September 2011 Archives
The theme of Labour's annual conference in Liverpool this coming week will be "responsibility", as Ed Miliband begins trying to explain why he should become Prime Minister.
What he still hasn't done is set out why he's a potential prime minister, rather than just a decent fellow.
This is partly a deliberate decision. Upon becoming leader 12 months ago, he ordered Liam Byrne, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, to undertake a thorough policy review.
I had a great time at the Lib Dem singalong on Tuesday night during the party conference. Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming was on the keyboards and highlights included this ditty about life in a coalition:
On the fourth day of coalition
The Tories gave to me,
A very small amount,
And a referendum on AV
And so on . . .
Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council and leader of the city's Lib Dem group, is busy representing Birmingham at various receptions and fringe events during the party's annual conference at the ICC.
But Lib Dem delegates are heading for a collision course with one of his Tory colleagues, Councillor John Lines, the city council's Cabinet Member for Housing.
Coun Lines is determined to make looters who ransacked properties in Birmingham last month pay a hefty price - by evicting them.
This is a longer version of our interview with Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister, published in today's Birmingham Mail in advance of the Lib Dem conference, which begins on Saturday:
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has promised a "new deal" for Britain's major cities with Birmingham in the lead, to cut unemployment and place them on a more equal footing with London.
The Liberal Democrat leader was speaking to The Birmingham Mail as he prepared for his party's annual conference, beginning this Saturday in Birmingham's International Convention Centre.
Mr Clegg said the days when the nation depended on "the fat cats of the city of London" to keep the economy moving had ended for good.
Instead, he had ordered Cabinet colleagues to make sure the great regional cities were involved in key Government decisions.
And he revealed that Ministers planned to negotiate contracts with the core cities so it was clear what central government should be doing to help them thrive.
In July, the Government appointed MP Greg Clark as Minister for the Cities, reporting to a panel chaired by Mr Clegg which also includes Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles and Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Mr Clegg told The Birmingham Mail: "Greg Clark will now go and have a number of separate discussions with all the individual cities including Birmingham so that we can as a Government decide on the contracts or deals which should exist between central government and each individual city.
Rioters should be sent to boot camps instead of prison - perhaps run by army staff fresh from Afghanistan.
That's once of the messages from residents in the Birmingham constituency of Hodge Hill according to their MP, Liam Byrne (Lab), who has published the findings of his survey of local opinion.
"People want very tough punishment for offenders - 'tougher and clearer'. Residents said they wanted the court to throw the book at offenders - but lots said they didn't think prison was the answer.
"Instead boot camps to instill some back-bone and discipline into youngsters. Some wanted a return for National Service. Others suggested camps should be run by returning troops. Others wanted high profile community payback.
The new-recipe HP Sauce came under the spotlight on BBC's Politics Show, as MPs including Geoffrey Robinson (Lab Coventry North West) gave their verdicts.
Mr Robinson wasn't very impressed.
Being in Government "has led to a loss of identity and in turn a loss of support", according to the President of the Liberal Democrats.
MP Tim Farron suggests the past 19 months have been a miserable time - "particularly distressing", as he puts it - for the party.
He said: "Clearly we have not succeeded in communicating our message, which has led to a loss of identity and in turn a loss of support."
The message appears in the directory of the Lib Dem conference, taking place in Birmingham later this month. It's an official party document which will be handed out to delegates at Birmingham's ICC.
I was struck by how downbeat and unhappy he appeared to be.
Here's an extended extract:
Chris Sims, the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, has delivered a report on the riots in Birmingham last month to the Police Authority. It is, as he understandably stresses, an interim report as the force's inquiry into what happened and its own response is continuing.
It makes fascinating reading and includes a timeline of events, from the police's point of view of course, which is fairly terrifying. I hadn't realised quite how much violence was directed at the police and how widespread it was.
Police were attacked by gangs with baseball bats, had their cars rammed, and were apparently shot at. The full timeline is in the report. This is an edited summary:
Monday August 8 - early morning Tuesday 9
15:33 - Potential for possible disorder acknowledged by West Midlands Police (WMP) and policing response outlined.
18:30 - Decision taken to authorise Force mobilisation, Police Support Units (PSUs - a unit of officers trained in dealing with public disorder) available taking total to 10
19:00 - Reports of disorder at various locations around Birmingham city centre.
Based on an early look at the voting list, these are the West Midlands MPs who voted for Nadine Dorries' amendment which would have obliged health providers to offer "independent" advice to women seeking abortions:
West Midland MPs who voted "aye":
Bill Cash (Con Stone), Rob Flello (Lab Stoke South), Mark Garnier (Con Wyre Forest), Sajid Javid (Con Bromsgrove), Dan Kawczynski (Con Shrewsbury & Atcham), Jeremy Lefroy (Con Stafford), Owen Patterson (Con North Shropshire), Chris Pincher (Con Tamworth), Richard Shepherd (Con Aldridge-Brownhills), Chris Kelly (Con Dudley South), Mark Pritchard (Con The Wrekin).