Monday, 15 June 2015

Divisions of Labour..

Labour's leadership race is getting nasty, with front-runners Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham pronouncing the death of "Taliban New Labour" and boasting that the Blarities (i.e. Liz Kendall) are failing to recapture the party. "The fizzle and sparkle has gone already [in her campaign]," a source in a rival camp told Rosa Prince. "You can really tell that Liz lacks the experience of Andy and Yvette", another said. 

The Blairites are fighting back, with outgoing Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy warning today that the party lost its best chance of winning a general election for around 20 years. "objectively this was the easiest election that we will face before I am a pensioner," the 47 year old will say. Meanwhile Tessa Jowell, who infamously said she would "jump under a bus" for Tony Blair, has popped by Andrew Marr's studio to warn that Labour had "lost the art of winning". Liam Byrne offered his own post-mortem, writing in the Sunday Times that the party can't rely on just "some mythical "progressive alliance" of Lib Dems and Labour". 

Cooper's campaign may be pressing her experience, but her record in government risks being a burden. "She can't escape the past," one MP told Dan Hodges. Alistair Darling wrote scathingly about a cabinet colleague who, when he had sent the 2009 pre-Budget report off to the printers, tried to reopen negotiations in the middle of the night. "On the night before the pre-Budget report, I went to bed at 11 o'clock and told my office that no more changes could be made," he noted. "Next morning, [I was told] one of my colleagues had been demanding to speak to me at 1.30am, trying to reopen the settlement. I'll share their blushes. That is no way to run anything." That minister, I understand, is Yvette Cooper, then Work and Pensions Secretary. "She's hideously indecisive - very much of the Gordon Brown school of government," a Treasury official who worked with her told me.

Burnham may be the front-runner, but some supporters are worried. "They haven't been able to build a sense of inevitability around him," one MP told Hodges, "and that's thrown them." Another MP told me, half-jokingly, that some are supporting him as the next leader "just because he's got a northern accent". 

The leadership hopefuls face their first test today, as they need to get the support of at least 35 MPs in time for nominations closing at midday. Burnham, Cooper and Kendall are certain to make the shortlist. Mary Creagh has dropped out, while Jeremy Corbyn is struggling to get on, with his recent spate of supporters backing him - while not agreeing with him - in order to keep the ballot as wide as possible. After Gordon Brown's coronation as Labour leader, with left-wing alternative John McDonnell failing to get enough support, Labour MPs seem keen to want to avoid any suggestion of a stitched-up closed contest. 


Apologies again for the delay, we've had to battle tech gremlins again this morning. I'm assured this shouldn't happen again.


David Cameron is facing his first bloody nose in the House of Commons just five weeks after the general election with as many as 50 Conservative MPs set to try to force changes to the rules of the European Union referendum, Chris Hope reports. The Prime Minister is hoping that the potential Tory rebels - which include former Tory Cabinet ministers Liam Fox and Owen Paterson - can be bought off with some "credible assurances" ahead of Tuesday's crunch votes on backbench amendments to the EU Referendum Bill.

This comes after Paterson warned over the weekend that removing the 'purdah' period for the EU vote, opening the door to government spending on European issues, was "unacceptable" and would mean voters would believe the referendum was not "fair". Meanwhile, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish Prime Minister who has been regarded as a good ally of Cameron, has decided she will oppose "discriminatory" welfare reforms and the treaty change Britain wants. "Don't think we will follow the Brits no matter what," she told a public event on Friday, Matthew Holehouse reports.


Western countries which fail to spend more than two per cent of their national income on defence are to be "named and shamed" by Nato, Chris Hope reports. Ministers are hoping that the latest Nato defence spending league table, to be published next week before a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels, will embarrass other countries into spending more on their Armed Forces because it will allow different countries' budgets to be marked against each other on a comparable basis.


Computer game makers should be recruited by government to help stop young Muslims being radicalised, the former reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation has said, Ben Riley-Smith reports. Lord Carlile urged ministers to work with people who "create games on the internet" to stop the flow of British teenagers fleeing to the Middle East to fight for Isil.


The "good name" of human rights has been "distorted and devalued" and the Conservative's reforms will put this right, David Cameron says today. In a speech to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, Mr Cameron will say it had fallen to his "generation" to restore the reputation of human rights in Britain. Read more here.


The inquiry by Sir John Chilcot into the causes and consequences of the 2003 Iraq War could be scrapped, a former Labour attorney general has suggested. Lord Morris of Aberavon, the chief legal officer in Tony Blair's Government from 1997 to 1999, asked ministers to weigh up the case for winding up the inquiry, which has so far cost over £10million.


Syed Kamall MEP, leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, is considering running for London Mayor, telling City A.M.'s Lauren Fedor that he'll be "having quite a few conversations over the next few days to think about it." If he does throw his hat into the ring ,he'll be joining Zac Goldsmith, deputy mayor Stephen Greenhalgh and former England footballer Sol Campbell in the race.


Alex Salmond has defended telling a female minister to "behave yourself woman" in the Commons by saying his critics do not understand the "vernacular of Scotland", Ben Riley-Smith reports. It came as the former Scottish First Minister got into a heated argument with a female Guardian journalist, Zoe Williams, accusing her of trying to be "entertaining" by challenging his use of the phrase. 


A founding member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK urged people to share his bizarre Facebook post about a shoe that went missing while he slept. However, while the post was indeed shared, hundreds of times, Asghar Bukhari did not get the response he might have intended. Elizabeth Roberts has the story.


A struggling NHS trust is paying £47,000 a month for a temporary finance chief despite a Government order to halt the "excessive and indefensible" rates paid on short-term contracts, Laura Donnelly has found. Barts NHS trust, which has the highest bill for agency doctors and nurses and is forecasting the greatest deficit in the history of the NHS, is paying rates equivalent to an annual salary of £561,000.


Britain should take in its fair share of migrants stranded after crossing the Mediterranean, a United Nations representative on immigration has said in a critical intervention. Peter Sutherland, UN special representative of the secretary-general for international migration, said the UK was taking far less refugees caught in the boat migration crisis than Germany or Sweden. Here are more details.


@TheoBertram: Message to Labour leader & deputy leader hopefuls claiming they've got 'the experience' to do PMQs: you do not. Experience is no help.


From The Telegraph

Dan Hodges - Labour's past is killing its future

Janet Daley - This EU pantomime is not what the voters asked for

Boris Johnson - Male and female are different: hardly earth-shattering news

From elsewhere

Matthew D'Ancona -  David Cameron is already plotting for 2020 – and his own legacy

Chris Deerin -  Why I'll be voting to stay in the comic, wasteful, inefficient mess known as the EU 

Owen Paterson - How Neil Young, Greenpeace work to starve the world's poor 


800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta

Deadline for Labour leadership hopefuls to gain support of at least 35 MPs

G20 Finance and Central Bank Deputies meeting commences in Bodrum, Turkey

12.30 Outgoing Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy gives farewell speech at Policy Exchange 

19.00 Tim Farron MP and Norman Lamb MP take party in Liberal Democrat leadership hustings in London

20:30: BBC One's 'Panorama' investigates child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham

Jeb Bush is due to formally declare his candidacy for the US Presidency

Conservative MP John Redwood turns 64 today



14.30 Education Questions.

Scotland Bill - Committee stage.

A short debate on the Navitus Bay Wind Farm.


1430: Questions on decarbonising the electricity supply system in the UK, funding public service broadcasting, implementing a whole school approach to nutrition and the health and 

wellbeing of children, and calculating the block grant to Scotland in light of the new powers of the Scottish Parliament

A debate on trade and investment.

A short debate on the law governing elections in the UK.