Lord Mandelson reveals the inside story of the post-election negotiations with the Liberal Democrats today, writing that Nick Clegg demanded Gordon Brown's resignation as the price of a Lib-Lab deal - and that Danny Alexander sought a change to the voting system without the need for a referendum.
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Lord Mandelson reveals the inside story of the post-election negotiations with the Liberal Democrats today, writing that Nick Clegg demanded Gordon Brown’s resignation as the price of a Lib-Lab deal – and that Danny Alexander sought a change to the voting system without the need for a referendum. In his memoirs, The Third Man, serialised in The Times, the former business secretary claims the Lib Dem leader told Mr Brown: “Please understand, I have no personal animosity whatsoever. But it is not possible to secure the legitimacy of a coalition and win a referendum unless you move on in a dignified way.”
He adds: “The Commons meeting was held in great secrecy. Mr Brown was accompanied by Lord Mandelson, and Mr Clegg by Danny Alexander, now Treasury chief secretary. Mr Brown and Lord Mandelson walked through the tunnel between No 10 and the Ministry of Defence to avoid being seen, and were picked up by a car there. Mr Brown did not give a clear answer to Mr Clegg at the time, provoking despair among Lib Dems still hoping for an agreement with Labour. But the pressures on him from his own side had been growing. and a conversation with Mr Blair must have played its part… But Gordon could not stay… Tony told him and me that the public would simply not accept Gordon remaining.” The story is also covered by the Telegraph, Guardian and Independendent, which suggests “Mandelson’s vanity came before the party interest”, and that “his mistake was overlooking the possibility of a coalition with the Lib Dems”.
The police are coming under criticism for their handling of the stand-off with fugitive gunman Raoul Moat. The Telegraph reports: “It emerged yesterday that Moat had been seen walking through the village in daylight a few hours before he was found and that police had overlooked a bright orange T-shirt that the fugitive had been wearing but discarded. Moat’s brother, Angus, also claimed that the police refused his offer to act as a mediator during the stand-off and suggested that his brother may have shot himself through an ‘involuntary reaction’ after being hit by Tasers. He likened it to ‘a public execution’… Hours previously, a man now thought to have been Moat was seen in Rothbury High Street — even peering into unoccupied police cars — close to where he was finally cornered. ‘It was like he couldn’t believe he was walking in the middle of Rothbury. He was walking slowly around looking in the windows of the [police cars],’ said a witness.” And The Guardian reports that: “Angus Moat was interviewed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which will consider the offers of help from the family as part of its investigation and will also look at the use of Tasers by police. Moat killed himself with a sawn-off shotgun at 1.15am on Saturday, prompting concern that use of the stun guns may have induced a muscle spasm which caused him to pull the trigger as he held the shotgun to his head. The family said the official postmortem into his death made no mention of the stun guns and said they were considering asking for a second independent examination.”
Serious crimes “may be the price to pay” for cutting the cost of justice, the probation watchdog has warned. Murders and other serious crimes committed by prisoners released early from jail may have to be “accepted” by the public as part of attempts to keep down the cost of the criminal justice system, reports the Telegraph, with Andrew Bridges, chief inspector of probation, questioning whether it was worth keeping thousands of violent and dangerous offenders locked up for longer than the minimum jail term set by a court just to stop a few of them committing new crimes. The report says: “In a foreword to his annual report headed ‘What price public protection?’, Mr Bridges said his aim was to ‘shed some light on this emotionally charged topic’ of the management of prisoners and their possible reoffending. ‘Is the public prepared to accept the ‘cost’ of having more prisoners managed in the community, in terms of a proportionately small amount of reoffending, in order to achieve the ‘benefit’ of substantial financial savings, knowing that people are not being expensively locked up for longer than they need to be? Risks to the public cannot be eliminated and individual incidents [of reoffending] should not necessarily be seen as evidence of the system failing,’ he said.” However Lyn Costello, of the charity Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, said: “I am disgusted. You can never bring finance into dealing with justice. If we are going to become a country that puts money before human life or a safe and peaceful life then I do not want to live here.”
George Osborne’s cap on housing benefits will “drive poor families into ghettos”, housing experts have warned. The Independent reports that, according to charities, the Coalition’s welfare cuts will combine with joblessness and home repossessions to leave thousands homeless: “Thousands of people will be made homeless as public spending is slashed because of a dangerous combination of higher unemployment, increasing repossessions and cuts to housing benefit… The retired, disabled people, carers and working families will be hardest hit and charities predict it will trigger the steepest rise in families living in unsuitable accommodation and individuals sleeping rough since the 1980s. Those in London will be the worst affected, forcing an exodus of poorer people from the centre to outer boroughs, and adding to the financial pressures on local authorities, which are obliged to find homes, school places and social care for the newly arrived families.” Some London households receiving housing benefit will have to find a shortfall of up to £1,548 a month, claim Shelter, with opposition MPs saying this will result in “social cleansing” of poorer tenants from richer areas. Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter, told the Indy: “The consequences have not been thought through by the Government. If this support is ripped out suddenly from under their feet, it will push many households over the edge, triggering a spiral of debt, eviction and homelessness.”
Finally, the story that’s leading all the front and back pages all round the world this morning, Spain’s tika-taka triumph over the Netherlands in the World Cup Final. The Sun’s headlines are “WINiesta” and “El of a triumph“, while Marca screams “¡¡¡Campeones, campeones!!!” and AS revels in “El paraíso del fútbol”; for the vanquished, de Telegraaf reflects on the “Diepe teleurstelling op Museumplein”, where 150,000 Dutch fans had gathered to watch the final. This morning at 10.30, Left Foot Forward has a special report looking at the impact of the World Cup on South Africa – specifically on the country’s poorest communities – and what they have to look forward to, now the vuvuzelas have stopped blaring and the media circus has gone away.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.