Politics Summary: Friday, October 23rd

Nick Griffin was “booed, jeered and mocked” last night as he described white people as Britain’s aborigines, reiterated his claim that Churchill would have been a BNP member and denied he was racist. Up to 1,000 demonstrators protested outside as television centre where three police officers were injured and six people arrested after protesters broke through police lines. Reaction in the papers is near uniform. John Kampfner in the Guardian calls Griffin “a smartly-dressed and uncharismatic thug” while Matthew Engel in the FT writes that he is “so inane he applauded and laughed at the jokes others made at his expense.” The Independent headline says “The BBC gave Griffin the oxygen of publicity. He choked” while for the Mirror: “BNP boss squirms as audience laugh.” But Sam Coates’ scorecard in the Times gives Griffin 7/10 for getting “his key dog whistle messages across.”

The FT reports that economists are predicting that official gross domestic product data to be published on Friday will show the economy has stopped contracting and may even have grown slightly in the third quarter. The paper quotes Martin Weale, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research: “If the economy stops receding, the recession is over. But the depression goes on … if you define depression as a level of output below that at the peak.”

The Guardian report “a second front” in the dispute between unions and Royal Mail as the leaders of the Unite union, representing Royal Mail’s 12,000 managers, urged them not to cover for postal workers in the next round of national strikes. Three more days of strikes are planned while Royal Mail’s woes have boosted business for its rivals. TNT Express said it had received 20,000 extra inquiries in recent days. But Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, told the FT that their members had found other companies “expensive.”

The Guardian cover proposals by the government-funded UK Commission for Employment and Skills. The body recommends that college and university courses should be subject to new league tables based on how many students drop out, their future earnings and how much they enjoyed their classes. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and Colleges Union, said: “The league table culture has been a disaster in schools and hospitals. If applied to colleges it will lead to a narrowing of the curriculum and an impediment to innovation.”

The Times and Guardian report that David Miliband is the frame to become Europe’s first foreign minister. The papers speculate that the appointment would wreck Mr Blair’s chances of becoming president and “signal general election defeatism.” It would also pave the way for Miliband’s brother, Ed, to stand for Labour lePolitics Suader in any future contest. A Foreign Office source said, “No, he’s not available. He’s foreign secretary.”

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