UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Relaxed Brown up for election fight

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brownHe’s 10 points behind in the polls but Gordon Brown is clearly not going down without a fight.

With an election likely in less than 90 days, the Prime Minister seems to be relishing the prospect of taking on the Conservatives and he thinks he can win.

The Conservatives have got it all wrong and people are beginning to question their judgment, he told me as we flew back from an EU summit in Brussels on a tiny hired jet — plans to travel by train having been abandoned after major delays on the Eurostar.

Warming to his theme, nothing was going to get in his way.

As the plane neared London, aides motioned the interview should come to an end.

He wasn’t having any of it. Brown just carried on, attacking the Conservative position on Europe which he calls a “terrible mistake”, leaving his handlers standing in the aisle looking helplessly on as the plane began its descent.

from Afghan Journal:

The Afghan conference: a meeting of victors or the vanquished ?

AFGHANISTAN/If you listened to some of the rhetoric in the lead-up to Thursday's conference on Afghanistan in London and followed the coverage accompanying it, you would think it is a meeting of the victors of war.

Here we are, at a meeting attended by representatives from more than 50 countries, offering the Taliban a chance for peace before the "surge" of 30,000 additional U.S. troops hits them. They better grasp it before the tide turns decisively against them, seems to be the message.  Host British Prime Minister Gordon, according to this report, vowed to "split the Taliban" while offering them a full part in the rebuilt Afghanistan if they united behind the government in Kabul.

Has Alistair Darling done enough to revive Labour’s electoral hopes?

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So how was it for you?

Chancellor Alistair Darling threw the dice in his pre-budget report in an attempt to bolster Labour’s chances of winning the general election in 2010.

From hitting bankers with a one-off bonus tax to lowering bingo duty, Darling played to the Labour heartlands, while hoping to win back voters who have been telling pollsters that they are done with Gordon Brown.

Keith Weir on PMQs wins and losses

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Gordon Brown fended off some familiar darts from Conservative leader David Cameron about the recession during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, says Reuters UK chief correspondent Keith Weir.

Brown also spoke about Afghanistan after the prime minister confirmed on Monday that Britain would send an extra 500 soldiers to Afghanistan, bringing the UK troop level to about 10,000. The U.S. said on Tuesday it will increase its troop levels by 30,000 to about 100,000.

from MacroScope:

The word on Gordon Brown from Cayman

Gordon Brown is truly having a rough time. Rebuffed by the United States, International Monetary Fund and others for floating the idea of a tax on financial transactions at this weekend's G20 meeting, he has now got short shrift from the Cayman Islands.

McKeeva Bush, the veteran Caymanian politican who is now premier of the British Overseas Territory, popped in to the Reuters London headquarters for a chat this week. His main concern was to explain plans for making the islands an easier place for financial services personnel to live in. He would like some of those 8,000 hedge nearly 10,000 funds that are registered there to be more than just brass plaques. But, when asked, he also had time to dismiss the idea of a transaction tax out of hand.

from The Great Debate UK:

Send your questions to Alistair Darling

darlingDo you have a question you would like to ask Chancellor Alistair Darling? Now is your chance.

At 1:30pm British time on Wednesday, October 21, Reuters is hosting an exclusive Web 2.0 interview with Darling and we want you to send us your questions to put to the top man from the Treasury.

Clouds of change: Buzzwords from conference season

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dave1Opposition leader David Cameron has delivered his speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester.******Cameron told delegates there would be “painful” cuts in public spending, promised to send more troops to Afghanistan and stressed the importance of confronting “Labour’s debt crisis.” He also pledged to modernise the pension system, “break the cycle of welfare dependency” and cut back on bureaucracy to make life easier for entrepreneurs.******Cameron’s speech brings conference season to an end. Leaders of the three main parties — Cameron, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats — have all laid out their plans for Britain ahead of a general election due by June 2010.******The ‘word clouds’ below have been generated using the complete texts from each of the leaders’ keynote conference speeches, in the order they were given. At first glance there are some striking similarities and fascinating overlaps — but we will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.******How did you think each of the leaders performed? Who did you find the most convincing? Is David Cameron ready to lead the country?******Keywords from Nick Clegg’s speech:******cleggwordcloud2****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******Keywords from Gordon Brown’s speech:******brownwordcloud3****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******Keywords from David Cameron’s speech:******cameronwordcloud

Will the Sun win the election for the Conservatives?

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murdoch_newThe Sun trumpeted “It’s the Sun Wot Won It” after the Conservatives won the 1992 general election following the newspaper’s polling day headline “If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”.

Five years later, Britain’s top-selling daily newspaper switched sides and backed Tony Blair and Labour at the next general election, remaining loyal to the centre-left party at the 2001 and 2005 elections.

People, Britain and change – Brown’s speech keywords

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised to clean up politics, get tough on crime in his keynote speech to the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton. He also pledged to address the bonus culture that many blame for the financial crisis.

The ‘Word Cloud’ below (click the image for a larger view), produced by Wordle, shows the words he used most frequently.

Among the lobbyists at Labour conference

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BRITAIN-LABOUR/As a conference first-timer, I was curious to know what goes on off stage in the conference centre — where the television cameras seldom go.******The lobby area at the Brighton Conference venue is packed with stalls for various campaign groups — everyone from the heavyweights of the Nuclear Industry Association to the Paul Daisley Trust, touchingly run by the widow of a Labour MP who died of colorectal cancer in 2003.******There are plenty of sweets on offer and the canvas bag with slogan is the favourite giveaway.******The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association even allow visitors to try out on Wii Fit’s ski jump. For the record, your correspondent cleared 100 metres before crashing out on his second attempt — way off the conference record marked on the whiteboard.******The most arresting sight is a lollipop lady made of ice — she is slowly melting away in the conference heat. The Unison Union warns that public services would suffer a similar fate if political parties cut public spending.

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