It is hard, in all honesty, to be against virtue. It can be tough to harbour doubts about democracy. Nevertheless . . . The Scottish Government has published proposals for direct elections to Scotland’s 14 territorial health boards. Scenes of rejoicing all round? Not quite. The document itself is notably tentative: consulting on “whether” such a development should take place, rather than merely how.
Hain in trouble
Should Cabinet ministers provide public endorsements for private companies? What if that company boasts that it offers 125per cent mortages "something that traditional lenders won't consider"? What if the minister in question is Work and Pensions Secretary, responsible for helping those at the sharp end of financial hardship who fall prey to money lenders?
The truth about Beckham, please
In his press conference earlier my Daily Mirror colleague asked Mr Brown if he was - as believed - meeting David Beckham in the near future. Alistair Darling smiled knowingly but the PM looked stern. He said Mr Beckham had done a "brilliant job" with the Olympics. If there was some other project he could help with, fine, "but I've got no specific plans to talk to him about that". We were left thinking there was nothing in it.
Sorry Danny: I'd call this appeasement
Danny Finkelstein has written a substantial piece for The Times arguing that Republicans need to modernise and adapt to the changed American landscape or else the GOP will be out of power for a generation. Endorsing former Bush insider David Frum's new book, Comeback, Finkelstein argues that what he calls "the old tunes" no longer resonate. He goes on to assert:
The Gordon and Alistair show
It was the Gordon and Alistair show today, rather than the Brown press conference. And Darling did far more than the intro. He jumped into answer questions, with his message – that HMS Britain was built by Labour to weather a world economic storm. He detailed meetings with world leaders, as if to try and hammer home his point that innocent Britain is caught in a world economic problem, not our fault guv, etc. Anyway, here are five thoughts on each of them…
Stephan Shakespeare: Frothy opinion polls
Stephen Shakespeare co-founded YouGov and is the owner of ConservativeHome.com.
I would like to be able to begin: “As I predicted, Hillary wins in New Hampshire...” Unfortunately I only said that Obama’s lead would be much, much smaller than the polls were indicating, and I made that prediction to friends (such as the editor of this site), and not in print. I enquired about the more attractive odds on Hillary to win the nomination, but I didn’t actually place the bet. So my claim is empty of glory.
An end to the something-for-nothing culture
At last, a policy from the Conservative Party emanating from the very foundations of common sense, designed to appeal to all unquestionably reasonable and fair-minded people, and to challenge the ‘work-shy’ millions who are content to lie in bed until midday and live off state benefits day in, day out, year after year. Under the next Conservative administration, people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance for more than two years would have to do 12 months community work.
Feeling blue, Peter?
A minister responsible for a department handling billions of taxpayers' money has proved 'regrettably' sloppy with his own campaign finances
Marking Gordon's card
Gordon Brown has now said ID cards won't be compulsory: is that a genuine rethink, an honest mistake or a deliberate attempt to mislead?
Why the Lib Dems are right on Europe
One of Norfolk Blogger's hopes for 2008 was that Hunter would write a pro-Lib Dem post. Nich's wish has just come true! The Lib Dems are the only political party with a sensible approach towards our membership of the European Union. Many in my own party and in the Labour party, aided by an unholy alliance of the red tops and anti-capitalist trade unionists, are calling for a referendum on the European Treaty. The treaty, agreed by European leaders in 2007, is highly complex.
Change can't just be a slogan
Although I have yet to meet him, I was led to believe David Wrede, the new Chairman of Taunton Deane Liberal Democrats was a man with many admirable qualities; a respected hospital consultant and member of many medical associations . A man capable of taking the local party onwards and upwards; to better and greater things.
Opinion: Should we have primaries in Britain?
With the US primary season now in full sway, the question about whether or not UK political parties should hold primaries will inevitably be debated once again. Tory MEP Dan Hannan makes the case for over on the Telegraph Blogs. In fact, primaries are now practiced in the UK by the Conservative Party, although only in a limited way - it is just one of the ways a Conservative Association may choose to select their candidates and the system more closely resembles a caucus system similar to the one used in Iowa as opposed to a full open primary system in that participants must attend a public meeting in order to vote.
Tories "work for benefits" plan does have some merits
Far be it for me to heap praise on the Tories or their usually vacuous leader "Call me Dave" Cameron, but despite the incredulous comments from both the government and the Lib Dems about the Tories proposals for a "work for benefits" scheme for the long term unemployed, I actually think it has some merits on a number of counts, but it cannot work without a root and branch review of the whole benefits system
The Drug Debate
In 1997, Commander John Grieve of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, Scotland Yard, had this to say to Channel 4: "If the (drug) problem continues advancing as it is at the moment, we're going to be faced with some very frightening options. Either you have a massive reduction in civil rights or you have to look at some radical solutions. The issue has to be, can a criminal justice system solve this particular problem?"
Brown tries to reassure on ID cards
Despite his planned comeback having been derailed slightly by Peter Hain's problems, the Prime Minister has moved today to try and reassure us all that ID cards are not some evil big brother device. The BBC report that he has suggested that ID cards may not become compulsory for all Britons: