Friday News Review

13/05/2011, 06:51:09 AM

C’mon Carwyn

Carwyn Jones will today unveil his new Cabinet after swearing an oath of office and formally taking the reins of government. A list of up to 12 Labour AMs nominated as ministers was sent to Buckingham Palace yesterday to receive the Queen’s approval, which is expected to arrive today. Mr Jones will then reveal the make-up of his new Labour-only Cabinet after winning 30 seats in last week’s Assembly Election, making them by far the largest party but with no majority. Mr Jones announced on Tuesday that he would be going it alone as head of a Labour-only Government rather than seek a deal with any other party. He said yesterday: “I am honoured to serve the people of Wales as First Minister and begin our ambitious programme to create a fairer, more prosperous country in these challenging times.” – Western Mail

We’ve gone six years back

Households may have suffered their biggest drop in take-home incomes for 30 years, a leading economic think-tank has warned. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that analysis of new official figures suggest it was “entirely possible” that median incomes dropped by 3% in 2010-11. Such a fall would leave income levels back where they were six years earlier, the IFS said. The IFS’s analysis is based on household income data for 2009-10 just released by the Department for Work and Pensions. It shows that median incomes continued to grow by 1.6% – following similar sluggish growth the previous year – despite the effects of the recession. However, the IFS warned that these increases were likely to have “more than unwound” in 2010-11 as the long-term effects of the recession are felt and higher inflation erodes living standards. It said that data already available for the first 11 months of 2010-11 showed earnings fell by 3.8%, while its own forecasts pointed to a fall in median incomes of around 3%. – Daily Mirror

The first of many

The Liberal Democrat group in Rochdale has announced changes to its leadership.  Councillor Wera Hobhouse will take over from Councillor Irene Davidson as the Leader of the group and Councillor Zulfiqar Ali will take over from Councillor Dale Mulgrew as the Deputy Leader of the group. Councillor Hobhouse has been a Councillor in the Norden since 2004 and Councillor Ali has been a Councillor for Central Ward since 1998 and is the outgoing Mayor. The move comes following a difficult year for the Lib Dems. Towards the back end of 2010 seven members broke away and formed the short-lived Independent Alliance group. A further three Councillors have since defected to the Conservative party. The group also suffered heavily on election night. – Rochdale News

Physics could be the next to suffer

Deep funding cuts could put the UK’s prominence in astronomy and particle physics at risk, MPs have said. The Science and Technology Committee says astronomy funding will fall by 20% over four years – the science budget’s average real-terms cut was 14.5%. The MPs say some of the resulting cuts are likely to deter leading scientists from working in the UK. The government says it has protected the science budget but cannot make individual funding decisions. Committee chairman Labour MP Andrew Miller said: “If you don’t invest in big science at the level it needs, it’s going to have a big impact on our competitiveness and pre-eminence in areas that are important to the country.” – BBC News

Clegg fires independence warning

Nick Clegg has warned Alex Salmond not to “misinterpret his mandate” by believing the SNP’s landslide victory in the Holyrood election was an expression of support for Scottish independence. The Deputy Prime Minister also did not rule out completely Westminster instigating its own Scottish referendum.That would almost certainly pre-empt the one planned by the First Minister well into the second half of the five-year Holyrood Parliament, ie from 2014 onwards. He said: “I’m not personally – at the moment – persuaded that what we want to do is try and develop some sort of Gunfight at the OK Corral, where we threaten each other with referendums. I’m not sure that is the best way to proceed.” However, Mr Clegg, appearing before the Commons Constitutional and Political Reform Committee, seemed to suggest the door on a Westminster referendum had not been entirely closed. – Daily Herald

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Timetable for elections to the PLP Parliamentary committee

14/10/2010, 08:00:49 PM

We have been asked about the timetable and process for the election of the six members of the PLP Parliamentary committee. This is the group of backbenchers who meet weekly with the leader to keep him in touch with the views of the PLP rank-and-file.

The last time we were in opposition, the Parliamentary committee was the shadow cabinet. Standing orders have now changed to allow it to continue as a backbench body.

The timetable for the election is set out in the email below, from Martin O’Donovan, the PLP secretary.

(Tony Lloyd was elected unopposed as PLP chair).

From: O’DONOVAN, Martin
Sent: 12 October 2010 14:26
Subject: Reminder: PLP Chair and Parliamentary Committee elections

FAO Labour MPs

Dear Colleagues

Please find below a reminder of the timetables for the election of a PLP Chair and the new Parliamentary Committee:

PLP Chair
Nominations opened yesterday, and please note that nominations close TOMORROW (Wednesday) at 6pm. Full timetable is as follows:

Open nominations 9.00am Monday, 11 October
Close of nominations 6.00pm Wednesday, 13 October
Appointment of a proxy 7.00pm Monday, 18 October
Ballot 10.00am to 5.00pm Tuesday, 19 October

Parliamentary Committee
The timetable is as follows:

Open nominations 10.00am Wednesday, 20 October
Close of nominations 5.00pm Monday, 25 October
Appointment of a proxy 7.00pm Monday, 25 October
Ballot 10.00am to 5.00pm Tuesday, 26 October

Best wishes

Martin O’Donovan
Returning Officer and PLP Secretary

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Thursday News Review

14/10/2010, 08:22:58 AM

The boy done good

Ed Miliband was the undisputed winner in his debut appearance opposite David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. The new Labour leader scored a direct hit on the PM’s muddled policies when he went on the attack over coalition plans to scrap child benefit for higher-rate taxpayers. He said Cameron’s proposals to cut child benefit for people earning over £44,000 were unfair for middle-income families. And he showed he had nerves of steel in the bearpit of British politics when Cameron flannelled on an answer. The Tory leader tried to turn the question around on the Doncaster MP by asking if it was fair that the poor in his constituency should pay for his child benefit. Without realising it, Cameron had walked into a trap. Miliband retorted: “I may be new to this game but I thought I asked the questions and you answered them.” – The Daily Record

ITN News


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Saturday News Review

24/07/2010, 09:42:49 AM

Cash money

David Miliband has raised more in donations than any of the other candidates

David Miliband, the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest, has raised at least £200,000, his campaign has revealed, as the disparity in financial backing for the five candidates emerges as a big issue. Two wealthy donors have each given him £50,000, sparking accusations within the party that the former foreign secretary is deploying far more staff than his rivals and is in danger of “buying the election” with “Blairite” support. – The Guardian


More than 2 million people have a vote in the Labour leadership election, which will trudge on through the summer to a crescendo on 25 September. But how many will avail themselves of the chance to vote must be a cause for concern. The Society of Labour Lawyers has completed a ballot of its 598 members to decide which candidates would receive the society’s formal backing. Labour lawyers, you might think, would be among the more motivated sections of the electorate, yet turn out in this ballot was a dismal eight per cent. In other word, 48 out of 598 bothered to vote. The result was Ed Miliband 18, David Miliband 17, Diane Abbott 8, Andy Burnham 9, and Ed Balls nil. If that reflects the level of enthusiasm, it is not going to be a resounding mandate. – The Independent

The contest has raised barely an eyebrow of public interest, though whoever wins may find low expectations a blessing. There is nowhere to go but up, as opinion polls offer cold comfort. Guardian readers should not be deceived by our daily reasoned critiques of profoundly misguided government policies. The coalition may be about to crash the economy, shipwreck the NHS and splinter the education system but the public does not agree, as yet. The coalition’s honeymoon may last a while. – The Guardian


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Lansley’s man’s big food business links

12/07/2010, 12:08:40 PM

The Guardian, among others, is reporting this morning that the Food Standards Agency is to be abolished as part of the overhaul of the Department of Health, to be set out by Andrew Lansley in the white paper which is to be published at 15.30 today. The Guardian reports:

The Food Standards Agency is to be abolished by Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, it emerged last night, after the watchdog fought a running battle with industry over the introduction of colour-coded “traffic light” warnings for groceries, TV dinners and snacks. The move has sparked accusations that the government has “caved in to big business”.

Going on to say:

Andy Burnham, Labour’s health spokesman, said: “Getting rid of the FSA is the latest in a number of worrying steps that show Andrew Lansley caving in to the food industry. It does raise the question whether the health secretary wants to protect the public health or promote food companies.” Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, said it was “crazy” to dismember the FSA. “It had a hugely important role in improving the quality of foodstuffs in Britain and it was vital to have at the centre of government a body that championed healthy food. This appears just the old Conservative party being the political wing of business,” Fry said.

But something that the Guardian, along with the rest of the news media, has missed is the background of Lansley’s Special Adviser, Bill Morgan.

Morgan who is leading on policy development at the Department of Health, and has been at the heart of the work on the white paper, used to work  for Mandate Communications. This is something of which they are very proud indeed.

Not particulary suprising, given that most special advisers work in public affairs at some point in their careers. However, it is interesting to note that Mandate work or have worked for rather a lot of “big businesses” with an interest in the regulation of the food industry.

Indeed, it would be fair to say that they specialise. And, actually, not just ordinary “big businesses”, but firms like Kraft Foods, Coca Cola, Cadbury and Tesco. More like massive behemoths of global agribusiness, then.

Who are presumably celebrating this morning.

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Updated shadow front bench

03/07/2010, 12:13:24 PM

?Acting Leader of the Opposition

Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP

Acting Shadow Deputy Prime Minister

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP

Lord Philip Hunt (DPM issues in Lords + ECC)


Rt Hon David Miliband MP

Ivan Lewis MP

Chris Bryant MP

Baroness (Glenys) Kinnock

Baroness (Liz) Symons

Baroness (Christine) Crawley


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Tom Copley is not happy being on Ken Clark’s side

01/07/2010, 11:07:18 AM

Agreeing wholeheartedly with a politician from an opposing party on a matter of serious policy can leave one feeling rather uncomfortable.  This is particularly the case when one’s own party has been spectacularly wrong on said policy over many years.  It was this unpleasant feeling that hit me when I heard that Ken Clarke, the Tory justice secretary, had launched an assault on the “bang ‘em up” prison culture of the last twenty years. (more…)

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Monday News Review

28/06/2010, 08:06:43 AM

On your bike mark II

“Labour leadership candidate Ed Balls said yesterday Mr Duncan Smith was going further than Norman Tebbit. Mr Balls said: “The remarks suggest that he’s thinking of taking away the housing tenure, the right to a social house and saying you’ve got to move. “So actually he’s going further than saying on your bike. It’s on your bike and lose your home.” – The Mirror

“Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband – who is backed by former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain – said the proposals were a retreat “back to the 1980s”. He said: “[What] he is saying to whole parts of the country is: ‘we have no hope as a government of getting work into your area so you are going to have to move out of your communities’. And that is frankly disgraceful.” – Western Mail

Cable cracks

“I hear from one of the other panel members that Vince Cable was deeply uncomfortable defending the VAT rise and the Budget and coalition in general on BBC1’s Question Time last week. I’m told that Cable, who has just been distancing himself from his party’s “VAT Bombshell” poster during the election, “simply got through it by a form of meditation.” – James Macintyre, New Statesman

“Up to half a dozen Lib Dem MPs are understood to have unofficially met Labour counterparts late last week to discuss co-ordinating their opposition.  Two early day motions protesting about the rise have attracted the support of almost 70 Labour MPs and Lib Dem MP Bob Russell has already threatened to vote against the Budget.” – The Daily Mail


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Hustings Timetable

11/06/2010, 02:01:02 PM

Monday June 7th, 1pm – GMB Hustings, Southport

Monday June 7th, 7pm – Parliamentary Labour Party Hustings, London

Wednesday, June 9th, TBC – New Statesman Hustings, London

Friday, June 11th, 6pm – Labour Party Youth Hustings, London

Saturday, June 12th, 2.25pm – Compass Hustings, London

Sunday, June 13th, 12pm – Glasgow Hustings, Glasgow

Monday June 14th, 7.30pm – Fabian Hustings London

Tuesday, June 15th, 10.30pm – BBC Newsnight, London

Wednesday, June 16th, TBC – BAME Labour Hustings, London

Saturday, June 19th, 12pm – BAME Hustings, Leicester

Saturday, June 26th, 11am – Newcastle Hustings

Tuesday, June 29th, TBC – Oxford Hustings

Wednesday, June 30th, TBC – Lambeth Hustings, London

Thursday, July 1st, TBC – New MPs’ Hustings, London

Friday July 2nd, 11am – Unison Hustings, Leeds

Saturday, July 3rd, TBC – Unite Hustings, Leeds

Sunday, July 4th, TBC – Cardiff Hustings

Monday, July 5th, 7.30pm – Christian Socialist Movement Hustings, London

Wednesday, July 7th, TBC – Local Government Association Hustings, Bournemouth

Thursday, July 8th, TBC – Sky News Hustings, North East

Saturday, July 10th, 11am – Southampton Hustings, Southampton

Saturday, July 10th, TBC – Unite Hustings, London

Monday, July 12th – South East Hustings, Greenwich Theatre, London

Wednesday, July 14th, 2pm – CWU Hustings, London

Thursday July 15th – TBC – Local Government Association Hustings, London

Friday, July 16th, 7pm – London Hustings

Saturday, July 17th, TBC – Unite Virtual Hustings

Saturday, July 17th, 3.30pm – Unions 21 Hustings, South West

Sunday, July 18th, TBC – Birmingham Hustings

Monday, July 19th, TBC – BAME Labour Hustings, Wembley, London

Monday, July 19th, TBC – Socialist Societies Hustings, London

Tuesday, July 20th, 3pm – Usdaw Hustings, Manchester

Saturday July 21st, TBC – Tribune/Howard League Hustings, London

Sunday, July 25th, TBC – Women’s Hustings, Leeds

Tuesday, June 29th, 7.30pm – Oxford Hustings, Oxford Town Hall

Saturday, July 31st, 11am – Co-Op Hustings, Manchester

Monday, August 2nd, TBC – Radio 5 Live Hustings, South East

Saturday 5th September, 10am – Sky News Hustings, Norwich

Monday 13th September, TBC – TUC Hustings, Manchester

Thursday, September 16th, 10.30pm – BBC Question Time, London

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Barry Gardiner’s elephant

09/06/2010, 02:21:42 PM

Since they got (back) to Westminster, Labour MPs have been assaulted by a relentless barrage of vote-begging letters from their Parliamentary colleagues. There are or have been elections for the leadership, the deputy speakerships, all party groups, backbench committees and a host of select committee chairs. There are shadow cabinet and select committee membership elections to come.

Everybody is sick of it.  Most of the letters are dull and unremarkable.  There has generally been no reason to inflict them on Uncut readers.

There are two that stick out, though.


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