Prime Minister’s Questions Live

Join The Times politics team for rolling commentary on Prime Minister’s Questions from 11.50am.

Now is the age of the geek. The leader of the free world, indeed, is a geek. Don’t be fooled by the supposed love of basketball and hip-hop; never forget that Barack Obama wears a vest and keeps his BlackBerry in a belt holster.

For this reason, Hugo Rifkind thinks that Ed Miliband, “a proud and open geek”, might just have a chance of winning the next election

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives in London tomorrow. He’ll meet the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and a former Prime Minister (among others) and he’ll attend the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday.

But then he’ll get down to business: Mr Romney is here primarily to boost his campaign coffers. At a cost of up to $75,000 a ticket, London-based American bankers are joining him at a series of fundraising dinners.

Some Barclays bankers will be in attendance, which has caused unease among a few MPs. They have used a parliamentary motion to call on Barclays executives “to cease fundraising for political candidates immediately and to concentrate entirely on repairing confidence and trust in the banking system instead”.

(And before anyone asks: No. Romney Street was around many, many years before Mitt Romney)

Times Opinion today | Bob Diamond should go, Obamacare, Bomber Command, beard tax

Barclays and Bob

Diamond should go, says The Times

Banks must be split apart, says Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor


“I will never see Arnold Schwarzenegger and not think of a brown condom stuffed with walnuts,” says Philip Collins of the “underrated” Clive James

The authorities have taxed “wealth, numbers of female servants, hearths, watches, dogs and salt…beards, beehives, basements, hats, birth, marriage and death…nothing tears a society apart faster than the perception of a tax burden unshared,” says Ben Macintyre.

The memorial to the men of Bomber Command is long overdue, The Times says

The trench warfare that is Obamacare will rumble on, The Times says

Syrian blogger Fares Chamseddine thinks Syrian rebels will welcome Turkey’s sabre-rattling

Ed Miliband’s poll bounce and confidence boost makes it game on for the 2015 election, says Anushka Asthana

(Times Opinion, Friday June 29, 2012)

Jimmy Carr’s tax avoidance has uncovered an ideological split between Cameron and Miliband | Daniel Finkelstein

The gap between David Cameron and Ed Miliband on Jimmy Carr’s tax bill seems uninteresting at first. Miliband’s assertion that politicians shouldn’t lecture on morality but should change the law appears to be a bit of (understandable) Opposition distancing. Understandable because, naturally, he thinks it’s immoral. But he can see that the whole moral attack might go wrong for Cameron.

I think that this gap is more interesting than it seems.

Cameron believes that things that are legal can be immoral, and that a politician can say that. Miliband does not agree. He thinks if things are immoral they should be made illegal. And there is no role for a politician to take moral stands without outlawing the subject of their attack.

In other words, they are having an argument about a core proposition of Cameron’s Big Society.

Twitter: @Dannythefink

“Albert Einstein once said that filing a tax return was too difficult for a mathematician and so required a philosopher.” Read more

Nobody likes the puerile unions | Philip Collins

The unions are showing just what they think about Ed Miliband. At the weekend, the Labour leader said: “I’m in favour of more people in our party, not excluding people.”

After the puerile suggestion from the GMB that it would bring a motion to ban the New Labour pressure group Progress, Dave Prentis, the General Secretary of Unison, said that his union would back it.

Last month, Unison refused to allow Progress to host an event at its Reading office. What was the controversial topic? “Labour winning in the South”.

On Labour’s Left, Compass is the equivalent to Progress on the Right. Compass’s chief, Neal Lawson, has sensibly emailed his members: “Progress have as much right as the GMB to organise for their politics.”

The unions are being circled. Nobody likes them but they don’t care.

Twitter: @PCollinsTimes

Read more: Mandelson hits out at unions for leading Labour down a blind alley

Outlawing Progress | Philip Collins

On Monday, the GMB union passed a motion to outlaw progress. Oh sorry, that’s a typo. On Monday the GMB union passed a motion to outlaw Progress. A resolution will now proceed to the Labour party conference to that effect.

Progress is a New Labour pressure group. It publishes a magazine and holds seminars and conferences. Lord Adonis is its current chair and Stephen Twigg its Honorary President.

A few weeks ago Progress held its annual conference. The keynote speaker was Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party. So, clearly, this is an organisation infested with hardcore neo-liberals that needs to be rooted out.

Read more

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