Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Obama wins four more years..

Those waking this morning hoping for dramatic news from the US were disappointed. President Obama has been re-elected by a handsome margin. The swing states didn't swing, and neither the Senate nor the House changed hands. It's as you were for the next four years, even though the popular vote was desperately close, with 50:49 to the President the latest projection. The Telegraph have been covering the election live through the night, and you can find the action as it happenshere . The margin between the candidates in terms of electoral college votes currently stands at 303-203, and you can see where the supporters were scattered on our interactive map. In his victory address, Mr Obama said:
"Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you."
While the implications in terms of British politics are still emerging, both sides will take something from the evening's events. The Conservatives have staked a great deal on the power of the incumbency, and will take succour from the fact that the President has held on. Dave tweeted the President to congratulate his "friend" on his re-election."The Labour Party will see the triumph of a progressive agenda in a conservative nation as good omen. As Mary Riddell writes in this morning's Telegraph, Ed Miliband & co could also learn from Mr Obama's habit of over-promising. 
Sir George Young has withdrawn the Tory whip from television's Nadine Dorries until she returns to explain herself, as the Telegraph reports.  Damian Thompson on Telegraph Blogs points out the difficulty in being seen to defend Andrew Mitchell to the hilt whilst immediately dropping an MP who was not part of the magic circle of what Mrs Dorries would term "posh boys". However, as Quentin Letts writes in today's Mail , she should not be disappearing while Parliament is in session in order to eat insects on television:
"As an MP she is in a position of rare privilege. We are entitled to expect more. If she wants to change the system, she should wage that battle from within the institution, not through the camera lens of a reality TV company that’s paying her £40,000 (and counting) for her time."
Anglo-German talks between the Prime Minister and Angela Merkel will begin this evening at Downing Street before being formally taken up tomorrow. The Prime Minister will try to insist on cuts to the EU budget, particularly as the EU's auditors have just refused to sign its accounts for the 18th straight year, but Frau Merkel may have other things on her mind, as Mats Persson writes in today's Telegraph:.
"Part of the problem is that Germany and Britain keep on talking past each other. This is... down to bad diplomacy. Cameron and George Osborne have made a habit of lecturing the Germans on the "inexorable logic" of the eurozone becoming a debt union – for which German taxpayers would foot the bill. This is a spectacular own goal..."
Still, even if tonight's instalment of Carry on Diplomacy is not looking promising, at least Dave managed to flog some jets on his recent trip to the Gulf. As the FT (£) reports, the UAE has signalled its intention to purchase a batch of Typhoons by signing a cooperation agreement with the UK which makes specific reference to the deal.
Dave also came away from the region with a beautiful green sash, pictured here. With a tasteful yellow border, it comes with a pretty floral charm medal. Surely the perfect accompaniment to the Prime Minister's (hired) white tie and tails at the next state banquet?
Whether the influx of money and gaudy clothing is seen as a compensation in Number 10 for the loss of political capital occasioned by their handling of the trip is another thing. This morning the Guardianquestion his motives in allowing access for individual journalists in the hope of securing better coverage. The problem with that strategy, of course, is that it makes many more enemies than friends.

The first 10 Conservative targets in the 40:40 campaign have been revealed. ConservativeHome reports that Sarah Newton is targeting eight Labour seats and two Lib Dem ones in the first batch, with four of the seats intending to run candidates chosen by primary. Selection will be wrapped up by Christmas, a sign that CCHQ has given up the ghost when it comes to boundary reform and is now content to select on the old boundary lines.
That's the verdict of Patrick Wintour writing in today's Guardian. Although he worries that both parties will drift apart as they appeal to their bases when the 2015 election nears, at the moment, it's all a bit Animal Farm:
"Some ministers continue to say that if independent observers watched a departmental ministerial meeting, they would be hard pressed to distinguish the Tory from Liberal Democrat."
The Civil Service risks being "demoralised" by cuts to Whitehall budgets, according to the Institute for Government. The FT (£) reports that things are so bad one department has "not having a staff suicide as a success measure". Grim.
Calling for a living wage is in vogue at the moment, with politicians from Ed Miliband to Boris Johnson demanding what they view as fairer pay. Unfortunately, as the Mirror reports, 181 MPs are paying staff members less than this, with a third of those MPs sitting on the Labour benches. Still, it sounds good...
As the countdown to the Lord Justice Leveson's report begins in earnest, the divisions over press regulation are as deep as ever. This morning's Telegraph criticises the decision of the NUJ to come out in support of some system of statutory regulation for the press. As our leader puts it:
"The defenders of a free press are few enough in number. For the NUJ to be willing to sacrifice those hard-won freedoms on the altar of Left-wing orthodoxy suggests that it is no longer fit to represent its members – who may now wish to reconsider their subscriptions."
Given the eerily prescient qualities of In The Thick Of It, let's hope that the premise of Channel 4's Secret State remains a fiction. Catastrophic events force the Deputy Prime Minister to the fore, leading him to take on the establishment and risk everything uncovering a grave conspiracy. Something to keep an eye on as the evenings draw in.
On a visit to the US embassy, Diane Abbott's faith in the market to provide public services like education clearly goes before her:
@HackneyAbbott: "Worst insult of the year so far. Women on reception at US embassy election party asked me if I was a young Republican....."
In the Telegraph
Alistair Osborne - The Golden Fleecers
Best of the rest
Alan Posener in the Times (£) - Listen, Britain. Germany's had enough of you           
Brian Cathcart in The Guardian - The press can live with this
Today: International Development Secretary Justine Greening to announce package of support for Burma.
12:00 pm:  Nick Clegg takes Prime Ministers Questions.
02:00 pm: Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to hold a tree health summit to discuss ash dieback outbreak. Owen Paterson will chair a summit focussing on tree health in the UK and 'Ash Dieback' specifically. Emmanuel Centre, 9-23 Marsham Street. 
06:00 pm: The Prime Minister will meet Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. No 10 Downing Street.