Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Summertime sadness..

The launch of the Adonis Review into cities - trailed by Labour as a crucial part of their election programme - has been overshadowed by claims that the the party has got its numbers wrong. Statistics from the think-tank Centre for Cities, using figures from 2010-12, have been called into question by the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics ("Data row hits Labour's cities-led growth plan" is the Guardian's take - read Matt Holehouse's story here).  

The stats - which were used on the Today programme yesterday to trail the speech - were dropped, with Labour saying that Ed Miliband had decided to give an "off the cuff" address instead of a speech, and in the Q&A afterwards, he stuck by the figures. It's difficult, however, not to cast the mind back to Mr Miliband's car-crash interviews on Good Morning Britain and Radio Wiltshire, when he appeared to have been poorly-briefed, or Chris Bryant's last-minute rewrites of a speech on immigration after claims contained within it about Next and Tesco were found to be untrue, and conclude that once again, the party's sloppy homework has caused it to come a cropper. 
That anxiety is the background to one-time Ed guru Lord Glasman's piece in today's FT that will make particularly uncomfortable reading for the Labour leader. It is clear that something is not right for Labour, although there is, of course, disagreement as to what that it is. It's all down to a failure on Mr Miliband's part to provide a "sense of direction" or "a narrative of national renewal", according to Lord Glasman. Expect these arguments to be played out increasingly openly as the summer wears on. 
The guestlist of last summer's Tory fundraising dinner has been released, to a flurry of comment. Six billionaires and 15 people with a personal wealth of above £100m were present at the event at Old Billingsgate Market. "PM's party for donors - with an £11bn guest list" is the Mail's headline. The Guardian has provided a breakdown of who sat where - and also reveals that CCHQ's ban on bubbly remained in force throughout the evening. It's not known how much the event itself raised, but the Electoral Commission reveals that between them, the guests have donated £5m to the Tory machine. Small wonder that - as the Times reveals today - the Conservatives are likely to have three times as much money to spend in 2015 as Labour; they are almost certain to reach the maximum £19.5 million that can be spent in the run-up to an election. Labour planners, meanwhile are "hopeful" that they will be able to spend more that the £8 million deployed in 2010, but their plan is that investing in field operations and digital campaigning will help them to clear the gap. I've written about the two parties' field operations here.
Dave is facing a backbench revolt over a Liberal Democrat Bill to enshrine the 0.7% foreign aid target in law. The Tories are on the wrong side of the trick they pulled to pass knife sentencing laws without Liberal support - but now it's the yellows buddying up with Labour to get their measure through. Philip Hollobone told Chris Hope that "there is no need to enshrine this in law. I think there will be substantial opposition." The Sun's not impressed, either: "£12bn" - the amount of money that the 0.7% target currently represents is their headline, and their leader is in a similar mood. "It may make politicians feel good to be generous with public money," they say, but, "guaranteeing to give away set sums every year is a sure way to lose all control over whose pocket it ends up in".
Alex Salmond's twin arguments for independence are falling flat, the Times' latest YouGov survey for independence reports. The Nationalists had hoped that fear of a Tory government in 2015 would trigger a last-minute surge to the Yes camp, but the evidence of the polls is that it isn't happening, while his attempts to convince the voters that the Unionist parties' promises of further devolution aren't up to much are doing similarly badly. Meanwhile, YouGov's Peter Kellner suggests that the higher vote shares for the separatist effort is a result of poor weighting on the part of his rivals Survation. He argues that the company is over-weighting the support of die-hard Nationalists who voted for the SNP in 2010 and the European elections and under-weighting the opinions of voters who want Mr Salmond to rule the roost in Holyrood - but also want to remain firmly part of the United Kingdom.  
Andrew Lansley may pay the price for the PM's aggressive tactics in his failed bid to block Jean-Claude Juncker, the Times reports, while the UK is also likely to miss out on its preferred post - the trade brief - in the European Commission. Peter Oborne suggests that Dave turns to former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind - which would also create an opening for Boris Johnson to return to Parliament.
Civil servants should be encouraged to join the Army reserves, Philip Hammond has told ministers: the target is that one-percent of civil servants should be part-time soldiers, sailors or airmen.

David Cameron is to launch an effort to prevent the rise of superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, through reducing the oversubscription of the drugs and fuelling the development of new ones. "Superbugs threaten return to dark ages" is the Times' splash - read Peter Dominiczak's story here.
The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.
Sadly unavailable on iPlayer:
@tpearce003: Rabbit Proof Fence just started on BBC Four. Really good film.
Poll of polls 25th June to 2nd July (ComRes-Populus-Survation-YouGov) Labour lead by four points
In the Telegraph

Mary Riddell - If Labour can't win on the NHS, then it really is in intensive care

Alan Cochrane - Queen of All She Surveys
Peter Oborne - David Cameron should send Malcolm Rifkind to Brussels
Con Coughlin - Abbas must choose either Hamas or peace
Best of the Rest
Daniel Finklestein - Do we really need MPs now we have Twitter?

Alice Thomson - State funding will save politicians from scandal
0830 LONDON: Reform thinktank conference on crime, justice and safer communities, with speeches by Chris Grayling and Sadiq Khan. Conference opens at 0830.
0915 LONDON: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and the Information Commissioner's Office give evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Committee on social media data and real time analytics.0920 LONDON: Business Secretary Vince Cable speech to Government Construction summit. Other speakers include Treasury minister Lord Deighton and HS2 chairman David Higgins.
0930 LONDON: Education select committee evidence session on academies and free schools.
1000 BELFAST: Fresh round of political talks in Northern Ireland. Politicians will convene in a fresh bid to hammer out an agreement on unresolved peace process issues.
1030 LONDON: Ofcom and the National Audit Office give evidence to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee on the future of the BBC.
1120 GLASGOW: Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit Commonwealth Games venues.
1200 LONDON: Prime Minister's Questions.
1315 LONDON: Attorney General Dominic Grieve and former attorney general Lord Goldsmith give evidence to the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on "on-the-runs".
1400 LONDON: David Cameron and Theresa Villiers meet Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
1600 LONDON: Eric Pickles speech. The Communities and Local Government Secretary will deliver a speech to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
1900 LONDON: David Davis speech to Centre for Social Justice on modern policing.