Friday News Review

Ed fights for ‘betrayed generation’

Young people today will be the first generation for 100 years who will end up worse off than their parents. So the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, will say in a speech today. It is a profound insight into what could become the defining political issue of the decades to come. The generation which shaped the modern world grew up in an era in which, as the then prime minister Harold Macmillan put it, people had “never had it so good”. So it proved. Average incomes soared, life expectancy rose, infant mortality rates plummeted. Modern medicines staved off cancer, heart disease and countless other diseases. Universities were free. Jobs were plentiful. Pensions were sound. House prices climbed inexorably, creating nice equity nest-eggs for owners who sat back and did nothing. The unwritten covenant – that parents create better lives for their children, and in return those children finance the care of their parents in their old age – has been broken. Mr Miliband has put his finger on something here which the nation intuitively knows to be true. Polls show a deep sense of pessimism among voters. Almost three-quarters of the nation believes life will be harder for children. Yet having crystallised this perception, Mr Miliband now needs to formulate the policies to deal with a world in which Britain is going to have a lot more older people who will need a lot more looking after – and far fewer younger folk to pay for it. That long-term demographic imbalance could prove a more grievous legacy than our current economic predicament. – the Independent

Mr Miliband will claim today the ‘British promise’ that each generation will do better than the last has been broken. But he will refuse to acknowledge that Labour failed to reverse a decline in social mobility during its 13 years in power. Instead, he hopes to attract the votes of younger people by pinning the blame on the Coalition, highlighting the increase in tuition fees and the scaling back of the educational maintenance allowance. Mr Miliband will warn that for the first time in more than a century there is a risk that young people will find it harder than their parents to continue in education, get a decent job and own their own home. In a speech in Gateshead, he will highlight ‘the British promise’ that ‘each generation will pass on to the next a life of greater opportunity, prosperity and happiness. There is now a legitimate fear the British promise will be broken and the next generation will have fewer opportunities and find it harder to get on than the last,’ Mr Miliband will say. A Labour source added: ‘Ed will not thoughtlessly defend everything Labour did in power. ‘We wish we had done more to address inequalities.’ – Daily Mail

Clegg won’t be rushed on growth

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will say today the government won’t be rushed into announcing policies to spur economic growth, arguing “proper analysis” of initiatives is needed. Criticizing the previous Labour administration, which lost power in elections last May, for its approach to stimulating industry as a “pick and mix” backing of individual companies and sectors, Clegg will argue the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is conducting a “grounded, evidence-based” examination of ways to boost the economy. “The government is currently conducting a growth review, consulting with business and experts,” Clegg will say in a speech in Rotherham, northern England, according to excerpts released in advance by his office. “Some have expressed concern that we haven’t published it yet, and that we are waiting for the budget” scheduled for March. “I do not think we should apologize.” One of the coalition government’s first decisions after taking power was to cancel an 80 million-pound ($130 million) loan by the Labour administration to Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd. to build parts for nuclear power stations on the grounds that it was unaffordable. – Bloomberg

A long-awaited growth plan for Britain’s faltering economy will be based on “hard-headed analysis,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was to say on Friday, in response to criticism of the government’s industrial policy. The 8-month-old coalition is under pressure to produce its blueprint for rebalancing the economy away from its large financial sector after weaker-than-expected growth data and the planned closure of a U.S.-owned drugs laboratory in England. Plans to issue a growth paper last October were cancelled in favour of a review to be published with the budget next month. “The government is currently conducting a growth review, consulting with business and experts to ensure that our approach is grounded, evidence-based and properly thought through,” Clegg was to say, according to extracts of a speech released in advance. “Some have expressed concern that we haven’t published it yet, and that we are waiting for the budget,” he said in remarks to be made in Rotherham, northeast England. I do not think we should apologise, but we need to be clear about the fundamental factors that drive economic growth . We need … a grown-up approach to growth based on hard-headed analysis — in place of the “pick and mix’ approach that has characterised too much recent government activity, grabbing at instant initiatives rather than taking the big decisions that really count.” – Reuters

Big Society in chaos as Liverpool pulls out

David Cameron’s vision of a community-driven renaissance of the inner cities suffered an embarrassment today after Liverpool, a key partner in one of his project’s four “big society” showcase areas, said it was pulling out of the initiative because of government-imposed spending cuts. Liverpool city council leader Joe Anderson said the need to make £141m of savings over the next two years had put the future of hundreds of voluntary groups in the city at risk. The announcement follows a warning yesterday by the head of Liverpool’s big society “vanguard”, Phil Redmond that Cameron’s initiative had ground to a halt in the city because decision-making had been “subsumed by the cuts”. The Labour-led city council was not a formal partner in the big society “vanguard” project launched by the prime minister on Merseyside last July, but says it was co-opted onto a “parallel vanguard” some months later and had put “significant resources” into a “substantial programme of activity”. In a letter to communities secretary Eric Pickles, councillor Anderson writes: “When we agreed to become a Vanguard, your government promised to work with us to remove some of the problems and blockages that were preventing us from successfully delivering our Big Society programme. I have to say, the government has failed to deliver a single change that we have requested, which has severely hampered many parts of our programme.” – the Guardian

Cameron’s Big Society plans suffered a fresh blow yesterday when a flagship council pulled out. Liverpool City Council said Government cuts made it impossible to continue backing Mr Cameron’s pet project. The city was one of four pilot areas for the Big Society, which aimed to get community groups to take over services previously provided by the state. In a letter to the PM, leader Joe Anderson said: “How can the city council support the Big Society and its aim to help communities do more for themselves when we will have to cut the lifeline to hundreds of these vital and worthwhile groups?” He added: “The Government has failed to deliver a single change that we have requested.” TV mogul Phil Redmond, who launched the scheme in Liverpool with Mr Cameron last July, also removed his backing. The Brookside creator said: “It’s been impossible to get any traction because of the cuts.” Liverpool’s withdrawal came the day after Lord Wei, appointed by Mr Cameron to oversee the project, said he was cutting the time he spends on it. Shadow Cabinet office minister Tessa Jowell said: “David Cameron’s Big Society is imploding.” – Daily Mirror

Labour to widen leadership election?

Labour is to look at broadening its electoral base by offering the chance for Labour sympathisers, and not just members or union levy payers, to be given a vote in the Labour leadership election. The idea may be seen as controversial by union leaders worried that their power base in the party may be diluted. It is being stressed that the reforms would not disenfranchise unions, but might look at ways that members of sympathetic groups could signal that they would like to be involved in party elections, including for the leadership. Options being examined include ending a separate electoral college section for MPs, or putting Labour sympathisers in a section with the union levy payers. A formal consultation will start next month, with ideas being put to the party conference in the autumn. The issue is sensitive for Ed Miliband since he has been criticised for being elected largely through union votes. Currently the unions have a third of the electoral college. The review is also likely to look at how to prevent party members having multiple votes. Miliband has already said that he wants to involve non-party members in policymaking, and will start the process today with an away-day shadow cabinet session in Newcastle on the theme of the family. – the Guardian

It is official no. 10 is infested

David Cameron has admitted there are nits in No 10 – after two of his kids came home from school with head lice. The PM warned journalists visiting Downing Street that if their scalps started itching it was down to his daughter Nancy, seven, and son Arthur, four. The youngsters have been treated with medication and are using an extra fine comb to get rid of the blood-sucking lice. Asked about the nits, Mr Cameron told the reporters: “If you find them when you get home I apologise. Let me know and I’ll send you a comb and some ointment.” The news comes a week after pest control experts were called to Downing Street to get rid of rats. – the Sun

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