‘May Day, May Day’ is the short, sharp headline of Dan Hodges’s column on p16. It examines how Labour is shaping up for the local and London elections at the beginning of that spring month. It is swiftly becoming a seminal moment in Westminster. How will Labour and Lib Dems react if they get disappointing results in either set of elections? How vulnerable is Boris Johnson to a one-term departure? It may still be over a month away, but the chatter and Tarot-reading over possible outcomes is well underway. We have the Queen’s Speech on the 9 May, the contents of which are causing some concern even among Lib Dems. Their leader may be pushing for Lords reform but Andrew George, the independent-minded Lib Dem MP, does not want it to dominate the legislative agenda. He may agree with the principles of making the ‘other place’ more democratic but should that battle really come at the expense of other reforms, more in-keeping with the Lib Dem’s social justice principles? I speak to George on p48
about his worries about his party’s performance in government. Having witnessed him being brow-beaten by a Lib Dem PPS in a Portcullis House lift, I can testify to his resolve. Andrew George won’t let anyone tell him what to do. There are other elections around May. Natascha Engel is standing again to be chair of the backbench business committee. She is an endearingly down-to-earth character and I wonder if she fully realises her achievement with her committee in improving the way Parliament is run. She is certainly someone who backbenchers wanting to create an impact in the Commons chamber should keep onside. You will find Amber Elliott’s excellent interview with her on p32. There’s barely space left to discuss any of the rest of the content inside this packed issue – Caroline Crampton getting inside David Willetts’ two brains on p36, Justine Greening, in her first magazine interview since becoming transport secretary, explains what she wants to achieve on p54 and Stephen Twigg on opposition to his ideas from within his own party (p42). As ever, we aim to add the colour to political life.
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On the covers Justine Greening photographed exclusively for Total Politics by Karen Robinson on 2 March 2012 at the Department for Transport, London.
Stephen Twigg photographed exclusively for Total Politics by Martina Mele on 29 February 2012 at Porticullis House, London.
4 | April 2012 | Total Politics