It is not my party’s policy, but it is the best policy, given the choices we face.”

His remarks came as it emerged that threats to Clegg’s personal safety had led his security advisers to review his travel arrangements. He has been told by his protection officers it is no longer safe for him to cycle from his south London home to Downing Street, and that he must travel by car. He has also dropped plans to visit university campuses, once the heartland of his support base, until emotions have subsided. – The Guardian

Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, is expected to be handed a letter by a group of students who claim “no amount of twisted reasoning” can hide the fact the party lied to young voters. It will read: “In the general election hundreds of thousands of young people, many voting for the first time, chose your party … they identified in particular with your public pledge to oppose raising tuition fees.”We call on you to withdraw Lib Dem support for Conservative cuts to our education system, or face the disappointment and anger of a generation that has been betrayed.” Nick Clegg on Tuesday night urged students to call off the protest, claiming the coalition’s plans were “even fairer” than the graduate tax supported by the National Union of Students. – The Telegraph

Nick Clegg has pleaded with students to “listen and look” before they join today’s protests over the Government’s plans to allow universities to charge up to £9,000 a year. The Liberal Democrat leader admitted the proposal was “not my party’s policy” as he sought to justify his dramatic U-turn after pledging to phase out fees at the May general election. He said the Coalition’s policy was fairer than the graduate tax favoured by the National Union of Students (NUS). He urged protesters: “Listen and look before you march and shout. Our plans will mean that many of the lowest income graduates will repay less than they do under the current system.” – The Independent

An evening with Peter

There are lots of good moments in Hannah Rothschild’s film. Some of it is already familiar: the barracking of George Osborne after one of the televised debates; that dance, a rictus-grin two-step with a lady in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. But better are the moments that aren’t orchestrated by the man himself, like the time Rothschild catches him with his trousers down. Literally, he’s wandering around in his pants, though sadly his shirt is too long to see – definitively – what kind of pants they are. Y-fronts I think, from the tiniest of glimpses, plus a lot of pausing and rewinding. You’d imagine them to be Y-fronts, wouldn’t you? – The Guardian

You’ve got to stop acting in such an imperial way,” Tony Blair once told Peter Mandelson, according to the Prince of Darkness’s own account in Storyville: Mandelson: the Real PM? On the evidence of Hannah Rothschild’s film he doesn’t appear to have taken the advice. Less fly-on-the-wall than lady-in-waiting, this account of five months in the life of the Business Secretary showed him to be imperial to the hilt. He could only have conveyed a greater sense of Roman grandeur if he’d been wearing a toga and shadowed by a figure whispering “You too will die” into his ear. At one point, the camera showed him eating a yoghurt: when he’d finished, he held the pot aloft wordlessly, obviously confident that a member of his sizeable retinue would make this troublesome object disappear. Hannah Rothschild, incidentally, wasn’t whispering reminders of human mortality at him. She was – with perhaps more calculation than was always obvious on screen – gently nudging her subject’s self-regard into the open so that we could see it unshadowed. – The Independent

Hacking gate

MPs were warned yesterday it would be difficult for Parliament to take action over the alleged hacking of their mobile phones by the News of the World. The Commons’ most senior official, Clerk of the House Malcolm Jack, said that the courts should normally deal with the practice because it was a criminal offence. The Commons agreed in September to refer claims that the newspaper had targeted MPs’ phones to the House’s Standards and Privileges Committee to investigate. Chris Bryant, a Labour MP who said he had been told by police that he was on a list of people whose phones had been targeted, said the hacking claims amounted to a contempt of Parliament and a “severe breach” of parliamentary privilege. However, giving evidence at the first public hearing of the committee’s inquiry, Mr Jack stressed that Parliament traditionally exercised its powers for dealing with contempt only “sparingly”. He said: “I think the remedy is under the law. Hacking is a criminal matter and can be prosecuted in the courts.” – The Independent

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