Thursday, 29 January 2015

Straws in the wind..

Is Labour's NHS attack losing its sting? The British Social Attitudes Survey finds that just 15% of people are dissatisfied with the Health Service, a figure that has beaten just once - in 2010 - since records began in 1983. 

Elsewhere, an article by Professor Paul Corrigan, a former health adviser to Tony Blair, for the Blairite pressure group Progress, is picked up in the Telegraphthe Times and the Mail. Professor Corrigan suggests that there will be a two gap before the revenues for the mansion tax will become available for the NHS and that Andy Burnham's plans amount to yet another top-down reorganisation of the NHS.

The new row about whether NHS officials have been trying to keep bad news about the Health Service out of the headlines - "Don't Mention The Wards" is the Mirror's splash - will give Labour hope that there is still life left in the old "you can't trust the Tories with the NHS" line. But bluntly, until Labour finds a better response to the "weaponise" charge than "I can't remember what I said", the PM will maintain a whip hand over Ed Miliband as far as that debate is concerned. 

Intra-party sniping, so long suppressed under Ed Miliband, looks to be breaking out at last. John Prescott, ever one for a moderate phrase, has branded Alan Milburn and John Hutton "Tory collaborators" after questioning Labour's approach on the NHS, while Neil Kinnock has appealed for unity, but, oh, what's this? He's thrown in an aside about Blairites wanting to go back to "the day before yesterday". 

The matter still may not arise; Mr Miliband could still squeak it in May. But for Labour-watchers it is interesting to note that a handful of largely-retired Blairites have recieved a far angrier response than the 16 MPs from the party's left flank making similarly unhelpful noises at the start of the week. There's been a great deal of excitement recently about whether Liz Kendall - or Chuka Umunna, the subject of a glowing profile in Red Magazine today - might be the next Labour leader, or if a fusion of so-called "Blue" Labour with the old Third Way might be the way forward. That it is the once-all-conquering Blairites who are still in retreat internally suggests that Labour's short-term future probably lies to Mr Miliband's left, not his right. 


Mark Carney has attacked the Eurozone's hardline budgetary policies, saying that it must make rapid progress towards a fiscal union in order to transfer resources between richer and poorer members of the single currency, Larry Elliott reports in the Guardian. "It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that if the eurozone were a country, fiscal policy would be substantially more supportive," Mr Carney said, adding: "Europe needs a comprehensive, coherent plan to anchor expecations, build confidence and escape its debt trap."


James Forsyth argues in his column that Syriza's victory puts the PM in a better position for his renegotiation after the election. "The more anxious Merkel feels about the direction of the EU, the more reluctant she is to lose Britain as a member," he says, "The price she is prepared to keep us in the EU is now higher." 


"Could This Be Britain's First Black Prime Minister?" is Red's headline for Elizabeth Day's interview with Chuka Umunna. Mr Umunna gives a more than usually-detailed interview about his life outside Parliament: the early death of his father, his own hopes of becoming a father, the continuing sexism of Parliament and the question of whether or not he is "smooth". "When I was growing up my father said, 'When you go out, dress properly and look the part because, before you open your mouth, how you present yourself is important," Mr Umunna explains, "So, I don't understand all this 'smooth,' 'charming,' all this business, because it's like ... 'Should I be badly dressed and rude to people?'"" Rosa Prince has the details.


The prospects of a television debate have receded after the BBC refused to include the DUP in the debates, as the party does not compete with any of the mainland parties and it would require the other Northern Irish parties to be invited as well, Lord Hall explains. But it's a further barrier to any televised debates which now look to be in increasing jeopardy. 


People should report crime using the Internet where possible, to save police money and free up officers for frontline work, Theresa May has suggested. "Don't Dial 999" is the Mail's splash.


The new school league tables have been branded as "nonsense" by independent schools, as the phasing out of international GCSEs has left many respected private schools near the bottom of the table. Hannah Richardson and Katherine Sellgren have the details


Only Nick Clegg stood between Britian and a Greek crisis. That's according to uh, Nick Clegg on the Today programme. Also giving Mr Clegg the thumbs-up is Tim Montgomerie, who praises the DPM for securing a stable Coalition in today's Times.

I'm available by pressing reply or on Twitter - our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams- a gallery of his work is available here.


Conservatives 32% Labour 33% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 15% Greens 7% (Ashcroft-ComRes-Populus-Survation-YouGov 


YouGov: Conservatives 33% Labour 33% Ukip 15% Green 7% Liberal Democrat 6%


@gabyhinsliff: Shame the word 'grandee' only exists in politics. Do think we shd extend to, eg, ppl who used to be big in Eastenders in the 90s but left.


From the Telegraph

James Kirkup - Hey kids! Don't get angry, get voting

Dan Hodges - David Cameron is heading for victory

From elsewhere

George Eaton - The split Left could lose Labour the election. Can Milliband recover? (NS)

David Aaronovitch - Greece is just another false dawn for the left (Times)


0900: Nick Clegg on LBC radio. 

1020 MANCHESTER: Business Secretary Vince Cable to announce investment in Manchester.


Commons - 0930: 

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions. 

Church Commissioners, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speakers' Committee on the Electoral Commission Questions. 

A statement on the future business of the House. 

Two backbench business debates: i) Iraq Inquiry ii) Financial support for restoration of opencast coal sites. 

A short debate on the wreck of HMS Victory 1744. 

Westminster Hall: 

Debate on the second report from the Home Affairs Select Committee: Female Genital Mutilation: the Case for a National Action Plan, and the Government response. 

Debate on the second report from the Science and Technology Committee: After the Storm? UK blood Safety and Risk of Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and the Government response. 

Lords -1000: 


A debate on support for British services. 

A debate on innovation in free schools. 

A debate on the progress of the Government's school reforms. 

A debate on recognising the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. 


Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill - Committee of the whole House (Day 3)