Clinton shoots Bush’s Fox

September 30, 2006

If The Daily’s team of chimps hadn’t been unleashed on the unsuspecting city of Manchester, we’d almost certainly have covered this interview with Bill Clinton on last week’s FoxNews Sunday.

The Bush administration and their GOP supporters have been trying to hit back against the Dems ahead of the mid-term congressional elections. Part of their campaigning has focused on trying to shift the blame for the failure to take effective action against Al Qaeda onto Clinton.

Clinton used the opportunity to hit back hard.


Tories ready for hug a hoody week

September 30, 2006

The Daily is too good an employer to send a correspondent to the conference Those Tories are having down in Bournmouth over the next week. We have standards. However, we have a team of friendly Tories in town, with eyes peeled for the latest news and (hopefully) scandal.

On the issue of the latter, The Daily fondly remembers the one time it sent a correspondent to Tory conference.  On his arrival, the writer in question headed for the bar and bumped in a Sunday tabloid journalist.  On enquiring whether said journalist would be in town all week, The Daily was told “No, as soon as I get a good Tory shag story I’m going straight back to London”.

We can’t promise we’ll give you one of those this week, but watch this space, just in case.

Labour conference diary – roundup

September 30, 2006

So, another year, another conference is done and dusted, and with a weekend of nursing the square root of a hangover ahead of us, here is The Daily’s favourite bits of Manchester…

Best karaoke: Sighted staying up until the early hours of the morning in the bar of the Midland Hotel on the last night were Brownite MPs Ed Balls and Ann Keen leading a gaggle of Brownite aides and recently elected NEC member Ellie Reeves in a possibly slightly tipsy sing-song. Balls distinguished himself with a fine air guitar performance, but the possible future Chancellor sadly refused requests such as Big Spender, Taxman or Money Money Money. No one dared ask for Golden Brown.

A close-run second prize for those cheeky attendees at the Labour Students party who reworked an old classic to new words. We believe it went “We are family – Ian Gibson is my MP”.

Most lonesome tonight: Not joining them was Tom Watson, most high-profile signatory of the infamous letter. He lurked in the back of the bar but remained popular with many delegates stopping to shake his hand, though others made less complimentary gestures. He stopped for a drink with fellow Millennium Group MP Kevin Brennan, who for a Government Whip seemed to be getting on with the unlikely rebel pretty well.

Stupid headline of the week comes (surprise, surprise) from the Indy:

“Cruddas launches deputy campaign with Trident attack”

We know it’s going to be a tough campaign, but we’re not aware that Jon Cruddas has his finger on the nuclear button. Perhaps we should be doubly grateful that Geoff Hoon is not standing.

CandidateWatch: Many potential candidates have been doing the rounds of as many conference events as possible, marshalled by Special Advisers whose job it is to devise a grid that will get their employer round the maximum number of delegates and influential organisations in the time available, with military precision.

Peter Hain was such a ubiquitous presence that many started to speculate that there must be more than one of him. He even stopped off at the Compass stand for a photo opp with his arms around the volunteers – presumably a “hug a lefty” strategem, though he smoothly avoided any discussion of actual politics before oiling his way to the next flesh-pressing engagement.

RetreadWatch: Conference is also a hunting ground for those former MPs who lost at the last election and are now desperately searching for somewhere safer to fight next time. Barbara Roche, formerly of Hornsey and Wood Green, spent much of conference on the coat-tails of Newcastle East MP Nick Brown, who would certainly be happy to help another Brownite (back) in to Parliament, possibly with an eye on Stockton North. Meanwhile ex-Croydon MP Geraint Davies cut a rather sad figure trying (unsuccessfully) to convince Welsh delegates that he was a “local” candidate for Swansea.  Chris Leslie is rumoured to be in the mix for John Prescott’s Hull East base, but might face a surprise obstacle in the shape of Prescott’s son.  In the papers, the Sun reported that Portillo-slayer Stephen Twigg, himself slain in turn in 2005, is leading a campaign to oust Kate Hoey from her Vauxhall seat. The story is hilariously implausible, but Twigg may well have an eye out elsewhere in Lambeth.

Nice guy of the week: Former Labour Students National Secretary and Young European Movement President Henri Murison, who refused to give up a vacant stall from his table at the Labour Students party to allow a disabled delegate to sit down.

Speech of the week: Blair’s speech was a masterclass ruined only by the muppets waving hand made “Thank you Tony” placards.  Oh, and the fact that it was vacuous bollocks.

Deputy leadership odds after conference

September 29, 2006

How have the runners and riders emerged out of conference week?

Ladbrokes have joined William Hill in opening a market on the race, with the following odds:

Johnson 2/1
Hain 7/2
Straw 5/1
Harman 8/1
Cruddas 8/1
Benn 10/1

William Hill re-opened their online coupon today, only for it to have closed again by this evening, but you can still bet by phone.

Hilary Benn is a surprise favourite at 5/2, even though he is not (yet, anyway) standing, and Miliband is on ridiculously low odds at 10/1 for a man who has actually ruled himself out. Meanwhile, Hain has slipped to 3/1 along with Johnson, and Harman has plummeted to 14/1 with Cruddas now breathing down her neck at 16/1.

With the bookies all over the place there should be chances to hedge. Just be sure to donate a share of profits to good causes.

There is a range of press coverage, for those wishing to pick up on what various journos managed to glean during the week, in the Telegraph, Guardian, Times and Independent.

Opinion: Cameron makes running on Parliamentary reform

September 29, 2006

We have written before about the mood of anti-politician populism that is growing around the country here.  We argued that one way for politicians to find a way around this was to aggressively take up a constitutional reform agenda and demonstrate change in the way the country is governed.  One way this could be done would be to reform the way government ministers are appointed by, for example, copying the Swedish model of MPs not being government ministers, just experts who accountable to the legislative (for example, why not make Dave Prentis Health Minister?).  Other more old fashioned ideas of reform include proportional representation.

In our piece linked to above, we argued that this populism and associated constitutional reform could be harnessed by the left just as much as it could harnessed by the right.  No one on the left was reading obviously, as David Cameron has today made a move on this issue by calling for the way MPs set their own pay (and that of their staff).  He also called for reforms of the Special Adviser system and for new oversight of ministers.  It is covered in the Guardian, Independent and BBC online

MPs’ financial arrangements are a scandal matched only by the way they are mis-reported by the tabloids.  Their pay is appallingly high, but the real scandal is found in the way staff are treated – arbitrary pay levels, unpaid overtime, unclear and unhelpful management styles.  It makes the Mother of all Parliaments look like an ASBO kid when compared to the modern and effective system of staffing in the Nordic, Australian or US legislatures. 

Reforming the way parliament works would be one (small) way of showing voters we understand their disgust at the way politics works.  The fact that Cameron has been the first to make hay on this should worry Labour strategists.

Labour conference: A healthy debate

September 28, 2006

The vote on health logistics privatisation has already been reported this morning – along with housing and corporate manslaughter, a crushing defeat for the platform.

During the debate, UNISON General Secretary David Prentis paused for repeated applause and went over the 10-minute limit, at which point the microphone was cut off without morning by the chair, leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party Gary Titley MEP.

Unreported was the exchange provoked when one delegate produced an example of anti-UNISON flyers being distributed on conference floor, allegedly by party staff, and demanded to know who was responsible.

Another delegate replied, saying that in fact she had distributed the leaflets and not party staff. It is widely suspected that she had been put up to it by the leadership, but they evidently hadn’t briefed her very well.

She went on to accuse the “UNISON stand” of “taking a million pounds of public money”. Presumably she had been meant to say that opposing privatisation would incur such a cost, rather than accusing those on the UNISON stall in the exhibition hall of pinching the money.

She then waved a letter from David Prentis attacking the government’s position and said “I demand to know who is responsible for this piece of paper!”

We suspect that it may have been, erm, David Prentis.

We can only say to the party fixers who organise these antics – if you’re going to do it, at least try to get it right.

Breaking news: Cruddas launches campaign

September 27, 2006

Jon Cruddas is in the course of giving an interesting interview with Simon Mayo on Radio 5 and has confirmed that he does intend to contest the deputy leadership when there is a vacancy.

He plans a campaign that will “change the Labour Party” as well as for the deputy leadership itself, which he believes should be a full-time job in its own right.

Update: Speaking to Simon Mayo, Jon said: “I am standing to be deputy leader because change is desperately needed … it’s time to rebuild our party from the bottom up.”

Speaking about the need to restate Labour’s values, he added: “We need to reaffirm our belief in collective action – through local communities, through public services, through strong and effective trade unions.”

On the deputy leadership, he concluded: “In the election, there will be a choice: change or more of the same.”

Further update: The story is now on the BBC, ePolitix, Guardian, Reuters, East Anglian Daily Times and