UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Playing the blame game

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President Barack Obama had barely settled into in the White House before he was happy to admit he had “screwed up” over one of his choices for a cabinet job after Tom Daschle withdraw his nomination as health secretary over an income tax controversy.

Even Britain’s leading bankers were moved to apologise to parliament last month over the sector’s indiscretions in the boom years.

But sorry is clearly not a word in Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s political lexicon, even though he was Chancellor for 10 years and arguably his “light touch” approach to the economy created the environment for  the current economic mess we are in.

Brown is happy to talk of the need for humility, but that’s as far as he will go. He reminds you of a cyclist caught doping, endlessly pleading their innocence, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Has Brown lost the Spring in his step?

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Is the Labour Party going to regret not hosting a Spring Party Conference this year?

Yes, it is going to save them a lot of cash, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown has enough to worry about ahead of the G20 financial crisis summit in Britain in April.

Drawing up the Battle Lines

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Newspapers were in no doubt of the significance of the pre-budget report – this was a defining moment in British politics.

New Labour is no more, they announced, and prudence has been blown away by a massive gamble for the hearts and minds of the electorate before the next election.

A profound shift in party politics

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David Cameron’s decision to ditch a major Conservative pledge to match Labour spending plans pound for pound was hailed by commentators as an important step in the politics of the recession, opening up a clear gulf between the two main parties’ economic policies but exposing the Tories to considerable risk.

Labour is expected to cut taxes, accelerate public spending and announce more borrowing in Monday’s pre-budget report. Now their supporters can revive the spectre of “Tory cuts” to funding for schools and hospitals which helped the Conservatives lose the last two elections.

Should “SuperGord” hold a snap election?

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gordonbrown.jpgOnly a few weeks ago the cartoons were showing Gordon Brown paddling up the proverbial creek without a paddle as his poll ratings slumped under an endless succession of bad news. The Tories were practically measuring up the curtains at No. 10.

Now — after a crisis that was surely the ultimate answer to a maiden’s prayer — it’s caped crusader “SuperGord” saving the world, lauded by grateful governments across the globe for slaying the fearsome credit crunch monster. Kapow, splat.

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: Your time is up. And not just in Crewe

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crewe1.jpgIf the message on the streets up here in northern England is anything to go by, Labour will be sent packing at the next election.

Yes, it was just a by-election. Yes, Labour is suffering from severe mid-term blues. But the swing was a massive 17.6 percent and it wasn’t the Liberal Democrats who gained from Labour’s troubles, as is traditional in by-elections.

Thursday’s headlines: Brown “plots fightback”

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The Times says Gordon Brown is facing the first electoral test of his premiership. It also features London mayoral candidates Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson. Story here

The Daily Mail leads with how motorists are being fleeced by speed cameras or traffic wardens to the annual sum of £800m. Story here

Heat is on at Reuters Newsmaker with London mayor candidates

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** For full coverage of the mayoral election go to our special report **

Safer streets, better housing, more reliable transport….that’s what Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and Brian Paddick all want for London and it’s probably what most Londoners want for their city. But what’s the big difference then between “Red Ken”, “Crazy Boris” and …”Policeman turned Politician” Brian Paddick?

That’s still hard to fathom two weeks ahead of the May 1 London mayor election. But there was an air of tetchiness and getting personal during a Reuters Newsmaker debate at Reuters headquarters in London in front of an invited audience of around 250 people.

The Ken and Boris show

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boris.jpgSitting at the Evening Standard’s London Mayor debate last night, it occurred to me how cosy this election is. Whoever wins the contest on May 1 will lead one of the world’s most high-profile cities with an 11.3 billion pound budget to run public transport, police and fire services and promote the economy of this global financial centre. Yet at times the candidates seem to think they are engaging in some kind of school debating contest.

First there was breathless Boris, who bounded up to the podium like a precocious teenager and raced through his speech to cram in as much as possible during his allotted eight minutes. Then a more nervous, and far less exuberant delivery from the class swot — Brian Paddick — the former policeman turned Lib Dem mayoral candidate, who delivered a serious and earnest “Why I should be head boy” speech.

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