MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph)
David Cameron and Nick Clegg are renewing their Coalition vows in front of a group of local business employees at 3pm in Essextoday. But the relaunch will not impress the bookies overmuch. In a joint speech – reminiscent of their Rose Garden one two years ago – they will reaffirm their commitment to the cutting the deficit. Dave will say:
“Two years ago our two parties came together to form a strong Coalition. We agreed that our number one priority was to keep Britain safe from the financial storm and to rescue our economy from the mess left by the last Labour Government. That was and remains our guiding task.”
Their personal commitment to making their arrangement work remains impressive, and is the Coalition’s equivalent of dilithium crystals, the thing that keeps the project moving.
But external forces are mounting, the most potent of which is not voter indifference but the eroding effect of Tory opposition. Enough Conservatives now privately – and in some cases publicly – would like to see Mr Cameron fail, and are beavering away to make that happen.
Around them is a wider circle of fellow travellers who think they are helping him to be better, when in fact they are helping Ed Miliband. Perhaps the greatest modernisation of all eluded Dave: persuading his party to give up its habit of eating itself.
Lib Dems don’t seems to have it any easier. The Times (£) has a front-page story on the party’s plan to quit the coalition early.
FROM THE LAWS
David Laws has just been on the Today programme to discuss the Coalition’s woes.
On the rebellions brewing on the backbenches, he said: “You’re always going to get people on the extreme edges of Coalition feeling isolated… [but] Iron discipline isn’t a stabilising force…. [and this] Doesn’t mean the minor things that the parties care about have to be left aside.”
On the Coalition’s bruising in the local elections: “It’s not surprising that voters are feeling pretty grumpy about life. When you talk to people out there in country.. people don’t seem to agree with the Labour remedy to borrow more.”
HOLDING IT TOGETHER
Dave doesn’t just have to hold the Coalition together today. The weekend saw some serious rumblings from his backbenches. The Conservative Home website has teamed up with David Davis to publish an “Alternative Queen’s Speech”.
The proposal includes plans to create more grammar schools, axe employment rights and hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
Iain Martin in the Telegraph warns the Tories to be careful, saying:
“[The Conservative Party] is in enough trouble already, without silliness being added to its long list of problems. A few of the more melodramatic MPs most critical of the Prime Minister are acting as though they are auditioning for parts in an amateur dramatics society re-enactment of November 1990”
In the Times, Rachel Sylvester agrees: “To give in [to ConHome and David Davis] would be a fatal mistake.”
Resisting the pressure, however, might not be so easy.
EUROPE’S RED TIDE
Mr Cameron isn’t just suffering from the leftward shift in the UK though. Francois Hollande’s victory in France and Greece’s rejection of parties supporting austerity measures over the weekend gives the PM much to worry about.
Europe seems to have lost its stomach for tackling debt. Global stock markets tumbled at the news from France and Greece, read our report . The instability has no doubt been caused in part by Mr Hollande’s anti-austerity stance. Angela Merkel has already kicked back saying:
“We in Germany are of the opinion, and so am I personally, that the fiscal pack is not negotiable… We are in the middle of a debate to which France, of course, under its new president will bring its own emphasis. But we are talking about two sides of the same coin – progress is only achievable via solid finances plus growth.”
Dave has already come out to defend his view on austerity. As we’ve splashed, there is to be “no going back” on spending cuts here.
There’s not much Dave can do about snubbing Mr Hollande earlier this year now. Especially given that Mr Hollande has already said stepped out to criticise his desire to protect the City from EU legislation, read the Mail’s report.
It’s perhaps not been the best start…
It might not all be bad though. Mats Persson in the Telegraph says this is an opportunity for Mr Cameron to become closer to Mrs Merkel, suggesting that:
“Anglo-Franco relations are fairly static, and are based on a series of mutually recognised stand-offs that persists no matter who is in power…[but] this is the perfect chance for No 10 to begin a concerted effort to lure Berlin in the direction of a more liberal, outward-looking Europe.”
But Polly Toynbee in the Guardian doesn’t think so. The change in mood leaves Cameron “pinned in a corner” apparently.
The Coalition also needs to worry about social care. We report that Labour is prepared to pull out of cross-party talks on reforming elderly care if the Coalition continues to “kick the issue into the long grass”.
That aside, the Guardian reports, that Iain Duncan Smith’s Center for Social Justice thinktank has set out plans that directly oppose those laid out in the Dilnot report. Could this signal a change of tack for the Coalition?
Either way, it’s a major issue for the Mail. The paper has splashed on an open letter to the Coalition from 78 charities and campaign groups, warning that unless the PM acts, millions more pensioners will be condemned to a life of ‘misery and fear’.
CABLE OUT AND ABOUT
Seemingly unfazed by the political drama at home and across Europe, Vince Cable is out and about in today’s papers. In a column for the Telegraph, he argues that the tide is turning against EU bureaucracy and the Working Time Directive. He said:
“There were governments of centre Right and centre Left [at a recent conference aimed at tackling EU regulation]… Yet there was a common purpose: to close down the red tape factories of Brussels.”
Tough sounding stuff. Likewise, the Mail has a story on Mr Cable’s plans to crackdown on supermarkets ripping off small firms.
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON?
In the Mail, Ephraim Hardcastle says Jack Straw might give up his seat at the next election.
“After 33 years as MP for Blackburn, the former Foreign Secretary is said to be considering relinquishing the seat in 2015. It’s a safe as houses Labour seat, so potential candidates will certainly be eyeing his movements closely. I am told Straw’s ambitious son Will, 31, is already ‘frantically networking’ local Labour bigwigs”
Latest YouGov/Sunday Times results: Conservatives 31%, Labour 43%, Liberal Democrats 9%, UKIP 8%
Overall government approval rating: -43
In The Telegraph
Mats Persson: David Cameron: the man in the middle in Europe
Vince Cable: The tide is turning against EU bureaucracy
Iain Martin: The Tories must find a way of getting along
Best of the rest
Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times (£): The Greek crisis will fast expose Mr Hollande
Rachel Sylvester in the Times (£): Spin away from the centre and the ride is over
Polly Toynbee in the Guardian: Hollande and Europe are turning the tide. Where will it leave Cameron?
Stephen Glover in the Mail: If I had to cross the Sahara with either Boris or Dave and one bottle of water, I’d pick the PM every time
Today: The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister will be addressing and holding a Q&A session with staff at a business in Essex
Today: Ministers are expected to attend the ‘Giving summit’ hosted at the Natural History Museum for charities and donors
10am: Andy Coulson launches appeals against a High Court decision that News Group Newspapers does not have to pay his potential legal costs over the phone-hacking affair
1.30pm: Skills minister John Hayes participates in a Policy Exchange event on the Olympic legacy
2:30pm: David Laws chairs an Overseas Development Institute event looking at the Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of this year’s Rio +20 conference
6pm: Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett and Baroness Lister participate in a Compass event on local elections
6.30pm: Ed Vaizey attends this year’s Corinthia Artist in Residence 2012 private view