Sunday News Review

Ed Miliband: Britain needs a more ethical approach to foreign policy

British citizens facing great danger in Libya have a right to expect more than David Cameron’s shambolic, incompetent government gave them last week. All of us have the right to expect a more coherent and principled foreign policy than the one on show: trying to pretend a trade mission for defence manufacturers and other businesses is a “democracy tour” really doesn’t cut it. But the wider truth is that all western governments are profoundly challenged by the chain of events that began, 10 weeks ago, with a young Tunisian man setting himself on fire in anger and desperation. The central assumption of the durability of long-standing and unpleasant regimes has been swept away. This change in circumstance has left many of the old orthodoxies seeming out of date and on the wrong side of history. – Ed Miliband, The Guardian

Balls calls for petrol VAT rise to be abolished

Ed Balls has called on the Government to reverse soaring fuel prices by abolishing the recent VAT rise in petrol. In an interview with The Sunday Times, the shadow chancellor said the move would save 3p a litre and help the millions of middle-income families facing a “cost-of-living crisis”. Calling for immediate action, he said: “Filling up a family car now costs £65-£75. World oil prices are already very high, and the Chancellor has chosen, at this very moment, to raise fuel prices further, by pushing up VAT. I am urging him to reverse that increase.” The price of petrol is rising at the highest rate for 10 years, with some retailers already charging in excess of £1.40 a litre. – PA

Miliband warns of “cost-of-living-crisis”

Ed Miliband will attack David Cameron tomorrow for causing Britain a decade of pain due to a crippling “cost-of-living crisis”. The Labour leader fears the PM has created a toxic cocktail of soaring inflation, wage freezes and huge public spending cuts. In a major speech, at the launch of a Commission on Living Standards, he will warn tax and benefit changes will leave many hard-working families £1,500 a year worse off. Mr Miliband will say: “My fear for those on middle and low incomes is they face a cost-of-living crisis that will see them left behind, even as the ­economy eventually ­recovers. When the prospects for families with ­children look so bleak, the ­British promise – that the next generation would always do better than the last – is under threat like never before.” – the Sunday Mirror

Families where the woman stays at home to look after children are being most adversely affected by the Government’s economic policies, the Labour leader will claim. In a speech at the launch of a Commission on Living Standards on Monday, Mr Miliband will point to research showing that since the 1970s, wages for middle and low earners have grown more slowly than the economy as a whole. His remarks will be taken as a partial admission that the last Labour government did not do enough to bolster the spending power of sections of middle England. Data from the Resolution Foundation, which is behind the new commission, shows that inflation over the past decade has impacted harder on families on low to middling incomes, making those families £150 a year worse off since 2000. – the Telegraph

Church of England will not “bow” to pressure on same sex marriage

The Archbishop of Canterbury has vowed to defend the Church’s traditional stance on marriage against Government moves to introduce homosexual weddings in churches. Dr Rowan Williams has refused to be drawn on the issue publicly, but has broken his silence to tell MPs he is not prepared for the Coalition to tell the Church how to behave. He told a private meeting of influential politicians that the Church of England would not bow to public pressure to allow its buildings to be used to conduct same-sex civil partnerships. The comments are the first time he has spoken since the Coalition unveiled plans to allow religious buildings to be used to conduct homosexual partnership ceremonies. While the Church has been bitterly divided over the role of its homosexual clergy, he said it held a clear position that marriage is between a man and a woman and would not consider changing this stance. – the Telegraph

Danny Alexander casts doubt on ‘No’ sums

Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has denied the claims that a move to AV, under which voters rank candidates in order of preference, would force Whitehall departments to make more painful savings. In a letter from his private office, Mr Alexander insists: “The Government has no plans to reopen departmental spending review settlements as a consequence of a Yes vote in the referendum on AV.” He also confirms that £120m has already been set aside for the next general election, to come from the Cabinet Office budget, and reveals that the Treasury “has not received any advice on the assumptions behind the cost of the next general election should it be an AV election”. Mr Alexander, who backs AV, went further, telling The IoS: “I don’t expect to see any increase in the cost of holding a general election if the British people vote yes. There’s no good reason to believe that even under a new voting system an election would need to be more expensive.” – the Independent on Sunday

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