Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward

Nick Clegg embarrased himself again this week, revealing he had changed his mind on the deficit before the election, and not telling anyone. This is the new politics?!

The Week in Politics

• Just as last week, Nick Clegg took his customary place as the laughing stock of Westminster, flip-flopping all over the place on when exactly he changed his mind on the deficit, cut loose by the Governor of the Bank of England – who he’d attempted to hide behind – and forced to come clean on last night’s excellent Nick Robinson documentary that he had in fact changed his mind before the election.

This despite going into the election saying precisely the opposite, with a deficit reduction plan closer to Labour than the Tories. Not once during the campaign, during the TV debates or in the manifesto, did he say otherwise. As Tom Clarke writes on Guardian.co.uk today, “democracy was the loser”:

Finding himself in a hole, Clegg has kept digging by revealing that he had in fact changed his mind on the immediate cuts in the heat of an election battle where he was campaigning vigorously against them. Other Lib Dems are still quietly insisting that there really was a change of heart just after polling day, and that it was brought about not so much by King as by the combined weight of Treasury advice and pressure from European bond markets.

The whole saga is embarrassing for the Liberal Democrats, and quite delicious for Labour’s tribal tendency. Coming after reports that the yellow team were saying different things to the blue and red teams during the parallel coalition negotiations, the revelation that Clegg was demanding cuts in private while decrying them in public…

• The Chilcot inquiry came back into the news this week, with John Prescott (sorry, Lord Prescott) appearing today, and Hans Blix giving evidence on Wednesday.

Prescott said he had “doubts” and said that many of the reports about Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) appeared to be just “tittle tattle”, while Blix described the Bush administration of being “high on military” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the US in 2001, saying: “They felt that they could get away with it and therefore it was desirable.”

Chilcott and his team will now travel to Iraq, with the report due to be published at the turn of the year.

• The Labour leadership contest continues, with the first full scientific survey of Labour party members and Labour-affiliated trade unionists published today – showing David Miliband ahead of brother Ed, 54 per cent to 46 per cent in the run off. On first preferences in the electoral college overall, David has 37%, Ed 29%, Diane Abbott 12%, Andy Burnham 12% and Ed Balls 11%.

The YouGov poll also revealed that of the 1,102 trade unionists and 1,184 party members questioned, only 25 and 29 per cent respectively consider Lord Mandelson an asset – with 61 per cent of both groups branding him a liability. It would seem Labour’s fallen out of love with our Mandy…


Progressives of the week

Cataluña, or more specifically the Catalan regional parliament, which on Wednesday voted to ban bullfighting; as the Indy reports: “As of 1 January 2012, the choreographed estocada de muerte – or death knell – will be history throughout the wealthy, independent-minded region and the fighting bull – toro bravo – will receive protection under Catalonia’s animal rights laws.”

Animal rights groups hailed the decision as the day “five centuries of cruelty have come to an end”, that from now on “cruelty to animals, disguised as tradition, will no longer be tolerated”.


Regressive of the week

Mad Melanie Phillips, who this week wrote a Spectator blog laying into David Cameron for his remarks on Turkish membership of the European Union and the situation in Gaza, under the headline “1940 this is not”, in which – to give just one example – she writes: “As I have previously observed, there is now in Britain a pre-pogrom atmosphere against Israel.”

You have to read it to believe it. You really do.


Evidence of the week

The news from Scotland, covered for Left Foot Forward by Ed Jacobs on Monday, that just 23 per cent – less than one in four – of Scottish secondaries are meeting the SNP’s 2007 manifesto target for school sports teaching. To make matters worse for Alex Salmond, not one single school in the first minister’s Aberdeenshire local authority has met the target.


What’s trending on Twitter

According to our friends at Tweetminster, the top stories this week are:

Wikileaks – Afghanistan War Logs;

• Cameron’s visits to Turkey and India;

• Cameron’s comments about Pakistan (which angered Pakistan);

• Michael Gove and the latest academies balls-up;

• IDS & Welfare reform;

Theresa May, ASBOs, cut price alcohol and police reform;

#worththelicencefeealone; and

Hans Blix at the Iraq Inquiry


Last night saw the post-election programme, ‘Five Days that Changed Britain’, (watch it here – and it’s well worth a watch), in which the beeb’s Nick Robinson told the story of the events of the week after election day, when time stood still, there was the most surreal atmosphere around Westminster and nobody knew what the future held…

@RossLydall: Standard hacks chatting about classic Mandelson phrase from @bbcnickrobinson documentary last Night. “A bit Gordon-ish”

@ericpicklesmp: Massive doco by @bbcnickrobinson last night. Shame my interview about the role of sub-regional dog wardens in “big society” was edited out.

@samuelcoates: You must watch @bbcnickrobinson‘s documentary on the coalition negotiations. Very nicely put-together: http://j.mp/dBLk36

@michaelomh: The election in May, according to everybody except Gordon Brown: http://bit.ly/aHyfqU (Soundtrack, btw; The xx *again*?) @bbcnickrobinson

@webblette38: @bbcnickrobinson Immensely impressed by tonight’s BBC2 documentary. Like a peep behind the curtain. Many thanks

@OllyGrender: Cracking programme @bbcnickrobinson great stuff

@AbigailH: Would definitely recommend #5days by @bbcnickrobinson – a really good hour long summary, with some big players: all except Brown.


And finally…

As you may have seen yesterday, we’re asking all our lovely readers to vote for Left Foot Forward in Total Politics’ annual “Blog of the Year” awards; send an email to [email protected] – ranking between five and ten blogs in order of preference – by midnight tomorrow. Full instructions can be found here. Thanks! 🙂

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

8 Responses to “Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward”

  1. Lola McEvoy

    RT @leftfootfwd Look Left: http://bit.ly/d9y2ZC – @shamikdas on Cleggy's u-turn, the #LabourLeader race, the #IraqInquiry & more

  2. LockPickerNet

    Look Left: http://bit.ly/d9y2ZC – @shamikdas on Cleggy's u-turn, the #LabourLeader race, the #IraqInquiry & more via @leftfootfwd

  3. Mr. Sensible

    What a mess from Clegg, again. It doesn’t matter whether he changed his mind before the election, or in the coalition talks. Either way, Lib dem voters did not get what they voted for.

    I was slightly surprised that IDS’s proposals didn’t get coverage on LFF today. For my money, this has to be seen against a backdrop of possibly serious job losses, ETC. It’s a great headline, but that’s it.

    1 thing that caught my eye this morning was another example of the localism agenda being turned on its head.

    The fact is, we elect our local councillors to make decisions on council tax, ETC. Instead of that, there will be a referendum, which will cost, to justify tax increases higher than a rate set by central government. If you put questions about how much tax you want to pay to people, what are they going to say? In my area, we have seen the impact of a freeze in council tax on council services.

  4. Mr. Sensible

    BTW Shamik, will this review and Ed’s review of events outside Westminster keep going through the summer or, like the daily summary, are they now on a summer break as well?

  5. Mike

    see Johns Labour blog
    for LYING CLEGG General election leaflet

  6. Gez

    The biggest joke of the week was the

    statement you can work after 65

    People seriously believe this

    but bosses will still be able to veto

    many older workers have been connded into thinking they can work on beyond 65 from next year

    Check you Union to find out how the bosses will still be able to stop you working beyond 65

  7. Mr. Sensible

    Gez, as I understand it, the employers will now have to justify that, and I think they will now have to pay compensation.

    I think that is a good move.

    What I am not pleased with on that subject, though, is the speed at which they’re looking at changing the retirement age; this could pull the rug from under the feet of those who are planning for their retirement. A better idea is a more gradual change, like Labour proposed.

  8. Gez

    they just give notice 6 months prior, that due to “financial” or “Succession planning” you are not being kept on

    roll on mass ET claims

Leave a Reply