Monday News Review

Stop it or we’ll take your ‘bling’

Thugs will have their stereos, iPods and other ‘bling’ items seized by police if they refuse to behave. Ministers will today announce the scrapping of Asbos, the anti-social behaviour orders which have become a badge of honour among hooligans. Instead, they will be hit with new ‘criminal behaviour orders’ banning them from town centres or street corners for up to two years. Under the ambitious initiative, troublemakers will face the same asset seizure powers as major criminals. They would be likely to lose personal items such as stereo systems and electronic gadgets. Previous ideas to target young tearaways with financial penalties – such as Tony Blair’s much-derided plan to march violent drunks to the nearest cashpoint – have been attacked as ‘gimmicks’. Opponents say that taking cash or property from criminals makes them more likely to carry out muggings or burglaries. But the Home Office believes that confiscating items which are hugely important to youngsters, such as their music systems, will ‘hit them where it hurts’. A Government source said: ‘We want punishments that are meaningful and useful.’ – Daily Mail

A range of measures to tackle anti-social behaviour will be unveiled as the Government pledges to crack down on minor crime. Among the proposals to be outlined on Monday are plans to compel police to investigate any incidences of anti-social behaviour reported by at least five people. The “community trigger” is one of a raft of proposals which form part of a government consultation on anti-social behaviour, a Home Office source said. Other measures will see police given powers forcing culprits to make amends for nuisance behaviour immediately. The move comes as the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) is overhauled. Instead police will be able to apply for a court order to tackle low-level nuisance behaviour. The new measures will be called criminal behaviour orders. – Daily Mirror

Bercow to intervene in disability row?

The speaker, John Bercow, could intervene in the case of a Conservative MP who claims he was mocked for his disability while speaking in a House of Commons debate. Paul Maynard, who suffers from mild cerebral palsy, accused Labour MPs of “pulling faces” in an apparent mimic during a debate about the abolition of the child trust fund last October. A spokeswoman for the Speaker said yesterday that he would welcome a chance to speak to Mr Maynard who was elected as MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys in May. As the row intensified, Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Equalities and Human Right Commission, said the disclosure had made him feel physically sick. “He was obviously being mocked, according to his account, by other Members of Parliament. That to me is shocking. I felt physically sick when I read about it. If that had happened in a football ground, the people doing the mocking would have been on CCTV and they would have been whipped out of the ground and not let back. That’s one for the Speaker to look at as part of his drive to increase diversity.” – the Independent

Equalities chief Trevor Phillips felt “physically sick” when he read reports of a disabled MP being bullied by other parliamentarians, he has admitted. Speaking on the Andrew Marr programme, Mr Phillips expressed his outrage at comments from Paul Maynard, an MP with cerebral palsy, about how Labour MPs pulled faces at him in the Commons. The Conservative told the Times that MPs made “exaggerated gesticulations, really exaggerated faces” at him during a debate. “Only they know for certain whether they were taking the mick out of my disability. But it felt like it.” –

Cut wages, not services?

Councils will be urged to name all staff earning more than £58,000 a year under contentious government plans. The move will undermine councils’ attempts to blame service cuts or tax rises on a plunge in central government funding, by putting them on the spot over their staff costs. The Government’s austerity drive has already led local authorities to threaten to cut services such as libraries, or impose higher council tax in the years ahead. But Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is determined to make local authorities reduce the costs of their middle management first. Ministers hope they will slash their salary bills before passing the cuts on to householders, once the Government’s mandatory three-year tax freeze expires. The proposals to name all staff on £58,000 and above go further than rules for Whitehall departments, where only workers earning more than £150,000 have to be named. The Department for Local Government will today issue the voluntary proposals as a ‘draft Code of Recommended Practice for Local Government Data Transparency’. – Daily Mail

Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, is to order councils to list the staff and detail their responsibilities. Many local authorities are threatening to increase charges or make cuts to front- line services because of the steep reduction in central government funding that comes into effect in April. The proposed cuts, including the closure of libraries, a squeeze on social care and a refusal to fill in pot holes, are proving politically damaging for the Coalition. It is understood that Mr Pickles believes that councils should focus on “middle management waste” before scrapping front-line services. He hopes making salary details public will undermine claims by council chiefs that services must be cut because of budget pressures. Official figures show that council spending on middle managers is more than £2.4billion – a rise of more than 20 per cent in the last three years. According to an analysis of council accounts, in 1997 when Labour came to power the average local authority employed just seven people earning more than £50,000 a year. By 2008 this had risen to 81 people per council. Local authorities employing the most middle managers include Birmingham, Hampshire and Essex councils. It is expected that the move to publish salaries will provoke public anger and effectively force councils to cut their wage bills. Local authorities are thought to have warned the Government privately that staff could be at risk of being assaulted if their details are made public. – Daily Telegraph

Ed – what a cutie

Doesn’t Peaches Geldof scrub up well? Here is the normally grungy rock chick looking unusually elegant – despite being barefoot and in shorts. It takes hard Labour to look so sophisticated, but perhaps the 21-year-old Boomtown Brat has smartened up her act to impress her latest crush. He’s – wait for it – Ed Miliband. Asked by Company mag to name her fave thing about Britain, Peaches cites the Labour leader, adding: “He’s fit… In fact, both Miliband brothers – and David Cameron, for that matter – are quite fit. “British politics has a suave thing going on.” Right. – Daily Mirror

Yes to AV, but no to Clegg

Labour leader Ed Miliband told the Yes to the Alternative Vote campaign at a private meeting that he would not share a platform with Nick Clegg during the referendum campaign. He said Clegg’s name had become so toxic with Labour voters he would put off potential AV backers. Miliband said at last week’s meeting he was willing to share a platform with other Liberal Democrats, including Charles Kennedy, Lady Williams and Lord Ashdown. One source said: “His position is pretty well ABC – Anyone But Clegg.” A Lib Dem spokesman stated that he was surprised by the suggestion, saying that in private and public Miliband had told the party he would share a platform with Clegg. “It feels like this is a failure of leadership on his part and he has been defeated by the most tribalist elements in his party,” the spokesman said. But the Yes campaign director, Lord Sharkey, accepted Miliband’s arguments at the end of the meeting attended by aides on both sides last week. Sharkey, a Lib Dem peer appointed by Clegg, masterminded the Lib Dems’ 2010 general election campaign. He appears to see Miliband’s decision as a pragmatic acceptance of polling reality. The Yes campaign has been consistently arguing that its campaign will not focus on politicians, but it would have been a coup if the leaders of the two centre-left parties had shared a platform. The No campaign is making Clegg its chief target, urging the Yes campaign to come clean about its Lib Dem links. The No campaign claims five out of six members of the Yes steering committee have worked for or supported the Liberal Democrat party in the past 12 months. – the Guardian

Another name on an already long list

David Blunkett, the former home secretary, believes his mobile phone was illegally hacked by journalists while he was in charge of police, prisons and anti-terrorism at one of the most sensitive government departments. The suggestion that a serving cabinet minister – whose responsibilities included the oversight of MI5 and sensitive operations against Islamic terror groups – was having his voicemails intercepted is one of the most alarming yet in the scandal over the tactics of some sections of the British press. Five former Labour cabinet ministers have come forward with concerns that newspaper reporters eavesdropped on their messages while they were in office in order to find information about the politicians’ private lives. A fortnight ago, the former prime minister, Gordon Brown, became the most high-profile figure to ask police to investigate whether he was a victim of phone hacking, joining the former deputy prime minister, John Prescott, the former secretary of state for culture, Tessa Jowell, and the former chief whip, Nick Brown. Mr Blunkett is understood to have raised suspicions with police late in 2004 that his phone was being hacked at a time when he was battling to save his political career after newspaper revelations about a love affair. Media coverage of his three-year relationship with Kimberly Quinn, then the publisher of The Spectator, and vigorously denied accusations that he had fast-tracked a visa for her nanny, led to his resignation from the Home Office. Mr Blunkett, a Sheffield MP for 23 years, is understood to have decided not to take legal action over the alleged hacking. – the Independent

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One Response to “Monday News Review”

  1. MG says:

    Yes to AV but No to Clegg? Hooray! This is exactly what people in the Yes camp have been waiting for. Absolutely the right decision and the only way Yes are going to win the referendum.

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