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Best of Britain: Reflections


This week’s Best of Britain photos involve reflections of the literal as well as the metaphorical.  From an artist’s work consisting of giant upside down mirrors, mourners lining Wootton Bassett, a portrait of pensioners hit by the recent “death bonds” scandal, to Gordon Brown speaking at the Labour Party’s annual conference.

Also included is an image of Lehman Brothers artwork being auctioned, a costumed Ryder Cup spectator, as well as a man tending to the greens of Celtic Manor.

Indian born, British based, artist Anish Kapoor poses for a photograph in front of his work "C-Curve", part of his "Turning the World Upside Down" exhibition, in Hyde Park, central London September 27, 2010. Four of Kapoor's large scale, highly refelective stainless steel giant curved mirror surfaces have been installed in Hyde Park and will be on show until March 2011.    REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Gordon Brown speaks at the Labour Party's annual conference in Manchester September 25, 2010. The Labour Party, after spending months licking its wounds over an election defeat, elects a new leader on Saturday who will seek to step up pressure on the government over its deep public spending cuts.   REUTERS/Darren Staples

A greenkeeper prepares the 18th green ahead of the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Newport, south Wales September 30, 2010 REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Pensioners Tony and Pam Tobin pose at their home in Pagham near Bognor Regis in southern England August 19, 2010. In 2007, the Tobins bought a life settlement scheme with UK's Keydata Investment Services, a relatively new and complex type of financial product based on purchasing the unwanted life insurance policies of wealthy Americans and then collecting the death benefits. The returns depended, in part, on when those Americans died. The fledgling secondary market for life insurance policies -- also dubbed "death bonds" -- started winning attention around 2005, especially in the United States.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

A spectator dressed as a daffodil watches play on the 11th hole during practice ahead of the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Newport, south Wales September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A Christie's employee poses for a photograph with a work by Jim Hodges at Christie's in central London September 24, 2010.  Various items are on display before the auction of Lehman Brothers: Artwork and Ephemera, which will take place on September 29.    REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Mourners place flowers on the hearse carrying Sergeant Andrew Jones of the Royal Engineers as he and Trooper Andrew Howarth of the Queen's Royal Lancers are driven through the town of Wootton Bassett after their repatriation ceremony at RAF Lyneham, southern England September 23, 2010. Jones and Howarth were both killed whilst serving in Afghanistan. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

from Africa News blog:

Gordon Brown resurfaces. In Africa


It’s odd to see a once powerful man walk slowly. And odder still to see him sit in the corner of a restaurant nursing a glass of water for more than an hour. But that’s exactly what delegates to an African Union summit in Ugandan capital Kampala saw former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown do on Saturday.

Brown has been treated as something of a fugitive by the British media since his May election defeat with a slew of “Have you seen this man? type articles published in the country’s newspapers. Speculation on what he was up to ranged from bashing out a book on economics to Alastair Darling’s “he’s reflecting”.

How long can the negotiations go on?


It should have been all over now. But no, we’re on day five and no one really seems to know which way things are going to go.

All over Westminster, people are looking tired. Journalists, politicians, aides and most of all the 24-hour news anchors.

The big rescue package has bought the politicians some time


They promised us market meltdown if there was a hung parliament. That was the Conservative pitch before the election.

That isn’t quite what happened. The pound did fall a bit, so did gilts and stocks but most losses were made up by the end of the first day after the result became known, which had been widely expected.

Gordon Brown will seek deal with LibDems


Gordon Brown is clearly looking to form a coalition government with the LibDems. It seems to be a matter of when as everyone waits for the results to come in.

Shortly before he was about to speak in Kirkcaldy, an aide briefed just that. Economic uncertainty meant that a strong coalition government was better than a minority one and signalled Labour could do a deal.

Twitter users still agree with Nick


One the eve of the general election, our exclusive Twitter analysis of political sentiment shows that while the latest opinion polls point to a late rally by Gordon Brown’s Labour Party, users of the micro-blogging site still favour Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats over the other two main parties.

US market research firm Crimson Hexagon (on behalf of has been archiving all tweets on British politics since March 22 and analysing them for positive and negative sentiment. All parties have had their ups and downs, most notably in the aftermath of the first leaders’ debate (which led to a spike in support for the LibDems and the hashtag #iagreewithnick trending on Twitter) and Gordon Brown’s “bigot” gaffe in Rochdale,which gave us the highest percentage of negative tweets for any party during the campaign.

from Photographers' Blog:

A break in choreography on the campaign trail

On tightly-choreographed campaign trails there aren’t many photo moments that haven’t been carefully planned beforehand by spin doctors, so when Gordon Brown made an impromptu visit to a hair salon in Oldham, there was a ripple of excitement.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown accepts an invitation from Sue Fink to visit her hair salon as he speaks at the Honeywell Community Centre in Oldham, northwest England April 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Such unscripted moments create great opportunities for photographers because they offer a glimpse of reality and inject a human element into often monotonous days of speeches, handshakes and platitudes.

Twitter users turn on Brown after “bigot” gaffe


We’re still waiting to find out if Gordon Brown’s gaffe in Rochdale yesterday (if you missed it, he called a 66-year-old, lifelong Labour voter a “bigoted woman”) does serious damage to his party’s performance in the opinion polls. What is certain is that it was the first serious blunder of the election campaign and the shockwaves were immediately visible on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Throughout the election run-in U.S. research firm Crimson Hexagon has been conducting exlusive research for — archiving all UK political tweets and analysing them for positive and negative sentiment. The three main parties have each experienced ups and downs throughout the campaign. Not surprisingly, we saw a spike in positive Liberal Democrat tweets  following Nick Clegg’s impressive performance during the first leaders’ debate, while positive sentiment towards David Cameron’s Conservatives has dwindled since we started analysing tweets on March 22.

Jokes wear thin at ill-tempered Labour event


MandelsonLabour strategy chief Peter Mandelson berated the media at a press conference this morning for failing to focus on policy. Then he repeatedly side-stepped questions on the most important policy challenge of all: where are the tens of billions of pounds of spending cuts needed to halve the deficit going to come from?

Of course Labour are not alone in dodging that thorniest of questions. David Cameron keeps repeating that his Conservatives have gone “further than any opposition in history” in spelling out proposed spending cuts, starting with 6 billion pounds in unspecified “efficiency savings” this year. But his insistence cannot mask the fact that the Tories’ planned cuts, like Labour’s and indeed the Liberal Democrats’, add up to only a fraction of what is required.