Tuesday News Review

Clegg to cut his own school tie

Nick Clegg will call for sweeping changes to internships today to try to break the ‘sharp elbowed’ middle-class stranglehold on the professions. Firms that fail to provide ‘financial support’ to interns could face investigation by HM Revenue and Customs over their compliance with the minimum wage laws. Launching the Coalition’s social  mobility strategy, the Deputy Prime Minister will also warn that the ‘well-connected’ middle classes enjoy an unfair advantage in getting work  experience for their children. He will argue that internships have become a closed shop in many professions. Mr Clegg will also criticise the practice of expecting interns to work for nothing, which he believes discriminates against youngsters from poorer backgrounds. – Daily Mail

The government is aiming to reverse the growing culture of unpaid internships, which favour the wealthy and well-connected, as part of asocial mobility strategy to be launched by Nick Clegg. The national internship scheme will ask firms to pay young people doing work experience and warn they could otherwise risk a legal challenge under the national minimum wage legislation. The deputy prime minister will say that the aim is to make career progression less dependent on “who your father’s friends are”. The Conservative party chair, Lady Warsi, will announce on Tuesday that the civil service will end informal internships before 2012. They will all then be advertised on the government’s website. As one part of a many-pronged effort to narrow differences in achievement between social groups, a number of firms have been enlisted to give people without family connections experience in competitive fields of work. The government will encourage firms to use name-blank and school-blank applications. – the Guardian

HM Revenue & Customs will launch a crackdown in professions such as law and journalism where work experience is commonplace, to ensure that people are paid the national minimum wage or receive out of pocket expenses. Ministers say that many young people miss out because they lack the personal contacts or cannot afford to take an unpaid internship. They believe this is hindering efforts to close the “life chances gap” between the poor and better off. Mr Clegg will announce his moves when he issues the Government’s plans to improve social mobility and tackle child poverty. He will say: “For too long, internships have been the almost exclusive preserve of the sharp-elbowed and the well-connected. Unfair, informal internships can rig the market in favour of those who already have opportunities. We want a fair job market based on merit not networks. It should be about what you know, not who you know.” – the Independent

NHS reforms halted, but not yet reversed

This isn’t the end of the campaign to halt dangerous NHS reforms but the start of the beginning. David Cameron will fool only the gullible with his delay to the Health Bill. The public isn’t buying it, people know that the politically-motivated Conservative plans’ to turn care into a profit-driven market would threaten lives. The PM can’t dodge responsibility and it was unbecoming of the Tory leader to hang Health Secretary Andrew Lansley out to dry in the Commons, then flee the country. Slowing this Bill and making a few minor tweaks is insufficient when to save the NHS this gangrenous legislation must be put out of its misery and scrapped. Profits and competition would destroy a great British institution which guarantees treatment for everyone regardless of income. The battle isn’t reform versus no change but improving the NHS versus crippling it to fulfill a Conservative ideological fantasy. Start again, Mr Cameron. – Daily Mirror

The Coalition’s revolutionaries appear to have gone into reverse. In recent months we have had a comprehensive retreat from the Government on its forests policy, embarrassing disarray on tuition fees, and now ministers are signalling a change of course on their NHS reforms. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have promised a “listening exercise” on the Coalition’s health service plans. Action is out and consultation is in. Ideology has given way to pragmatism. It remains to be seen whether this is a prelude to a watering-down of the Health and Social Care Bill, or merely an attempt to sell the reforms better. The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, insisted in the House of Commons yesterday that the substance of the Bill will still be implemented. But it is clear that the Government is determined to ditch the revolutionary posture – “Maoist”, as Vince Cable memorably put it – adopted in the early months of the Coalition. – the Independent

Barker says what we’ve all been thinking

Climate change minister Greg Barker has said the government is making cuts that “Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s could only have dreamt of”. He made the comments on a visit to the Darla Moore School of Business in South Carolina. Local newspaper The Daily Gamecockreports: Barker began his speech by outlining Britain’s budget crisis and expressing the Conservative commitment to austere measures as a solution, saying his colleagues plan to cut spending by 75 percent. “We are making cuts that Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s could only have dreamt of,” Barker said. Barker’s comments, as well as letting the cat out of the bag on the true scale of cuts – 75 (seventy five) per cent – also further undermine the claims of some right wing commentators, like Toby Young, that there will be next to no cuts. – Left Foot Forward

Chaos for the Lib Dems in Scotland

A second Liberal Democrat candidate has dropped out of the election race, just a week after Hugh O’Donnell quit in protest over his party’s coalition with the Conservative Party in Westminster. Businessman Eddie McDaid withdrew his name from the Central Scotland list days after the departure of Mr O’Donnell, the top candidate on the list. Former party donor Mr McDaid, originally second on the list after Mr O’Donnell, has not given a reason for his decision to step down. The departures came as a Scotsman poll showed that Scottish Lib Dems are in danger of being driven into fifth place by the Greens as a result of backlash against the actions of Nick Clegg’s party south of the Border. – the Scotsman

Obama kick starts 2012 race

“Today, we are filing papers to launch our 2012 campaign,” the president wrote, cutting directly to the chase after greeting the recipient by her full, legal name. “We’re doing this now because the politics we believe in does not start with expensive TV ads or extravaganzas, but with you — with people organizing block-by-block, talking to neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And that kind of campaign takes time to build.” Obama added that “even though I’m focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today.” – Chicago Sun Times

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