Politics Summary: Thursday, January 7th

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The failed attempt to topple Gordon Brown is the lead story in all today’s papers. The Times says the actions of the “unlikely duo” of former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Brown’s former Chief Whip Geof Hoon had “derailed” Labour’s recovery, with the Independent highlighting the “faulty reasoning” of the plotters, pointing out that “no recent polls have suggested that a different leader would deliver a significant boost to Labour’s ratings”, the only result being that “Labour would be seen as a divided shambles”. Allegra Stratton in the Guardian explains that Hoon’s involvement may stem from being snubbed by the PM for the EU High Commissioner role:

“[He] is understood to have held off a direct criticism of Brown in June, hoping he was still in contention. It is understood he had written a letter calling for Brown to go, but never published it. But Hoon didn’t get a job in Brussels…”

In the Telegraph, Ben Brogan says that, like last summer, Lord Mandelson’s role was crucial in foiling the botched coup attempt.

The tabloids also lead on the coup, with the Mirror calling Hoon and Hewitt “Dumb and Dumber” – just as Left Foot Forward had tweeted yesterdaydescribing how the “bumbling plot” by the “failed ex-Cabinet ministers” came about:

“The botched plot to oust Gordon Brown was hatched in a first-class railway carriage as Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon travelled together to their neighbouring constituencies. Other MPs from the East Midlands told how the pair could be seen brooding about their failed careers.”

The Mail asks “Has Labour got a death wish” while the Sun has an opinion poll – carried out before the coup – whose results show that “dumping leader won’t win voters”. Online, the Labour blogosphere has been almost united in condemnation of the plot, with LabourList publishing a statement from activists and candidates “calling for Labour to unite and focus on the real challenges ahead”.

The terrible weather is today’s other main story. The Mail says the big freeze “could cost business £14bn”, with temperatures plummeting to -17C (1F), and pictures a bus careering into a surgery in North-West London. The Standard reports a new danger to motorists “as snow turns into ice”, the Arctic temperatures sparking a “new round of disruption”. The Times warns of a “salt emergency”, saying stocks could run out “within four days” if the deep freeze doesn’t abate. And the Express pleads “Don’t let it bring us to a stop”. Yesterday Left Foot Forward highlighted the lack of co-operation between central, local and devolved governments in dealing with the crisis.

The Telegraph reports the publication today of a series of options for cleaning up MPs’ allowances by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) which will be subject to public consultation. There had been fears, adds the Telegraph, that IPSA would not implement the Kelly Report in full. The paper, which broke the story of MPs’ abuse of expenses last year, explains how the consultation will work:

“The five-week consultation process will involve meetings and events around the country, as well as the opportunity for the public and interested parties to respond through a dedicated website.”

And the Guardian reports that the al-Qaeda triple agent who killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan last week had links to Jordan, said to be a cause of “deep embarrassment” to Amman. Security failings are also to the fore, with former agents expressing “astonishment that he was allowed to enter the Khost base without being searched”. Earlier this week Left Foot Forward reported the role of Yemen in the fight against terrorism.

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