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Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England

Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

This is where you can find my thoughts on politics in the south of England - from parish councils in Sussex to European politics in Oxford

The art of the apology - why prompt is not always profound

David Cameron
David Cameron admitted he had made a bad decision in hiring Andy Coulson

Maybe by making a swift apology the Prime Minister thinks he can take the heat out of the Andy Coulson affair.

The jury's verdicts were not complete, so maybe he had to skip some detail. But he could have waited. After all, three years has passed since he said this in the House of Commons.

"I have an old-fashioned view about innocent until proven guilty. But if it turns out I have been lied to, that would be the moment for a profound apology. In that event, I can tell you I will not fall short."

David Cameron appeared on camera in time for the lunchtime news, and repeated a form of words around the idea that he was making the fullest possible apology for a "bad" decision.

"I am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was a wrong decision and I am very clear about that."

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Peter added analysis to:

UKIP gains seats and share in South East EU vote

The ripples from the UKIP earthquake seem to grow larger away from London. The biggest surge in the South was on the Isle of Wight, where Nigel Farage's party took 41% of the vote compared with 22% at the last election.

Further along the coast in the Sussex towns of Littlehampton and Bognor, 42% of votes went to UKIP. These are areas that have seen some European migrant workers looking for low-paid work. They have also suffered through the recession.

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How do you vote for a protest party?

Houses of Parliament
The fixed parliamentary term means there's less incentive to vote to bring the government down

It used to be a favourite at the ballot box - a protest vote. Stuff the lot of them!

And the protest vote was often popular mid-term, when a government was losing its shine, starting to miss policy targets, with the sticky mud of sleaze slowing progress. It was a chance to leave loyalty aside and send a message to those in charge.

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It's not just Farage who is afraid

nigel farage

The welcome that UKIP's Nigel Farage got in Portsmouth was close to presidential. Seven or eight TV crews came from across Europe, along with dozens of photographers and correspondents.

It must have left him thinking he could walk on water.

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UKIP angry over 'confusing' Euro election name

First we had the candidate for the "Literal Democrats". A name so similar to the Liberal Democrats that just enough voters made a mistake and changed the result.

Now UKIP is complaining to the Electoral Commission about the registration of a party for May's European elections in the South West of England with the name "An Independence from Europe".

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Three MPs in two-bed 'shocker'

Looking through some of the online records of MPs' expenses I come across a startling disclosure.

3 mps
Caroline Dinenage, Mark Lancaster & Caroline Nokes

The MP for Romsey and Southampton North Caroline Nokes is very open about her affairs. Every penny is listed, with a chart comparing her spending to others in Hampshire.

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An 'ocean of anger' in Basingstoke

So finally she went and many will feel that Maria Miller brought it upon herself.

Not by overclaiming on expenses back into 2009, plenty of MPs did that. Not by her grudging apology or the more heartfelt approach she finally adopted in her Basingstoke Gazette article.

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UKIP accused of putting thousands of south of England jobs at risk

A380 testing

There was just one vote in it.

Members of the European Parliament environment committee have been voting on plans to charge US, Indian and Chinese airlines a levy for every flight to or from the EU.

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Where will Boris stand as an MP?

Boris Johnson

David Cameron says he wants Boris Johnson "back on the pitch" in the House of Commons as an MP in 2015 even though he should still be London Mayor.

He has billed it as the manager's vote of confidence in a star striker. But is it as simple as selecting a player for the big match ahead? And where will he want to build a new power-base?

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Chancellor is pressing UKIP's buttons

George Osborne delivers his Budget

George Osborne has been on a diet. It's clear from the suit jacket hanging off him that he's successfully lost weight, and his smile delivering the budget speech was the broadest indication that he really believes the austerity diet that he's put the country through is working too.

As ever with Mr Osborne he wasn't content just to reel off the figures detailing the economic recovery, he wanted to press a few political buttons.

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About Peter

Peter Henley has been a reporter in the South of England for more than 20 years, covering five elections and interviewing all the party leaders since Edward Heath.

Favourite assignments include flying to Antigua at three hours' notice to report on a volcano erupting and mysteriously being unable to come straight home.

Peter enjoys old cars, new gadgets and playing cricket. He lives in the New Forest with his three sons and wife Sam, who's a counsellor.

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