Friday News Review

C’mon Carwyn

Carwyn Jones will today unveil his new Cabinet after swearing an oath of office and formally taking the reins of government. A list of up to 12 Labour AMs nominated as ministers was sent to Buckingham Palace yesterday to receive the Queen’s approval, which is expected to arrive today. Mr Jones will then reveal the make-up of his new Labour-only Cabinet after winning 30 seats in last week’s Assembly Election, making them by far the largest party but with no majority. Mr Jones announced on Tuesday that he would be going it alone as head of a Labour-only Government rather than seek a deal with any other party. He said yesterday: “I am honoured to serve the people of Wales as First Minister and begin our ambitious programme to create a fairer, more prosperous country in these challenging times.” – Western Mail

We’ve gone six years back

Households may have suffered their biggest drop in take-home incomes for 30 years, a leading economic think-tank has warned. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that analysis of new official figures suggest it was “entirely possible” that median incomes dropped by 3% in 2010-11. Such a fall would leave income levels back where they were six years earlier, the IFS said. The IFS’s analysis is based on household income data for 2009-10 just released by the Department for Work and Pensions. It shows that median incomes continued to grow by 1.6% – following similar sluggish growth the previous year – despite the effects of the recession. However, the IFS warned that these increases were likely to have “more than unwound” in 2010-11 as the long-term effects of the recession are felt and higher inflation erodes living standards. It said that data already available for the first 11 months of 2010-11 showed earnings fell by 3.8%, while its own forecasts pointed to a fall in median incomes of around 3%. – Daily Mirror

The first of many

The Liberal Democrat group in Rochdale has announced changes to its leadership.  Councillor Wera Hobhouse will take over from Councillor Irene Davidson as the Leader of the group and Councillor Zulfiqar Ali will take over from Councillor Dale Mulgrew as the Deputy Leader of the group. Councillor Hobhouse has been a Councillor in the Norden since 2004 and Councillor Ali has been a Councillor for Central Ward since 1998 and is the outgoing Mayor. The move comes following a difficult year for the Lib Dems. Towards the back end of 2010 seven members broke away and formed the short-lived Independent Alliance group. A further three Councillors have since defected to the Conservative party. The group also suffered heavily on election night. – Rochdale News

Physics could be the next to suffer

Deep funding cuts could put the UK’s prominence in astronomy and particle physics at risk, MPs have said. The Science and Technology Committee says astronomy funding will fall by 20% over four years – the science budget’s average real-terms cut was 14.5%. The MPs say some of the resulting cuts are likely to deter leading scientists from working in the UK. The government says it has protected the science budget but cannot make individual funding decisions. Committee chairman Labour MP Andrew Miller said: “If you don’t invest in big science at the level it needs, it’s going to have a big impact on our competitiveness and pre-eminence in areas that are important to the country.” – BBC News

Clegg fires independence warning

Nick Clegg has warned Alex Salmond not to “misinterpret his mandate” by believing the SNP’s landslide victory in the Holyrood election was an expression of support for Scottish independence. The Deputy Prime Minister also did not rule out completely Westminster instigating its own Scottish referendum.That would almost certainly pre-empt the one planned by the First Minister well into the second half of the five-year Holyrood Parliament, ie from 2014 onwards. He said: “I’m not personally – at the moment – persuaded that what we want to do is try and develop some sort of Gunfight at the OK Corral, where we threaten each other with referendums. I’m not sure that is the best way to proceed.” However, Mr Clegg, appearing before the Commons Constitutional and Political Reform Committee, seemed to suggest the door on a Westminster referendum had not been entirely closed. – Daily Herald

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