Posts Tagged ‘interns’

Friday News Review

08/04/2011, 06:56:05 AM

U-turn to fill MOD black hole

David Cameron is poised for another humiliating U-turn as the crisis in Libya forces him to rethink the Government’s savage defence cuts. Chancellor George Osborne has been shamed into finding an extra £250million to prevent more equipment and troops being scrapped while British forces are in action. Military chiefs are pushing him to go much further and undo some of the brutal austerity measures already inflicted on the armed forces in last autumn’s defence review. One senior commander said the debate is “live” and that the Prime Minister “is very much part of it”. Reversing defence cuts would the latest in a long line of about-turns by Mr Cameron. Ending free school milk, axing books for young children, cutting school sport, scrapping NHS Direct, selling off Britain’s forests and bringing in anonymity for suspected rapists are among the policies that have been dropped. – Daily Mirror

The Prime Minister is “actively engaged” in a reassessment of Britain’s military capabilities and planned reductions in equipment and manpower, sources have disclosed. The rethink has raised hopes that some of the cuts to military aircraft and ships in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) could be postponed or even reversed. Insiders said it was not too late for a change of mind on the decision to cut the number of RAF Tornados and scrap surveillance planes. Some Royal Navy frigates could also be spared, or have their retirement delayed. In the first sign of compromise on defence cuts, Mr Cameron has ordered the Treasury to give the Ministry of Defence a reprieve on its overspent 2011-12 budget. The £800 million climbdown will spare the Armed Forces further cuts this year. Senior government figures admitted that the Libyan conflict has raised questions about the wisdom of cuts that will leave Britain facing a “dip” in its military capabilities for several years. “The debate is live. The Prime Minister is very much part of it. There’s a lot of objective thinking going on,” said a senior defence source. – Daily Telegraph

We really are all in this together

If she was expecting a lavish treat, she was in for a sore surprise. Mindful of how a luxury holiday would appear amid massive public spending cuts, David and Samantha Cameron flew to Spain with budget airline Ryanair to celebrate her 40th birthday. And despite their wealth, they stayed in a ‘mid-market’ hotel. No special treatment: A fellow passenger took this photograph of the couple in the departure lounge ahead of the Ryanair flight from Stansted airport to Malaga, in southern Spain, on Wednesday afternoon A fellow passenger took a photograph of the couple in the departure lounge ahead of the flight from Stansted airport to Malaga, in southern Spain, on Wednesday afternoon. They will fly home today. – Daily Mail

They could have been any other couple waiting to catch their flight. But it was the Prime Minister and his wife who were spotted waiting along with everyone else to fly with low-cost airline Ryanair from Stansted Airport to Granada in Spain. David Cameron whisked his wife away without their three children on a flight for a short break to mark her impending 40th birthday. Mrs Cameron does not reach the milestone age until later this month, but the couple took the start of the Easter recess to spend some time together. It is the first time the couple have been abroad on holiday since Mr Cameron became Prime Minister last May. – the Scotsman

Hollow words over interns

Is it business as usual for Liberal Democrat MPs advertising for interns days after Nick Clegg said he’d stamp out the practice of unpaid work? That could certainly be the charge. The office of John Leech MP told one prospective intern that they wouldn’t get paid because the new rules only apply to Whitehall and the party’s Cowley Street HQ, not MPs, according to the group Intern Aware. Party figures admit that yes, this is technically the case, they can’t tell their MPs what to do as they fall under the remit of Ipsa, the expenses watchdog. Leaders can’t tell their MPs what to do? That may be news to some. Clegg also seemed to think he could on Tuesday, when he said: “I’ve announced that in my capacity as leader of the Liberal Democrats that we now have put an end to that system within the Lib Dem Parliamentary party. From now on, all internships should be properly advertised, they should be subject to a meritocratic process and people should be properly supported and remunerated. Lunch costs, travel costs and so on.” – Sky News

Just days after Nick Clegg made an earnest pledge to improve expenses for the Liberal Democrats’ army of unpaid interns, The Capitalist was amused to see three job ads for internships at the party on the Work for an MP (w4mp) website offering barely a cup of tea. The “short volunteer opportunity” to work in the offices of Greg Mulholland, MP for the Leeds North West, offers no financial reward at all, while the internship at the offices of Bradford East’s MP David Ward says “some expenses” can be met “by agreement”. And a school-leaver helping out on the local campaign trail for the Lewes Liberal Democrats would presumably want a roof over their head at the end of the working day – but lodgings for the lucky candidate are only “possibly” an option “if required”. In a jargon-filled display of passing the buck, the party said it could only directly manage internships at the central Cowley Street HQ. – City AM

Where have all the Lib Dems gone?

The Liberal democrats face a double blow at next month’s council elections, when they will field fewer candidates than usual and could be the main victims of a Labour recovery. More than 9,000 seats are up for grabs, about 5,000 of which are held by the Conservatives, 1,800 the Liberal Democrats, 1,600 by Labour and 800 by other parties and independents. Figures from town halls yesterday showed that the Lib Dems have candidates to put up in only 59 per cent of the seats, down from 64 per cent when they were last fought four years ago. The biggest falls appear to be in the south-east and north-west, both down about 10 per cent. Labour will contest 72 per cent – up from 60 per cent last time. The increase reflects a drive to fight back in the south, where the party did badly at last year’s general election. The Tories will field candidates in 93 per cent of the seats next month, up from 88 per cent in 2007. – the Independent

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Using unpaid interns is wrong – there must be a better way

06/04/2011, 03:36:04 PM

by Sabrina Francis

The recent talk of social mobility and interning reminded me of my secret shame. My name’s Sabrina Francis and I was an intern.

I interned on and off for nearly three whole years. The reason I’ll always feel slightly ashamed is  that when I was in the throes of my intern adventure there was no high profile campaign – or talk of the unfairness of the PPE brigade stealing all the jobs – it felt like there was just me. I felt like a failure trapped in an endless cycle of interning followed by the crushing disappointment as I realised the organisation I’d  given up my time for were never going to employ me. I’d simply just slotted into a place on a conveyor belt of graduates desperate to get a foot in the door.

During all of Clegg’s grandstanding and showing off about the Lib Dems starting to pay their interns “at once”,  what’s been on my mind is that as a party we seem to be nowhere on this issue. The Labour party runs on unpaid work. Just a quick glance on throws up Labour MP after Labour MP offering only expenses to someone who will end up playing a large part in the running of their office.

What has happened to us? How can the traditional party of the people, the working class, be knee deep in practices that hold others back and go against the very spirit of meritocracy? I know IPSA are making it hard for MPs to adequately fund the staff they need and I also know that some MPs use internships as a way to offer opportunities to people that might not usually get them. However, the facts are quite simple: you cannot intern unless you live in London and have the money to support yourself while you’re not earning. They must know this is wrong. (more…)

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Wednesday News Review

06/04/2011, 12:00:57 AM

Tory tax bombshell

Working families face losing up to £1,560 a year from Wednesday under the coalition’s new tax and benefit regime, the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, has claimed, triggering a row with the Treasury, which said that only the richest 20% will lose out. A raft of tax and benefit measures kick in on Wednesday, the first day of the new tax year. Tax threshold increases, child benefit and working tax credits are frozen and the rate of childcare element of the working tax credit is reduced from 80% to 70% of the total costs. Balls said the reforms amounted to a “black Wednesday” for families but the Treasury insisted the increase in the personal tax allowance in particular meant only the richest would be significantly worse off. – the Guardian

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said that what he called “Black Wednesday” would hit women with children hardest of all. According to the Treasury figures, a dual-earner couple with one child and a combined income of £25,000 will be £12 a week better off, a dual-earner couple with two children on £60,000 will gain £5 a week, and a lone parent with one child on £12,500 will gain £10 a week. In contrast, a single-earner couple with no children on £170,000 will lose out to the tune of £35 a week. However Labour published figures compiled by the independent House of Commons Library which, it said, showed that a couple with three children, with each parent earning £26,000, would lose more than £1,700 a year if the VAT rise is taken into account. Mr Balls said: “Today will be a Black Wednesday for millions of families across Britain. David Cameron promised to lead the most family-friendly government ever and George Osborne said we’re all in this together,” he said. “So why are their changes to tax and benefits coming into force today hitting women harder than men and taking so much support from children, with families on low and middle incomes being hit the hardest of all?” – Press Association

Back to basics for NHS reforms

The Deputy Prime Minister would only say that he agreed with the “basic ideas” of the unpopular Health and Social Care Bill and added that the Government must now “get the details right”. He also said that some fears over the legislation would be dispelled “when we’re able to explain what’s going on”, in a further sign that senior Cabinet ministers now admit the public has little understanding of the biggest planned changes in the 63-year history of the NHS, which will see power to buy treatment handed from managers to family doctors and private companies allowed to provide most services. Mr Clegg’s forthright comments, made both in the House of Commons and to the BBC, add to the sense that the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, is being sidelined having tried to plough ahead with the Bill in the face of overwhelming opposition from the medical profession, which fears it will prove hugely disruptive at a time when the NHS is trying to save £20billion and may also lead to privatisation by the back door. – Daily Telegraph

The Liberal Democrats will demand five major changes to the Government’s flagship health reforms as the price of securing their passage through Parliament. Nick Clegg’s party is threatening to join forces with Labour to dilute the NHS and Social Care Bill unless Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, agrees to make the changes sought by the Liberal Democrats’ spring conference last month. David Cameron and Mr Clegg will press Mr Lansley to implement at least some of the Liberal Democrat ideas. But the Health Secretary is digging in against major surgery. “He sees is it as a problem of communication,” one Cabinet source said yesterday. “That is not how others see it.”the Independent

Calamity Clegg curse strikes again

Nick Clegg was last night branded a hypocrite after attacking internships for the rich, then admitting his dad got him one with a friend’s bank. The Deputy PM said the top jobs market was rigged in favour of the privileged as he unveiled a bid to boost social mobility. But it was revealed he got unpaid work at a Finnish bank through his father Nicholas, and the Lib Dems routinely use interns. Labour’s John Mann said: “It is hypocrisy to attack interns when he enjoyed the advantages of family connections himself.” – Daily Mirror

However, it has emerged Mr Clegg secured the first of three internships after his father, Nicholas, chairman of United Trust Bank, “had a word” with a friend, who worked at a Finnish bank. The Deputy Prime Minister worked there after he left the £10,000-a-term Westminster School and before he started at Cambridge University. His spokesman said: “He had help through family connections. Someone in his family knew someone in the bank.” He con-firmed it was Mr Clegg’s father. In the Commons, former Labour minister Hazel Blears asked Mr Clegg if he had ever employed unpaid interns. The DPM replied: “As leader of the Liberal Democrats I can confirm from today we are making sure advertisements for internships are done in a manner which are name and school blind, so there’s a complete level playing field, and that proper remuneration is provided.” – Daily Herald

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