Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Exit stage left..

It's all Chancellors and reannouncements today, as Labour continue to put the Autumn Statement under the spotlight and Westminster digests Gordon Brown's confirmation that he will quit Parliament at the next election. 
"Brown stands down after vow is fulfilled" is the Scotsman's splash. "Sarah's tears as Gordon bows out of politics" is the Scottish Mail's take. "Family first: Brown bows out of politics" is the Guardian's line, accompanied with the same photograph of the Browns and their sons. 
David Cameron and Ed Miliband both sound a note of somewhat qualified praise for their predecessor. The PM talks of his "huge amount in terms of public service", while Ed Miliband dusts off that same turn of phrase he used of Margaret Thatcher: "a towering figure" is his line. (Do buy Rob Hutton's Would They Lie To You? if you, too, want to master the art of qualified praise) 
"He was complex, deep, unhappy, as a Rachmaninov symphony," is Quentin Letts' verdict in the Mail. He had "a seriousness out of keeping with the age". In the Guardian, his last PPS, Alison McGovern, writes powerfully about Mr Brown's personal generosity
But the Sun isn't joining in the love-fest in their leader. Mr Brown was "notable for his failures more than his successes". His "judgement as Chancellor was often disastrous". But, they add, "he should be remembered too for leading the global response to the recession - and for his key role in keeping Scotland in the Union".
Ultimately, it's too early to accurately judge Mr Brown one way or another. He might go down in history as the man who saved the Union and prevented a global economic collapse - equally, both of those achievements could be undone very quickly. As for his own role in his party; it's still wholly plausible that after the next election all four of the great offices of state will be occupied by Brownites (Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander and Yvette Cooper). But it's equally possible that the electoral consequences of Brownism will be the same as that of Brown: a Conservative government.  

A garden city in Bicester, Oxfordshire, will be announced in the Autumn Statement tomorrow, Peter Dominiczak reports. It will be funded with close to £100 million of public spending and government-backed loans to businesses and will be the second garden city identified by the government after the new city to be built in Ebbsfleet. Elsewhere, the FT reports that George Osborne will give Northern Ireland control over corporation tax, allowing the province to compete with the republic and potentially easing the way to a post-election pact with the DUP.
Ukip are growing up. They have two MPs and now the sine qua non of an established party - a controversy over fixing up selections. Alexi Mostrous and Billy Kenber have the scoop in the Times. More than a dozen activists have resigned from the party, saying that the MEP selection process has been rigged by the leadership. The claims around fixing are made in a series of e-mails obtained by the Thunderer. In one, Neil Hamilton, now Ukip's deputy chairman, warns that the list of MEP candidates "contained manifest absurdities" "As you can imagine, I'm not pleased with the MEP selection process," Mr Hamilton chuntered. 
Speaking of fixing up selections...Unite are under fire for issuing a mock ballot with instructions on how to fill it out including literature from their preferred candidates, Neil Findlay and Katy Clark, the far-left candidates for leader and deputy leader, Sam Coates reports in the Times. It's "desperate stuff", Labour sources tell the Herald. It's reminiscent of the same tactic used by Unite and the GMB in the Labour leadership contest, when Ed Miliband triumphed over his brother with union support. 
Labour's war on motorists is over, Michael Dugher has declared. Mr Dugher has conceded that governments have long seen motorists as a "cash cow", in what Jason Beattie terms "a significant shift in policy". Mr Dugher says he wants to represent "white van man, women drivers, small businesses and any other road user".
Today's Telegraph carries a tribute to the 453 soldiers who died in Afghanistan during the "long war" of 2001-2014. It can be viewed in its entirety here
Majorities of voters support the renationalisation of gas, electricity and the railway industries, according to a YouGov poll for the Times. 56% of respondents favour renationalising the utilities while 59% support renationalising the railways.  A reminder of the utility of this sort of poll - as Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box reveals, 15% of people had an opinion about the Monetary Control Bill - no such bill exists. Brian Wheeler at the BBC has his favourite picks from the book. 
You can get in touch with me by pressing "reply" or on Twitter. Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams - a gallery of his work is available here.  
Conservatives 31% Labour 33% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 16% Green 6%  (Ashcroft-ComRes-Populus-YouGov, 25.11.2014-02.12.2014)
Ashcroft: Con 30% Lab 32% LD 7% Ukip 16% Green 6%
ComRes: Con 28% Lab 31% LD 9% Ukip 18% Green 7%
Populus: Lab 35% Con 32% Ukip 14% LD 9% Green 5%
YouGov: Con 32% Lab 32% LD 8% Ukip 15% Green 6%
@JonAshworth: We would never have had a Labour Govt without Gordon Brown - a towering figure & crusader against poverty. I'm proud to have worked with him
From the Telegraph
From elsewhere
Janan Ganesh - Will the liberal Osborne please stand up?  (FT) 
Zoe Williams - Does Britain really want to become a country no-one wants to migrate to? (Guardian)
0900 EDINBURGH: Conference examines Smith Commission proposals. The line-up of speakers at the Scotsman Conference includes Professor John Kay, BBC special correspondent Allan Little and Ben Thomson, chair of Reform Scotland.
0930 LONDON: Charity football match. The game will be played between the Football United Against Domestic Violence team and MPs. 
1115 LONDON: Justice Secretary Chris Grayling gives evidence to the Commons Justice Committee on crime reduction policies.
1400 CAMBRIDGE: Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury will make a major housing announcement.
1530 LONDON: Trade unionists and health campaigners demonstration, with a giant wheel of fortune, to warn MPs that 'Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) is putting patients at risk by silencing whistle blowers'.
1730: Nigel Farage takes part in a Leaders Live show. The Ukip leader takes part in the Bite the Ballot Leaders Live Q&A aimed at young voters.
1730 LONDON: Protest organised by the People's Assembly ahead of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement. Dozens of 'George Osbornes' will descend on Downing Street.
1830 LONDON: Mary Creagh speech at launch of Social Market Foundation document on international development.
Foreign Office Questions.
A Ten Minute Rule Motion: Overseas Voters (15 Year Rule).
Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill - second reading.
A short debate on Government policy on tackling corruption.
Westminster Hall:
0930: Benefit sanctioning.
1100: Government policy on the assistive technology sector.
1430: Wessex route study and passenger capacity.
1600: Government support for textile manufacturing.
1630: Control of anti-freeze products and protection of animals.

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill - second reading.