Sunday, 23 September 2012

Nick says welfare is not immune to further cuts..

BREAKING NEWS: Nick Clegg enjoyed "lengthy conversations" with Tony Blair, Ed Miliband, David Miliband and Peter Mandelson in recent weeks, he said on this morning's Marr show.

It was not all sweetness and light with Labour, however, as Mr Clegg demanded an apology both for the Iraq war and Ed Ball's proximity to the banking industry. "Have you ever heard Ed Balls apologise?" he asked.

As for Andrew Mitchell, he offered an endorsement, but not a ringing one:

"We should draw a line under it...unless something new comes to light about the rival versions which I don't know about."

He was also optimistic about the prospects of his wealth taxes, saying that the Conservatives were increasingly onside:

"I believe in a mansion tax. There's an increasing number of Conservatives who understand the merits."

What would the Conservatives get in exchange? Well, "welfare is not immune to further savings". More broadly, the Lib Dem leader also stuck up for the coalition's economic strategy, saying that he "was not going to flinch" from the path he was travelling. He added:

"[It is] an economic fact that [the next government] will have to make savings...if it's Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem or a combination...[but] we are not going to be bound hand and foot [to Conservative spending plans]."

On his apology-cum-single, as well as his party's relationship with youth in general,  Nick added:

"I've been meaning for some time to put my hands up and say we made a mistake."


Good morning. I'll be sending out a version of the Morning Briefing on conference Sundays for those emerging from the night before who might have missed Marr (and hotel breakfasts).


The Lib Dems returned to an old theme yesterday, setting out plans to target the tax affairs of the wealthy. As the  Times reports, Vince Cable wants a crackdown on tax havens, while anybody earning over £1m a year can expect additional scrutiny of their tax arrangements.

Nick Clegg also launched a blistering attack on Conservative backbenchers, as we report, he said:

"My message to those Conservative backbench MPs who seem to think they have the right to force a turbo-charged right wing agenda on our country is this: You didn't win the last election.

"You do not have a majority. The British people have not given you the right to act like you do. We formed this Coalition in good faith and for the good of the country at a time of crisis.

"This required compromise on both sides. Liberal Democrats have kept our side of the bargain. You must too."

That should do its bit for coalition harmony.


It is not just the Conservatives, you know. Leadership speculation has continued to dog Mr Clegg in the run-up to the conference. Today's Mail reports that Ed Davey has been told to lose weight in preparation for a leadership bout with Mr Clegg.   All stems from when he worked in a pork pie factory when young apparently.

Meanwhile, in the  Sunday Times, the ever reliable Vince Cable pops up to claim that he would "never say never" about the party leadership, although nothing could be further from his mind at present.


Thrasher is handed a thrashing in this morning's papers. The Mirror  splashes with "Saved by the Plebs", while in the Telegraph an unnamed  minister puts his chances of survival at no more than 60/40. The paper adds:

The minister said Mr Mitchell should also consider volunteering to work alongside police for a few days in penance. "It's what you do in this sort of thing, isn't it?" the minister said. "Gordon Brown went on TV and apologised. A few days in a high-visibility jacket with the cops could be just the thing for Andrew."

As we report, Mr Mitchell denies using the word "pleb", although he concedes that he did swear at officers. Although Mr Cameron has stood by his man thus far, the image projected by the affair is entirely at odds with Dave's mission to rebrand what used to be the "nasty party".


And finally... You've bought the song, now sip from the mug. Nick Clegg's tuition fee apology has been commemorated in mug form by the Liberal Democrats. Visitors to the official stall can purchase a new cup with a beaming photo of Mr Clegg accomapied by the slogan, "I'm sorry", the  Mail reports.


Tom Harris is normally a cheerful soul, perhaps the latest polls have upset him:

@TomHarrisMP: "As I slope off to bed, I'm reminded of the wise words of the immortal Toby Ziegler: 'There is no-one I don't hate right now.' Goodnight."


YouGov / Sunday Times: Con 34%, Lab 43%, Lib Dem 8%, UKIP 8% 

Government approval rating: -36%


In The Telegraph

Matthew D'Ancona - I don't believe that Andrew Mitchell let loose the explosive P-word

Janet Daley - Mitt Romney's message is good – it just needs restating

Douglas Carswell - Douglas Carswell: Bad news for the big state

Ian Martin - An EU referendum could be the crucial moment of David Cameron's career

Best of the rest

John Rentoul in The Independent - Clegg's apology hands the leadership to Cable 

Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer - The Lib Dems aren't going to rescue themselves by being timid 

Martin Ivens in The Times (£) - You'll be sorry as the wolves circle, Clegg 

James Forsyth in The Mail - Can 'three jobs' Laws really save the Lib Dems? 


Today: Liberal Democrat conference continues.

10:35 am: Tim Farron speech.

12:20 am:Edward Davey speech.

3:05 pm: Fringe Q&A session with Nick Clegg