It is party conference time. And the old convention that each party let is opponents have their week in the sun is dead.
Gordon Brown is partly responsible for that. His decision to go to Iraq to be televised supporting our boys in the middle of the Conservative party conference in 2007 – just head of the general election he was minded to call but bottled – left the Tories spitting teeth.
Today was part of their revenge. Andrew Lansley declares that some 20-odd NHS hospitals may not be financially and clinically viable because of the scale of their PFI debts – their payments are too high a chunk of their turnover – and that is all Labour’s fault. As indeed is the separate build up of debt which some carry and which, as things stand, will prevent them becoming free standing NHS foundation trusts. Read more
Jim wrote earlier this month about the trouble the fixed-term parliaments bill has run into in the Lords.
Now it has finally passed, some Lib Dems think it could mark the end of coalition government altogether, at least under the current first-past-the-post voting system.
Lib Dem MPs broadly fall into two categories in their attitude towards the coalition: those who relish it as a chance to get their ideas enacted in government and those who think it was a regrettable necessity given the electoral maths and economic crisis. Read more
If you were suspicious of Danny Alexander’s conference promise of 2,250 extra tax inspectors “to launch raids on the wealthy” (Daily Mail) you were right to be.
My colleague Sue Cameron has got to the bottom of the announcement. She reports in FT’s Notebook column that existing HMRC staff will move from their present jobs into a new “affluent” unit. (The adverts are all internal). Read more