Business 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.
Although 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.