Saturday News Review

Labour Lord accuses party of lying over immigration

Lord Glasman, who was made a peer by the Labour leader in the New Year honours list, also claimed that Gordon Brown’s ministers had acted in a “high-handed way” by failing to discuss the issue. He claimed that working class men were unable to talk about the matters important to them at Labour Party meetings without being labelled sexist or racist. Lord Glasman, an academic, is one of the architects of the Blue Labour movement, which argues that the party should reconnect with working class issues such as the family, patriotism and communities rather than focusing on the state. – the Telegraph

A close ally of Ed Miliband has attacked Labour for ‘lying’ about immigration. Lord Glasman – a leading academic and personal friend of the Labour leader – said that the previous Labour government had used mass immigration to control wages. In an article for Progress magazine, the Labour peer wrote: ‘Labour lied to people about the extent of immigration … and there’s been a massive rupture of trust.’  Labour let in 2.2million migrants during its 13 years in power – more than twice the population of Birmingham. Maurice Glasman was promoted to the House of Lords by Mr Miliband earlier this year. He has been dubbed the Labour leader’s ‘de facto chief of staff’ by party insiders and has written speeches for him. – Daily Mail

Soft on crime or honest reformer?

The rate of jail sentencing is “financially unsustainable”, the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, has said, delivering a defiant riposte to critics within his own party and the tabloid press who have suggested that his plans to overhaul the penal system are soft on crime. Clarke last year unveiled a green paper on sentencing as part of government plans to cut the £4bn prison and probation budget by 20% over four years, promising to end a Victorian-style “bang ’em up” culture and reduce high reoffending rates by tackling the root causes. But after facing sustained criticism, he used an interview with The Times to dismiss characterisation of him as a minister who is “soft on crime.” He is preparing to publish a bill next month which will include proposals to allow for large sentence discounts in return for early guilty pleas and diverting the mentally ill away from jail. The goal is a 3,000 cut in the record 85,000 jail population in England and Wales in four years. – the Guardian

Ken Clarke today warns that expanding prison places is unsustainable and a waste of taxpayers’ money. The Justice Secretary also denies being politically isolated over plans to reduce prisoner numbers, insisting his stance has the full support of David Cameron and Cabinet colleagues. ‘I have never said anything on crime and punishment which is not the collective policy of the entire Government from top to bottom,’ he said. Mr Clarke stated he will not be moved from his view that prison is a waste of money which fails to effectively tackle re offending. He said: ‘It is financially unsustainable. That is not my principal motivation but it is pointless and very bad value for taxpayers’ money.’   Mr Clarke said that ‘warehousing’ prisoners fails to turn them away from a life of crime and is not the best way of dealing with drug addicts who might go straight if their habits were dealt with. – Daily Mail

Clegg to rally Lib Dems ahead of local elections

Lib Dem councils in England are doing a better job of protecting services than Labour and Conservative ones, Nick Clegg will argue as he rallies party candidates ahead of local elections. The deputy prime minister will say no Lib Dem-controlled council is closing a children’s centre or a library. He will accuse Labour town halls of “slash and burn” tactics and Tory councils of “mistakes” locally. – BBC News

Nick Clegg will tell Liberal Democrat activists to “take the fight” to the Conservatives in the battle for next month’s council elections in England. Campaigning in Sheffield today, he will say that the Liberal Democrats should attack the record of Tory-run authorities when they have implemented spending cuts such as closing libraries and children’s centres. He will claim that no Liberal Democrat-controlled council had shut a library or Sure Start centre, even though Labour and Tory authorities had done so. The Deputy Prime Minister’s remarks will be seen as another attempt to put light between the two Coalition parties ahead of the 5 May elections, when they will go head-to-head in many parts of the south, where Labour is weak. – the Independent

Calls for a recall grow

David Cameron last night faced demands for a recall of the Commons amid claims the UK was now pursuing an overt policy of regime change in Libya. Senior Conservative and Labour MPs said the Government had gone beyond the mandate given in last month’s Commons vote to protect civilians. The calls followed the publication of a joint article, by Mr Cameron, Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday, which said that it would be an “unconscionable betrayal” if dictator Muammar Gaddafi was allowed to remain in power. Three Tory backbenchers and two Labour members said that MPs – currently on their Easter break – should now return to Westminster to have their say on the latest developments. – Daily Herald

Conservative and Labour members said that the Prime Minister’s statement – made jointly with Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy – showed that the Libyan mission had moved from its original humanitarian purpose and was now about regime change. The Commons began its Easter recess last week and is not due to return until April 26. MPs said Parliament should be recalled to debate the apparent shift in strategy. John Baron, a Conservative MP, said: “I feel that mission in Libya has changed quite significantly.” David Davis, a former shadow home secretary, said Mr Cameron needed MPs’ approval for the new Libyan mission. “Parliament did not authorise the next phase. To go to the next phase he has to get parliamentary authority,” he said. – the Telegraph

Boris gets one over on Brian

The veteran peace campaigner Brian Haw faces eviction from an area of grass in Parliament Square Gardens after losing an attempt to launch a legal challenge against a possession order granted to the mayor of London. Haw’s longstanding presence on the pavement on the east side of Parliament Square is not, however, threatened by the order, which relates to his encroachment on to a small adjoining part of the gardens where he has pitched a tent. Haw has come under pressure to quit his decade-old protest just metres from Westminster Abbey as the royal wedding approaches. After the appeal attempt was lost, co-campaigner Barbara Tucker said she did not believe the eviction had anything to do with clearing the area for the royal wedding – “it is about getting rid of our peace campaign”. Last month, the mayor, Boris Johnson, won a high court possession order to evict Haw and Tucker. – the Guardian

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