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Mandelson slip-up confirms eurosceptics’ fears


mandelsonBusiness minister Peter Mandelson built his reputation as a sure-footed communicator for the Labour Party, but the former EU trade commissioner suffered a rare slip-up on Friday when he confirmed many eurosceptics’ fears that the European Commission relished its lack of democratic accountability.

“The best principle of the European Commission ever invented was that it should not be elected — that it was remote, unaccountable, a major bureaucracy that could do good for Europe and can take the risks of saying things and doing things that are not as easy to do in the member states,” said Mandelson.

The remarks to French students in Paris were at least partly in jest, and prompted laughter.

Talking more about the benefits of working for the Commission, Mandelson went on: “We’re not elected, we don’t have to think: ‘Oh my God, what are we going to say and do because the public are going to turn us out of office?’”

Relaxed Brown up for election fight


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.

Will social media influence your voting intentions?


brown_cameronA couple of government ministers, Andy Burnham and Chris Bryant, let the cat out of the bag this week that the general election will be in May.

So if the inclement weather has darkened your mood, cheer up — you’ve got a few months yet of political jaw-jaw and shadow electioneering as Britain’s political parties try to ingratiate themselves into your heart in a bid to snaffle your vote on election day.

Tony Travers on challenges the parties face


tony_traverspmAlthough the Queen’s speech on Wednesday is a formal occasion to outline the government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session, with less than six months to go before a general election, commentators are viewing it as the unofficial launch of Labour’s campaign.

Tony Travers, director of the Greater London Group at the London School of Economics, outlines some of the challenges the parties face before elections, which must be held no later than June 2010.

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.

Among the lobbyists at Labour conference


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.

On the road with Gordon Brown


gbThe Prime Minister is on the move — and I will be following close behind.

I’m Sumeet Desai, Senior Reuters economics correspondent and over the next couple of weeks I will be with Gordon Brown as he travels to New York to the United Nations general assembly and then on to Pittsburgh for the eagerly anticipated G20 summit.

Then it is back to Britain — we will be at the seaside in Brighton for the Labour Party’s annual conference.

Mandelson’s scare tactic gives glimpse of election battle

Peter Mandelson Peter Mandelson gave a glimpse of Labour’s strategy in the next election on Monday, trying to scare voters from choosing the Conservatives by forecasting they would take the country back to the harsh days of the early 1980s.

    The business secretary invoked former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her hardline ministers as he
sought to portray the modern Conservatives as unchanged from
their predecessors who broke the unions and shrunk the state in
Thatcher’s Conservative revolution after 1979.

Financial regulation plan: white paper or white flag?


Chancellor Alistair Darling set out new plans to strengthen regulation of financial markets on Wednesday. The white paper proposes enforcing higher levels of capital for banks and increasing liquidity to prevent a re-run of the credit crunch.

Darling wants banking pay packages to be policed and for a new Council for Financial Stability to bring together the work of the Bank of England, Financial Services Authority and the Treasury.

Bookies odds provide grim reading for Brown


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.