Monday News Review

Support for Tories and Lib Dems drops

Support for Britain’s first peacetime coalition in 70 years has fallen dramatically since David Cameron and Nick Clegg launched the government in the Downing Street rose garden last May, according to the latest Guardian/ICM poll. The poll finds that after six months of Conservative-LibDem rule just 43% think coalition government was the right decision for Britain while 47% now disagree. In May, in answer to a slightly differently worded question, 59% backed the coalition while 32% disagreed with the decision to form it. Rising Labour support has cut into the government’s popularity. Other results from the poll, published earlier this month, put Labour support at a three-year high of 39%. Lib Dem support was at a five-year low of 13%. The Conservatives were on 37%, up one point from November. – The Guardian

Trouble in paradise

Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister, is understood to have ordered his MPs to embrace their Coalition partners amid fears that strains between the two sides could begin to undermine the Government. Last week, a number of ministers were embarrassed after making highly critical remarks about the Tories to reporters from The Daily Telegraph posing as constituents. With both sides said to be bruised by the row, John Redwood, a former Conservative Cabinet minister, rejected angrily suggestions that the role of the Liberal Democrats in government was to “bridle the instincts” of the Conservatives. He accused the party’s MPs of seeking to claim the credit for policies which the Tories had also campaigned for, such as cutting income tax for the low paid, channelling funding to poorer pupils and restoring civil liberties. – The Telegraph

‘Patchy’ results expected from Lansley’s reforms

A “complacent” Department of Health will face an annual £10bn shortfall unless it speeds up efficiency savings across the NHS and considers cuts to social care and cancer research charities, according to a secret Whitehall report leaked to the Guardian. The damning report warns that ministers will face an “unpalatable trade-off” between longer waiting times or a massive increase in the NHS budget unless dramatic savings are found. It also warns that the central reform proposed by health secretary Andrew Lansley – to devolve 80% of the NHS budget to GPs – could have “patchy” results. The findings are outlined in a blunt letter to Danny Alexander, the Treasury chief secretary, from the Independent Challenge Group, which was set up at the time of the budget in June to question Whitehall thinking. – The Guardian

The letter, sent to Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, questioned whether efficiency savings from quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QIPP) would be achieved. It also raised concerns about the cost of the switchover to the government’s flagship policy of GP commissioning. The letter said: “Taken together, the NHS could therefore face a significant budget shortfall by the end of the SP [spending] period. “The NHS typically deals with such shortfalls by limiting treatments, leading to increased waiting times. “The government will be faced with a choice between dealing with the fallout from increased waiting times or increasing the DH’s budget, perhaps by as much as £10bn per year.” – BBC

Axing of free books is ‘gross cultural vandalism’

Philip Pullman, the children’s writer and author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, and Sir Andrew Motion, the former poet laureate, are among a number of figures in the arts’ world to condemn the Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the Bookstart scheme. The charity, which has run since 1992 and been Government-funded since 2004, was told a week before Christmas that it would lose its entire £13 million grant in England. Booktrust, which runs Bookstart and whose co-founder Wendy Cooling was awarded the MBE in 2008 for services to children’s literacy, provides a pack of books to parents when their babies are born, and more books as they get older. Describing the cuts as “wanton destruction,” Mr Pullman said that ministers were guilty of: “…sheer stupid vandalism, like smashing Champagne bottles as a drunken undergraduate”. He went on: “If you miss the first years of a child’s development, nothing can clear it up. It’s gone. It won’t happen. A whole generation will lose out. “Bookstart is one of the most imaginative and generous schemes ever conceived.” – The Telegraph

One Response to “Monday News Review”

  1. Emma Burnell says:

    Cue another insane Hodges article about how badly Ed is doing…

Leave a Reply