At last, Britain's Conservative Party is getting in touch with its masculine side. And doing very well as a result. David Cameron spent a year turning his rather unpromising colleagues into something that more resembles a team, that seems engaged with the issues that affect ordinary people's lives, and that in part is almost human - or at least gives a convincing impression that it might be. Along the way he mightily irritated a number of Conservative supporters who picked up the message that health and education just needed more cash, louts should be loved, and tax cuts were right off the agenda.
Coppers' Friends? Not The Tories
Who are the coppers' best friends in Parliament in the row over police pay? Not the Conservatives, on the evidence of extraordinary exchanges between Jacqui Smith and MPs during Home Office Questions. It's not often the Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, is lost for words. But on police pay, it seems, he has been struck dumb. Predictably, the Home Secretary got a rough ride from MPs over her (or rather, her boss, the Prime Minister's) refusal to backdate a 2.5 per cent pay rise for police, reducing it to 1.9 per cent.
Will Labour pay a political price for NR nationalisation?
Was action delayed because of the planned November election? With the government having lined up a veteran City executive, Ron Sandler, to run a nationalised Northern Rock there’s been a big downward move on the stock market on the NR share price. The expectation is that if the government steps in then equity investors will suffer.
Between a Rock and a hard place
Rachel Sylvester has a typically eloquent and perceptive piece on the political ramifications of nationalising Northern Rock in the Telegraph today. As Sylvester points out the government has to come up with a solution before the end of February when the six month period for state aid mandated by the European Union runs out.
Gordon Brown - is he, or is he not, the Prime Minister?
I understand that Gordon Brown has told The Sun that Peter Hain's future as a member of the cabinet is out of his hands. What a peculiar statement. Surely Hain has been carpeted, and just as surely both he and Gordon Brown know whether he is going to be found guilty by the Electoral Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. They both know the rules. And in that case if Gordon Brown is surely the Prime Minister he should have made one of the two following statements:
A stay of execution for Peter Hain?
Gordon Brown, in typical Pontius Pilate mode, has indicated that Peter Hain’s fate now rests with the Electoral Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. That being so, our absent-minded Work and Pensions Secretary will be breathing a sigh of relief.
The rising cost of an MP
The size of Peter Hain's campaign fund suggests that democracy is no longer within the pocket of the common man
Northern Rock - there is a better alternative to nationalisation
The debate about Northern Rock on Newsnight yesterday failed to produce a thought through alternative to nationalisation, to protect the taxpayers interest and avoid more damage to markets. As readers of this blog will know, there is such an alternative. Maybe I have to spell it out again.
How the Lib Dem leadership contest almost turned into a bloodbath
The current issue of the House Magazine has an article on the challenges facing Nick Clegg, written by Greg Hurst. More striking, however, are Hurst's claims about the tensions behind the scenes during the recent leadership contest. Writing of the tension between Nick and Chris Huhne, Hurst says:
George Osborne’s defence starts fraying at the edges
At first sight, George Osborne’s defence of his undeclared donations looked pretty good: the money was declared to the Electoral Commission, the Parliamentary authorities were asked if it needed declaring to them, they said no, but if they’ve now changed their minds, it’ll be done went the story.
Six questions for Boris
Boris Johnson is being interviewed tonight on BBC London News. Ken's campaign have suggested some key questions the BBC ought to be asking:
More from the Sunday Times poll
The full results of the YouGov poll are still up on their website here. As usual they asked a wide variety of subjects, so here’s a run down of some of the other findings. Gordon Brown’s figures continue to plummet, his net “good job” in the YouGov poll for the Sunday Times was down to -20, as compared to -10 in November. Cameron’s figures are up at plus 25. There were figures for Nick Clegg, but so far these mean very little indeed, with well over half of respondents saying don’t know. Less good for Cameron was one of those focus group style questions asking what animal people thought politicians resembled: Brown was seen as a bear, a nice strong image there. Cameron was seen as a snake, oh dear.