Friday News Review

Forgetful Clegg in humiliating return

In an interview, the Liberal Democrat leader was asked whether he was in charge while the Prime Minister was away from Britain travelling in the Middle East. Sipping from a mug marked “Deputy Prime Minister,” he said: “Yeah, I suppose I am. I forgot about that. “I’m holding the fort but I’m hoping to take the end of the week off with my kids. “Someone else will have to do it then. It sounds more haphazard than it probably is. People forget there are emails and there is BlackBerry.” It later emerged that within hours of giving the interview, to the Metro newspaper, Mr Clegg did indeed go on holiday to his family chalet in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Davos. He departed on Tuesday – just a day after Mr Cameron left for his tour of the Middle East. As Labour seized on his remarks, the Deputy Prime Minister hastily returned from his Swiss half term break, where he had been joined by his wife, Miriam, and their three sons. – the Telegraph

Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy discuss Libya

President Obama and David Cameron agreed to co-operate in taking multilateral action on Libya, in a phone call between the heads of state tonight (Thursday). William Hague earlier said the Government is now “very much on top of” the Libyan evacuation effort, but apologised for yesterday’s delayed response. HMS Cumberland left Benghazi with 200 passengers on board this afternoon. A charter flight carrying evacuated British nationals has also left Malta bound for the UK. Colonel Gaddafi has described the protesters who have died fighting his regime as “Libya’s children” and said that those continuing the revolt are trying to “sabotage” the country’s achievements. – PoliticsHome

Head of NHS warns difficult, demanding and tough times to come

Private sector take-overs, mergers and more community-based care may be needed to ensure all hospitals survive the shake-up of the NHS, the head of the health service says. Sir David Nicholson told the BBC the combination of reforms and squeeze on spending meant some hospitals would find the future “difficult”. He said he did not expect any hospitals in England to close completely. But said some would needed to adapt and change to remain competitive. Sir David, who will become the chief executive of the NHS commissioning board when GP consortia are set up, admitted the health service was facing one of its toughest and most demanding periods ever. – the BBC

Forces chiefs warn PM Navy cuts will risk lives

The scrapping of the Harriers and aircraft carrier Ark Royal means Britain can no longer carry out amphibious operations without putting troops’ lives at “considerable risk”, senior officers and defence experts have warned the Prime Minster. In a private letter, passed to The Daily Telegraph, the former Navy and Army chiefs warn the Prime Minister that there are serious flaws in last October’s defence review. The scrapping of the Royal Navy’s Harrier fleet, in particular, has “profound consequences” that “strike at the heart of our Defence structure”, they say. The authors, who include Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the former head of the Armed Forces, as well as six retired admirals and three generals, say the move undermines the Navy’s ability to protect the Army or Royal Marines on amphibious operations. These can no longer be attempted against “even a lightly armed aggressor” without “considerable risk” to the safety of soldiers, they say. – the Telegraph

Balls makes case for lowering the 50p tax threshold

The Labour party might propose lowering the 50p rate of tax to £100,000 and bringing in an annual mansion tax, Ed Balls has said in an interview with Progress magazine. The shadow chancellor says there is an argument for lowering the level at which the 50p rate of tax is paid. It is currently charged on those with incomes of £150,000 and over. The current government has indicated that although uncomfortable with the Labour measure, the task of deficit reduction means it is unlikely to be scrapped immediately. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has said he believes the 50p rate at £150,000 should stay in place as a point of principle. Balls says the government should not have increased VAT and puts forward two revenue-raising ideas of his own that are not party policy. He says: “I was probably the first person to be strong in opposing VAT. I thought there were fairer ways to make tax decisions. So my argument was that the VAT rise was unfair, I thought David Miliband’s idea of the mansion tax was attractive and it could be made to work. “And if we were making choices on the economy between VAT and the top rate of tax, I’d rather have stuck with a top rate of tax at £100,000.” – the Guardian

One Response to “Friday News Review”

  1. Robert says:

    The problem with a mansion tax is that it is a vote loser.

    Machiavelli made the point that if a man’s father is killed he will get over it but if a Prince takes what is perceived as a birthright then he will be hated for generations.

    Mansion tax could guarantee a Labour opposition for many many years to come.

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