Watching Gordon Brown in action today at PM’s questions, I couldn’t help thinking he was actually enjoying himself for the first time. The body language was more relaxed, the smile a little less robotic.
He seems to think this clever Goldman’s wheeze on saving the Northern Rock with a government-backed bond issue offers the government an escape route from the whole fiasco and could even end up with the taxpayer making a profit. Read more
Nick Clegg got through probably the most nerve-wracking two minutes of his political career intact after a low-key but thoroughly telegenic debut at prime minister’s questions.
He avoided jokes – you end up looking desparate if nobody laughs. He didn’t try to be too clever. Instead he got away two questions on the government’s response to rising energy prices and fuel poverty. On the telly he looked serious and concerned. And he left the chamber unscathed. Read more
Steve Morgan, who ran Peter Hain’s deputy leadership campaign, spoke today on BBC Radio Wales of arriving half way through and discovering scenes of "absolute chaos".
This tallies. After all, Mr Hain is still trying to work out who gave money to his campaign – and how much – almost six months after he was legally obliged to do so. Read more
Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have made an impressive start to 2008 – at least judged by the shambolic standards of the weeks running up to Christmas.
Mr Darling flew back to the Treasury from Edinburgh for a day to give an interview to the FT which set the tone for how he will deal with the fallout of the Northern Rock crisis. Rather than waiting for the Treasury select committee to tell him what to do, this gave the impression he was in control. Read more
Gordon Brown said something today which I have never heard him say before. Sorry.
Referring to the government’s loss of 25m pieces of personal data in the post – described by one security expert as a "starter kid for identity fraud" – the prime minister did not mess around. Read more
Gordon Brown’s promise to outline his "vision" for Britain after scrapping plans for a 2007 election has raised expectations whenever he makes a new speech and provokes the inevitable question: "Is this it?"
Anyone hoping for a new foreign policy vision in Mr Brown’s speech to the Lord Mayor’s banquet in the City on Monday night is likely to have been disappointed. Read more
Gordon Brown has a problem: he has talked about having "a vision for the future" and now he has to deliver. His ludicrous claim that he shelved the planned 2007 election to give him more time to explain his vision – nothing to do with the polls, of course – has put him under more pressure.
His aides are getting exasperated. "He’s setting out his vision all the time," said one. They point to his recent speeches on liberty and education – packed with philosophical musings – as evidence that his vision is there for people who want to see it. Read more
The FT’s story today about foreign migrants in the British labour market tells us an intriguing thing about Gordon Brown’s Britain: the UK’s new economy seems to be better suited to foreigners than to the local workforce.
As we report, the British economy is generating plenty of jobs – 270,000 net new posts over the last two years – yet at the same time the number of British nationals in work has fallen by exactly the same amount.
The 540,000 difference between the jobs vacated by Brits and the new jobs created has been filled entirely by workers from the European Union and – to a lesser extent – migrants from outside the bloc.
It is not entirely clear why this should be. The government says the indigenous population of working age fell during the last two years. But that does not get round the fact that Gordon Brown frets about the level of economic inactivity among local workers, hence his promise to find "a British job for every British worker".
The truth is that there are jobs there if you want them, as the migrant workers have shown. It is just that it seems many Brits would rather not do them, or that they are being forced out of the market by the recent arrivals from abroad. Simon Briscoe, our statistics editor, reckons the latter factor may be important.
That was "a bit more like it", sighed one relieved Brownite, after the prime minister returned to Commons form with a confident question time performance.
After the disaster of last week’s PMQs – when he floundered like an ageing heavyweight pinned against the ropes – Gordon Brown had the material and the jokes to breeze through what could have been another awkward session. Read more
Why doesn’t Gordon Brown just say it? There won’t be a referendum on the EU reform treaty. He might as well make it crystal clear, because there are some – like the Daily Telegraph – that cling to the idea the prime minister might still put the text to the people, if he doesn’t secure all his negotiating "red lines".
On Monday the PM said that if all his red lines were not met when the treaty is finalised next week at an EU summit in Lisbon "we will veto it or say there has to be a referendum". Read more
Gordon Brown has set a lot of store on giving Britain more time to see his vision for the future before he holds a general election.
This has obviously left him open to mockery from David Cameron, who ridiculed Mr Brown’s suggestion that this vision was so important that even the prospect of a 100-seat Commons majority would not have persuaded him to hold an election next month. Read more
FIrst off, I was wrong. I couldn’t see how Gordon Brown could back out of a November election without inflicting serious self-harm. It would have been a gamble, but in my view the bigger gamble was to wait, especially since a delay would hand the Tories a propaganda victory and deal his own reputation a heavy blow.
But having cranked up the election hype for weeks (make no mistake, this was not a media creation), Mr Brown’s decision to delay a poll – probably until 2009 – has fundamentally changed the terms of political trade. Read more