The Week Ahead In Politics 8 January 2012

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Parliament returns from recess this week
Parliament returns from recess this week

The week ahead in politics is a challenging one for Ed Miliband. Labour has promised that the fightback / relaunch / comeback - whatever you want to call it - will begin in earnest this week. And it has to, because the week just gone was a PR disaster.

So far it looks as though Ed's fightback will start on Tuesday morning in central London, where he's to make a speech on the economy. Miliband will need to show that he's full of new ideas, not just the five-point plan he announced back at the end of the summer.

Then on Wednesday it's the first PMQs of 2012 and again it's something that the Labour leader absolutely has to get better at. A rough tot-up of the PMQs of 2011 suggests at least two times out of every three, Cameron bested Miliband. Where, if you search on YouTube, is there a clip of Ed Miliband offering a knockout blow? HuffPost UK can't find one.

Still we're not holding out much hope for Miliband this coming Wednesday - after all the job advert for his replacement gag-writer has only just been put up.

Even though Parliament's back from recess on Tuesday, a lot of the attention this week will be on the Leveson inquiry once again, when a swathe of Fleet Street will give evidence, starting on Monday with hacks from The Sun. All of the journalists appearing this week will be asked whether phone hacking - and other forms of subterfuge - were isolated to the News of the World, or whether the practice was widespread across the industry.

It is possible that a final decision on High Speed Two - the proposed fast railway line linking London and Birmingham - could be made on Tuesday. That's the Guardian's expectation, at any rate. If Transport Secretary Justine Greening says yes to HS2 as expected, we'll be looking to a possible Cabinet resignation. Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan is on-record as saying she'd resign if HS2 was given the green light, because it would turn much of her Amersham constituency into a building site for years.

The question facing Gillan is whether she's prepared to put constituency before Cabinet job. Many Tory MPs in Home Counties seats north of London loathe the idea of HS2, even if most of Whitehall has now come round to seeing the merits of the new line. It could yet cause a major row among Tories.

The Commons is a fairly quiet place once again this week - all the real legislative action is now backed up in the Lords, where the Legal Aid and Welfare Reform Bills will be discussed this week. All the Commons can do at the moment is wait for Their Lordships to accept or reject the government's legislative agenda.

Maybe that's why MPs are spending too much time making idiots of themselves on Twitter.

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FT.com / World / Week ahead

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