Monday, 22 September 2014

Deliver us from Evel..

t wasn't only the Union that was saved last week - it was also the Labour party. For all there are still worries about Ed Miliband's personal popularity and the party's trust ratings over the economy, the overwhelming mood is of relief: that Labour, like the country is still here and in one piece. 

Don't forget, too, that most of the party is exhausted. From the frontbench to the footsoldiers, most have come almost straight from knocking on doors in Scotland to Manchester. Those who, for one reason or another, had a peripheral role over the last few weeks spent most of the time holed up in Westminster eaten up with worry. But that's over now. Labour can regroup and return to its core message of economic reform, right?

Oh. "Miliband cornered over home rule" says our splash. "Ed Refuses To Back English Home Rule 13 Times!" screams the Mail's. "Cameron wants vote on English home rule" is the Times' take. "Ed on Block" is the Sun's spread. 

"Miliband feels the heat as Cameron lobs English firecracker" is Patrick Wintour's analysis in the Guardian. The PM's pivot to "English Votes for English Laws" has rattled Labour. There's a feeling that Ed's line - a constitutional convention and a "national conversation" about political power in Britain - won't hold under heavy fire. It's not just the usual troublemakers, either, although two of those, Kate Hoey in the Sun and Frank Field in the Mail, are in the news today calling for Ed Miliband to back Home Rule. 

Bluntly, the problem for Ed Miliband is that his position looks like what it is: a partisan attempt to keep Labour's Scottish advantage intact. 

For all the PM has the advantage that his partisan attempt to eradicate Labour's Scottish advantage is a) broadly fair and more importantly b) popular in the polls, Ed Miliband's holding position might just prove adequate to the task. South of the border, constitutional issues don't yet stiffen the sinews or summon up the blood. But the flatfooted response highlights a bigger weakness for Labour this week: the party is relieved to be still here and one piece. But, understandably, just as the Opposition should be gearing up for the fight, its key performers, both front-of-house and back stage, are exhausted and depleted after the Scottish campaign. That battle fatigue could yet lead to an underwhelming and error-strewn conference. 

FIVE MORE WARSTony Blair has warned that it will take boots on the ground to defeat Isil and not just airstrikes in an essay on his website. The PM will meet Barack Obama to discuss how to tackle the terrorist organisation at the UN tomorrow, and there's a real chance that Parliament could be recalled this week, possibly on Thursday. Here in Manchester, the top of the party is far more open to intervention than it was last summer - but the party's doves have yet to crank into gear.
The SNP could simply declare independence without a referendum, Alex Salmond told the BBC's Sunday Politics. There could come a time, the departing First Minister has said, when sufficient powers had been devolved to Holyrood that an SNP administration could simply declare independence from Westminster. Meanwhile, the race to replace Mr Salmond at the top of the SNP looks to be over before it's started. There's been a rallying of the clans to Nicola Sturgeon's standard, with finance minister John Swinney among her heavyweight endorsers. A poll for Survation suggests that the SNP is on course to be returned to power at Holyrood - with its parliamentary majority intact, while, Mure Dickie reports in the FT, the pro-independence parties are experiencing a post-referendum membership boost.
Employers should monitor the social background of their workforce, Gloria de Piero, Labour's shadow minister for equalities, says. Ms de Piero warned that Britain is still not "class blind". It's made Kevin Maguire's day in the Mirror. Steven Swinford has the story.
Yvette Cooper would scrap PCCs if Labour is elected next May. Theresa May's "flagship policy" is a mess, Ms Cooper says. The Times reports that the Home Office is considering making deputy commissioners elected as well in order to avoid claims that the positions are filled by the cronies of PCCs.
Ed Balls is up to bat today: proving Labour's fiscal responsibility is top of the To Do list. Child benefit will be frozen - a real terms cut - while ministers' pay will be reduced by 5% under a Labour government. "Cuts for parents with children and ministers," one wag remarked to me last night, "You can't say that austerity won't start at home for Ed Balls."
Labour's charm offensive to the media took a turn for the worse yesterday. Rob Merrick of the Northern Echo needed stitches after a horror challenge from Ed Balls in the Journalists Vs Labour football match, Steven Swinford reports. Mr Balls' heroics weren't enough for Labour, however, who were beaten 3-1. "It wasn't a foul," the Shadow Chancellor protested on the Today programme, "The referee said it wasn't a foul."
The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush, who tweets as @stephenkb. Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams; you can see his cartoons on Instagram.

Conservatives 32% Labour 36% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 15% Others 9%
Poll of polls 12th to 20th September 
YouGov: Conservatives 31% Labour 36% Ukip 16% Liberal Democrats 7% Ukip 16%

Next week on Jeremy Kyle: Help! My Secretary of State Is In Love With Capita
@timothy_stanley: Miliband doing his shouty microphone in the street thing. Like Jeremy Kyle berating an audience member for privatising the NHS
From the Telegraph
James Kirkup - What happens now?
Jenny Hjul - After a Yes vote, surely Alex Salmond has got to go?
Daniel Hannan - Thank god, my country is still intact

From elsewhere
Philip Collins - Labour are the real losers of the referendum  (Times)
Helen Lewis - Devolution strikes back  (Statesman)
The Telegraph Festival of Business is taking place once again on the 11th November, at The Brewery, London. Confirmed speakers include: Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Nigel Wilson,Chief Executive of Legal & General, Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado and Roger Bootle, Founder of Capital Economics and former HM Treasury Advisor. To register for your free place at the event, click here.
0845 MANCHESTER: Lisa Nandy among the attendees at "The Chemistry of Community" with the Fabian Society.
0930 MANCHESTER: Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander Coaker speak to Labour conference as part of "Britain in the World" debate.
1100 MANCHESTER: Chuka Umunna speaks as part of "Work and Business" debate.
1200 MANCHESTER: Ed Balls speaks in "Stability and Prosperity" debate.
1400 MANCHESTER: Chuka Umunna in conversation withh Philip Collins, Derby Suite, Midland Hotel.
1415 MANCHESTER: Rachel Reeves speaks in "Work and Business" debate.
1600 MANCHESTER: Launch of Young Fabian pamphlet 'One Nationisms'.
1900 MANCHESTER: Sadiq Khan among the attendees to 'Generation Citzen' with Demos.
1915 MANCHESTER: Lord Glasman among the attendees at 'Ukip if you want to: How do we make immigration work for Britain?' with Progress.