A new home for The Daily

January 1, 2007

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve moved home. The Daily will be hosted on www.the-daily.org from now on.

We’re hoping to keep up our momentum in 2007 and continue to provide our brand of news, comment and analysis. We’d like to thank everyone who has read and commented on the blog and we look forward to seeing you over at our new home.


One of our bloggers is missing

November 30, 2006

Good news for one of the Daily’s chimps with typewriters, as they’ve been unchained from their desk and set loose in pastures new. However, with one blogger down, we’re more interested than ever in your stories. If you’ve got anything good, any gossip, any hot inside news about the Labour Party, please email us at thedailyeditor@yahoo.co.uk.

Opinion: Don’t forget SureStart and healthcare

November 3, 2006

James Carville’s famous campaigning slogans for Bill Clinton should remind us that the centre-left must focus on the basic but important things that the Government has done to make people’s lives better. Equally, we must pull the Government’s energy and attention away from foreign policy and back onto promoting more programmes like SureStart.

The recent birth of my daughter has really opened my eyes to just what a great programme SureStart is. One centre in a relatively deprived area, like the one I live in, runs a whole host of services to make sure that children get the best start in life.

The services at my local centre go from antenatal classes and a centre-based midwife, to nurseries, breastfeeding programmes to advisers to make sure that people are getting all the benefits and services they are entitled to. In an area where English is a second language for many people that makes a real difference in the Government’s goal of reducing child poverty.

Equally, becoming a father can help a person see the NHS at its very best. My local hospital has a low-risk birth unit that is midwife-lead, is comfortable, has great equipment like birthing pools and promotes drug-free births for mothers who want that. The unit helped make my daughter’s birth a better experience for all three of us. The support we’ve had from NHS midwives before, during and after the birth has been exemplary.

The tragedy is that hospital is now in danger as one of the deficit-running trusts. There has clearly been poor management at the hospital, but it faces possible closure, leaving a whole community displaced into other boroughs for their healthcare.

This really encapsulates what’s going wrong in the last days of Blair and how we need to change to win. How about the Government just shelves the ideologically driven market schemes in health? How about they just leave the structure of the education system alone for a bit and concentrate on giving teachers the resources they need to teach?

How about we not only expand SureStart, but look for the 05-09 Government’s SureStart? Perhaps a new system of intensive youth centres modelled on SureStart to give support to urban and poor children. It could promise a better future and make an impact on anti-social behaviour by rebuilding the bonds of society among young people.

Whatever the Government and the Labour Party do, we will have to go into the next election able to show how we made a difference to millions of people’s lives. Every day we are not concentrating on basic social democratic goals, the Tories get stronger. We got the economy right, we got the basic welfare right, we started to take real steps against climate change, voting Labour means progress, voting Tory means a step backwards.

Here’s my contribution to the 09/10 campaign.

Progress, not taking us back
The Economy stupid
We’re working to save our planet
Don’t forget SureStart and the NHS

Editorial: end of an era

September 26, 2006

I don’t think that anyone can doubt that Blair is a very good speaker. His speech was quite moving to those who were in the hall. It contained some things that even the jaded hacks of The Daily would endorse, such as the need to find constructive ways to get people “off the sick” or the importance of tax credits etc.

It was also moving, after so many years under Tony to hear him acknowledge that this will be his last speech, and effectively say goodbye to the Party.

However, as with all of his conference speeches, there were some things that can just drive me mad. For example, the line “not until we shake ourselves free of the wretched capitulation to the propaganda of the enemy, that somehow we are the ones responsible.”

It’s one of those things he says where he never says what he means, but you know he’s verbally stabbing you in the back. Is he implying that to criticise elements of UK foreign policy and its knock-on effects in strengthening terrorist groups is to “capitulate to the enemy” He didn’t say it, but you always know what he means.

So, we’ll miss the drama, we’ll miss the showmanship and the oratory, but we won’t miss the veiled attacks. Tony Blair’s time in the Labour Party is coming to an end and it’s time for a new way of working in the party where instead of the party telling members how they need to change, the party listens to what people in their communities all over the country are saying and makes its voice heard.

It’s a jolly holiday

August 18, 2006

Our output on the Daily will be as patchy as the Northern Line with engineering works for the next week or so.

The whole team will be prized away from their computers from today. One of us will be back on Tuesday, but the others will be back on Tuesday 29th.

I myself, will be running the gauntlet in Colombia so, all being well, I may have something to say about that when I can get to a pooter.

I can also confirm that my summer reading will be ‘Big Russ & Me’ By Tim Russert and ‘Agincourt’ by Juliet Barker. I have no plans to read anything by Camus.

Finding our voice

July 26, 2006

We’ve decided on a new system for comment pieces. This is all part of us working out a system for this blog, which is still in its first week.

We’re happy with the way things are going, and our stats show a strong rise in readers in just a few days.

As you know, I am the editor of the blog, but not the only contributor. We’ve worked on the assumption that news is fair game and you’ll just have to guess whether I’ve written a piece or not. I can see one or two things we’ve already written that my loose me some friends, but I can deal with the social stigma.

However, comment pieces are a little different. I think we’ve had some very good, well informed comment pieces already from every one of the trained chimps with typewriters that I have locked up in the Daily’s basement.  It’s also fair to say that we don’t always agree on the content of our comments. We’ve decided to label these Guest Columns to differentiate them from our other reporting.

Josh Bolten takes a pounding on stem cell research

July 24, 2006

I’ve always thought that Tim Russert is, if anything, too soft on his guests. I’ve seen interviews he’s done where the guest is being evasive, but he is too respectful to put in the hard question and keep pushing until they answer it. However, yesterday’s Meet the Press interview with White House Chief of Staff, Josh Bolten, was just embarrassing for him as he tried but failed to twist and turn out of the contradictions of the White House’s position on embryonic stem cell research.

He refused to disavow the White House press spokesperson and former Fox reporter, Tony Snow’s remark that the president would not allow federal funds for embryonic because “he thinks murder’s wrong.”

He ended up in the position of having to argue that embryonic stem cell research is taking away a life, not denying that it is murder, and yet arguing that, although federal funds should not be made available, this “murder” should be perfectly legal.

The result is like watching a car crash. Here is the transcript.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to domestic politics. The president vetoed a stem research bill, a bill that’s called for the use of embryos that were obtained in vitro clinics that supporters say would have been discarded. And instead, have the government subsidize research to see if they can use those embryos to find some use of the stem cells for cures for Parkinson’s disease and so forth. Tony Snow, the White House press secretary who speaks for the president, went to the podium at the White House and said this to the press corps and to the nation. Let’s watch.

(Videotape, Tuesday):

MR. TONY SNOW: The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research it’s inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He’s one of them.

The simple answer is he thinks murder’s wrong.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Murder. The president believes that using an embryo for stem cell research is murder.

MR. BOLTEN: Let me, let me step back for a second, Tim. Now, I think…

MR. RUSSERT: Because that’s a very important question.

MR. BOLTEN: It is, and, and…

MR. RUSSERT: The president’s spokesman used the word “murder.” Does the president believe the use of an embryo for stem cell research is murder?

MR. BOLTEN: Let me—indulge me here for a moment, and let me, and let me walk through the issue and I, and I will get to your question, because it’s a very complicated, very, very delicate issue, that I think a lot of people misunderstand what the president’s policies were that he first enunciated five years ago.

First, the, the policy announcement that the president made five years ago was not that stem cell research would, would be banned, but rather that federal funding of stem cell research would be banned. Second, it is—and not even all embryonic stem cell research would be banned, just that research that involves the incenting, or the new destruction of fertilized embryos. There’s—this president, in fact, was the first one to permit federal funding to go to any embryonic stem cell research, but only for lines that had been, had already been created where the embryo was already created. The president’s objective in his policy, was to prevent the use of federal funds toward the, the promotion of destroying these fertilized embryos.

Now to your question. It’s a very delicate and difficult balance that the, that the president has tried to strike here between the, the needs and desires of science and the morals and ethics that, that our government leaders are, are charged to, to try to sustain. On the one hand, the president recognizes that embryonic stem cell research has, has promise, unfulfilled as yet, but a, but a great deal of promise. On the other hand, the president believes, as, as do millions and millions of Americans, that that fertilized embryo is a human life that deserves protection. The president recognizes that there are wide differences of opinion on this, and that’s why his policy has been not to prevent that research from going forward altogether, but to prevent your tax dollars and my tax dollars from going to support the destruction of that, that human embryo, because there’s so many of us who believe that that human embryo is a human life that deserves protection, and has the potential to become, become some of the beautiful kids you saw in, in the original clip you showed at the…

MR. RUSSERT: Then if the president believes it is human life, how can he allow private stem cell research to go forward, go forward, if, in fact, that is murder?

MR. BOLTEN: It’s a very, it’s a very difficult balance. I mean, the president recognizes that there are millions of Americans who don’t recognize that as a human life, and that the promise of that research for the saving of life is so important that they, that they want that to go forward. What the president has said is that as far as the federal policy is concerned, no federal funds, your tax dollars and my tax dollars, will go towards promoting the destruction of that human embryo.

MR. RUSSERT: But you’re using federal funds for existing lines, which were of embryos. So were those embryos that the federal government is experimenting on obtained by homicidal means?

MR. BOLTEN: Those, those embryos, those stem cell lines, were already—those embryos were already destroyed, and, and that’s where the president—the president’s policies draw the line. That is that our tax dollars, from the point that the president made his policy statement forward, our tax dollars are not going to go to further incent the destruction of those fertilized embryos. Let me, let me…

MR. RUSSERT: The logic, Mr. Bolten, as people are listening to this, the president is saying no, we can’t use embryos that are going to be discarded by in vitro clinics because, according to a spokesman, that’s murder. But we can use embryos that were existing before I became president, that’s OK. And if you have a private company and you want to use those embryos, that’s OK. Back to the central question: does the president agree with his spokesman, Tony Snow, that the research on the embryo in, in fact, to use that embryo is murder?

MR. BOLTEN: The president thinks that that embryo, that fertilized embryo, is a human life that deserves protection…

MR. RUSSERT: But does he accept or reject the use of the word “murder”?

MR. BOLTEN: I haven’t spoken to him about the use, the use of particular terminology, but the—but let me come back to the fundamental point here, Tim, and that is that there’s, there’s a balance that needs to be struck, and it’s a very difficult balance for, for any president to strike, between, between the needs of allowing science that can be life-saving to go forward, and reflecting the ethics and morals of this society. And as, as far as those, those fertilized human embryos are concerned that are, that are going to be discarded anyway, there was, there was a very moving ceremony, I thought, in the East Room of the White House this week, when the president discussed his stem cell policy. And on stage there with him—you had a clip of it at the top of the show—on stage there with him there were some children who are the products of those fertilized embryos that otherwise would have been, would have been destroyed.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, 128 embryos were adopted. But 400,000 are now not being used, and will be probably discarded. And you’re saying they should not be used for research by the federal government.

MR. BOLTEN: Yes, that is the president’s policy.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you then move to close down in vitro clinics—if, in fact, those embryos are being created and used by private companies for research and the president’s spokesman says that’s murder, and the president said it’s a human life, why not then close down the in vitro fertility clinics? Because they’re creating embryos that, in the president’s view, will be murdered.

MR. BOLTEN: That’s not where the president has, has drawn the balance. He’s drawn the balance with—the line with federal funding, people’s tax dollars not going to—not going to incent the further destruction of the human life. Look, 400,000…

MR. RUSSERT: But he will—he will allow private cell research companies to “destroy human life.”

MR. BOLTEN: That issue isn’t before him. What’s before him is what—the issue of what will federal funds be used for.

Look, those, those 400,000 fertilized…

MR. RUSSERT: But he could take steps to outlaw that.

MR. BOLTEN: Those 400,000 human—fertilized human embryos, I’m sure the president fervently wishes that, that every single one of them is going to get adopted and turn into one of those beautiful kids we saw at the ceremony.

MR. RUSSERT: All 400,000 are going to be adopted?

MR. BOLTEN: No. They’re not likely to be, and that’s, that’s, that’s very sad for this country. But…

MR. RUSSERT: Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser, said that adult stem cells show far more promise than embryonic stem cells, and the White House could not identify any scientist who could confirm that. Is—does the president agree with Mr. Rove?

MR. BOLTEN: I’m, I’m no scientist, not, not quantified to speak on it, but I think the point that Karl was getting at is that there are alternative means to achieve some of the promise of the—of the embryonic stem cells that, that scientists…

MR. RUSSERT: No, he said “far more promise.”


MR. RUSSERT: Can you—can you cite any scientist who believes that adult stem cells have far more promise than embryonic stem cells?

MR. BOLTEN: Well I can’t cite scientists on either side of it, but what I can tell you is that adult, adult human stem cells have already shown enormous utility in, in the amelioration of disease in this country. Embryonic stem cells have, have yet to fulfill the promise that many see, but, but there—but there is a legitimate promise there, and that’s why the president has struggled so much with that difficult balance…(unintelligible).

MR. RUSSERT: But is there any ev—is there any evidence that you’re aware of, or the president’s aware of, that says that adult stem cells show far more promise than embryonic?

MR. BOLTEN: Adult stem cells have already demonstrated for—in the amelioration of disease…

MR. RUSSERT: So you agree with Mr. Rove.

MR. BOLTEN: I—like I said I’m not—I’m not a scientist and I don’t…

MR. RUSSERT: Well, I don’t think Karl Rove is, either.

MR. BOLTEN: Well, he knows a lot of stuff, but the—look, the, the point here is that there are alternative ways to get to the, the promise that the embryonic stem cells have, and the president, in his announcement this week on, on stem cell policy, also announced that we were going to put extra effort at, at—within our scientific community at NIH into pursuing stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of those fertilized human embryos.