Daily Archives: June 20, 2011

I dropped into a speech by Lord Mandelson this evening organised by Progress at Portcullis House in Westminster. He was fairly calm and restrained, but made a few interesting points:

* Politics needs more people from the real world, not just party apparatchiks and former union chiefs in the Westminster bubble. Labour needs politicians “from every region and every social background,” he said. True – but the point would be more forceful coming from someone with a different background. Read more

I’m skimming my way through Ed – the biography of Miliband by Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre – and it’s well worth a read. Much of the best morsels have already been publicised in the Mail on Sunday but there are some other gems.

For example, we know that the Brown speech at 2008 conference was designed to undermine David Miliband’s leadership ambitions; “This is no time for a novice” (scripted by Ed Balls, apparently) was officially aimed at David Cameron but widely taken to refer to Mili-D. Read more

We revealed this morning that Iain Duncan Smith is less steadfast than he might appear on when the controversial changes to women’s state pension might take effect. Under current plans in the government’s pensions bill, it will gradually rise to 65 by 2018 and 66 in 2020.

The bill is back in the Commons today, where the work and pensions secretary will say:

We’re heading towards an unprecedented burden being placed on the next generation who will have to pay for their parent’s retirement on top of paying for the national debt.  It’s not fair. This bill will address the realities of our increasing longevity by sharing the costs between the generations.

We will stand by the 2018 and 2020 timetable.

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The Guardian has splashed this morning with Chris Huhne attacking his own colleagues as “rightwing ideologues” for placing environmental regulations on a list of red tape to be considered for scrapping. The belief that regulation always has a cost was “fatuous”, he said.

Members of the public are being invited to comment on all regulations on a government website called the “red tape challenge“; if enough people vote for an item to be removed, ministers then have to explain why it should be protected. Read more

David Cameron’s coalition is facing a rebellion this week over its decision to block a ban on tigers and other wild animals appearing in circus shows.

There are 20 wild animals currently performing at three circuses in the UK, a situation that Caroline Spelman, environment secretary, had sought to end.

But Ms Spelman was forced to admit in May that her hands were tied because of an imminent legal challenge in Austria against that country’s attempts to ban circus animals.

The government fears it could face a legal challenge under the EU services directive if it goes ahead with a ban; others are sceptical.

Tory MP Mark Pritchard, who has won parliamentary time for a debate on circus animals on Thursday, believes his backbench motion already has strong crossbench support.

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