Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Brown’
So, on the day of the second televised leaders debates what are we to make of the new political landscape? Are we heading for a revolution in the way we see and perceive our political leaders or is it all just smoke and mirrors.
Certainly, there is a real danger that voters could be seen to be concentrating more on the televised debates than the policies of the main parties and we are seeing skewed polling figures as a result.
There is a danger that the polls are simply reflecting people’s reaction to the debates rather than their voting intention, a view reinforced by one poll’s immediate reaction from the debate showing the Lib Dems with a 51% share of the vote - more than enough to confirm Nick Clegg as Prime Minister with a healthy working majority.
These views are not necessarily based on the policies of the Lib Dem Party but how Nick Clegg is perceived by television viewers. The debates only provide time for the briefest of glimpses into the party’s policies - there is no time for any discussion on the the detail behind the policy headlines.
The subsequent reduction in the Lib Dem share of the vote in polls demonstrates that the televised debate certainly had a short term but significant effect in voters’ minds. The impact of the debate and the poll rise for the Lib Dems, even if short lived, has given a boost in momentum for the Lib Dems which may be hard for the other parties to counter.
So, has the televised debate reduced the election campaign to little more than a non-political beauty contest?
It will be up to David Cameron and Gordon Brown to react to the Clegg factor and I am sure that they will be working harder than ever to try to alter the perceptions and work on the lessons learned from the first debate to regain some lost ground.
This may give rise to personalised politics and possibly more negative campaigning, we shall see.
Either way, it is unlikely that the public will be taken in by magic tricks or sleight of hand.
We have also heard from the party leaders that “the people” will decide if there will be a hung Parliament or not.
I’m quite sure that if there was a candidate in every constituency under the name of “hung” or “hung Parliament” then they would have a better than even chance of being elected but let’s be clear, you cannot gerrymander or tactically vote for a hung parliament - it requires an unusual set of circumstances.
The people will certainly decide but they will not go into the polling booths thinking they can vote for a hung Parliament. If we end up with a hung Parliament it would be an associative outcome rather than causality.
Tags: conservative, David Cameron, General Election, Gordon Brown, Government, Hung Parliament, labour, lib-dem, Nick Clegg, Prime Minister, Televised debate
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Such excitement in this morning’s scanning meeting as the team pored over the papers trying to spot the April Fools stories. This year seemed to yield more stories than ever before with several clever advertisers getting in on the act as well.
Granted, in some papers it wasn’t so easy to spot which were the April Fools stories and which just fell under the normal brand of ridiculous reporting, with some of our colleagues even convinced that certain papers did not have any irregular features in them…slightly embarrassing not to spot that the Circle Line is probably not going to be home to another Hadron Collider. What?! It was early!
Anyway we thought we would do a roundup of everything we found - have we missed anything!?
Labour’s election strategy: bring on no-nonsense hard man Gordon Brown - The Guardian
Experts find way to stop us ageing - Daily Express
Labour’s election strategy: bring on no-nonsense hard man Gordon Brown - Guardian
If we are to believe The Daily Mirror and the Daily Express, our Majesty has fallen on tough times, and has taken to Flying with EasyJet…be honest - you did have to look twice!
Meanwhile, The Sun wondered how many people might be tempted by a lick of paper, the Daily Mail wowed us with stories of the AA’s new breakdown service.
In France it’s much simpler. Just pin a picture of a fish on someone’s back…. Poisson d’Avril!
For a full list of today’s Fleet St Foolery, click here.
Tags: april fool's day, circle line, daily express, daily mirror, EastJet, Gordon Brown, Guardian, hadron collider, Media, The Queen, the sun
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The main points of the Budget as announced are as follows:
- The economy is expected to grow between at 1 and 1.5% in 2010
- Growth forecast for 2011 revised to between 3% and 3.5%
- VAT, income tax or National Insurance to remain at present rates
- Borrowing will be £167bn this year - £11bn lower than the forecast of £178b
- Debt will be £100bn lower by 2013/14 than predicted at last year’s Budget
- One third of civil service jobs to be located away from London
- Stamp Duty threshold will be raised to £250,000 - nine out of ten first-time buyers will not be liable for Stamp Duty
- Stamp Duty on homes worth £1m increased to 5%
- The planned 3p increase in fuel duty will be phased - up by 1p in April, 1p in October and 1p in January 2011
- Alcohol duty will rise by 2% above inflation by 2013
- Duty on cider will go up by 10% above inflation from Sunday
- Duty on tobacco will increase by 1% above inflation immediately, then 2% in subsequent years
- Inheritance tax will be frozen for four years
- Tax agreements extended to three additional countries - Dominica, Grenada and Belize, to target tax evasion
- The Government will consider scrapping the compulsory retirement age
- Pensioners’ higher winter fuel payment will continue next yea
- Everyone in the UK is to be guaranteed access to a bank account
- The Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds will lend £94bn to business - at least half to small and medium-sized firms.
- The Government will set up a Green Bank controlling £2bn of equity to focus on investing in greener, cleaner energy and transport
- Business rates will be cut for a year from October bringing a tax reduction for 500,000 small firms in England
- £2.5bn support for small business to boost skills and innovation
- Investment allowance for small firms doubled to £100,000
- £385m will be invested to maintain road network
- Families with one and two-year-olds will receive an extra £4 a week in child tax credits
More reaction to follow.
Tags: alistair darling, Borrowing, Budget, Chancellor, conservative, David Cameron, Deficit, Duty, General Election, Gordon Brown, labour, Repayment, Tax
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A foreign client asked us recently:
“We have been hearing so much about the UK General Election recently, could you clarify what is going on.”
Oh dear, we all groaned:
“The Conservatives were bound to win” he continues “and then their poll lead shrinks and then they are looking good again and then it’s definitely a Labour victory. Now we hear Hung Parliament. Each day there is a new story: What is going on?”
This is probably the most challenging question public affairs execs face at the moment. I dread it because everyone has a different opinion based on a poll they have read, which assures them of a certain scenario.
This is being fuelled by newspapers and political blogs publishing a huge volume of headline opinion poll figures, which seem to directly contradict each other.
But I actually do not agree that the picture is so cloudy. I actually think that the emerging polls are, in many ways, relatively consistent, but there are factors that are clouding the picture.
So at the risk of developing an eggy face below I explain what I think will happen at the General Election and what is clouding the picture:
1. The ignored indicators - When you dig below the surface of tabloid headlines to less interesting polling numbers, a consistent picture of the General Election emerges:
a. The Labour Party has lost a great deal of the voters who voted for them in 2005; the Conservative Party have retained most of their supporters
b. National polls have shown that since 2006 the percentage of people who want a change of Government has stayed broadly the same - 70%
c. Polls and indicators from key marginal seats, which if won would ensure a good election result for the Conservative Party do not tally with the fluctuations recorded at national level. From my experiences the situation is far more consistent and is positive for David Cameron.
So why do we ignore these numbers:
2. The Role of Newspapers - Each national newspaper realises that in Election season new polling figures create a great headline. The Sunday Times carried the story of the Conservative lead shrinking to 2 points and immediately had a hook that ensured their newspaper was picked up by inquisitive voters. Yet, these headline poll numbers are taken out of context. We rarely read the scale of the survey; the immediate context or the questions that people are asked. We just see the headline figure and absorb it into our consciousness, thinking it is definitive when it is not. Unless you realise the situation the poll was created in how can you tell what it means?
Weighing these factors up I believe that the Conservative Party are on to win the General Election with a majority. I do believe that the hype of the election campaign means people are fluctuating in their opinion of the national parties and their leaders when asked in national polls.
But I think that this ignores the fact that on Election Day people will be forced to choose who they want to represent them in their constituency and the signs suggest that they will vote for a change. Whether they will vote for the reformed Conservative Party is an important issue, but I think in order to facilitate a change of Government floating voters will be prepared to vote for the Conservative Party. I think people do want to get rid of Gordon Brown and want a new Government.
I could be proved wrong, but I agree with a politician who told me recently that: “when the British people decide they want a change, they normally make sure it happens”. This is what the polls suggest and this is my prediction.
Tags: conservative, David Cameron, General Election, Gordon Brown, labour, polls, sunday times
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I read something interesting and provocative in PR Week today. It was an article outlining the views of different Directors of Public Affairs companies on David Cameron and Gordon Brown’s election campaigns. The article focused particularly on David Cameron’s announcements on the NHS yesterday and Labour’s retort, which could be seen as the two parties kicking off their election campaigns. One particular comment by Phillip Snape, Managing Director of PSA Communications, was extremely interesting. He said of the election campaigns:
‘No one is listening to them [Brown and Cameron]. Everyone has already made their minds up and this is all background music. It is boring.’
I find this a spurious point of view. It suggests that the ‘Punch and Judy’ politics of election campaigns - the adverts, the slogans and the glitzy promises - will have a relatively small effect on the majority of voters, who find this overt posturing off-putting. He, also, seems to find this element of the election run up ‘boring’.
I disagree on both counts. The next six months will be the critical last stage of a close and enthralling contest. The UK Polling Report is showing that the Labour Party’s poll showing has rallied in the second half of 2009, rising from an average of c.23% to c.29%, whilst the Conservative Party’s has fluctuated between 37% and 43% in the same period. This may suggest that the Conservative Party have a strong lead in the polls, but the number of seats they have to take from Labour means that these numbers would only realise roughly a 26 seat majority for the Conservative Party - a long way off certain victory. Clearly the unstable polls represent a general public still not absolutely certain who they want at the next election and whilst the Conservative Party will almost certainly have a higher share of the vote they are not ensured victory.
In this climate the next 6 months could be critical. Voters have had two and a half years to size up David Cameron and Gordon Brown - their characters, policies and styles - and still some are undecided. Yet, (unless they abstain) these voters will be forced to make up their mind in the next few months and in our modern society, filled with apathy, it is eminently feasible that an undecided voter could be swayed to vote one way or the other by an eye-catching policy, good debate performance or brilliant advertisement in the run up to the election.
For this reason I think the election campaigns will be extremely exciting and relevant and should not be dismissed.
But I think this is an interesting debate, what do you think? Is the election decided or is it still all up for grabs?
Tags: David Cameron, General Election, Gordon Brown, NHS
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The Queen’s Speech, which took place last Wednesday, went as we predicted with proposals announced on fiscal responsibility, financial services, constitutional reform, education and energy amongst others. The Speech was short and to the point with only 13 bills and 2 draft bills announced and no announcements on Health (one of the largest Government departments), immigration or MPs’ expenses.
The Speech was touted as being the most political for a decade, as was to be expected with a General Election taking place next year and once the Queen had left Parliament Gordon Brown and David Cameron drew the battle lines. The Prime Minster defended the speech saying that it showed that the Government was ’standing up for Britain’ and criticised the Conservatives over their inheritance tax policy, whilst the Leader of the Opposition responded by calling the Speech ‘half-baked’ and a ‘waste of the country’s time’. These soundbites, like the contents of the Speech itself, were not particularly surprising.
There is now a period of reflection in the House of Commons as the Speech will be debated for no fewer than 6 days. With that in mind we gathered together leading parliamentarians to see what they made of the speech:
Dr Des Turner MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown
“Given that the Parliamentary Session will be shortened by the General Election this was a very ambitious Queen’s Speech, containing very real and useful legislation.
I totally disagree with those who think it is simply part of the Election manifesto - such claims are very wide of the mark.
These measures are very important and legislation like the care for the elderly Bill are part of a long overdue revolution for people who are in the latter part of their lives.”
Chloe Smith MP
Conservative Member of Parliament for Norwich North
“For me the Queen’s Speech was a mixed bag. For the most part it was all about the Labour Party serving itself rather than the country. It was a case of politics not Government.
There were a number of measures that simply served to create the next Labour election manifesto and you have to ask yourself if these measures are so important then why have they taken 12 years to be implemented? Furthermore, a number of measures were policies that the Government should be getting on with anyway rather than legislating on.
Having said that there was one measure that my constituents might welcome, which was the announcement on flood defences.”
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Spokesperson for the Home Office
“The Queen’s Speech has rightly been criticised for pretending that so many Bills can be passed in the few days of Parliamentary sittings before the 2010 general election. When there is no chance of getting most of them into law it is farcical.
I hoped there would be more realism but this is obviously just for the shop window. Nobody would guess that six months from now a new government will have to make huge spending cuts.
The absence of any mention of a referendum on electoral reform, widely supported in all three parties, is a serious disappointment.”
Tags: Brighton Kemptown, chloe smith, Conservatives, David Cameron, Des Turner, Gordon Brown, Labour Party, Liberal Democrat, Lord Avebury, norwich north, politics, Queen's Speech
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The Bills that were announced today were as follows:
Personal Care at Home Bill:
This will provide free personal care in their own homes for those with the highest need. Up to 350,000 people with the greatest needs could benefit from free charges and top-up fees for care in their own homes.
Children’s, Schools and Families Bill:
There will be a new duty on local authorities to act when parents are unhappy. Where standards are ‘unacceptably low’, schools will be closed. There will be an entitlement to one-to-one tuition if a pupil is falling behind.
Fiscal Responsibility Bill:
The Bill will enact the Government’s commitment to halve the deficit in four years.
Financial Services Bill:
The Bill will give the Government the power to intervene on bonuses, will create a new consumer financial advice body and enable firms to be less reliant on the taxpayers.
Crime and Security Bill:
The Bill will require parenting assessment to be carried out on parents of children aged 10 to 15 who are being considered for an anti-social care order. The police swill have to hold beat meetings; perpetrators of domestic violence will be banned from their homes; DNA records on adults arrested but not charged will be kept for six years; there will be compulsory licensing for wheel-clampers.
Digital Economy Bill:
New age ratings for computer games will be introduced to protect children; universally available broadband in the UK will be rolled out; tackling on-line copyright infringement; preparing the UK to take advantage of the digital age.
More help for the most vulnerable households with their energy bills; a levy on electricity suppliers to subsidise carbon capture and storage plants; Ofgem will be required to ensure customers get a better, fairer deal.
Flood and Water Management Bill:
Better protection for businesses, communities and homes from the risks of extreme weather.
There will be a new public sector duty to narrow the gap between rich and poor, ban age discrimination outside the workplace and introduce reporting for large employers on gender pay. Agency workers will receive equal treatment with staff members after 12 weeks in a job.
Child Poverty Bill:
The Bill will provide for the Government pledge to eradicate child poverty by 2020 and will set up a commission to monitor progress.
Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill:
The Civil Service will be put on a statutory footing; continued reform of the House of Lords - they will have the power to expel a Member; by-elections to elect hereditary peers will be ended. Peers will be allowed to resign and disclaim their peerages.
The draft House of Lords Reform Bill will set out how the Government will bring about a wholly or substantially selected second chamber of Parliament.
The bill would help to reinforce integrity in the business and public sectors. There will be a comprehensive UK strategy for tackling foreign bribery and of bribing a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business.
Cluster and Munitions Bill:
This bill will ban the use, development production, stockpiling, retention or transfer of cluster munitions.
House of Lords Reform Bill:
Further reform for the House of Lords including ending the election of hereditary peers.
International Development Bill:
The Government will be committed to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development by 2013.
The real question is - will this be enough to keep Gordon Brown at No 10?
What do you think?
Tags: General Election, Gordon Brown, Government, Government Bills, Legislation, Parliament, Queen's Speech
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The Queen's Speech - far from a royal affair.
On Wednesday this week the Queen will stand before the House of Lords and present the Government’s agenda for the coming year. This is an extremely important event; a chance for the Government to highlight its upcoming priorities and for the opposition parties to take them to task over their proposals and suggest how they would do things differently. With a General Election to be called by June 2010, this is to be the last Queen’s Speech before the election. For this reason I’d like to take a look at the importance of the speech and give some predictions of what to look out for:
Why is the Queen’s Speech important?
I think there are three fundamental reasons that this year’s Queen’s Speech is so critical:
- Policy: In a normal year the Queen’s Speech is important because it sets out the Government’s policy agenda for the coming year and outlines the Bills that will be proposed. As this is an election year the speech is essential as it is one of the Government’s last chances to state publicly and formally their agenda for the coming year and stake a claim to hold onto power come the election. It is also a good opportunity to draw the battle lines with the Conservative Party on key policy issues such as finance, education, crime and health ahead of the General Election. For this reason the opposition parties will be looking to discredit the Government and highlight their own policy priorities
- The Polls: 4 of the last 5 UK polls have put the Conservative Party 14 points ahead of the Labour Government with the Lib Dems trailing 4-10 points behind Labour. Taking the average scores for each party over the last five polls the Conservative Party would have a majority of 58 if these trends were reflected at the next General Election. But just a 2 point drop for the Conservatives and a 2 point rise for the Labour Party would deliver a hung parliament. So for Labour the Queen’s Speech is a chance to showcase a range of policies and hopefully reduce the Conservative Party’s poll lead. For both opposition parties it is a chance to analyse Gordon Brown’s proposals; discredit them and promote their own policies. It is important for the Conservative Party and Lib Dems not to give way significantly to Labour in the polls and it gives the opposition parties a chance to look at some of Labour’s headline policies in detail and criticise them publicly
- Time is running out: With only 70 more sitting days of Parliament until the next election Labour only have three big opportunities to state their case before the election is called: The Queen’s Speech; the Pre-Budget Report and the Budget. Of those three opportunities the Queen’s Speech is most focused on policy direction and prospective bills and sets the policy agenda. Also, it does not have to focus so much on important economic figures such as economic growth and unemployment, which have been sources of distress during the economic downturn. The opposition parties will be keen for the Government not to steal a march in the polls on the back of the Queen’s Speech. They will see it as a small victory if the polls do not radically change on the back of the Queen’s speech as it will mean that Labour are running out of high profile opportunities to change public perception.
What is predicted?
The Speech: It is suggested that Gordon Brown will go for a short sharp Queen’s Speech highlighting headline bills on: fiscal responsibility; social care; energy; policing and crime; health and education. Gordon Brown is clearly gearing these bills up to be the basis for his election manifesto and it is being suggested that the Bills to be proposed are specifically targeted at areas that the Conservatives have opposed, such as targets in the NHS and the DNA database. This is clearly throwing the gauntlet down to the Conservatives Party and defining the political battlegrounds between the two main parties before the election. The Government are looking to take the initiative and outmanoeuvre the Conservative Party in key policy areas.
The Conservative response: The Conservatives are likely to oppose the Speech in two different ways. Firstly, David Cameron will almost certainly criticise Gordon Brown for announcing policies late in the day; not having the time to bring them through before the next General Election and that this is blatant headline chasing, which does not change the fact that Gordon Brown has lost the voters’ trust. Secondly, each Shadow Secretary of State will outline both the principles they disagree with in the Speech and the detail. They will be looking to define their position in opposition to the Government’s proposals. The Conservative Party will face a race against time; they will want to wrest control of the electoral battleground from Labour by defusing any popular Labour announcements made in the Speech and highlighting their counter measures. David Cameron will want to try and focus media attention on Gordon Brown’s weakness and the failings in the Speech rather than allowing the media debate to focus on Brown’s new policy announcements.
The Lib Dem approach: As the third largest party the Lib Dems are in a difficult position. The Leader, Nick Clegg, has come out and called for the Queen’s Speech to be scrapped in favour of an emergency announcement on political reform. Clearly this is not a viable option as the speech is a long-standing tradition, but it has given Nick Clegg front-page media attention before the Speech and gives him a platform from which to discredit the Government’s proposals. For Nick Clegg it is a case of chasing any possible headlines lest the Lib Dems be sidelined in favour of the main battle between the Conservative Party and Labour Government.
These are just predictions of course, so follow Ruder Finn on this blog and on Twitter (@Ruderfinnuk) on Wednesday 18th of November from 11am for our build up and live minute-by-minute analysis of the Queen’s Speech.
Please leave your own predictions or any insights as I would love to have a flavour of any important issues people are focusing on or awaiting from the speech.
Tags: Conservatives, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Government, labour, Lib Dems, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Queen's Speech
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Throughout his Premiership, Gordon Brown has been accused of dithering.
First it was the will he, won’t he non-election decision way back in 2007. Since then he has been accused of taking far too long over decisions of national importance on numerous occasions including Heathrow, the banking crisis and most recently, the long absence of a UK Government statement surrounding the decision to free Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi . If he’d made a statement earlier, I’m sure he and his Cabinet wouldn’t have been drawn into this mess about Libya quite so deeply.
Even his “cautiously optimistic” interview with the FT regarding the recovery from the economic crisis sounds like he is hedging his bets.
But the silence coming from Number 10 in regards to a Leader’s Debate during the upcoming election campaign is personally dumfounding and not a little bit frustrating. David Cameron has accepted the invitation, as has Nick Clegg, but there is nothing from the Prime Minister. Sky News has said that if Brown doesn’t turn up, there will be an empty seat on the podium if he fails to attend and debate.
Granted, a debate could be dangerous for Brown as it could potentially highlight his weaknesses or make David Cameron and Nick Clegg look Prime Ministerial, but surely that is better than not-showing up and there stands an empty chair. With Brown’s and Labour’s poll numbers through the floor, surely it is imperative that Brown shows up and tries to engage with the public. Brown clearly needs to be more decisive and more approachable to win the next election and a good showing in a national debate may not be the answer, but it would certainly help.
In modern times, there has never been such a disconnection between the public and Westminster. To simply get people to the polls and to keep out the BNP, the main party leaders need to show what they stand for and why people should care. Not showing up would be devastating and Brown’s silence on the issue is definitely hurting him even further.
As I write this, 2029 people have signed a petition from Sky News calling for a Leader’s debate since September 1st and that number is rapidly climbing, at least 900 in the past few hours.
But, this dithering raises an even larger question. As Philip Johnston of the Telegraph stated in his blog on a similar subject almost a year ago, Brown certainly doesn’t inspire confidence with his decision making. So what is the reason behind it?
Is Brown unable to make immediate decisions without consulting every man and his dog? Is he getting bad advice? Is he terrified of the repercussions of a bad decision? Is it a mixture of everything?
For Labour to claw back in the polls, Brown needs to be stronger and less hesitant than he currently is and someone in his team needs to take matters in hand. Labour needs a strong Brown and they need him now.
Cross-posted with Nick O’s Diary.
Tags: David Cameron, debate, election, Gordon Brown, labour list, Nick Clegg, politics, Sky News
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I’ve been a tad stunned by the reports over the past couple of weeks regarding who is in power with the Prime Minister on holidays and as a person who studied, trained and for a while practiced as a journalist, there are a number of issues that I feel are worth discussing. The headlines that have really surprised me revolve around Gordon Brown’s two Parliamentary lieutenants, Harriet Harmon and Lord Mandelson both having overlapping holidays, which allegedly meant that that there was no one in charge of the country for two whole days.
I’ve heard of media beat-ups before and I know the British media like to attack their own representatives constantly - just look at what they are doing to the English cricket team after their loss to Australia on Sunday (not that I’m complaining about that mind you). But to think that just because the Prime Minister is on holidays… in his own constituency… in the UK, there is no one in charge shows that it is actually the journalists who have gone on holidays.
When the PM was in Italy for the G8, he was still in charge. Just because Harriet Harman represented him at Prime Minister’s Questions, doesn’t mean she suddenly became PM. If there was an issue of national importance, Gordon Brown would undoubtedly be running the show.
The PM, much to Sarah Brown’s annoyance I’m sure, will still be flanked by advisers and will no doubt be spending a good deal of his ‘down time’ discussing policy, strategies and politics. A PM couldn’t just shut down even if he wanted to.
The Prime Minister is always in charge, that is what he was elected (or not in this case) to do. Pre Alexander Graham Bell, Bill Gates, telegraph communications and electricity, I could understand the argument, but not now.
However, mostly this is summer headline grabbing journalism and if this is what Mr Murdoch wants us to pay for online, I’ll pass thanks.
Tags: Ashes, cricket, Gordon Brown, Harmon, journalists, Mandelson, Media, summer holidays
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