Daily catch-up: eurogloom, Ed in Red and Cameron’s Wilsonian U-turn on control orders

Six short comments on what to read from our political columnist


1. The eurozone is still in trouble, and here is a graph that shows why. Its main economies are diverging widely, and have fallen behind the US. Thanks to Michael O'Connor for making the graph, from an original made by Ben Chu, our Economics Editor, who wrote about the forgotten travails of the euro in The Independent on Sunday.

2. Set text for the day: Ed Miliband's "I'm back from the villa in the south of France" interview in Red magazine.

"I am the person who stopped Rupert Murdoch over phone hacking."

He what? He's the person who demanded the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, top boss of News UK, when it was plain she had to go. He also claims to have "stopped" the energy companies putting up gas and electricity prices, and to have "stopped" the banks not lending to small businesses.

Meanwhile, back in France, Manuel Valls was giving a small demonstration of what real leadership looks like. I don't think Miliband's conference speech later this month will challenge his party in the same way.

Then he modestly tossed the phrase, "the charisma of imperfection", into the conversation. Is it yours? asked Janice Turner. "It was used about Bill Clinton," said Miliband, casually making another comment about himself. We need Lloyd Bentsen at this point, to say that he knows Bill Clinton, he's worked with Bill Clinton, and so on.

In fact, Miliband used that "charisma of imperfection" phrase during the Labour leadership campaign four years ago, as JP Janson De Couet pointed out.

The betting markets give Miliband a 53 per cent chance of being the next prime minister.

3. Superb column in the Financial Times today by Janan Ganesh, one of the best young writers about politics (he wrote a biography of George Osborne, which has just been updated). It is full of quotable sentences: 

"Governments can make things better, but usually at the cost of making other things worse."

"Mr Carswell was not in the wrong party. He is in the wrong profession."

"The suspicion about Mr Cameron is that he is not a man you set your watch by."

In other words, David Cameron is more like Harold Wilson every day.

4. Yesterday in the House of Commons the Wilsonian Cameron split the difference between his solemn duty to protect the British people from Islamist terrorism and the civil libertarian sensibilities of Liberal Democrat activists. Announcing the return of control orders, although they will still be called something else, he told Hazel Blears, one of the most security-minded of New Labour ministers, there were few people in the House with whom he agreed more on Islamist radicalisation.

He then said that the new relocation powers were not a return to control orders, because "control orders were permanently being run ragged in the courts". He has to say it because of the Lib Dems, but it is not true. See what the independent but liberal reviewer of anti-terrorism law has to say at Q105 here.

Just to make everything clear, Nick Clegg said on TV yesterday: "This is absolutely not repeating the mistakes of the last Labour government." Translation: "Easy to spout civil libertarian slogans in opposition; harder to keep people safe in government."

And a "senior Lib Dem source" simultaneously contradicted his boss: “We have not definitively signed up to relocation powers. We have agreed to look in detail at the options."

5. You think parts of the British press are sensationalist? Well, this is how the New York Daily News does tabloid journalism. (Thanks to Chris Deerin.)

6. Finally, thanks to Chris Heaton-Harris for the latest news:

"A lorry-load of Playdough has been found abandoned in Parliament Square. Police are unsure what to make of it."


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