Daily Archives: June 15, 2011

I’ve just returned from watching Chris Huhne emitting some thoughts about air pollution at the environmental audit committee. His most memorable observation;

Sometimes I wish carbon emissions were bright pink because it would make it easier for people to deal with the issue.”

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I wrote yesterday about some of the contenders to be next Labour general secretary; and left out a couple of names.

One of the strong frontrunners is said to be Michael Stephenson, general secretary of the Co-operative Party (not to be confused with the supermarket chain), who is a good communicator and a safe pair of hands. Stephenson previously worked at Downing Street and as a political adviser in Australia. The fact that he isn’t returning my texts today suggests that this rumour is correct. Read more

Last week, Ed Miliband came under a torrent of criticism for missing two open goals at PMQs. He managed to fail to take advantage of government U-turns on both the NHS and sentencing, partly because he tried to do both and partly because his own party wasn’t united, especially on sentencing.

This week, he played a cleverer game. By bringing up the issue of cancer patients losing out because of welfare reforms, he chose a topic that lots of people identify with, where the prime minister was unlikely to know the full facts and which could unite his own MPs. Read more

I wrote this morning that more than 400 business leaders and entrepreneurs have put their backing behind Britain’s proposed High Speed 2 rail route.

The story hasn’t been covered anywhere else; not even the BBC, as far as I can work out. This is curious given the wave of publicity given back in the spring to an “anti” letter, led by Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next – which had only 21 signatures. This new pro letter has 20 times as many signaturesRead more

Last month, Cathy Ashton came in for unprecedentedly open criticism from EU foreign ministers, as well as the UK’s Europe minister David Lidington.

Lidington’s main criticism was of her demand for a 6 per cent increase in her budget, which he called “somewhat ludicrous”.

Yesterday afternoon Ashton had her chance to reply. She told a Lord select committee, she simply didn’t have the money to pay the number of staff she had been given when her diplomatic corps, the European external action service, was created. She told peers: Read more