UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Tales from the Trail:

Special Relationship? How quickly they forget….

So much for "Hilly-Milly".

Just last year U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gushed to Vogue magazine about  former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband,  calling the young diplomat a dashing addition to the international scene. AFGHANISTAN/

"Well, if you saw him it would be a big crush. I mean, he is so vibrant, vital, attractive, smart. He's really a good guy. And he's so young!" Clinton said in remarks that provoked a spate of joking British tabloid headlines about the new "special relationship" between the United States and Britain.

Well, absence doesn't appear to have made the heart grow any fonder. Asked on Wednesday if she had any advice for Miliband following his decision to bow out of frontline politics after losing a Labour Party leadership contest to his younger brother, Clinton was brief.

"I have no advice for anyone in politics. I'm out of politics. I obviously wish him well and I am very intrigued by the interesting political dynamics that are occuring inside the United Kingdom," Clinton said, before launching into a positive assessment of the state of relations with Britain's current government.

Family drama grips Labour Party conference

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BRITAIN-LABOUR/Just when the Labour Party thought it had got over the long feud between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, it has been gripped by an even more compelling drama worthy of prime-time TV – the tale of two brothers who reached the top of British politics only to see their ambitions collide.

Delegates at the Labour Party conference in Manchester are just getting over their surprise that Ed Miliband, 40, pipped his brother David, 45, to be Labour leader. David had long been favourite to win and Ed’s shock victory on Saturday brought gasps from delegates.

Should we talk to the Taliban?

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Government ministers have said that Britain supports greater efforts to talk to hardline insurgents fighting in Afghanistan.

International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said that those who turn away from violence should be offered a chance to become part of the political process, while Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that “conservative Pashtuns” should be brought in and separated from “the hardline Taliban, who must be pursued relentlessly.”

Geert Wilders – martyr for free speech or public safety threat?

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Right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who is being prosecuted at home for anti-Islam remarks, has been barred from entering Britain.

He had been invited to show the House of Lords his film “Fitna,” which argues that the Koran incites violence, but was told his opinions could “threaten community harmony and therefore public safety” and sent back home again when he arrived at Heathrow.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Britain and the Kashmir banana skin

Memories seem to be short in the British government when it comes to Kashmir. Foreign Secretary David Miliband stirred up a diplomatic row over the region during his visit to India earlier this month. As this piece in The Times says, Miliband angered Indian officials by giving what they described as "unsolicited advice" on Kashmir, over which India has three times gone to war with Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947 and over which it is in no mood to be lectured by outsiders, let alone the former colonial power.
It was on a visit to Pakistan and India in 1997 to mark the 50th anniversary of those two countries' independence that the then British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, also got into trouble over Kashmir. Cook, who also served the Labour government, was forced to row back from suggestions that Britain might help resolve the long-running dispute. His intervention cast a serious shadow over the visit by Queen Elizabeth, who was at one point forced to cancel a long-planned speech.
The visit, during which the queen was accompanied by Cook, went downhill after that, and at one point a senior British diplomat was seen sitting, head in hands in despair, on the pavement outside Chennai airport. There were even suggestions, denied of course, that the British High Commissioner might be recalled. Tony Blair, then prime minister, had to patch up ties by assuring his Indian counterpart, Inder Kumar Gujral, that London would not meddle in Delhi's dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.
One wonders whether Miliband was reminded of all this before he went to India, and if he was, why did he walk into the Kashmir minefield once again. Or maybe he wasn't, which poses a different set of questions about competence and institutional memory at the Foreign Office.

Banana politics delight Tories

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miliband.jpgDavid Miliband was photographed clutching a banana at the Labour conference last week in Manchester, much to the delight of his political opponents, inside and outside his party.

Life-size cardboard cut-outs of the grinning Foreign Secretary committing his fruity faux-pas have now appeared all around the Conservative conference at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre.

Truly, madly, deeply: They loved New Brown

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Labour was destined for defeat at the next election and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he wasn’t going to step down.

The Labour Party conference in Manchester had been predictably subdued.

The only story in town had been who was going to have the guts to turn Judas.

And to cap it all off, there was to be a speech from a man renowned for repeating anodyne phrases like “long-term decisions” and “sustainable future” ad infinitum.

Labour “lemmings” on tour in Manchester

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Britain’s foreign minister David Miliband says he does not want a leadership fight.

But his speech to the Labour party conference in Manchester on Monday was hardly rammed full of ringing endorsements for his Prime Minister either and it won’t end the whispering.

Sympathy and silence for Brown in Afghanistan

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karzai.jpgGordon Brown’s brief visit to Afghanistan brought sympathy for his political plight from President Hamid Karzai but his attempts to evoke the Olympic spirit with British troops drew a decidedly cool response from the ranks.

For the travelling pack of reporters, he only had one stock answer bu that didn’t stop them from hounding him with the same question.

Would a new leader brighten Labour’s chances?

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miliband1.jpg   *** For full politics coverage click here *** 

 A Daily Telegraph poll coming on the heels of all the speculation about David Miliband’s leadership intentions suggests that even if Labour did ditch Gordon Brown, they would still be thrashed in the next general election.

It predicted that with Miliband at the helm, Labour would still only win 24 percent of the vote, against 47 percent for the Conservatives.

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