Hillary Brown: an apology
As we wipe the egg off our mugs this morning and contemplate the Clinton comeback, let's spare a thought for Gordon Brown. This time yesterday he was being bracketed with Hillary as a wooden time-serving automaton whose lack of charisma, poetry and a certain irresistible sleekness doomed him to imminent demise in the Age of Change. An extraordinary 24 hours later and he's the one having a laugh as reads the "Hillary reels" headlines.
Voters don't like hubris
And so Hillary Clinton lives to fight another day. Whether her narrow victory in New Hampshire can be put down to her superior grassroots organisation, her tearful episode earlier this week or the racism of voters who could safely vote against Obama in the privacy of a secret ballot nobody yet knows. Maybe New Hampshire voters simply don't like being told who is going to win and that so-and-so is the "inevitable" winner?
An atomic future
Today the UK government is expected to announce that it will resume the building of nuclear power stations. This is good news for the environment. Nuclear power plants are very clean. They produce very little of the carbon dioxide that fossil fuels produce. In emissions terms, one nuclear power station replacing a conventional one is the equivalent of taking thousands of cars off the road. Almost all the waste is recycled. A well-designed nuclear plant actually releases less radioactivity into the atmosphere than a coal-fired plant.
Gordon's nuclear con trick
The government is pursuing a simplistic, knee-jerk nuclear energy policy that won't work
No Mandate Brown will announce today that the British government intends to build nuclear power stations in England. He won’t be making the same announcement about Scotland, of course, because it’s a devolved matter and the Scottish Parliament has decided that Gordon Brown’s constituents and their fellow countrymen won’t be getting nuclear power stations.
So what if the line about David Cameron rehearsing his lines in front of the mirror was itself rehearsed in front of the mirror? The point is it worked in the Commons cockpit and on the telly as a moment that helped bolster the PM, cheer his side, and deflate the Tory leader's attack. Mr Brown described how Mr Cameron "flits through the issues", which is what he did today. (It's a good party trick that delivers on occasion: whack the PM on one subject, then move on to another before he's had time to gather his wits. It didn't succeed today.)
Learning Ming's Lesson
First outing at PMQs today for the new Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg. It was a hesitant, but competent, effort. Clegg has decided to eschew the traditional Lib Dem leader’s seat immediately below the gangway, preferring instead to sit three seats along on the front bench.
Nick Clegg's first question at PMQs was on "fuel poverty".
Fuel poverty? For some reason nobody's ever satisfactorily explained, fuel poverty is where you spend more than 10% of your income on fuel. And with spiralling energy prices, the number of households in that position looks set to increase even beyond the present 4m, itself a doubling since 2003. Clegg wanted to know what Bottler was going to do about it? Like maybe issuing some kind of directive to our energy companies not to be so beastly and to stop raising prices. Er, yes... Bottler/Darling have already tried that one by bludgeoning the OFT into... well, jolly well doing something!
UK Interest rate decision
Now it is not often that Iain Dale beats us to a profound statement about the economy and interest rates...but he did this week. Iain asked the question of what is the real interest rate. This is indeed a hoary old topic, old enough to have been my first decent post on this blog.
Should MPs vote for above-inflation pay increases?
This morning's FT reports that Gordon Brown and David Cameron are both urging their MPs to reject above-inflation pay increases for themselves. If previous research is to be believed then Conservative MPs are the least likely to be accommodating. There seem to be a number of issues here (in no particular order):
First London Mayoral TV Debate on ITV
The London Mayoral contest has now officially kicked off. This evening I went along as a studio guest, in my capacity as GLA candidate, for the filming of the first TV debate between the three main candidates- Ken Livingstone, Brian Paddick, and Boris Johnson. It was a fairly strange event in that the studio audience where all supporters from the 3 main parties, and we were to put our questions to the candidate from the rival parties
Boris says Ken to blame for knife crime
Yesterday I received a news release from Labour London Assembly Leader, Len Duvall about Boris's attack on Ken for his supposed lack of leadership on gun and knife crime. This attack was a feature, in the ever so neutral and objective, London Evening Standard on Monday evening. This is a ridiculous argument. Ken has always been consistently strong on law and order. His arguments that it is was the poor and vulnerable that suffered the most from crime and they needed protection by the Police, use to infuriate the left. Now the right are making fools of themselves (and worse) over what should be a serious issue, by claiming he is soft on crime.
Iain Dale's at it again
Oh dear. Iain Dale seems to getting a little bit hot under the collar about Chris Huhne's press release calling for the reclassification of cannabis. Iain quotes something from a Lib Dem conference six years ago (apparently Iain thinks policy is carved in tablets of stone that must remain in place for several decades), where the party appeared to be arguing mainly for the de-criminalisation of drugs under certain circumstances.
Things go from bad to worse for Hain
This morning's Guardian reveals that Peter Hain may well have in excess of £100,000 in undeclared donations still to report to the Electoral Commission. The paper understands that there are almost 20 donations that his team failed to declare, in breach of the rules for party political elections. This means that Hain spent around £200,000 on his fifth-placed Deputy Leadership campaign, well in excess of the other candidates and twice as much as the successful Harriet Harman.