Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman at the launch of the party's manifesto during the election campaign. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Harman warns Labour MPs: "We are not commentators, we are campaigners"

Acting leader tells first PLP meeting that party must "throw off any sense of loss or mourning".

In her new role as acting Labour leader, Harriet Harman has just delivered a typically pugnacious speech at the first PLP meeting of the new term. She told the assembled MPs and peers that they had a duty to "challenge and harry" the Tories "every step of the way", urging them to "throw off any sense of loss or mourning". Harman added: "The Tories want to see themselves popping champagne corks in the City, chin up, all cheerful. The SNP want to be strutting down these corridors, they want to see us be miserable and downcast, we are not going to give them that pleasure."

Turning to the forthcoming leadership contest, she declared that those running for election "must be part of our attack team". After much criticism of Labour's laxity in 2010, which many believe allowed the Tories to define the terms of economic debate, Harman's message was that there must be no repeat. She told MPs that candidates must use "every single interview, every single thing that they say" not only to "show why they would be the best leader or deputy" but to "land one on the Tories with the air time they've got". There are, however, some who will question whether attacking the Tories (who, it bears repeating, won a majority) is the priority after such a terrible defeat. 

In her most notable line, Harman warned the party: "We are not commentators, we are campaigners for the next Labour government" (one of Lynton Crosby's favourite dictums). And in an appeal to avoid bloodletting, she told Labour: "We must look deep into our souls, but we mustn't open our veins". 

On the timetable for the leadership election, which will be determined by the NEC on Wednesday, Harman outlined three options: a short contest ending on 31 July, a longer one concluding after the summer recess in September, and an extended one with hustings held at the party conference (as in the case of 2005). The view among MPs is that the second is the likeliest option (there were audible boos from Committee Room 14 when the third was mentioned). By having a leader in place before the conference opens, Labour hopes to avoid the fraught aftermath of the 2010 contest. In a reminder that the party still hasn't come to love Peter Mandelson (as Tony Blair once hoped it would), there was loud applause when, responding to his warnings over the leadership voting system, Harman said: "You don't need to listen to Peter Mandelson, he is not properly factually informed". She confirmed that the contest would take place under the new one-member-one-vote model agreed last year. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland