Monday, 26 January 2015

Greece is the Word..

The election campaign has settled into a familiar if somewhat enervating routine. Major intervention on Monday, argument over the figures on Tuesday, hurry back to Westminster to pretend to be working Wednesday, out to the constituencies to prepare for government/look for jobs in the private sector on Thursdays and Fridays. Rinse, repeat. (It's the PM's turn this week, who will say later that Britain is experiencing a "tax moment" before pledging greater tax cuts and attacking the "enemies of aspiration" aka Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.) 

But it's an election elsewhere in Europe that takes the headlines today. "Greek drama engulfs the Euro" is our splash. "Syriza's historic win puts Greece on collision course with Europe" is the Guardian's take. "Greek leftists' victory throws down challenge to Euro establishment" is the FT's tongue-twister. "Europe rocked by Greek revolt against austerity" says the Times' frontpage while the Indy goes for "Greece and EU on collision course after election win for left"

Alexis Tsipras' far-left party is projected to fall just two seats short of an absolute majority but will finish miles ahead of the governing centre-right party New Democracy. It appears that Syriza will form a coalition with the right-wing ANEL, suggesting that the incoming government is unlikely to "blink first" in negotiations with its Eurozone creditors. 

If there is a further crisis within the Eurozone, what will the consequences be for the election here? It may be that it encourages the electorate to rally round to the government. (Fact of the day via the excellent Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box: voters who described themselves as "scared" by the financial crisis were more likely to stick with Gordon Brown, while those calling themselves "angry" went with the Opposition.)

What will certainly happen, even if Mr Tsipiras goes the way of Francois Hollande, is an emboldened left flank within the Labour party. You can see the outlines of the argument: Labour in is retreat thanks to a party of the left - the SNP - in Scotland and its vote is being eroded by another party of the far-left - the Greens - in England. While there is a great deal to criticize around Ed Miliband's operation they have, for the most part, been pretty good at keeping the party's left quiet if not happy. (See the row-that-wasn't over the party's harder line on borrowing, for instance.) It seems likely that that silence will endure until after the election. But whether Ed Miliband is in retirement or in Downing Street without a majority after that, you can expect to hear a lot more about Mr Tsipiras' big win from Labour politicians, regardless of what happens next in Greece. 


Danny Alexander will seek to steal David Cameron's clothes with an announcement that more than eight million households will be £1330 better off thanks to the threshold raise, Francis Elliot reports in the Times. Mr Alexander has reminded people that the Conservatives dismissed the threshold raise during the leadership debates and that he and Nick Clegg have "fought tooth and nail" to secure rises in the allowance. It may take some of the limelight from the PM's taxation pledges. "We are the low-tax, tax-cutting party," Mr Cameron will say


Peter Mandelson tells Patrick Wintour that Labour must avoid repeating the mistake of 2010, when the party was poorly prepared for coalition negotiations. "It was all too makeshift," Lord Mandelson says of Labour's approach last time, which the then Business Secretary led, "If we had bene serious the talking should have started long before." 


The Government faces a tricky vote on the Infrastructure Bill today, as both Conservative and Liberal MPs are prepared to rebel, with a number of MPs tabling an amendment calling for a moratorium on fracking. Labour support will now be vital to get the Bill out of the committee stage, with the Opposition tabling their own amendment calling for tighter environmental regulations stopping short of a moratorium.The Government may end up being grateful to Len McCluskey; his Unite union, along with the GMB, have written to Labour MPs urging them not to close the door on fracking. Francis Elliot has the story in the Times


Nigel Farage has reacted angrily to Amjad Bashir MEP's defection to the Conservative Party. "He's not dumping me, I'm dumping him," he told Andrew Marr. (I paraphrase.) Mr Farage says that Ukip had become "increasingly alarmed" about allegations around Mr Bashir. Mr Bashir insists there is "not a shred of truth" to the allegations, and says its a "desperate attempt" to distract from the news of his defection.


Jim Murphy has added his voice to those urging Labour to make Trident a red line in coalition negotiations. The decision about the deterrent should not be about "Playing footsie about possible coalitions with other parties," Mr Murphy told the Sunday Politics, "It's about negotiations with other nuclear states to ensure the world is nuclear free." Simon Johnson has the story


A hoax caller pretended to be the GCHQ director Robert Hannigan and was succesfully put through to the PM, before ringing the Sun to brag about it. "I've just made complete monkeys out of GCHQ," he said, "What's more, I am off my fac eon booze and cocaine. I have some spliffs too." "Con Her Majesty's Secret Service" is their splash.

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.


Poll-of-Polls (Ashcroft-Populus-ICM-Ipsos-YouGov) Conservatives 32% Labour 33% Liberal Democrat 8% Ukip 15% Greens 8% 


Populus: Conservatives 32% Labour 36% Liberal Democrat 9% Ukip 13% Green 6%

YouGov: Conservatives 32% Labour 33% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 15% Green 7%


@labourpaul: The most important lesson for UK politicians from the Greek elections is that there isn't one.


From the Telegraph

Boris Johnson - The Kurds' cause is ours - let's help them fight the barbarians

Peter Oborne - Nothing will be solved by Syriza's empty promises

From elsewhere

Matthew D'Ancona - Ukip now resembles its enemies, just like Animal Farm's pigs (Guardian)

George Magnus - Who will blink now Syriza has won? (FT)


1030 LONDON: Boris Johnson joins Assembly to host Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony. 

1100 YORK: The Rev Libby Lane to be consecrated as the first female Church of England bishop. 

1230 LONDON: Vivienne Westwood and Bianca Jagger join protest and petition handover against fracking in Parliament Square.


COMMONS: 1430 

Work and Pensions Questions. 

Infrastructure Bill [HL] - Report stage and third reading. 

A short debate on UK support for Pakistan after the massacre in Peshawar. 

LORDS: 1430 


Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill - Committee of the whole House (Day 2). 

A short debate on the future of museums in regional areas.