October 2010 Archives
Our worrying home form continued as we just, and I mean just, managed a draw against another poor side.
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was in the North East this weekend. I took the opportunity to interview beforehand - and he gave an insight into the Lib Dem leadership's thinking.
His comments on the comprehensive spending review were very interesting. He dropped a clear hint of "good news" in terms of support for green energy.
But then the Cabinet Minister warned the country had only escaped being sucked into the European financial crisis "by the skin of our teeth" - thanks to "tough decisions".
And Mr Huhne, who made a fortune in the City, backed further tough action as he very publicly disagreed with the risk of a double dip recession with former Chancellor Ken Clarke.
Mr Clarke warned there was a "substantial" risk before the Tory conference in Birmingham at the start of the month - although the Energy Secretary's comments on proposed hikes in tuition fees were more ambivalent.
I interviewed Energy Secretary Chris Huhne at lunchtime and took the chance to ask him about story on ConHome that he could lose his Eastleigh seat.
Former Tory treasury Lord Ashcroft said his research shows that Mr Huhne would be "trounced".
The Energy Secretary insisted he had not seen the story and insisted he could not comment - and then did anyway, to make a political point of his own.
"I haven't seen it afraid, so I can't comment. But it is absolutely appropriate that in every election every MP should feel vulnerable in their seat. That's what democracy is all about.
"And if I have an issue with our current election system, it is that not enough MPs actually have to fight hard at elections. Too many of them are given jobs for life and as a result don't provide a very good service for their constituents," he said.
There is still a mood of change in Westminster. The new intake of MPs don't seem to like the old "punch and judy" show as much - or at least are doing a good job of trying to be consensual in these tough times.
But it is interesting to note what one of those new Tories had to say about Ed Miliband's first PMQs.
This is what Hexham MP Guy Opperman had to say to me about Ed's performance.
"The way he was more measured, particularly in these times and these difficulties, I did like that. He made some good points and Cameron made some good points.
"But it is early days. Anybody can be good for a week or two.
"It's how you are over the four years. He will find his feet and get better."
And the Tory MP spelt out what could be Mr Miliband's weak point - setting out a credible alternative to dealing with the country's deficit.
Fascinating what you can find with a little digging... It's already well known that scores of Lib Dems signed up to a National Union of Students (NUS) pledge against hikes in tuition fees - but what about Tories?
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was one of the Lib Dems. For the avoidance of confusion, here are a few of the names in the North East that backed the NUS.
Berwick's Sir Alan Beith and Redcar's Ian Swales are the region's two Lib Dems who signed up.
Senior councillors like Jeff Reid, leader of Northumberland County Council, signed up - and whose views on tuition fees are outlined in The Journal tomorrow. Three Lib Dem councillors who stood in Newcastle also signed up.
But hiding in the list are the names of Tory candidates at the general election, including three who became MPs. They are Harrow East's East Bob Russell, Ben Wallace, MP for Wyre and Preston North and City of Chester's Stephen Mosley.
I wonder if they will get a call about what their view on tuition fee hikes is now?
Eric Pickles has apparently said Local Enterprise Partnerships can bid for European Regional Development Fund cash. Great. Money that councils could already bid for is now available to council partnerships as well.
What Eric hasn't answered, and is doing his best to avoid answering, is who will be handing out that cash to LEPs.
Perish the thought that policy has been made on the hoof... but has the sweeping away of regional development agencies in favour of local enterprise partnerships been rushed?
First it seemed as if LEPs - led by business and council chiefs - would not have powers over inward investment, but amid mixed message, it seems they could now have a role in attracting companies to their areas.
Local, local, local was the message. But now there fears that some LEPs will be too small to have any clout.
Confusion over funding also remains, although Eric Pickles has now acted to stress that regeneration cash from Brussels will still be available. And it is not small beer, it is hundreds of millions of pounds.
WAS puzzled by the sudden disappearance of Sam, our goldfish. I came down for breakfast and he was gone.
Apparently Sam has gone to see the doctor after feeling a little under the weather.
Elvis (his tank companion) is trying to do enough scoffing and flapping for the both of them, but it's not the same.
It'll be OK though. Mum has assured me that he'll be back, looking almost like his old self in the not-too-distant. Phew.
So, I hear I'm going to be 80 quid a week worse off by the time I'm seven. Don't you just hate it when a week starts off on a downer?
To be fair, I wasn't aware I was responsible for any specific slice of the Telfer Towers economy.
I had an inkling that any future pocket money I was due would be docked at some stage... I heard mutterings about something called IVF payback: the existence fund.
But now the news has reached me that my being here currently offers a tangible contribution to the household balance sheet, the knowledge this won't always be the case has got me in a bit of a panic.
Ed Miliband's slgoan is a "new generation" leading Labour. Well, he has picked some rising stars from the North East.
Newcastle North's Catherine McKinnell has impressed, even Tory MPs, since becoming an MP in May. A lawyer by training, she has won the key role of shadowing the Solicitor General, which is the deputy of the Attorney General - the Government's chief legal adviser.
On top of that it looks like Chi Onwurah, who has impressed on the Commons business select committee, has been appointed to the Shadow Ministerial team shadowing Vince Cable's Whitehall department.