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How much is the Iraq Inquiry hurting Labour?

Today's General Election Brief.

ElectionBrief Hoon's evidence to Iraq inquiry dominates the day's political news. How much - if at all - is the Iraq Inquiry hurting Labour? There's no big revelation from today's questioning of Geoff Hoon although Liam Fox has said that it confirms that Brown handicapped Britain's troops with insufficient financial support. Equally, not much came from Alastair's Campbell day in front of the cameras last week. But the drip, drip, drip of constant coverage (with journalists like Glen Oglaza tweeting frenetically all day) can't be good for Labour. It's a reminder of one of the Government's most unhappy periods. And this is all a warm up to the Inquiry's big moment when Tony Blair takes the hot seat.

Action on binge drinking was the political theme of the day. Both parties put own statements including this from Chris Grayling.

Inflation is back and it'll make budget control a lot harder. Iain Martin worries that this is going to make public sector pay control a lot trickier: "Imagine you are the head of a team of trade union negotiators anywhere in Britain right now. You will just have clocked that inflation is 2.9% and rounded it up mentally to 3%... Millions of workers who accepted pay freezes or small raises last year will be less minded to agree to a repeat than they would be if inflation was stuck at, say, 1%. So, sentiment shifts, people start to grumble and unions put in claims of 4% in the hope they can then settle at or above the 3% “going-rate.”"

Osborne and Johnson issue joint attack on bank bonus culture. At a lunch for London and European heads of the global banking sector the Mayor of London said that he was "shocked and baffled by the persistence of this excessive bonus culture at a time when millions of Londoners and thousands of businesses are struggling." The Shadow Chancellor added: "Boris and I also present a united front when we say: large cash bonuses are unacceptable at this difficult time. Bankers need to show they understand that we are all in this together."

Tim Montgomerie

> Yesterday's General Election Brief.


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