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;
• Michael Gove and the latest academies balls-up;
• IDS & Welfare 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…
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