Politics Summary: Tuesday, February 23rd

The Guardian‘s headline reads, “Hung Parliament looms as Tory support crumbles.” The Conservative share of the vote has fallen to 37 per cent, its lowest point for nearly two years. The paper reports that, “The opposition has also lost ground on key policy issues, including the economy, and may be losing their campaign against Labour’s so-called death tax.” Meanwhile, a YouGov poll for The Sun conducted over the bullying allegations were revealed show the lead has dropped to 6 per cent, despite overnight rumours that the lead had widened to 12 points. The Financial Times reports that David Blunkett is leading a “massive, two-month” US-style
internet drive to cultivate small donors.

The front pages of the Independent, Times, Telegraph, Mail, and Sun continue to cover the rumours of bullying in Downing Street. The Guardian outlines that cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell has denied that he had ever warned the prime minister about behaving in a bullying or intimidatory manner – undermining one of the key claims in Andrew Rawnsley’s book. The Indy reports that Jeremy Heywood, the top civil servant in Downing St, urged staff to come forward if they had been bullied while the Mail focuses on Christine Pratt, the head of the National Bullying Helpline charity at the centre of the row. All four of the charity’s trustees, including Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, resigned after Pratt went public with claims that staff at No 10 had phoned her charity. The Telegraph reports that Sarah Brown told GMTV: “I know [Gordon] as a strong, hard working decent man and he isn’t anything else. What you see is what you get with him.” Both opposition leaders called for an inquiry into the bullying claims. Downing Street responded that there was no need for an investigation.

The Telegraph trails Cabinet Minister Jim Murphy’s speech to Progress this evening where he will point out that five million people have visited a place of worship in the last month. Mr Murphy will cite research conducted at the time of the 2005 general election suggesting Labour won 31 per cent of the religious vote, nine points more than the Tories. In the Guardian, Nick Spencer points out that if there were a general election tomorrow, 35 per cent of voting Muslims (meaning those Muslims who claim they are more likely than not to vote) would vote Labour compared to 22 per cent of voting Christians and 23 per cent of the entire voting population.

The Telegraph reports that new Conservative planning proposals would give local councils new powers to block major supermarket developments. It also pledges an overhaul of local planning laws to allow communities to draw up new “Local Plans” that will dictate what sort of new housing developments can be permitted. Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation told the paper: “We would oppose anything that needlessly clogs up the planning system. It is vital that we do what we can to support town centres while taking account of the jobs, homes and opportunities that are afforded by large-scale edge of town developments.”

The FT reports that President Obama “seeks to end health stalemate” with a fresh $950bn proposal, billed as his “opening bid” for a cross-party summit he will host on Thursday. The Washington Post outlines that despite “rampant speculation that the White House would narrow its ambitions,” the president’s proposal is similar to the bills on which Congress has toiled for months. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said, “The longer Washington sticks with its failed approach to health care, the longer Americans have to wait for the real, step-by-step reforms that will actually lower costs and lead to a better system.”

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8 Responses to “Politics Summary: Tuesday, February 23rd”

  1. Will Straw

    Good on you @TimMontgomerie for apologising for poll error – @leftfootfwd politics summary now live http://bit.ly/9y3OO3

  2. Billy Blofeld

    The biggest political story for me, was that Downing Street were willing to use bully boy tactics to smear an anti-bullying charity, in order to try and stop a story about bullying in Downing Street. WTF?!!

    I’m looking forward to Leftfootforward’s next “Regressives of the week”, because surely the government win that prize by country miles………

  3. Kurt

    Politics Summary: Tuesday, February 23rd | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/bG6Bgq

  4. Noya Khobor » Blog Archive » Politics Summary: Tuesday, February 23rd | Left Foot Forward

    […] See the original post here: Politics Summary: Tuesday, February 23rd | Left Foot Forward […]

  5. Mr. Sensible

    Billy, no.

    Those comments about the charity are entirely right.
    BTW, I am now hearing on BBC News that Ms Prat will now be represented by Max Clifford!

    You watch, that will be her story sold to the papers then.

    And she says she has evidence to back her claims?

    Look, love, it’s not that where the issue is necesarily; it’s particularly that you broke confidentiality.

  6. Billy Blofeld

    Mrs Pratt is just one lady trying to do her bit. She flew into a rage after watching Peter Mandelson brazenly lie and treat the issue of bullying very cheaply.

    That the Labour Party unleashed it’s well tried and tested shit-storm-machine against this lady says everything we need to know about the Labour Party. Progressive? My arse!!

    That both ministers and activists seek to cover up / smear / enter into damage limitation exercises, says everything: They value Labour’s tribal interests more highly than standing up against bullying.

    Fair enough. But – to be honest, I wouldn’t want people like that “along side me in the trenches” as the phrase goes. Nor would I trust them one iota.

    You are either “anti bullying” or you are not. The whole Labour movement is anti-fox hunting, but very clearly not anti bullying.

  7. Mr. Sensible

    Billy, of course bullying is wrong. I have never thought anything to the contrary.

    And I don’t think there’s any smearing going on here; there are some legitimate questions to be asked.

    The most obvious one is why did she go public saying that No 10 employees had complained? Even assuming anything had happened at all, when you contact a charity about something like this you expect to be treated in confidence. Clearly that’s not happened; someone from Bullying UK said they vertually identified one person.

    And given that Anne Widdecombe and others recognise this, there’s something very suspicious about this.

    Of course bullying is wrong. But, there’s something suspicious going on.

  8. Mr. Sensible

    To come on to another topic in this piece, I am interested in the Tory proposals on planning powers related to supermarkets.

    Their ideas on allowing councils to take competition in to account sound good; I think they’ve been recycled from something the competition commission recently said.

    Their ideas on allowing third parties the right of appeal sound good; I have always thought that the system needs making more simetrical.

    The Tories are, for once, talking sense.

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