Thursday, 14 February 2008

The Poliblogs 14 February 2008

Why isn't Michael Fallon in the Shadow Cabinet?

Has anyone - apart from ConservativeHome - noticed that the Member for Sevenoaks is pound for pound one of the most effective operators on the Tory benches? He offers a consistently robust Thatcherite critique of Labour's economic failings. As vice-chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, where he plays a nifty bad cop to John McFall's good cop, he has repeatedly skewered Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, most recently on Northern Rock. Mr Fallon is a canny media operator who manages to generate more coverage than half the Shadow Cabinet.

Ben Brogan

Northern Rock: Spin cycle begins

Late last night, (ignoring traditional rules about making announcements prior to the stock exchange opening, but who in the Treasury cares about that) the Government announced that unless Virgin and the Northern Rock management improved their bids, then Northern Rock will be nationalised. Given that the Rock is already on the public accounts, this is a mis-statement at best. The Rock is already nationalised, all the government are saying is that they will exclude private sector intervention from the future unless the terms are improved.


The case for a written constitution

Does Britain need a written constitution? Traditionally, this isn’t an issue to which the left has paid much attention. Either it has been written off as being of little importance, or else the very concept has been seen as favouring conservative forces in a society. As a result, the ruling class has essentially been able to make up the rules of the political game as it goes along. But with the latest hint from justice secretary Jack Straw that such a development is likely over the next decade or two, it is clearly time to sharpen up our ideas on this one.

Dave’s Part

The government tears up the Bill of Rights

It is typical of this government that Parliament should not be meeting on this day of all days. On 13th February 1689 “the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons assembled at Westminster” presented a declaration to the new sovereigns, King William and Queen Mary. This declaration, known as the Bill of Rights, established Parliamentary supremacy over the Crown in important areas, and guaranteed Parliament’s freedoms .It did so that the people could practise the religion of their choice, avoid arbitrary manipulation of their laws and require redress of ills before they had to pay taxes.

John Redwood

What's driving Ken?

Ken Livingstone's congestion charge policy was established to reduce congestion; now it seems it's about what car you own

Daniel Moylan

This is Gordon Brown's mistake

The chancellor is taking the heat for a U-turn on tax-avoidance by non-doms: but it is the prime minister who should have resisted City bullying

Will Hutton

Spin is alive and kicking at the Treasury

The Treasury spin machine went into overdrive yesterday afternoon to try and water down the significance of Alistair Darling’s u-turn on the taxation of non-doms. Throughout the afternoon, journalists were subject to a range of explanations from supposedly impartial civil servants. First the rules to gain access to offshore trusts and the other assets of non-doms were drawn up by an overeager official who had gone too far. Then, in another call, we were told to believe that there was, in fact, no change to what was originally proposed and yesterday’s announcement was “just a clarification” of what had been said all along.

Three Line Whip

I wish I could fly

This intriguing, if badly-scanned, graph appears in today's Guardian. It's a stark illustration of the pollution caused by the global shipping industry. The darker the area, the more particulate pollution its suffers from - and some of the darker patches overlay major shipping lanes very precisely.

Know Your Place

Archbishop Rowan Firestorm was Started by the BBC before Interview was even Broadcast

Archbishop Rowan Firestorm was Started by the BBC before Interview was even Broadcast

[Update: It appears that this article had a glitch or two in publication, and so there is some undisciplind pinging going on. My apologies.] There’s been a huge media firestorm after the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lecture to lawyers in London, as we all know - and it’s all been blamed on “Rowan’s naivity” or “Rowan’s bad press team” or “what did he expect, mentioning Sharia” or [insert random Rowan-bashing reason here]. After a bit of digging, it turns out that the Beeb was reporting inaccurate statements about “ABC says Sharia is inevitable” even before the interview was broadcast. Rowan (and a well-tempered debate) never had a chance - whether you agree with his line or not.

The Wardman Wire

Matt Wardman accuses the BBC of stirring

Matt Wardman accuses the BBC, in fairly strident terms, of encouraging an unnecessary storm over the Archbishop of Canterbury's words. His evidence for this is pretty weak. Essentially, he has two points. First, that by publishing the story on their website before the interview they pre-empted his interview and thereby prevented people getting the balanced and nuanced account of his opinions that the interview provided. Second, that the website article was distorting.

Sinclair’s Musings

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