UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Deja vu as infighting stalks Labour

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    It was the last thing diehard Labour activists wanted voters
to see as the spotlight falls on the party in Manchester this
weekend – two of Labour’s best known veterans bickering on
Sunday morning television over whether Prime Minister Gordon
Brown should stay or go.

In fact, most of the party’s foot soldiers would much rather
those in power got on with trying to find ways to help families
get through what could turn into a nasty recession and pull
together to give Labour a fighting chance at the next election -
which has to be called by May 2010.

The trouble is that a verbal punch up between ex-Home Secretary
Charles Clarke and former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
makes for great viewing on any given Sunday.

Prescott – who thinks Brown should be allowed to get on with the
job — once famously punched a dissenting punter and is equally
unforgiving with his tongue.
Clarke has fought his way back into the political limelight with
a consistent attack on Brown’s credentials in recent months.

Labour aren’t singing anymore

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  Unsurprisingly, it’s a totally different mood at this year’s Labour Party conference in Manchester.Last year in Bournemouth, they talked about crushing the opposition Conservatives for a generation as the party celebrated a 10 point lead in the polls under their new leader Gordon Brown.

Many were urging Brown to make the most of it and call an early election before the economy turned down. He really must be wishing he had.

Brown outdone by Obama effect

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brown.jpg Gordon Brown has not had the best of luck since replacing Tony Blair as British prime minister a year ago. Now it seems Brown’s bad luck has followed him overseas.

On a trip to Iraq and Israel this weekend, he had the misfortune to have U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama following hard on his heels — and grabbing the lion’s
share of media attention.

Glasgow dire for Labour – but not Crewe

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glasgowcampaign.jpgGlasgow East has a very different feel to Crewe as it gears up for Thursday’s by-election.

In Crewe and Nantwich voters were palpably enthused by the prospect of giving Gordon Brown and Labour a good kicking. They were aware of the national significance of a Tory victory and relished the chance to send Brown a stern message. Turnout was a high 58 percent and the Conservatives achieved a massive 17.6 percent swing to win the seat in May.

Iron Chancellor to leaden Prime Minister

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brownjune.jpgOne of Gordon Brown’s favourite speech writers is leaving Number 10 to return to the Treasury. That gives Brown the perfect opportunity to draft in someone who has the ability to coin the kind of phrases that chime with the electorate and stick in people’s minds.

To date, that is something Brown, whose dismal year in office was underlined on Friday with a humiliating fifth place by-election finish for Labour, has signally failed to do. Sure, Brown wanted to move away from the accusations of endless spin that soured the public mood towards his slick predecessor Tony Blair.

What’s your verdict on Gordon Brown?

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brown1.jpgBy common consent, Gordon Brown’s first year is ending up as a shocker for Labour.

It may have started well last June with assured handling of a bomb threat and a swift response to the foot and mouth outbreak last August. Pledges to cut back on two largely unpopular measures: Tony Blair’s plans to open “super casinos “and the extension of drinking hours, also struck a chord with voters.

Wednesday’s front pages: Taxed to the limit

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motorists.jpgThe ever increasing tax burden and Gordon Brown’s woes dominate the front pages today.

The Daily Telegraph reports research has shown that the average motorist is paying more than £600 a year extra in tax under Labour. Story here

Big task looms for Boris Johnson

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(Updated on May 3 with new headline, election results, reaction and photos)

**For full coverage of the elections go to our special page**

The man described by some as a joke, by others as a brilliant mind has ended Ken Livingstone’s eight-year reign at City Hall.

The verdict is still out on what exactly Boris Johnson’s victory means for the Conservative Party overall but his performance as mayor could help determine whether people will vote for the Tories in a general election next time.

Should inheritance tax be raised?

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cash.jpgAs house prices have risen over the years, so have arguments over inheritance tax.

No longer the death duty of old, forcing the impoverished aristocracy to flog a few paintings from the family collection now and again, IHT has hit mainstream middle England. It has arguably overtaken council tax as the most politicised duty after income tax — witness the electric effect on Conservative fortunes when they pledged to raise the threshold to one million pounds at last Autumn’s party conference.

Call him Johnson

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boris1.jpgEvery time Labour ministers call the Conservative candidate for London mayor by first name alone they’ll have to pay £5 into a ‘swear box’.

“What we have to avoid is a situation where people think this election is a joke and that the future of London is not serious,” Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell told Sky News.

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