Thursday, 25 July 2013

GDP figures cheer Coalition..

Good morning. Dave is trying to create a mood of celebration as the troops head off for summer. He will be helped by GDP figures published at 9:30 this morning, which is expected to show growth of 0.6 per cent in the second quarter. While Labour have been preparing for this upturn - hence Ed Balls's recent emphasis on living standards, as noted in The Guardian - it will add to the sense that the Conservatives are winning the big political arguments.
That's certainly what Michael Gove thinks, anyway. “All the polling evidence from Populus and everyone else, given how narrow the Labour lead is at this stage in the Parliament, leads me to believe that David Cameron will have a majority of such health that we will be able to carry on the changes that we need to”, he said at a Populus event yesterday. But that wasn't the only interesting thing Mr Gove said, who argued that teachers' unions have outlived their relevance and should be replaced by a professional body like the British Medical Association, while condemning teachers' strikes as "hugely irresponsible".
It's undeniable that Mr Cameron has come far this year: the party seems to have moved on from division over Europe and gay marriage (which was signed into law by Dave yesterday) and the Eastleigh by-election to focus its guns on Labour. There are inevitably plenty of problems left for Dave this Parliament. But, with Lynton Crosby helping to rid the party message of sideshows, a "stay the course" election campaign, trumpeting economic progress while appealing for a mandate to govern alone, has the makings of a potent ticket in 2015. But with uncertainty over the technicalities of the Universal Credit, the Coulson trial beginning in September and the prospect of further rows on Europe always lingering, will the summer bounce survive into autumn?
The Morning Briefing will take its summer break after tomorrow. Tim Wigmore and I need to rediscover normal sleep patterns. We'll be back, assuming we are spared and can bear it, in early September. Do send us any thoughts on how we can improve it. From feedback, the email is currently best viewed in gmail.  
Len McCluskey would hate to admit it, but he is a big reason for the current bout of Tory optimism. His speech yesterday, calling for Unite to have more power over the running over Labour, was the latest reminder why. Mr McCluskey's main target was New Labour, and above all Lord Sainsbury, calling for union members to have greater "input" into policy and move Labour on from offering a "pinkish shadow" of the Coalition.Our leader argues that there is no denying the unfortunate dilemma Ed Miliband faces:
Mr Miliband – who owes his position to the union block vote – cannot be a credible leader unless he repudiates Mr McCluskey and his ilk, and proves that the Blair years were not just a brief interregnum in Labour’s long march to the Left. The price of that credibility will be to risk bankrupting his party.  
Businessmen and retired mandarins have formed Business For New Europe to fight a public and private campaign to keep Britain in the union. The Mail is clearly gunning for them, wheeling out Andrew Pierce to carry out one of his trademark filletings. The driving force of the group is Roland Rudd, who runs the City company Finsbury and has links to Lord Mandelson. Meanwhile Peter Oborne writes that, even if Dave's decision to promise a referendum was born of desperation, the nature of the euro crisis is presenting an opportunity for Britain to re-emerge as a global trading nation.
Nigel Farage wants to become an MP for a bungalow town with "good ordinary people". This might be a seaside town too: “What’s become really interesting is the phenomenon that no one has really noticed, which is that by accident we’re becoming the seaside party”, he told The Times (£). What could this mean? There's talk of Boston & Skegness, North or South Thanet or Great Yarmouth being seats for Mr Farage's 2015 run. But his path to Westminster may not be helped by the words of UKIP press supremo Gawain Towler. As The Times (£) report, he told Prospect's summer party why didn't take a back to basics approach to politicians' affairs: “A lot of people shag around and drink and so on, so why do we think politicians should be morally better?" 
There seem to be some vicious office politics in the Civil Service. The Times (£) report a press officer in a different department being asked to recommend anyone at the Cabinet Office: "I wouldn't recommend anyone...They're a bunch of utter bastards."
Nadine Dorries has returned £3,000 of parliamentary expenses after Ipsa ruled that, while she had not made any "deliberate attempt to profit", she had wrongly claimed for travel taken to look after family members and her dog.  
Ah, the glamour of an MP...
@MikeGapes: Just finished eight hours of trying to clear emails. In box cut by 800. Only 400 to go. But will be back at 1000 in the morning. 
In the Telegraph 
Best of the rest 
Matt Ridley in The Times (£) - Don’t waste £50bn on HS2. Spend it like this
Richard Lambert in The Financial Times (£) - GDP is a clumsy test
9.30am London: GDP press conference. ONS releases preliminary Q2 GDP figures. They are expected to show quickening growth. Church House, Westminster.  

2.00pm London: Boris Johnson and sports minister Hugh Robertson give a press conference to mark one year on from the Olympic Games.