Thursday News Review

Where is Plan B?

David Cameron is under growing pressure to soften his hardline deficit reduction strategy after a wave of redundancies in central and local government sent unemployment surging beyond 2.5m. With the City predicting joblessness would hit 2.75m next year, the Institute of Directors, the Prince’s Trust and the TUC joined the opposition in demanding urgent action to boost the flagging economy. Cameron admitted the official figures – which included the highest female unemployment in 23 years and almost a million young people shut out of the labour market – were “disappointing”. But he insisted that the coalition would not do a U-turn as it attempted to repair Britain’s public finances over the course of the current parliament. He said: “All governments are having to take difficult decisions about cutting public spending. Anyone standing here would have to make those decisions. This government is reducing the welfare bill and reforming public sector pensions. If we weren’t taking those steps you would have to make deeper cuts in the rest of the public sector.” 111,000 jobs were lost in the public sector in the three months to June 2011, against 41,000 created in the rest of the economy. – the Guardian

Unemployment has risen sharply, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The 80,000 increase in the number of people without jobs in the three months to June was the biggest rise since August 2009, when Britain was still in recession. Some 2.51 million people are now unemployed, representing 7.9 per cent of the total workforce. Youth unemployment rose by 78,000 to 973,000. Almost a fifth of 16 to 24-year-olds are now out of work. The number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by 20,400 in August and now stands at 1.58 million. And the numbers working part -time because of a shortage of full-time positions also increased to 1.28 million, the highest level since 1992. In the first real sign that Government spending cuts are biting, public- sector employment fell by 110,000 over the three months, the largest fall since comparable records began in 1999. – the Independent

Ed ‘lashes’ boy George

A thinly veiled S&M joke at PMQs today saw UK Chancellor George Osborne squirming in his Commons front bench seat. Opposition Leader Ed Miliband’s swipe at Government economic policy saw a nudge-nudge/wink-wink remark allude to tabloids’ current favorite scandal about a coke-snorting dominatrix called Natalie Rowe. The sexy lady was pictured some years ago in a compromising position cuddling a much younger Osborne – whose hideously bouffant Princess Margaret-esque barnet has been the subject of ridicule ever since. And oh, some ‘redwoods’ of a mystery whiteish powder complete with rolled-up fifty quid note are also in the frame. Today the sordid saga was on a roll once more as Miliband laid into the Tory with his ‘the Chancellor has lashed himself to the mast…not for the first time perhaps’ quip. Guffaws from the Labour benches were as loud and raucous as last week’s PMQs when Prime Monster David Cameron referred to fellow Conservative MP Nadine Dorries as ‘extremely frustrated’. – the

Ed Miliband yesterday mocked George Osborne over his alleged relationship with a former prostitute. The Labour leader joked about spending cuts, saying: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer has lashed himself to the mast… not for the first time, perhaps.” Mr Osborne has denied allegations by former escort agency boss and dominatrix Natalie Rowe that he took cocaine when they were friends in his youth. Mr Miliband added to his embarrassment with the comment during an exchange at Prime Minister’s Questions, leaving Mr Osborne squirming as MPs on all sides of the Commons started laughing. – Daily Mirror

After questioning David Cameron about the latest unemployment figures (up by 80,000, the biggest increase in nearly two years), and the PM responding that George Osborne would not be signalling a change of direction, the Labour leader pounced: “The Chancellor has lashed himself to the mast… not for the first time, perhaps.” Boom, boom. The reference was lost on no one in the Commons. As the Mole reported on Tuesday, the story of Osborne’s one-time friendship with a certain cocaine-using dominatrix, Natalie Rowe, has been back in the news after she talked to the Australian broadcaster ABC. While Miliband may be the one receiving a political thrashing this week, he saw no reason not to embarrass Osborne when he had the chance. But was it wise? It depends who you listen to. At the ConservativeHome website, they’re saying Miliband went too far: “Ed Balls looked embarrassed. Harriet Harman grimaced. It wasn’t pretty.” Labour bloggers and tweeters, on the whole, believe their man did well. But Benedict Brogan of the Daily Telegraph made a valid point: “Ed M should leave the dirty work to his backbenchers.” – the First Post

Fixed terms finally pass through the Lords

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Bill finally cleared the House of Lords when peers, who had twice blocked the plan, accepted a compromise proposal. They wanted the law to be renewed after each election but ministers said that meant allowing fixed terms to be switched on “like a light switch”. Peers voted by voted 188 to 173 to accept a plan for a review in 2020. Parliaments are currently limited to a maximum of five years, but the prime minister is free to call a general election at any time. The government has argued that fixed terms would eliminate the power of the executive to call elections when it was politically convenient – but their choice of a five-year, rather than a four-year term has attracted some criticism. And some peers had argued that the coalition did not have a mandate to “bind” future parliaments. – BBC News

The Coalition’s charm offensive

A leaked government policy paper shows Downing Street fears the Coalition has significantly less support among women than men and that even Cabinet Office officials think the general tone of the Government could be perceived as sexist. No 10 is looking at proposals to cut school summer holidays, ban all advertising to children and reconsider plans to criminalise forced marriage as part of attempts to win over women voters. The document suggests a series of new policies designed to win back female support, including: Introducing personal budgets for maternity services to allow women to shop around for the services; Front-loading child benefit to help parents with childcare and lost earnings in their children’s early years; Setting up a website to allow women to anonymously disclose and compare salaries with others in their industry; Hosting a Downing Street summit for women in business; Criminalising forced marriage and Banning advertising which targets children. The four-page document, marked “restricted – policy” was circulated across Government. It also includes proposals to put together a cross-government communications strategy to win women back. – the Independent

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3 Responses to “Thursday News Review”

  1. Nick says:

    So how much did the government spend on creating those 41K jobs? Nothing. It’s an unbelievably cheap option

    What would the government have spend on those PS jobs? 3 times salary is the standard ratio. That’s a lot of money. OK, now we have to pay them some job seekers allowances, but apparently PS workers are skilled and dedicated people. The private sector will pick them up (if that’s true).

    We need large tax cuts, and that needs huge spending cuts in government.

    In particular tax cuts that reduce the cost of employing people.

  2. swatantra says:

    Germany has 3 year fixed Parliaments which seems quite reasonable knowing how fickle our electorate is and with the attention span of a gnat. Could they hold out for 5 years waiting to give the Govt a good kicking. Present experience suggests not.
    The Lords have once again shown how so out of touch it is with ordinary people.
    The present Cabinet has a scarcity of women and the Govt is sexist. A quota of women should introduced in any Cabinet.

  3. swatantra says:

    I notice that Peter Watt is so cheesed of with professional politicians and the LP machine, he’s not taking any comments at the moment. I can understand where he’s coming from.

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