If Labour ditched David and Ed Miliband, it could actually win an election

A new ritual has been initiated in the bars of Westminster. Whenever a Tory and a Liberal Democrat meet for a drink, they start by saying what is now called “the Coalition prayer”. Closing their eyes and clutching their glasses, they say in unison: “Lord, protect and keep Ed Miliband – as leader of the Labour Party.” It is uttered in all seriousness, even by atheists. The Opposition ought to be miles ahead in the opinion polls, punishing the Government for its failure to grow the economy; instead, it is divided and disorientated, its residual strengths eclipsed by the near-comic shortcomings of a wonkish leader. His enemies just can’t believe their luck.

David Miliband’s analysis of Labour’s failings in this week’s New Statesman is a must-read for any Conservative with a taste for Schadenfreude. Seeing its grandees reel off the Opposition’s many problems is, for Tories, deeply cheering. But seeing the party’s supposed finest minds unable to think of any new solutions is even better. “We need politics of growth,” Miliband declares. “The big state is a dead end for Labour.” Neil Kinnock arrived at this very conclusion. It’s hard to imagine what’s worse for Labour: a leader who has taken the party back to 1983, or a modernising movement that seems to be aiming for 1987.

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Argentina accuses Britain of using the Falklands as a distraction from economic woes

The moves “have to do with British domestic politics, with the high unemployment,” said Vice President Amado Boudou yesterday. “This is an attempt to cover for a government that has a low level of accomplishment.”

He spoke as a small group of protesters marched on the UK embassy in Buenos Aires, burning a British flag. A branch of the British-owned bank HSBC was also attacked yesterday.

Tensions over the Falklands have been rising as the 30-year anniversary of the war between Argentina and Britain approaches.

The clashes came as Prince William arrived in the Falklands for a six-week stint with the Royal Air Force. Buenos Aires has labelled him a “conqueror” and called his deployment a “provocation”, but the UK has insisted it is merely routine.

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Egypt: Violence spreads to Suez as five die in fresh clashes

Two people were killed in Cairo today. Last night a man was killed by buckshot fired at close range outside the interior ministry in Cairo, scene of a demonstration by thousands of football fans and pro-democracy activists.

Two more were killed when police opened fire on a protest in Suez city, at the southern end of the Suez Canal, bringing the total death toll since the stadium riot to five.

The country’s protest movement has been re-energized by the lack of security at the match in Port Said, the city at the canal’s northern end, in which fans of the home side Al-Masry attacked visiting supporters of one of Cairo’s big two clubs, Al-Ahly.

More demonstrations across the country are planned for Friday, the now traditional day of protest in the Arab Spring.

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Chris Huhne resigns from Cabinet after being charged over speeding points

Mr Huhne and Miss Pryce have both been charged with the same offence amid allegations that he asked her to take speeding points on his behalf.

They will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on February 16th.

The pair now face the prospect of a criminal trial over allegations that they conspired to pervert the course of justice. The offence carries a maximum life sentence.

This morning, less than an hour after the charges were announced by the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS), Mr Huhne resigned from his position as Energy Secretary.

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The other Britain

Last Thursday night I was on BBC TV’s Question Time in Plymouth, which you can view here.

The last question on the show came from a woman who asked whether, ‘since Israel has many more nuclear weapons than Iran’, we should agree with President Obama’s statement that no option (in other words, war with Iran) should be ruled out.

The woman who asked this question was doubtless a reasonable, moderate person with a benevolent and kindly approach to humanity, who would be astonished to be told there was anything shocking about her basic premise.

But the equation she made was of course obnoxious. There is no reasonable equation to be made between Israel and Iran over their possession of nuclear weapons. Israel’s nuclear weapons – like those in the possession of every true democracy – are intended solely for the country’s defence against attack.

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Why does the ailing west aid its Islamist enemies?

Was there ever a more perverse and self-destructive society than the contemporary West? In its attitude to the Middle East and the Islamic world, it appears to suffer from the political equivalent of auto-immune disease: turning on its allies while embracing its enemies.

One year ago, the US and Britain helped street protesters to overthrow president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Hailing the revolutionary tumult of the “Arab Spring” as the equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West went on to help armed Libyan rebels remove president Muammar Gaddafi by military force.

This regional strategy was promoted even though it was obvious from the start that the people who were best organised to take advantage of any elections in the Arab world were Islamists of one stripe or another – religious extremists all, united by their hostility to the West.

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