** Breaking - Mitchell's Non-Apology Apology ** Vince's Victory ** Danny In The Dumps ** Tax, Tax, Tax ** With Friends Like These... ** Lib-Lab Flirtathon, Part 54 ** Gategate ** Run, Hillary, Run **
BREAKING - MITCHELL'S NON-APOLOGY APOLOGY
The chief whip Andrew Mitchell popped up outside the Cabinet Office a few minutes ago to "reiterate the apology I made last week...it had been the end of along and frustrating day, not that that is any excuse at all for what happened". He said he has apologised to the police officer involved and the latter has accepted his apology. He added: "I very much hope we can draw a line under it there."
Er, Andrew, I don't think we can. We're still not sure what was said, and the allegations against the chief whip still stand. As former Labour spin doctor Lance Price just tweeted: "Non-apology apology. Non-explanation explanation." The Mail's Tim Shipman tweets: "Well that draws a line under nothing. Masterclass in how not to kill a story.".
Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Nick Clegg said: "He was right to apologise because being discourteous to the police...is especially bad when the police are mourning the loss of these two brave police officers in Greater Manchester...he challenges the way in which some words were attributed to him...I think the fact that Andrew Mitchell...knows what he did was wrong...is important." A defensive deputy prime minister said he couldn't "give a running commentary" on Gategate.
This morning, Mitchell is on the front page of the Sun - again. The paper, which broke the Gategate story last week, says:
An official police report shows Tory Andrew Mitchell DID brand PCs “plebs” in his Downing Street rant.
The report, seen by The Sun, also confirms the Chief Whip repeatedly swore.
The explosive contents make it impossible for PM David Cameron to continue ignoring police and Labour demands for a full investigation.
The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh adds:
"Cursing Cabinet biker Andrew Mitchell has a choice. He must sue the police for defamation – or resign."
Could Mitchell be the shortest-serving chief whip of all time? It doesn't look good for "Thrasher". Rumours abound that Mark Harper, the immigration minister, is being lined up as his replacement.
It won't have any high-street branches and won't lend directly to businesses but it could be the bank we've all been waiting for. Yes, today, in his speech to the Lib Dem conference in Brighton, business secretary Vince Cable will, finally, announce the creation of a "business bank", to allow firms to access much-needed cash that they're being denied by the money-hoarding high-street banks.
The Telegraph splashes with the story: "Cable to lend small firms £1bn from taxpayers"
The paper reports:
"The “British curse of short-termism” is to be tackled with a new business bank set up with public cash, the Business Secretary will say.
It is hoped the new bank – which will use the funds to lend up to £10 billion to companies – will “break the stranglehold” of the high street banks, which are often blamed for thwarting the economic recovery by refusing to lend."
The idea, of course, has been knocking around for a very long time - crossbench peer and Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky was pushing for such an institution as long ago as 2009. The details, however, for this particular state-backed bank won't be unveiled till December.
Nonetheless, credit to Cable for managing to get £1 billion out of the tight-fisted Treasury to fund this new bank - though given the scale of the economic crisis, and the depth of the downturn, a billion quid is actually a rather meagre amount. Still, as Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy might say, "every little helps".
My colleague Ned Simons says sources close to Cable are briefing this as a "win for Vince". Yes, I'm sure they are...
Meanwhile, a Populus poll conducted for PR firm Edleman has found that 57% of Lib Dems MPs voted the business secretary to be the most trustworthy member of the government. And 60% of Tory MPs say Cable is their least trusted Lib Dem in the cabinet - which will only boost his popularity among Lib Dem activists.
DANNY IN THE DUMPS
The same Populus/Edelman poll has some bad news for Danny Alexander: the chief secretary to the Treasury is the most trusted Lib Dem in the eyes of Tory MPs, with 34% of them expressing their support for him. Yesterday, in his Q&A, Nick Clegg was asked by a delegate if he would "rein in" Alexander for being more right-wing than George Osborne. Ouch.
TAX, TAX, TAX
The Lib Dems' conference slogan this year is "fairer tax in tough times". And Clegg spent most of his Marr interview yesterday making the case for a mansion tax and for the rich contributing more to deficit-reduction efforts. So the party's spin doctors can't be that surprised by the raft of tax-related headlines in the papers this morning.
The Daily Mail screams: "Clegg: Soak The Middle Class"
The Guardian splash reads: "Clegg pledges fresh battle over cuts"
The paper's Patrick Wintour writes: "Nick Clegg signalled a fresh battle over budget cuts with George Osborne on Sunday after warning that it would be "wholly unrealistic" for the coalition to pursue further reductions in welfare spending without increasing taxes on Britain's richest 10%."
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE...
If Clegg's aides are worried that their leader, with all his tax talk and attacks on the wealthy, might now be seen as too "left-wing", they needn't worry. Check out this endorsement from the most amusing of sources: "It's time to save Nick Clegg," writes Boris Johnson in his Telegraph column today, adding: "[I]f you leave out Europe, he is probably a natural Tory." Lib Dem activists will be OVER. THE. MOON.
LIB-LAB FLIRTATHON, PART 54
First it was the two Eds, now it's Labour's policy chief, Jon Cruddas. Speaking at a fringe in Brighton yesterday, the MP for Dagenham and Rainham basically asked the Lib Dems out on a date:
"If you want my view, and this will be controversial in my own party, I think the effect of the Lib Dems in the government has been a benign force in terms of checking some of the worst elements in the Conservative party ... There is a long list of prospective policy areas where I think if we could work together in the national interest that is good."
Cruddas, however, should probably have a word with his party's deputy leader Harriet Harman, who told the Independent on Friday:
"The Liberal Democrats have broken their promises. They are not a brake on the Tories. They are their accomplices."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this video of Homer Simpson in a voting booth, trying to choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
RUN, HILLARY, RUN
That's the headline on the front of the Guardian over a picture of a smiling, waving, Queen-like Hillary Clinton at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit earlier this month.
The paper's Ewan MacAskill writes:
The prospect of a Hillary Clinton run for the White House gained momentum when Bill Clinton offered the broadest hint yet that she might go for it.
Hillary Clinton is due to stand down soon as secretary of state, probably in January, and take at least six months out to write her memoirs about her time in office. After that, she will make up mind whether she will run, according to the Clinton camp.
...Bill Clinton, in an interview with Face The Nation, talked up her achievements and said she would be well placed.
'I've never met anybody I thought was any better than her at this. But again, we got a lot of able people in our party who want to be president,' he said.
Asked directly if she would stand, he opted against ruling it out and said: 'I don't know.'"
If the polls are to be believed, Obama is close to having the 2012 race wrapped up, so attention is shifting to 2016: Hillary versus Chris Christie/Jeb Bush/Marco Rubio/Paul Ryan. It's never dull across the pond...
"We might rejig the details of it, but the spending plans as they’re set out will be stuck to. Not a penny more, not a penny less." - a defiant Nick Clegg, speaking to delegates in Brighton yesterday
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 8%
This would give Labour a majority of 102.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@amolrajan "incredibly long and frustrating day" - Mitchell says. I've had a few of those recently. Didn't abuse any coppers, as far as I remember.
@ShippersUnbound Mark Harper's phone seems to be off tonight. Maybe he's on the phone to dave #byebyemitch
@nedsimons A Lib Dem MP doodled these glasses and this moustache on Nick Clegg's face. Basically treason. #ldconf pic.twitter.com/qEfKrCUy
900 WORDS OR MORE
Jackie Ashley, writing in the Guardian, says the Liberal Democrat party "sees itself as ready to squeeze the rich and green the nation, but it's part of a rightwing, Tory-led regime".
Peter Lampl, writing in the Times, says Michael Gove's proposed EBacc "fails to address the real problem with English education: not exams at 16 but the specialisation that follows".
Norman Lamont, writing in the FT, says: "There can be no argument for a discretionary addition to the total public indebtedness of the country, which is still growing at a rate of 7-8 percentage points per year – towards a level that is dangerously high. That would be a huge risk."
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