Tuesday NewsReview

Brotherly love

David Miliband says the Tories and Lib Dems are more representative of the country than the Labour party led by his younger brother, Ed. In an extraordinary intervention, the former foreign secretary said the coalition party had more MPs who reflected Britain. Mr Miliband, who was elbowed out of the way for the top Labour job by ‘Red Ed’, also warned of the danger of the party ‘lapsing into long-term opposition’. Since being defeated in the leadership contest last year, David Miliband has made few public comments about Labour. But last night he said Labour should back David Cameron’s idea of a Big Society. Mr Miliband told the Hay  Festival: ‘If you look at the  Parliamentary Tory party and the Lib Dems, they have got some strengths over us. ‘They have got more doctors in Parliament than we have. ‘They have more military  officers. The Tories are trying to open up.’ Suggesting Labour should follow suit, he added: ‘We have to make sure we look like the  country we represent, not just our supporters.’ – Daily Mail

Mr Miliband’s remarks may be seen as a rebuke for his brother, Ed Miliband, who has described the Prime Minister’s call for a more responsible Britain as a “failure”. David Miliband also suggested that Conservatives and Lib Dem MPs are more representative of modern Britain than Labour members, and warned of the danger of the party “lapsing into long term opposition.” Since being defeated in a leadership contest last year, David Miliband has made few public comments about Labour under his brother. But speaking at the Hay-on-Wye festival, David Miliband appeared to raise questions about the direction and make-up of today’s Labour Party. The Prime Minister has called for a Big Society, which he says would see people taking more responsibility for their own public services and communities, and a stronger role for voluntary groups. Ed Miliband has sent mixed messages on the concept, endorsing some aspects of it but also saying earlier this year that it was simply a “cloak” for cuts in public services. – Daily Telegraph

Labour told you so

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) cut its growth forecasts for this and next year on Monday, pointing to the impact of the government’s tough fiscal policy and high inflation on consumers’ ability to spend. The BCC reduced its forecast for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2011 to 1.3 percent from a previous prediction in March of 1.4 percent. It reduced its forecast for 2012 to 2.2 percent from 2.3 percent. That would argue for the Bank of England continuing to keep interest rates very low to support growth, but the BCC also raised its forecasts for inflation and said that would lead the Bank to raise rates for the first time in August. The business lobby said the government’s tough austerity measures to cut a record budget deficit, combined with higher than expected inflation, would squeeze disposable incomes, meaning economic recovery would be slow over the next 18-24 months. – Interactive Investor

A show of strength

First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones. Although no agenda has been released, it is expected the lower corporation tax proposed for Northern Ireland in Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget will be high on the agenda. Last week MPs on Westminster’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee admitted other parts of the UK could be disadvantaged by the move. But they insisted the situation was unique because of the border with Ireland where the rate is less than half that in the UK. – Daily Herald

The meeting, to be held in Edinburgh at Mr Salmond’s official residence, is the first time the heads of devolved government of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have gathered since receiving renewed mandates following the recent elections. Mr Salmond will host the meeting with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and it will be attended by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones. The three devolved governments will discuss their shared agenda. It is likely corporation tax will be discussed, with Mr Salmond currently pursuing the control of the levy as part of the Scotland Bill. A House of Commons report has already signalled support for the devolution of the tax in Northern Ireland. – Belfast Telegraph

Clegg’s constitutional dilemma

The scale of the fight facing Nick Clegg as he tries to reform the House of Lords has been made clear by a newspaper survey revealing an overwhelming majority of peers believe the change would be unconstitutional. The deputy prime minister published a plan last month to replace the Lords with a wholly – or 80% – elected chamber of about 300 peers. They would be elected by thirds every five years and serve single 15-year terms. Clegg, faced with hostility to the plan and bruised after the failure of the alternative vote referendum campaign, is attempting a more sensitive approach this time, bringing in a package of measures that would appeal to ordinarily sceptical MPs and peers. Because of the intrinsic unpalatability of the proposals, it had been suggested that the government use the Parliament Act to force its will on the upper house should it transpire that peers do not back the change. While all three main parties committed to the policy in their manifestos, there are large pockets of sceptics beneath the surface. – the Guardian

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