UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Matt Falloon:

Labour lays down policy gauntlet

The Conservatives might be wishing they could have held their party conference before Labour.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's address to his party conference in Brighton on Tuesday has thrown down a flood of new ideas, policies and initiatives from faster cancer diagnosis to choosing how Britain votes in what read more like an mini-election manifesto than a speech.
Brown played to his strengths (policy) and avoided trying to overcome his well-known weaknesses (not much of a political entertainer) in public. Trying to be someone else could have been a disaster for a man way behind in the polls to the Conservatives.
Whether it will be enough to make any difference to the polls remains to be seen -- Labour needs a miracle there after all.
But, for now, going for the policy jugular seems to have done the trick -- giving his browbeaten party something to get excited about and hitting the Conservatives where it hurts.
David Cameron's Conservatives have been accused of not giving enough detail on how they would govern the country if the polls are correct and they are to win power next year.
They will have to start showing their hand soon if they are going to convince voters that they have the ideas to run the country and aren't just a vote for change for the sake of it.

UK unions fear future with the “enemy”


cameronAfter more than a decade of railing against a Labour government that they feel has betrayed their shared socialist roots, British trade unions are now starting to fear what a future with a Conservative government will be like.

“They’re going to come after us like rabid dogs,” said Brian Caton, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association said — dubbing the Conservatives “the enemy”.

Should Esther Rantzen stand for parliament?


Television host, journalist and reality TV star Esther Rantzen is to stand as an independent candidate in the Luton South constituency at the next election.

Rantzen’s interest in running for office was sparked after the seat’s Labour MP Margaret Moran was caught up in the parliamentary expenses scandal.

Is the Queen worth 69p a year?


“Don’t give the Queen any more of our money, Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state, pleads in a statement on its website.

Royal expenditures rose 1.5 percent to 41.5 million pounds in the last financial year, after allowing for inflation.

Time for the people to decide on Britain’s democratic future?


Britain’s embattled political class are falling over themselves to modernise parliament, but given we have fully embraced the Internet age the proposals have a rather tame feel about them.

Gordon Brown’s latest proposals for “democratic renewal” — the reform of MPs expenses and an elected House of Lords to name but two — could hardly be described as Parliament 2.0.

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.

Is there any way out for Gordon Brown?


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.”

MPs Kirkbride and Moran fall on swords


The expenses scandal has claimed two more victims – one from each side of the House.

Labour MP for Luton South Margaret Moran has announced that she will stand down at the next election, while Conservative MP Julie Kirkbride will no longer represent her Bromsgrove constituency after the likely 2010 poll.

MPs’ expenses — worse than cash for questions?


Britain’s anti-sleaze chief Sir Christopher Kelly, Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has said the MPs’ expenses scandal is worse than the infamous cash for questions affair that did so much damage to the John Major adminstration in the 1990s.

In that celebrated scandal, which fatally undermined Tory MP Neil Hamilton’s political career, Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed alleged he had paid two MPs to table parliamentary questions on his behalf.

Getting a nose in front


Hosting a shindig conference at one of Britain’s most prestigious racecourses in the genteel spa town of Cheltenham hardly sends out a message that David Cameron’s opposition Conservatives are trying to reach out to the masses.

But the decision to come to the rolling hills of the Cotswolds sheds light on one of the obstacles standing between Cameron and the keys to No. 10 Downing Street.