WIND IN ED’S SAILS?
The image of the private sector has taken a mighty knock. Whether it’s the sight of police and troops rescuing Olympic security from G4S or the tattered reputation of our banks.
Will this have a lasting effect on our politics with Ed Miliband catching the wind of public opinion if it moves to the left?
Public sector bad, private sector good, has always been a simplistic mantra but recent events could mean a more sympathetic hearing for the role of the state. Ed is sending out subtle signals. He was the first Labour leader to speak at the Durham Miners Gala in 23 years.
It’s a good time to take the political temperature as parliament goes on holiday yet again.
I know the government has run out of things to do except reform the Lords (or not as the case may be) but MPs seem to be doing very little legislating at the moment.
Off in mid February, off at Easter, two weeks for the Jubilee and now barely a month later, they are off again. When a political commentator claimed the other day that these were dog days at Westminster with MPs yearning to get away on their holidays, I nearly drove off the road.
July used to be the month of soaring tempers and temperatures as the government sought to get bills on the statute book before a long break leading up to a short wash up session before the Queen’s Speech in November. MPs were often involved in all night sittings and were genuinely exhausted.
We can forget the soaring temperatures, but the rhythm of the parliamentary year has changed too. With the Queen’s Speech now in May, the pressure point for legislation is Easter.
It is true that a September session has been introduced because of public outrage at the July to October break. I also agree that MPs work hard in their constituencies, need to be off when their kids are on holiday and that there is little point in debating bills in the early hours of the morning.
However I think things have swung too far the other way making claims that there isn’t parliamentary time for this and that, risible.
On the subject of parliamentary time, how long does the Labour Party want to debate the Lords’ Bill in the House of Commons? The party’s brazen political manoeuvring reached new heights this week as the Opposition was asked how many extra days it wanted to discuss the measure. Luciana Berger, the normally eloquent Liverpool Wavertree MP, was reduced to mumbling about it being a matter for discussion behind the Speaker’s Chair.
Helped by Tory rebels, it is Labour quibbling over the number of days needed for debate that is likely to scupper a reform that the party has been committed to for a long time.
The row over the Lords forced another photo opportunity out of the Prime Minister and Nick Clegg designed to reassure the markets that Britain has a stable government. I’m sure that’s true. Indeed what struck me is that Cameron and Clegg are getting closer and closer.
While they are huddling together in the economic storm, they are in danger of becoming isolated from their grassroots. This is particularly the case with Cameron. He must be worried that the ranks of the Tory rebels on the Lords’ bill were swollen by large numbers of Conservatives who only entered parliament in 2010.
They were prepared to risk future promotion and incur Flashman’s temper because many of them have fallen out of love with Cameron. They blame him for not winning the election outright and even doubt if he is a real Tory.
As far as Nick Clegg is concerned, he is testing the patience of his dwindling army of grassroots activists. They fear calamity at the next election with the Lib Dems blamed for tuition fees and with no voting or Lords’ reform achieved.
It will be an interesting party conference seasons but first the Olympics. I’m looking forward to seeing all those soldiers….and the athletes.
MAYOR JOE’s TEAM
Mayor Joe addressed Liverpool councillors for nearly an hour on Wednesday night. It was the first opportunity to see how the elected mayor would interact with the 90 councillors whose power has been much reduced.
Influence is shifting to bodies like the Mayor of Liverpool’s Development Corporation. I can report that the following will be providing “strategic direction for the city’s economy.” Sir Michael Bibby, Bibby Line; Claire Dove Blackburne House; Liv Garfield Openreach; Robert Hough Local Enterprise Partnership; Sir Howard Newby Liverpool University; Julia Unwin, Rowntree Foundation; and entrepreneur David Wade Smith. Pat Richie (CEO of the Homes and Community Agency) will also be joining subject to confirmation by his board.