The former defence secretary Liam Fox has revealed that he hopes to return to government after taking “personal responsibility” for his mistakes.
In his first interview since resigning earlier this month, the North Somerset MP told BBC Radio Bristol that sitting on the backbenches would be interesting because he would be “freer to say what I want”.
But Fox made it clear that he does not believe the damage to his political career will prove fatal.
“I would certainly like to get back to the frontbench – how quickly is another matter and, for the moment, I will enjoy having a little bit of extra time,” he said.
“There are one or two projects that I want to get involved in on the charitable side, and to devote some time to things that I have wanted to do and been unable to.”
But Downing Street appeared to play down speculation of a Fox return to government. A spokeswoman said: “It is perhaps unsurprising that he has aspirations to return to the frontbench. He did good work while he was defence secretary, but he resigned only a few days ago.”
Fox quit after revelations about his links to close friend Adam Werritty and prior to the publication of a report from the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, which found he had breached the ministerial code.
The report revealed that Fox had blocked civil servants from attending key meetings alongside Werritty, had failed to tell his permanent secretary that he had solicited funds to bankroll Werritty, and had ignored private office requests to distance himself from him.
Asked about the events that led to his resignation, Fox said he had taken responsibility for what had happened.
He admitted it had been a mistake to meet a defence supplier in Dubai without a Ministry of Defence official present, even though someone from his private office had offered to attend.
“We were sitting in a coffee lounge in a hotel – it was hardly a high-security meeting,” he said.
“But nonetheless, given this was a potential defence supplier – not, as it turns out, an actual defence supplier – it still should have had somebody there. It’s very easy to be careless, but you pay a price for it.”
And he acknowledged that allowing Werritty, whom he met 40 times in the MoD and on trips abroad, to function as an independent adviser was a breach of the ministerial code, saying: “I should have kept a better separation there – with hindsight, it seems easy.”
He added: “You should be able to be at the highest level of government and say you have made a mistake.
“I take responsibility for it and I have always been very keen, all my political life, that people should shoulder personal responsibility. That is key to a decent society. If you say it, you should also be able to do it.”
Fox reiterated his criticism of elements of the media coverage of his situation, which he said had been “quite disconcerting” and had made it difficult for him to do his ministerial job.
“One of my nephews, who is aged 14, was being doorstepped – and that was unacceptable,” he said. “I do think that we need to understand that we have to have a free press … but a free press doesn’t mean the press can do what they want.”
He said he felt there was no rumour or innuendo that had not been written about him, but stressed he was only going to comment on “substantive issues”, explaining: “Gossip is for gossipers.”
He defended his practice of arranging “downtime” with Werritty and other friends during official visits overseas, saying: “I would finish ministerial work and then we would very regularly, in places like Dubai, meet up with friends in the region. So there wasn’t any lack of separation between ministerial and private time.
“Some of this coverage, you would think ministers weren’t allowed to have private time which is, of course, absurd.”
Asked whether he had embarrassed the government, Fox said: “Under this government, ministers make a mistake, ministers admit a mistake and ministers resign. That is quite different from clinging to office at all cost, which was what we saw under the previous government.”
Jim Murphy, shadow defence secretary, said important questions relating to Werritty remain “unanswered”.
“There’s no-one to blame for Liam Fox’s downfall but Liam Fox,” said Muprhy.
“There remain many unanswered questions about this murky business. Before this case can be considered closed the government must reveal the full facts.”
an important poll of Conservative members today. It suggests that, on the issue of Europe, there is a massive gap between David Cameron and the Tory grassroots.ConservativeHome has
The obvious split is on whether or not there should be a referendum. Some 77% of respondents said there should be one, and 75% said they backed the Tory MPs who defied the whip on this issue last week.
But another figure is perhaps even more worrying for Cameron. Cameron has suggested that he does want a major renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU, but that he does not want to demand one during the treaty change that will take place soon because the eurozone needs to change its rules. But 92% of those surveyed said Cameron should block the proposed eurozone treaty change unless it is accompanied by a wider renegotiation over the repatriation of powers to Britain.
Here’s a lunchtime summary.
• Nick Clegg has published a list of projects that will receive funding from a £950m payout from the regional growth fund today. The Department for Business said that around 37,000 jobs will be directly created or safeguarded as a result of these investments, and that more than 164,000 in the supply chain will be created or protected. That adds up to 201,000 jobs. On the Today programme this morning Clegg said 325,000 jobs would be created or safeguarded, but he may have been referring to all regional growth fund grants, not just the ones being announced today.
• Ed Miliband has said that Britain is in the midst of an economic “perfect storm”. In a speech this morning he said that in his Labour conference speech he warned about the need for “profound change” in the economy.
Since then, we have seen the perfect storm of events showing what I was talking about: unemployment and inflation both on the rise; the energy companies making record profits on each customer; top pay out of control, while the middle get squeezed
Every day that goes by and the government sticks doggedly to its course is another day when people up and down the country are suffering.
We have an argument with the government about what they are doing now in the British economy.
But the questions we face as a country go deeper than that. How do we tackle the squeeze on living standards in the middle, the gross inequality between those at the top and everyone else, the sense that we were too exposed as an economy before the financial crisis?
• David Cameron has announced plans to use league tables and the threat of takeover by a rival authority to get councils to increase the number of children put up for adoption. “It is shocking that of the 3,600 children under the age of one in care, only sixty were adopted last year – this is clearly not good enough,” he said. (See 9.43am.)
• Clegg has suggested that the EU treaty changes demanded by Tory Eurosceptics would damage Britain because they would leave it isolated. In an interview on the Today programme, he said that he supported calls for EU reform and for the repatriation of certain powers. But he signalled his opposition to a big treaty change. “We should not tie ourselves up in knots having arcane debates about article this or article that about a treaty that may or may not change when we have an urgent overriding national priority to promote jobs and growth,” he said. (See 8.31am.)
• Liam Fox has said that he would like to return to the frontbench. In an interview with BBC Radio Bristol he said: “I would certainly like to get back to the frontbench – how quickly is another matter and, for the moment, I will enjoy having a little bit of extra time.” Downing Street suggested he may have to wait quite some time. “It is perhaps unsurprising that he has aspirations to return to the front bench,” a spokeswoman for the prime minister said. “He did good work while he was defence secretary. But he resigned only a few days ago.”
• The Department for Energy has announced plans to halve subsidies for household solar energy. As the Press Association reports, the widely-expected cut, which ministers say is necessary to make small-scale renewable subsidies sustainable but which the industry warns could seriously damage growth and jobs, would come in for panels installed from December 12. Bigger schemes would also see their rates reduced under the changes to the feed-in tariffs programme, which pays people for the electricity they generate from small-scale renewable technology.
• Natascha Engel, the Labour MP who chairs the backbench business committee, has hinted that there will be a Commons debate on cutting fuel prices. More than 100,000 people have already signed an e-petition on this issue. Speaking on the Daily Politics show, Engel said: “This is such an important issue. I represent a rural constituency as this is one of my number one postbag issues. I would say that it has a very, very high chance of being debated.”
• The Office for National Statistics has confirmed that poorer families pay more in VAT as a proportion of their disposable income than richer families. Owen Smith, a shadow Treasury minister, said: “This independent report confirms what Labour has always argued but which out of touch ministers continue to deny: VAT is a regressive tax which hits the poorest harder than the richest.” (See 10.18am.)
• Ken Livingstone has criticised Boris Johnson’s handling of the protests at St Paul’s. Labour’s candidate for mayor put out a statement.
This has been a peaceful protest, and it should be approached on that basis. City Hall has a duty to accommodate those who wish to protest in London and ensure their safety whilst ensuring the London does not grind to a halt …
The mayor of London’s office has wildly misjudged this issue, making the Occupy movement the enemy but failing to act on public concerns about jobs and growth. Conservative London actually stands for more unfairness, demanding a lower top rate of tax for the richest. That’s not surprising in a city where the mayor meets bankers more than the police.
The City must give more back to the wider London community that hosts it. Demands for charitable donations from bankers are inadequate. They have not addressed London’s deep inequalities and the need to get a balanced economy.
• Lord Sugar has urged politicians to embrace social media. He made his comments in a post on the Lords of the Blog website.
I know many politicians, across all parties have taken up the challenge of using social media to communicate their work very well, with Labour Leader Ed Miliband topping the number of followers for any UK politician at over 100,000 but none of them have reached the numbers that I or Sarah Brown or even Piers Morgan have – showing there is still more work to do.
• The Commons procedure committee has said in a report that there should be a debate in the Commons on whether or not MPs should be allowed to vote in secret on keeping the Speaker in post at the start of a new parliament. Under the current procedure the Commons normally agrees unanimously to let the Speaker stay on and, if any MP forces a division, the Commons votes openly in the normal way. The committee says a secret ballot would allow MPs to register a protest vote “without fear of the impact that would have on their chance to be called to speak in the future” and that MPs should vote before 2015 on whether to change the rules. A vote in favour of secret ballots would be seen as a threat to John Bercow, who is unpopular with some MPs.
The government’s decision to cancel to Sheffield Forgemasters loan last year apparently had a terrible impact on Clegg’s popularity in the city, where he is one of the local MPs. This is what he said about it this morning.
Last year we came into government and the outgoing Labour government wrote a little note – the chief secretary to the Treasury – saying there is no money. We had to take some incredibly difficult decisions and we’d inherited a decision from Labour for a loan to Forgemasters which in that context immediately after the general election was judged to be unaffordable. We also said we would provide more support to Forgemasters as we got on top of the chaos in Labour’s finances and as we straightened things out.
What we did was I oversaw the creation of a big pot of money – £1.4 billion – for companies like Forgemasters … Forgemasters is an absolutely brilliant example of how you can get behind a successful company so that they, not politicians, not bureaucrats, not a government department, so they create the jobs of the future.
Mortgage lending is going down, according to figures from the Bank of England. Here’s the top of the Press Association story about this.
The number of mortgage approvals for house purchases fell in September for the first time in six months, according to official figures released today.
Loan approvals decreased 2.6% to just under 51,000 between August and September, in its first fall since April, figures from the Bank of England showed.
Meanwhile, the amount people borrowed on credit cards rose by £200 million, after falling slightly the previous month.
Economists said the lending trends were evidence of the pain being felt by consumers as wages fail to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
the full list of projects that will get money from the regional growth fund as part of the £950m investment being announced today. One of the firms on the list is Sheffield Forgemasters, which controversially had a government loan cancelled soon after the coalition was formed.Here’s
And here’s an excerpt from the Department for Business’s news release about the announcement.
[The regional growth fund] will support 119 bids from businesses and local partnerships with projects to expand their operations, create new jobs and attract private investment. Discussions are ongoing with a further 10 bidders about their projects.
Of the 201,000 jobs created or protected, around 37,000 will be directly created jobs, and more than 164,000 will be in the supply chain. The government investment will support nearly £6 billion of private investment secured by the successful projects.
What did we learn at the 11am lobby? Here’s a summary.
• Downing Street said the number of ministers in government was determined “by need”. Today the Commons public administration committee has published a report criticising the government for refusing to accept that the number of ministers in government should be cut. In response, the prime minister’s spokeswoman said the government had already “acted decisively” to reduce the cost of ministers by cutting their salaries by 5%. On numbers she said: “The number of ministers should be decided by need.”
• Downing Street said parliamentary protocol was responsible for the fact that, as revealed by the Guardian today, ministers have to get permission from the Prince of Wales if they want to pass legislation affecting the Duchy of Cornwall or some of his other private interests. The prime minister’s spokeswoman read out the relevant passage in Erskine May describing the arrangement. Asked if David Cameron had any plans to reform this process, she said she was not aware of any.
• The prime minister’s spokeswoman sidestepped questions about whether today’s ONS report about VAT (see 10.18am) undermined the government’s claim that austerity measures were being imposed fairly. She said that “difficult decisions” had to be taken and she outlined a number of measures the government is taking to help poor families, such as taking low earners out of income tax.
• Downing Street played down the prospects of Liam Fox returning to cabinet any time soon. Fox has said this morning that he would like to make a comeback. (See 9.32am.) But, when asked about this, the prime minister’s spokeswoman replied: “He did only resign a few days ago.”
• The prime minister’s spoksewoman said the OECD’s decision to downgrade its eurozone growth forecast today “reflects the ongoing uncertainty in the global economy”.
• Cameron spent £10 on his poppy this morning.
There’s not much to report from the lobby. But, having walked all the way over to the briefing and back, I’ll report it anyway. Full summary coming up in a moment.
As for the rest of the papers, I’ve already mentioned David Cameron’s interview in the Times on adoption. Here are some other stories that are interesting.
David Cameron has urged colleagues to stop talking down the economy as he tries to drown out a growing chorus of doomsayers with a resolutely upbeat assessment of the nation’s prospects.
The prime minister, writing in the Financial Times before what are expected to be gloomy quarterly growth figures, said it was important to remain optimistic.
“Above all, at home and abroad, we must counsel against the pessimism and fear that can become self-fulfilling prophecies in global markets,” Mr Cameron writes.
“Whatever the obstacles to growth today, we still boast some of the best universities in the world, the most favourable timezone in the world, and the world’s first language. I passionately believe that the global economy is presenting us with opportunities, not threats – and we must seize them.”
• Iain Lobban, the director of GCHQ, the government’s spy listening centre, tells the Times (paywall) in an article that cyber attacks on the government, the public and industry have reached “disturbing” levels.
Iain Lobban, who runs the Government’s listening centre, GCHQ, writes in an article in The Times today that the situation is so serious that the “UK’s continued economic wellbeing” is under threat.
He reveals a “significant” attack on computer systems at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the summer as well as attempts to steal information from defence contractors. His disclosure comes as the Government admits that officials are tackling an “exponential rise” in the number of incidents, with systems such as the welfare and tax databases “liable to attack”.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, has revealed that the details of credit card users are being traded on illegal websites for as little as 70p.
In one foiled operation it was discovered that a million stolen identities were being circulated. “Before the First World War a new type of battleship came out every ten years or so, but in this race new techniques are adopted every day,” Mr Hague said.
Tory Peter Bone even suggested Mr Clegg should be sacked over his comments.
He said: ‘I don’t understand how the Deputy Prime Minister even remains in his post tonight when his comments implicitly criticise the Prime Minister.
‘The Prime Minister wants powers back from Europe. Yet it seems to be Mr Clegg and a few Lib Dems dictating policy – it is outrageous. ‘
Tory MP Julian Lewis added: ‘I am a conservative Conservative: if I had wanted to be a Liberal, I would have joined the Liberal Democrat party, and if the country had wanted the Liberals to be having as much influence as they have got, they’d have voted for them in rather larger numbers.’
The Labour leader Ed Miliband had opposed its construction when he was in Government, but failed to persuade Gordon Brown to drop the party’s commitment to expand Britain’s largest airport.
Maria Eagle, the shadow Transport Secretary, will confirm the move today in a speech to the Airport Operators Association, saying that “the local environmental impact means this is off the agenda”.
Ms Eagle will challenge ministers to take the politics out of aviation by working on a cross-party consensus on the issue.
I’m off to the Number 10 lobby briefing now. I’ll post again after 11.30am.
a paper (pdf) that sheds some light on the issue. It says poorer families do pay more in VAT as a proportion of their disposable income than richer families partly because spending patterns have changed over the last 15 years. Here’s an extract from the news release.The government’s decision to put VAT up to 20% was particularly controversial because, in proportional terms, VAT hits poorer families harder than richer families. But the exact nature of this impact is subject to debate. Today the Office for National Statistics has published
Research published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) examines the relationship between the equivalised disposable income of the richest and poorest UK households and the VAT spent by those households. Overall, the data shows the poorest fifth of households in the UK pay more in VAT as a percentage of their disposable income than the richest fifth.
However, the analysis highlights changing spending patterns. Poorer households in 1986 spent a smaller proportion of their expenditure, than poorer households in 2009/10, on discretionary items which attracted VAT. For example, after taking into account changes in prices, the poorest fifth of households spent, on average, around 250 per cent more on new cars, holidays abroad, meals out, audio/visual goods (including TVs) and photographic equipment combined in 2009/10 than in 1986. This is compared with an increase of 20 per cent for the richest households.
The analysis reveals that in 1986, the poorest fifth of households spent 55 per cent of their weekly expenditure on non-VATable items, compared with 45 per cent on VATable items. However, in 2001/02, this pattern had reversed. The poorest fifth of households spent, on average, 42 per cent on items which did not have any VAT levy compared with 58 per cent on items which did.
details of his adoption inititative on the Number 10 website. And here’s the Guardian story explaining his plans to ensure that councils will have their adoption responsibilities taken over by another authority if they fail to meet certain standards.David Cameron has published
Here’s the key quote from Cameron’s Number 10 statement.
It is shocking that of the 3,600 children under the age of one in care, only sixty were adopted last year – this is clearly not good enough. So we will publish data on how every local authority is performing to ensure they are working quickly enough to provide the safe and secure family environment every child deserves.
He’s also given an interview to the Times (paywall) on this subject because the Times has been campaigning for adoption to be made easier. Interestingly, in his interview Cameron says judges are partly to blame for children being left in care homes when it would be better for them to be adopted.
Figures for court cases are chilling. Some judges are looking for evidential standards that just don’t exist. That is certainly the story I get anecdotally. The judge has a huge responsibility, but endless calls for more information and more reports to try and close off every avenue of concern means the longer children are left in care, the worse the outcomes get. I know it is a cliché, but don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.
There is an element of judgment that is required. We’ve got to give people the sense of discretion and judgment, rather than thinking you can reduce to percentage zero any risk.
(His comment about judges looking for “evidential standards that just don’t exist” sounds slightly similar to the comment about the Hillsborough relatives that got him into trouble last week.)
PoliticsHome, he said that he would be working on charitable projects, but he also made it clear that he wanted to return to the frontbench.Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, has given an interview to Radio Bristol. According to
I would certainly like to get back to the front bench. How quickly is another matter, and for the moment I will enjoy having a little bit of extra time. There are one or two projects that I want to get involved in on the charitable side, and to devote some time to things that I have wanted to do and been unable to.
He also repeated the attack he launched on some parts of the press in his resignation statement in the Commons. Journalists were not free to do what they liked, he said.
Relatives are phoning up because they are upset – even to the point where one of my nephews who is 14 was being doorstepped and that was unacceptable.
I’ve been told by a colleague that the full interview is being played on BBC Bristol at 10am.
Are we any clearer about Nick Clegg‘s views on Europe after his Today interview? Having listened to the tape again, and transcribed the key quotes, the answer is – a bit.
Clegg said that he was in favour of the repatriation of some EU powers to the UK. (Although he did not use the term “repatriation”. The Lib Dems prefer to talk about “rebalancing”.) But he insisted that the government was doing this already and that the it did not require a big treaty renegotiation. And he also insisted that anything that left Britain isolated in Europe would be very damaging to Britain’s economic interests.
Here are the key points.
• Clegg said that isolation in Europe would be very damaging to Britain.
I’m strongly in favour of reform of the European Union. Reform yes, isolation no. Why? Because isolation cost people’s livelihoods. People need to be careful what they wish for.
This was because membership of the EU was good for Britain economically, he said.
I don’t support the European Union and Britain’s role in it for its own sake. I think it’s absolutely essential for jobs and growth in this country. There are 3m of our fellow citizens whose jobs rely directly on our participation and role and place in what is, after all, the world’s largest borderless single market.
• He said that he was in favour of some EU powers being returned to member states.
I for years have thought the common fisheries policy is far too centralised. We should have greater regional variation on that. Some of the detailed directives are far too fiddly.
• He played down the need for a big renegotiation of the EU treaties.
You can argue for reform every day of the week. You don’t need to wait for some great treaty change that may or may not happen.
He said that, in response to British pressure, the EU had already agreed a blueprint for reform of the common fisheries policy. And he said that he had personally been involved in another EU initiative to cut red tape.
I assembled a number of trade ministers from a range of European Union countries together in a meeting in London recently and we’ve actually succeeded to get a commitment to reduce European red tape and to get agreement, for instance, for something that we’ve been campaigning for as a country for years, which patent protection for British companies within the European single market.
• He claimed that the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives agreed on the need to extend the single market within the EU.
Of course Liberal Democrats and Conservatives come at this from different directions … Where we actually are united is that what we must do is defend British national interests and promote the kind of open, liberal European economy without which we will not get growth and we will not create jobs in this country.
• He claimed that getting obsessed with “arcane” treaty changes would damage the national interest. He actually used the word “arcane” twice.
We should not tie ourselves up in knots having arcane debates about article this or article that about a treaty that may or may not change when we have an urgent overriding national priority to promote jobs and growth. And we do that by being in the centre of the argument, not out on the fringes of the argument in Europe …
Where [the Lib Dems and the Conservatives] actually are united is that what we must do is defend British national interests and promote the kind of open, liberal European economy without which we will not get growth and we will not create jobs in this country. If instead we rush headlong down a cul-de-sac of increasingly arcane, legalistic arguments about changes to treaties that may or may not be open to renegotiation in the future – because, let’s remember, that is in large part dependent also on what other countries in the European Union thinks – then I think that would be a form of displacement activity from our overriding national duty, which we all share in government, whatever our views on Europe, which is a simple, common sense belief we’ve got to get the best out of the European Union, not seek to get out of the European Union.
In this second passage Clegg was making a point about the Lib Dems and the Conservatives being united. But actually, in the next sentence, he went on to highlight the key area where they differ. David Cameron has been hinting to his MPs that he wants a big, Lisbon-style treaty renegotiation (although not now) because it would give Britain the chance to repatriate powers from the EU. Clegg’s comments suggest that he is not in favour of such a renegotiation at any point in the future.
• Clegg said that the regional growth fund would create or safeguard 325,000 jobs. For every pound invested by the government, the private sector would invest another £6, he claimed.
The interview’s over. And I’m not sure that we learnt a great deal about the splits between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats over Europe, partly because he was attacking people demanding “arcane” changes to the EU treaties while at the same time saying that he was in favour of the repatriation of powers in certain areas, such at the common fisheries policy. (And if the common fisheries policy isn’t arcane, I don’t know what is.) I’ll post a full summary in a moment.
Naughtie is still asking about Europe.
Q: But what do you do about the fact that coalition backbenchers do not accept what you are saying about Europe?
Clegg says “of course Liberal Democrats and Conservatives come at this from different directions”. But the government must defend the open economy.
He again says it would be a mistake to get into “arcane” arguments about particular directives. That would be a form of displacement activity, he says.
Q: And you think the government could end up like the Major government?
Clegg says Britain has always been best when it has been “an open, trading economy”.
Clegg says the government is trying to “rewire” the economy so it is less reliant on the City.
Q: But the money for this is coming from the local government budget. Do you accept that you have less money?
Clegg says Liam Byrne, Labour’s chief secretary to the Treasury, actually himself said there was no money left.
Manufacturing is “the lifeblood of the British economy”, he says.
Naughtie turns to Europe. Clegg says he expected him to ask about this. Naughtie says it’s relevant to growth. In his Observer article, Clegg said moving away from Europe would be economic suicide.
Q: The Tories want a relationship with Europe that would, in your terms, leave Britain marginalised. And they have a large chunk of public opinion on their side.
Clegg says 3m jobs depend on the EU. He is strongly in favour of reform of the EU.
I’m in favour of reform, yes. Isolation, no.
If you move to the margins of Europe, that will hit jobs.
Q: Coalition backbenchers want powers clawed back. How far can you go in doing that, without producing isolation?
Clegg says you can argue for reform every day of the week.
He thinks the common fisheries policy is too centralised. There should be more regional variation. It is being reformed, he says.
Some directives go too far, he says. He recently secured an agreement to cut red tape.
Clegg says it would be wrong to have arcane debates about particular directives.
The Nick Clegg interview is starting. Jim Naughtie is asking the questions.
Naughtie quotes the Observer article. But he starts with growth.
Q: What effect will the regional growth fund money have?
Clegg says parts of the country were over-reliant on public money from Whitehall. The government is trying to invest public money into companies “that create jobs that last”. Every pound invested by the fund will attract about £6 of private money. It should safeguard or create 325,000 jobs, he says.
Q: Businesses are saying it has taken too long for the money to come through.
Clegg says some regional development agencies did good work. Others had a more patchy record.
Companies have already started investing on the basis that the money will be coming through. This has happened in more than half of the cases where companies are getting money from the fund, he says.
Today he’s announcing which firms will benefit from the regional growth fund, but he’s also bound to be asked about Europe. In the light of his article in the Observer on the subject yesterday, the Daily Mirror is now claiming that he’s at war with David Cameron on the issue.Nick Clegg will be on the Today programme at 8.10am.
Cameron himself is launching national adoption week with a proposal to take action against firms that do not arrange adoptions quickly. Ed Miliband is giving a speech on the economy. And Eric Pickles is announcing changes to the council tax regime. I have not got times for these events yet, but I know Justine Greening, the new transport secretary, is speaking at an aviation conference. at 10.30am.
As usual, I’ll be be covering all the breaking political news, as well as looking at the papers and bringing you the best politics from the web. I’ll post a lunchtime summary at around 1pm, and an afternoon one at about 4pm.
Ministers have been forced to seek permission from Prince Charles to pass at least a dozen government bills, according to a Guardian investigation into a secretive constitutional loophole that gives him the right to veto legislation that might affect his private interests.
Since 2005, ministers from six departments have sought the Prince of Wales’ consent to draft bills on everything from road safety to gambling and the London Olympics, in an arrangement described by constitutional lawyers as a royal “nuclear deterrent” over public policy. Unlike royal assent to bills, which is exercised by the Queen as a matter of constitutional law, the prince’s power applies when a new bill might affect his own interests, in particular the Duchy of Cornwall, a private £700m property empire that last year provided him with an £18m income.
Neither the government nor Clarence House will reveal what, if any, alterations to legislation Charles has requested, or exactly why he was asked to grant consent to such a wide range of laws.
Correspondence seen by the Guardian reveals that one minister wrote to the prince’s office requesting his consent to a new bill about planning reform because it was “capable of applying to … [the] Prince of Wales’ private interests”.
In the last two parliamentary sessions Charles has been asked to consent to draft bills on wreck removals and co-operative societies, a freedom of information request to the House of Commons has revealed. Between 2007-09 he was consulted on bills relating to coroners, economic development and construction, marine and coastal access, housing and regeneration, energy and planning.
MPs and peers called for the immediate publication of details about the application of the prince’s powers which have fuelled concern over his alleged meddling in British politics. “If princes and paupers are to live as equals in a modern Britain, anyone who enjoys exceptional influence or veto should exercise it with complete transparency,” said Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives in Cornwall. “The duchy asserts that it is merely a private estate. Most people will be astonished to learn that it appears to have effective powers of veto over the government.”
“We should know why he is being asked and the government should publish the answers,” said Lord Berkeley, who was last month told to seek Charles’ consent on a marine navigation bill. “If he is given these powers purely because he owns land in Cornwall it is pretty stupid. What about the other landowners who must also be affected by changes to legislation?”
Revelations about Charles’ power of consent come amid continued concern that the heir to the throne may be overstepping his constitutional role by lobbying ministers directly and through his charities on pet concerns such as traditional architecture and the environment.
A spokesman for the Prince of Wales would not comment on whether the prince has ever withheld consent or demanded changes to legislation under the consent system. “Communications between the prince or his household and the government are confidential under a long-standing convention that protects the heir to the throne’s right to be instructed in the business of government in preparation for his future role as monarch,” he said. Daniel Greenberg, a former parliamentary counsel and now parliamentary lawyer at Berwin Leighton Paisner, said: “It is something of a nuclear-button option that everybody knows he is not likely to push. But like the nuclear deterrent, the fact that it is there, influences negotiations.”
Graham Smith, director of Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state, said it was “an affront to democratic values” that citizens had no right to know whether Charles was insisting on changes to bills. “We know Charles has been lobbying ministers, but this is evidence he has the power to instruct them to alter their plans and that gives him leverage,” he said.
The education secretary, Michael Gove, has told headteachers and council education bosses to stop “whingeing” about diminishing budgets.
At a breakfast meeting organised by the Ark academy chain, Gove accused heads of “reaching for excuses” instead of getting on with improving their schools.
His comments come days after the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank calculated that the coalition was making the biggest cut to education budgets since the 1950s.
Gove claimed there was a “haunting question” for many heads and council education bosses: “Why aren’t we doing better?”
He said some schools in deprived parts of the country, such as Hackney, in east London, and White City, in the west of the capital, were out-performing those in affluent areas like Hampshire, Oxfordshire and West Sussex.
Pupils in richer areas often come from supportive and loving homes and their teachers will have benefited from top universities, Gove said, adding: “Yet these children are not performing as well as those in some inner-city schools – why? We can’t escape asking that question.
“Every time that the headteacher, or the director of children’s services, or the minister reaches for excuses, such as ‘we’re under-resourced’ or ‘I’m afraid the capital this year hasn’t been so good’ or ‘it’s very difficult to fire teachers’ … they’re spending time justifying under-performance when they should be spending time challenging under-performance and looking for reasons to perform better.”
Successful schools “do not spend their time whingeing about resources or complaining about ministers’ particular priorities because they know they are masters or mistresses of their own destiny”, he said. “They can make a little go a surprisingly long way.”
The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has said the government’s regional growth fund will provide a “snowball effect that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs”.
Clegg outlined the second tranche of regional growth fund investment – worth £950m – and said it would ensure taxpayers get “more bang for our bucks” by creating growth and reducing dependence on the financial services sector.
He said the funds would create or safeguard 325,000 jobs and rejected criticism of the length of time it has been taking for the cash to reach businesses.
“What we’re trying to do is invest public money, taxpayers’ money, into companies which can create jobs that last,” Clegg told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.
The regional growth fund, announced by the government in June 2010, has been criticised by Labour because so few companies have yet to receive money from the scheme.
Clegg said it was a “rather old-fashioned view” for businesses to believe nothing could start to happen until a Whitehall official turned up and signed a cheque, suggesting that approval for projects was enough to give businesses the green light.
“As long as government says, through the regional growth fund, [that] you will get this money, the companies have then been able to get on and buy the new equipment, take on the new apprentices, create the new jobs,” he said.
“And that has been happening already in over 50% of the projects that have been approved.”
He claimed that, for every £1 of taxpayers’ cash invested, the private sector would match it with an estimated £6, making public spending “go much further”.
In a separate move, David Cameron promised an “all-out mission” to kickstart major infrastructure projects and get the economy moving.
Growth figures for the third quarter of this year are expected to show growth after nine flat months, but the March budget projection of 1.7% annual growth is still unlikely to be reached.
Writing in the Financial Times, the prime minister admitted the eurozone crisis was having a “chilling effect” on global growth and warned that there were no shortcuts to success.
But he urged people to be optimistic, saying pessimism and fear “can become self-fulfilling prophecies”.
“The eurozone crisis has added to the unprecedented pressures facing the global economy,” he wrote.
“But, in spite of the difficulties, I am confident that we can both resolve the crises at hand and come through them with an economy that is stronger and fundamentally fairer. I passionately believe that the global economy is presenting us with opportunities, not threats – and we must seize them.”
Clegg also reiterated his belief that Britain staying at the centre of EU decision-making was essential to jobs and growth. Writing in the Observer, he warned the UK faced “economic suicide” if it retreated to the sidelines of EU policymaking.
Speaking on Today, Clegg said he was committed to reform of the EU but opposed to any move that would leave Britain isolated. The coalition’s duty was to “get the best out of the European Union, not get out of the European Union”, he said.
“I don’t support the European Union and Britain’s role in it for its own sake – I think it’s absolutely essential for jobs and growth in this country,” he added. “There are 3 million people whose jobs rely directly on our participation.
“I’m strongly in favour of reform of the European Union. Reform yes, isolation no. Why? Because isolation costs people’s livelihoods.”
He said the “urgent, overriding national priority” for the coalition should be to promote jobs and growth, adding: “We do that by being in the centre of the argument, not on the outer fringes of the argument in Europe.
“The last thing we should do is betray our own history and our own traditions by turning inwards and isolating ourselves from the outside world.”
By Frank Bruni
the new york times
Being surprised by something nutty from Herman Cain’s presidential campaign is like balking at an autopsy in a “CSI” episode: Certain things go with the territory. Still, you had to pause and peel your jaw off the ground after watching an Internet ad for Cain that prompted considerable conversation last week.
In it Cain’s chief of staff, who comes across mostly as an untidy salt-and-pepper mustache with a rumpled politico attached, delivers the needless reminder that Cain has “run a campaign like nobody’s ever seen.” To prove the point he glowers meaningfully at the camera while sucking manfully on a cigarette.
Alligators as border-patrol agents and nicotine for all: That’s the Cain agenda. The candidate appears in close-up at the end of the commercial, flashing a grin that’s two parts demented to one part demonic. Were there a thought bubble attached, it would say, “In my wildest dreams I never thought you people would actually buy this pizza.”
Meanwhile Rick Perry, who would trade his five best pairs of custom-made cowboy boots for just one of Cain’s percentage points in the polls, tried to steal the dubious thunder of the Herminator’s 9-9-9 tax hallucination by announcing an either-or, multiple-choice tax phantasm of his own.
It would compel you to hire an accountant to figure out whether you’re best served by the existing code or by a 20 percent flat tax designed to spare you the accountant. If you go the 20 percent route, Perry said, you can file your returns on a postcard. I think he should add a deduction for taxpayers whose postcards promote national pride. I’ll pick one with the Statue of Liberty. You can do Mount Rushmore or the Washington Monument.
In the midst of all this, two attention-commanding sets of numbers were released. One, from the Congressional Budget Office, confirmed an increasingly uneven distribution of wealth in this country, noting that the inflation-adjusted incomes of the most affluent Americans had grown much, much faster over the last three decades than the incomes of the middle class.
The other, from a New York Times/CBS News poll, showed that 74 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track and 89 percent do not trust that government will do the right thing.
That’s a chilling and extraordinary pessimism, grafted onto a 9.1 percent unemployment rate and projections of a grim economy for some time to come. And it makes the kookiness of the Republican primaries all the more disquieting. As the (later disputed) story goes, Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Cain’s chief of staff smokes while the citizenry smolders.
The disconnect between the seriousness of our angst and the silliness of our politics – between how big our problems are and how hopeless or just plain stuck the people who are supposed to address them seem – defies belief. Right now the system isn’t working, and a recognition of that is one of the ties that bind Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. They don’t identify the same villains or promote the same solutions. But they’re flowers of a shared frustration.
And neither movement is a marginal, renegade phenomenon. A recent Time magazine poll found that 54 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Occupy Wall Street , while 27 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party. Even assuming some overlap, that translates into a great many people supportive of movements railing against the status quo.
These Americans have lost faith in business as usual and government as usual. Small wonder, then, that the Times/CBS poll showed an approval rating for Congress now at 9 percent. Nine percent.
I bet a higher percentage of Americans believe that Elvis and Michael Jackson are still alive and honeymooning on Lake Como after a wedding – to each other – in upstate New York.
Regard for Congress isn’t likely to rise over the 12 months until the election, given that Republicans and Democrats have largely slipped into campaign mode. For a while, over the summer, President Barack Obama seemed to resist that, and came across as cool-headed and big-minded, his desire to legislate keener than his itch to agitate. But his newly frequent trips outside Washington and newly fiery rhetoric suggest that he has partly given up.
In terms of real progress on jobs creation, infrastructure and other matters central to our economic predicament, we could be looking at a solid year of nothingness, and therein lies another of the moment’s disconnects. Our need is urgent, but the possibility that it will be meaningfully addressed is remote.
The congressional supercommittee charged with whittling down the national debt will hold a public hearing Tuesday. The heart beats faster. Already there are reports of a Democratic insistence on significant new taxes and a Republican opposition to same, which basically brings us back to where Obama and John Boehner left off. We’re looking at an interminable November.
At least we’ll have the Republican presidential candidates to marvel at. And Perry had a marvelous week, in the strict sense of the word. He revived questions about Obama’s birth certificate. He also blamed his wretched debate performances on formats that denied candidates adequate time to “lay out your ideas and concepts.”
Was it your impression that all he needed was a few more acres of oratorical stamping grounds and eloquence would be his? It was my impression that short-form or long-, Perry is to oratory what Weird Al Yankovic is to balladry. Only the humor isn’t intentional.
Elsewhere in the Republican field, Jon Huntsman, the former ambassador to China, told a Chinese-food joke of questionable taste; Michele Bachmann started peddling Bachmann-campaign fleeces in exchange for $75 donations; and the Cain campaign announced that even without promises of commemorative clothing, it had raised $3 million this month. Cain was in a statistical dead heat with Mitt Romney, according to the Times/CBS News poll.
Some observers say that the absurdity of that is indeed a mirror of our distress – that Americans are grasping at simplistic straws. But Cain’s support won’t last or turn out to have been all that meaningful.
The poll’s more consequential findings were that six in 10 Republican primary voters weren’t paying close attention yet and eight in 10 said it was too early to decide on a candidate.
What worries me isn’t the Cain surge or the Bachmann boomlet before it, but the likelihood that when Americans do focus, more and more will see nothing hopeful happening and a motley crew of politicians who are merely blowing smoke.
What happens then?
Mr. Khan assailed the leaders of both parties — President Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif — as creatures of the status quo, and he has been a loud and frequent critic of Pakistan’s alliance with the United States, saying it was motivated by money.
The size of the crowd that Mr. Khan drew in Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab and a traditional stronghold of the Muslim League-N, surprised his opponents and made an impression on political analysts.
Mr. Khan, 58, has languished on the political sidelines for years, and his political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Justice Party, has no seats in the current Parliament. But his popularity has soared recently as voters, especially younger ones, have grown disillusioned with the establishment parties. A survey conducted by an American polling organization, the Pew Research Center, found in June that Mr. Khan had become the most popular political figure in the country.
After the crowd gave him a rousing welcome at the rally on Sunday evening, Mr. Khan threw out challenges to both Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif on the question of personal integrity, urging them both to disclose their assets or face civil disobedience.
“This is not a flood, this is a tsunami,” Mr. Khan said of the crowd thronging the Minaar-e-Pakistan ground in Lahore to hear him. “Anyone up against it will be swept away.”
The government is not required to call a general election until February 2013, but with a sinking economy, rising inflation, power struggles and terrorism taking a toll on the nation, opposition parties have begun pushing for an earlier date.
The Muslim League-N staged its own rally in Lahore last week and called on President Zardari to step down.
Critics and political opponents dismiss Mr. Khan as a political nobody and question his judgment and his party’s capacity to mount a serious campaign, let alone to govern. They say it relies entirely on Mr. Khan’s personal charisma and lacks any other substantial figures in its ranks.
In an interview at his Islamabad residence on Friday, Mr. Khan shrugged off the criticism.
“People confuse two types of politics,” Mr. Khan said as he sprawled on a sofa in the house, situated on a hill that overlooks the city. “One is the politics of movement. The other is traditional power-based politics. Tehreek-e-Insaf is never going to win the traditional way.”
Mr. Khan opposes cooperating with the United States against militants based in the restive northwestern regions of the country near the Afghan border. He says that Pakistan should not send its own forces to conduct operations there and should not allow American drone strikes there, either, because of the civilian casualties they cause. He favors a negotiated peace instead.
Mr. Khan led 2,000 people in a protest outside the Parliament in Islamabad on Friday, opposing American drone strikes, and he reiterated his stance at the rally on Sunday.
“My message to America is that we will have friendship with you, but we will not accept any slavery,” he said. “We will help you in a respectable withdrawal of your troops from Afghanistan, but we will not launch a military operation in Pakistan for you.”
The atmosphere at the Sunday rally was electric. Several famous pop singers warmed up the crowd with music before Mr. Khan’s speech, giving the rally the feel of a concert. Women and girls in colorful clothes and sunglasses and young men in Western and national dress filled the audience.
Mr. Khan’s speech itself was bit of a letdown to some, wayward and unfocused, but his fans did not mind.
“I felt great,” said Said Chaudhry, 26. “It felt like you are part of something that has all the potential of turning into something revolutionary.”
In the interview on Friday, Mr. Khan said he expected the Lahore rally to be seen as a test of his political future.
“Lahore decides what happens in Punjab,” he said. “Punjab decides what happens in Pakistan.”
Analysts said that drawing a big crowd in Lahore would not necessarily translate into electoral success, but it could propel Mr. Khan to the forefront of the political conversation.
“I think it’s a historic turning point in the country’s politics,” said Rasul Baksh Rais, who teaches at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. “It showed that people are deeply touched with the message of hope and change, and also with the frustration that is written all over Pakistan with the existing political parties.”
He said that after 15 years on the political fringes, Mr. Khan may have his moment now. “Today, he has been able to get his message across,” Mr. Rais said. “This is the beginning. And it will result in a big change in a year or two.”
KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian court ruled Monday that a law banning college students from political activities was unconstitutional, in a move hailed by the ban’s opponents as a landmark decision.
Students have long campaigned for a repeal of the 1971 Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), which bars them from joining political parties and trade unions, saying the ban violates human rights and free speech.
Malaysia’s Court of Appeal ruled that the law contravened constitutionally protected freedom of expression.
“This is a landmark decision… the net effect is that students are free to participate in political activities now,” lawyer Ashok Kandiah, who represented four former political science students in challenging the ban, told AFP.
The ruling comes as speculation mounts that Prime Minister Najib Razak will soon call elections in which his long ruling coalition and the political opposition are both expected to court increasingly vocal youth voters.
However, a lawyer representing Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (the International University of Malaysia), which the four students had attended, told the court the decision would be appealed to the Federal Court, Malaysia’s highest.
The students launched the court challenge last year following university threats to take disciplinary action against them after they were accused of campaigning for the opposition in a local by-election.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court had earlier upheld the ban’s constitutionality.
The students were eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
Ahmad Syukri Abdul Razab, who heads the student organisation umbrella group SMM, told AFP the ruling validated the long fight against the act.
“The decision shows to the people, to the government, that whatever the students have been fighting for for a long time is relevant. The government should pay attention to the students’ demands,” he said.
The UUCA, which deals mainly with administrative matters, was amended in 1975 to add the student politics ban following large demonstrations the previous year by university students protesting government economic policies.
The section that was found unconstitutional says that no student “shall express… support for or sympathy with or opposition to any political party, whether in or outside Malaysia.”
Najib pledged in September to scrap laws considered repressive and promised greater respect for civil liberties.
Among the laws Najib has targeted for repeal is the much-maligned Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial.
However, the premier said at the time that the universities law would also be reviewed.
Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.
Philip Hollobone, another rebel MP, said: “Many backbenchers think that the
seven-year EU budget is a good opportunity for the Government to use its
veto if it does not get what it wants.”
Coalition tensions were stoked by a warning from deputy Prime Minister Nick
Clegg that it would be “economic suicide” for Britain to “retreat to the
margins” of Europe.
He said opponents “relished the prospect of a unilateral raid on Brussels’
powers”, adding: “Being shoved to the margins, or retreating there
voluntarily, would be economic suicide: a sure-fire way to hurt British
businesses and lose jobs.”
George Eustice, a Tory MP who is leading a separate group arguing of the
repatriation of powers, accused the deputy Prime Minister of being “too
He said: “He [Nick Clegg] is being too simplistic. If we want to get this
country moving again we have got to lash regulations coming from the
“We have got to address this failing, rather than sweep it under the carpet.”
Mr Eustice said that he would support a debate on plans to approve the new
European Union budget next week.
Andrea Leadsom, a Tory MP who is co-ordinating a new all party group calling
reform to the EU, accused Mr clegg of being a troublemaker.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has ordered a cross-Whitehall review of
Britain’s relationship with Europe.
Yesterday he insisted that rebalancing of powers was possible, but
acknowledged that the Liberal Democrats could limit the extent of any shift.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: “I would like to see further
rebalancing but we are obviously going to have to act as a coalition.”
Meanwhile Tory Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted there were differences
between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems on Europe.
He said: “There are differences between the Liberal Democrat part of the
coalition and the Conservative part.
“There is also a moment where there may be discussions about rebalancing
powers and we will act in the national interest,” he told Sky News’
AN extraordinary year in Scotland’s political history reaches its climax next week with The Herald’s Scottish Politician of the Year Awards.
Today we can reveal the shortlist of candidates whose performances have put them in line to be recognised across eight categories at the event.
New and time-served Holyrood politicians, Westminster MPs and a group that seldom gets the credit deserved – local councillors – will feature in the ceremony at Edinburgh’s top hotel, Prestonfield House.
They will be joined in the Public Campaign of the Year section by people whose efforts have made the Government sit up and take notice and, in some cases, have been responsible for changes in the law that have made Scotland a fairer society.
This is the 13th year of the awards and it has been one of the most fascinating since they were inaugurated, not least because of the Holyrood election result.
Short-listed for the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award, which is sponsored by Carillion Energy Services, are three SNP ministers – Alex Neil, Michael Russell and Nicola Sturgeon.
His recent promotion to the front bench as Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary has given Mr Neil, an old-style combative politician, a platform for his feisty wit.
Mr Russell inherited the difficult education brief and has dealt confidently with a range of challenging issues.
He was at his best in debates over threatened school closures in Argyll and the introduction to the curriculum of Scottish Studies, though some of his opponents may not have appreciated being on the receiving end of his barbed retorts.
The tenacity of Health Secretary and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over minimum pricing for alcohol and her general all-round competence scored well with the judging panel.
Ms Sturgeon, who took the top award in 2008 and is also a previous winner in the category, is virtually an annual contender.
She lost her first bid to introduce alcohol minimum pricing but gained many admirers for the forceful way she argued the case.
Labour, the LibDems and the SNP all make the shortlist for Best Scot at Westminster, sponsored by Scottish Power Renewables.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has had to make some difficult decisions in his high-profile job.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander has a key role on Ed Miliband’s front bench and the SNP’s Angus Robertson played an outstanding part in the SNP’s Scottish Parliament win as campaign director, a role he has taken on again for the independence referendum campaign.
Newcomer of the Year is a challenging section for the judges with Parliament in session for such a short time since the election.
Although many of the fresh intake are still finding their feet, five names caught the judges’ attention, including Tory leadership contender Ruth Davidson, Labour’s Jenny Marra and Graeme Pearson, LibDem leader Willie Rennie and Humza Yousaf of the SNP.
Three councillors make their debut in the Local Government Politician of the Year section, sponsored by Improvement Service and Robertson Group.
Borders councillor Michael Cook (Ind), Cosla’s human resources spokesman, had the unenviable job of negotiating a pay freeze for council workers.
Highland Council leader Michael Foxley of the LibDems has been campaigning for the retention of emergency tugs and coastguard stations and is a long-time advocate for more control of the Crown Estate.
Moray SNP councillor David Stewart played a dynamic role as chairman of the campaign to save Lossiemouth RAF base.
The success of that campaign ensured its place on the Public Campaign of the Year shortlist alongside parents who fought to prevent the closure of schools in Argyll and the campaigners who helped change the UK Government’s plans for Stornoway and Shetland Coastguard stations.
Among those in the running for the Political Impact of the Year award is Tory leadership hopeful Murdo Fraser whose plans for disbanding the party have been a major talking point.
He’s joined on the list by Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson, whose Property Factors Bill should make life tougher for rogue landlords.
Holyrood’s first female Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, completes the list thanks to her plans to reinvigorate the parliamentary system.
Although it doesn’t appear every year, there will once again be a Lifetime Achievement Award, whose winner remains a closely kept secret.
The event will climax with the unveiling of the 2011 Herald Scottish Politician of the Year.
Herald and Times Editor-in-Chief, Jonathan Russell, said: “It’s been a dramatic 12 months in Scottish politics – not just with the Holyrood election but also through the varied political stories that have dominated the news agenda at different times over the past year.
“Virtually every category sparked heated debate among the judges as they argued over the winners and shortlists.
“Once again The Herald’s Scottish Politician of the Year is shaping up to be a great event with some hugely deserving winners.”
Nominees in The Herald Scottish Politician of the Year awards. Contenders are listed in alphabetical order:
- BEST SCOT AT WESTMINSTER
Sponsored by ScottishPower Renewables
Danny Alexander (LibDem)
Douglas Alexander (Lab)
Angus Robertson (SNP)
- DONALD DEWAR DEBATER OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by Carillion Energy Services
Alex Neil (SNP)
Michael Russell (SNP)
Nicola Sturgeon (SNP)
- NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Ruth Davidson (Con)
Jenny Marra (Lab)
Graeme Pearson (Lab)
Willie Rennie (LibDem)
Humza Yousaf (SNP)
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by Improvement Service and Robertson Group
Michael Cook (Ind Borders)
Michael Foxley (LibDem Highland)
David Stewart (SNP Moray)
- PUBLIC CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR
- POLITICAL IMPACT OF THE YEAR
Patricia Ferguson (Lab)
Murdo Fraser (Con)
Tricia Marwick (Presiding Officer)
- LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Sponsored by Scottish Gas
To be announced
- SCOTTISH POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR
Presented by The Herald
To be announced on the night