Friday News Review

Dave vs. Nick

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will go head-to-head over Britain’s voting system with Cameron warning AV would lead to further political horsetrading, and Clegg countering that first-past-the-post fosters distrust in politics. In carefully choreographed speeches, following the referendum on 5 May being given royal assent, the two men will start a delicate operation to set out views on voting reform passionately held by their respective parties without damaging the coalition’s stability. One source described it “as a temporary and limited undocking”. Cameron will speak first in London followed two hours later by Clegg in Leeds. Cameron is expected to be the more prominent campaigner in the coming week after polling showing Clegg is the best poster boy for the no campaign. The prime minister will say: “In the next 11 weeks the debate over AV is going to heat up right across the country. Throughout this time I’ll be making my case loud and clear.” – the Guardian

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are to set out their opposing views on whether to change the Westminster voting system. They will each make speeches on the issue on Friday as the 5 May referendum campaign gets going in earnest. The prime minister is expected to argue the existing system for electing MPs provides “real accountability” but his deputy will counter that changing it would be “good for democracy”. The government pledged to hold a vote on the issue in its coalition deal. The move – which will lead to the first UK-wide referendum of its kind since 1975 – was a key concession by the Conservatives to their Lib Dem partners. – BBC

Recent polls show the Yes vote doing better, and as Toby Young argues, the No2AV campaign has some worrying design issues. Inside the No campaign I gather they rather hope that their supporters will snap out of their complacency and start doing some work. David Cameron is about to weigh in, although there is uncertainty over the extent to which he will campaign. The good news though is that Downing Street is alive to the resourcing problem, and I’m told is getting involved with the financing of the campaign. The view inside Team Dave is that politicising the opposition too much – ie involving Dave – might be counter-productive. “But we are helping with the money.” I assume that means getting City types to dip into their pockets. – the Telegraph

Ed Balls warns Mervyn King over credibility

Mervyn King is risking the credibility of the Bank of England by appearing to endorse the Government’s tough austerity measures, Ed Balls has warned. The shadow chancellor, who was one of the architects of the independent central bank in 1997, criticised the Governor for becoming too political. “The last thing you ever want is for the Bank to be drawn into the political arena,” Mr Balls said in a newspaper interview. “Central bank governors have to be very careful about tying themselves too closely to fiscal strategies, especially when they are extreme and making their job on monetary policy more complicated.” His comments echo criticisms last year by Adam Posen, a serving member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee. Just this week, Mr King said “we should be glad” that the Government has a strategy to deal with the deficit “over the next five years”. Mr Balls said austerity would not be as damaging to growth under Labour, as it would only “be halving the deficit over four years”. – the Telegraph

UK could escape punishment over prison votes refusal

Britain would escape serious punishment if the Government defies a court’s ruling against the UK blanket ban on prisoners voting, it was reported today. The Times says a leaked document prepared for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg shows that the European Court of Human Rights could only put “political rather than judicial” pressure on the UK. Last week MPs overwhelmingly backed the status quo with a 234 to 22 vote in the House of Commons. Despite Prime Minister David Cameron declaring that the idea of prisoners voting makes him “sick”, fears of compensation claims running into millions of pounds have prompted reform plans. They would see some 28,000 inmates serving less than four years being given the vote, although there have been signs that ministers could row back from that position. According to the newspaper the document contains submissions from government lawyers, who estimate that as many as 70-80,000 prisoners at any given time could claim compensation estimated at up to £143 million. But they say that the Strasbourg court does not have the legal power to force the Government to pay out on those claims, and the UK would likely remain in the Council of Europe which monitors the implementation of human rights legislation. – the Independent

One Response to “Friday News Review”

  1. Tacitus says:

    So now the AV campaign is about to start we might see an end to the Nick and Dave love-in. OK boys, come out fighting – rabbit punches, kicking, scramming and biting are most welcome. Kicks to the groin are encouraged and spitting is allowed.

    May the best man stand down as leader.

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