UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

What if it’s not the economy, stupid?

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Gordon Brown is counting on a swift economic turnaround. It’s probably his Labour Party’s only hope of avoiding a humiliating electoral defeat to the Conservatives next year.

The latest news on the economy has certainly got people in Downing Street smiling. The housing market is stabilising and some commentators are even talking about Britain becoming the first major country to pull out of the recession.

Treasury forecasts of reasonable growth that were derided just two months ago suddenly don’t look so bad.

The Number 10 dream scenario is that the economy recovers strongly, Brown takes the credit and the polls turn in time for a May election.

Should Iraq stay behind closed doors?

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The government’s planned Iraq inquiry has come under withering fire on several fronts, notably the lack of consultation with other political parties, its apparent careful timing to avoid any possible political embarrassment just before the next election and for what several commentators feel is a hand-picked establishment team in charge of proceedings that is unlikely to rock the boat.******But the main criticism has been the fact that it will be held in private.******That way, the government says, witnesses will be more likely to be candid, the whole process will be quicker and, above all, it will obviate the need to have legions of expensive lawyers accompanying every witness.******Doubtless Gordon Brown had in mind the example of the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings in Northern Ireland which had been going on for 10 years and which has so far run up costs of almost 100 million pounds in lawyers’ fees.******The overall cost of that inquiry had reached 182 million pounds by the end of last year. It is not expected to report now until 2010.******Do you believe the government has a point in that respect or should it have given in to the repeated demands to hold an inquiry in public?

Labour MPs reprieve humble Brown – for now

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Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meetings are usually drab affairs. The leader turns up, listens to a few grumbles from backbench MPs, a few reporters hang around outside hoping to grab a half-decent quote and in the end a Labour apparatchik puts a rose-tinted spin on proceedings.

Not so on Monday night, one of those rare “crunch time” events for a party leader that creates such a frenzy inside and outside the venue. Parliament’s committee room 14 was so full one MP of robust stature tried to force not one, but two doors in an attempt to get in, and ended up with a sore shoulder. Veteran party member Greville (now Lord) Janner, a member of the Magic Circle, gave up trying to get in and instead entertained reporters with a couple of magic tricks. His skills may have been of more use on the other side of the door.

What next for the government?

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Reuters UK Chief Correspondent Keith Weir assesses the European election results and the challenges facing Prime Minister Gordon Brown after support for the Labour Party plunged to its lowest level in a century in European elections.

The collapse in the Labour vote in the European Parliament election, which followed a dismal showing in local government elections last week, helped the far-right British National Party win its first two seats in the European Parliament.

Bookies odds provide grim reading for Brown

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown is starting to look like an over the hill punch-drunk heavyweight boxer stumbling around the ring desperately hoping that the referee will step in and end the agony.

Having been battered by a raft of cabinet resignations, a dismal performance in last week’s local government elections and now his Labour Party plunging to its lowest level in a century in European elections, Brown appears almost out for the count.

Did Yasmina Siadatan deserve to win “The Apprentice”?

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown might be having a hard time with women, but there is clearly no glass ceiling in his good friend Sir Alan Sugar’s boardroom.

“The Apprentice” final saw Kate Walsh and Yasmina Siadatan go stiletto-to-stiletto — “You’re the best that I’ve ever had in the final in this boardroom,” said Sugar.

Should Alan Sugar have been hired?

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Among the surprises last week, as one cabinet minster after another stepped down, was Gordon Brown’s appointment of Sir Alan Sugar as the government’s Enterprise Tsar.

Was this a sound decision, several analysts wondered, or was it a possible case of Brown seeming to confuse the worlds of politics and show business, hoping perhaps that what works in the studio would work just as well in the real world?

from Funds Hub:

In the brown stuff

The unfolding crisis in British politics makes for fascinating viewing for the populace and great work for journalists, but it also of course has potentially far-reaching implications in the financial sector.

rtr248cnAs cabinet ministers resign and Labour MPs call for Gordon Brown to step down, several outcomes now distrinctly possible -- Brown stays, a new Labour prime minister emerges or a general election is called and (if polls are correct) the opposition Conservatives win. The future direction of UK government policy is far from clear.

Is there any way out for Gordon Brown?

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The Guardian newspaper, normally a Labour supporter, has decided Gordon Brown must go.

“It’s time to cut him loose,” it declares in an editorial that goes on: “The public is calling furiously for a better system. People want an honest parliament. They want leaders who are prepared to act. They loathe the old system, and many of the people who are part of it.”

Brown outgunned by Lumley-led Gurkhas

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Joanna Lumley’s father fought with Nepalese Gurkha soldiers during World War Two. The late Major James Rutherford Lumley would no doubt have been proud of the way his actress daughter fought a brilliant campaign with veterans of that brigade to win the right to settle in the UK based on the simple premise that if you are good enough to die for this country you are good enough to live in it.

As Lumley and triumphant Gurkhas sipped tea in the garden of Downing Street on Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Gordon Brown would have done well to take Lumley aside and ask for her secret.

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