Weekly Parliament Roundup: 26/09/14-3/10/14

5 October, 2014 Politics
Weekly Parliament Roundup: 26/09/14-3/10/14

Cameron pledges to scrap Human Rights Act for British Bill

David Cameron has announced during the Conservative Party Conference that a future majority Conservative government will repeal Labour’s landmark legislation and replace it with a “British Bill of Rights”. The proposed British Bill of Rights will intend to transform Britain’s relationship with the European court of human rights. There have been many criticisms towards this new proposal and some argue that the British Bill of Rights would be ‘incoherent’ in the sense that  it will only increase the number of cases that go to Strasbourg, and will almost certainly produce more, not fewer, negative rulings against the UK. Cameron and some Tories would argue that the Human Rights Act gives Strasbourg the power to order British judges around. However, it is evident that it does not since Strasbourg’s power is derived entirely from the international agreement from which we are not withdrawing (for now). All the act does is advice UK courts to take Strasbourg jurisprudence into account.

More tax cut promises from Tories

During the Conservative Party Conference , the Prime Minister promised that a future majority Tory government will raise the personal income tax threshold by £2,000 a year as well as lifting the 40% tax band to £50,000. Furthermore, Cameron plans to Increase the tax-free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,000, saying that it will ensure that full-time workers on the minimum wage were exempt from paying income tax. Lifting the 40% tax rate would cost £1.6bn to implement if the Tories did so in April 2020. Also, he argued that by raising the income tax threshold to £12,500, a further 1 million people would be taken out of paying income tax altogether. This would cost £5.6bn and would mean that people in a full-time job on the minimum wage would pay no tax. The personal tax threshold is due to be raised to £10,500 from next April after strong pressure from the Liberal Democrats.

Lord Hill recalled for more questioning by MEPs

The UK’s candidate to join the European Commission, Lord Hill, has been asked to attend another hearing of MEPs to assess his suitability for the job. The Conservative politician, nominated by UK PM David Cameron is running for a financial position –one which is quite doubtful since the UK is not in the Eurozone. On Wednesday, he told MEPs he will act for all 28 EU member states and is not a representative of the City of London. All 27 commissioners nominated by EU states must get the approval of the European Parliament before they can join Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s top team. He was seen to have underperformed at his first hearing, with certain MEP’s describing him as ‘’charming but empty’’. He promised to work in the general interest of all 28 EU countries, but many MEPs still see him as David Cameron’s man. Hopefully, he succeeds in convincing the MEPs that he’s the right candidate for the position.

Ed Miliband vows to increase funding for NHS

Ed Miliband has said a future Labour government would pay for 36,000 more doctors, nurses and midwives, partly funded by a tax on tobacco firms. The Labour leader told his conference the £2.5bn funding pledge to “save and transform” the NHS by 2020 would be the centrepiece of his plan for government. It will be paid for by a “mansion tax”, a crackdown on tax avoidance and a levy on tobacco firms’ market share. Moreover, he stated that Labour’s mission is to ‘restore people’s faith in the future’. Mr Miliband said he would boost NHS funding without extra borrowing or asking working people to pay extra tax. The extra resources, he said, would provide for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 more midwives by 2020.

By Gloria Ganda

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-19th September 2014

21 September, 2014 Politics
Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-19th September 2014

Cameron promises more devolution after no vote in Scottish independence referendum

After  Scotland’s  referendum results on Thursday which confirmed that the Scottish people wanted to stay in the United Kingdom with a no vote of 55%, David Cameron has  promised a ‘devolution revolution’ across Great Britain, including votes on English issues by English MPs at Westminster, as he hailed Scotland’s decision to remain inside the UK. In the speech that he made after the referendum results, Cameron made clear that the constitutional reforms, including in Scotland, would not be delivered until after the general election, and that Scottish measures would proceed in tandem with changes in England. He insisted that, “We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must be heard,”  Now that Scotland will be getting more powers, many cities such as London are able to look forward to the prospect of being able to make more independent decision.

NHS is Labour’s priority for next General Election

Ed Balls has recently expressed the idea that Labour will seek to fight the next election on the twin issues of stagnant living standards and safeguarding the NHS. Balls also said that voters would only back labour’s promise of change if it seen to be credible and costed. In an effort to show his determination to be tough on public spending he ruled out free universal child care in the next parliament, as well as free bus passes for 16- to 18-year-olds.Furthermore, he said that he would not be imposing extra taxes to pay for the health service, but promised to do “whatever it takes to save the NHS”. Click here for information on the Labour party conference: 

Beheading of British captive will only strengthen resolve, says Cameron

David Cameron has insisted that the beheading of a British captive by ISA would only strengthen the resolve of the UK against Jihadists. He has not yet clarified whether Britain will join air strikes by the US designed to halt the advance of ISIS and support Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces. Furthermore, Cameron made clear that Britain wanted to form part of a broad international coalition against the Islamic extremists working through the UN. Nick Clegg also mentioned that the government will not rest until the killers faced justice.

Victims to confront offenders in court in new law

The right of victims to confront their offenders in court is to be enshrined in law. This could possibly allow to the victims to have their say and to have a peace of mind in regards to telling their offenders how they feel and to question their actions and motives. This new law will also ban publicly funded lawyers from taking on sex offence cases unless they’ve had training. Furthermore, the suggestion in this law that a witness will be able to give evidence without going into the courtroom will benefit witnesses and allow them to tell their account without feeling intimidated or nervous in any way. However, according to Sadiq Khan, the Shadow Justice Secretary, the government are consistently letting down victims and this new law is probably one of the last minute plans of a dying government in the last few months.

By Gloria Ganda

Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 8th-15th September 2014

15 September, 2014 A2 Politics, Exam
Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 8th-15th September 2014

Pick of the Papers

By Kevin Augustine

Fracking is a toxic issue for Conservative party grassroots

Anti-fracking campaigners near Westby, Lancashire.

Source: The Guardian

As Topic: Elections

A2 Politics: Environment

Fracking has the ability to give the UK another supply for energy, which has the potential to drive down energy prices for the economy. However, this has caused great controversy in safe Tory seats, with constituents pledging to run anti-fracking campaigns and research from Greenpeace and the Guardian has shown that 120 safe seats have protest groups in them. On top of this, 31 of the 40 key marginal seats identified by the party have these protest groups. This bodes ill for the Conservative party, who have deviated from green policy.

 

The TTIP hands British sovereignty to multinationals

Ukip TTIP

Source: The Guardian

A2 Topic: Economic Policy

The TTIP is a treaty between the EU and the USA, being marketed by its champions as a economic stimulus package for ailing Europe, providing up to £100bn in extra growth. It is presented as a free trade agreement, but existing tariffs on either side of the Atlantic are already weak because of common membership of organisations such as the World Trade Organisation. But you will not see UKIP nor Cameron riding to British defence as the actual aim is to strip away obstacles to large corporations making profits such as regulations that protect our privacy, the environment, food safety and the economy from a rapacious financial sector. And crucially TTIP further opens up public services to private companies motivated primarily by profit rather than people’s needs.

 

Chris Grayling unveils victims’ rights reform

Source: The Guardian

As Topic: Judiciary

A2 Topic: Crime and Order

The right of victims of crime to directly confront the offenders in court is to be enshrined in law, the government has said. And publicly funded lawyers are to be barred from taking on serious sex offence cases unless they have undergone specialist training. Grayling said: “Our criminal justice system can be daunting, and victims, especially the most vulnerable, can find it traumatic and difficult to know where to turn to for advice and support.” These reforms aim to put the victim first and solidify the victim’s rights in law.

 

Bank of England boss: interest rates likely to rise months before wages do

Mary Carney at the TUC congress

Source: The Guardian

A2 Topic: Economic policy

The Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, has warned workers that interest rates will rise before they see a rise in real wages. At the TUC conference in Liverpool, Carney cited bank forecasts of real wage growth about the middle of next year. Wages fell 0.2% in the three months to June this year, a decline that contrasted sharply with inflation of 1.6% in July. Carney warned that workers would have to improve productivity and skills to have any chance of getting real-term pay.

 

EU olive branch for David Cameron as Lord Hill appointed to senior financial services post

Source: The Independent

A2 Topic: Britain and the EU

David Cameron’s hopes of winning a better deal in Europe for Britain were boosted today after Lord Hill, the UK’s new European Commissioner, was chosen for the key financial services post in Brussels. But Lord Hill’s honeymoon lasted only a few hours, as Socialist and Green MEPs threatened to veto his appointment unless he promises to take a tough line on bankers’ bonuses.

 

 

 

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th-12th September 2014

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th-12th September 2014

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th -12th September

By Gloria Ganda

0.7% of national income to be given to foreign aid?

MPs have backed a new law which commits to spending 0.7% of national income on foreign aid. This means that roughly £11bn per year will be given to international aid and development after the Tories have finally backed the Liberal Democrat bill which is also supported by Labour. The legislation was opposed by just seven Conservative MPs and both the Tories and the Liberals are one step ahead of fulfilling one of their manifesto promises to put the 0.7% measure into law. Despite the majority agreeing to the new legislation, the Tories primarily were hesitant towards the legislation as they thought it was unpopular with their grassroots in the difficult economic climate which we are in. However, it looks as though the Legislation could soon come to force.

Polls tighten on Scottish Independence Referendum

With the Scottish Independence Referendum only days away (18th September), the polls are illustrating that for now, it is too close to call whether Scotland will be staying in or pulling out of the UK. Thus far, the No campaign is leading with 51% but the Yes campaign are closely catching up with 49%. Despite this, there are still 17% of voters who are still undecided. The no campaign is still reaching closer and closer, despite a week of intense political campaigning by pro-union politicians and repeated warnings from business about the dangers of independence. The ultimate decision heavily depends on the voters who are not yet decided but either way, we will be able to witness the fate of Scotland and their relationship with the UK on the 18th .

Boris selected to stand for Tories in Uxbridge and South Ruislip

Boris Johnson is set to make his great comeback to Westminster after being elected as the Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip on Friday night. Johnson defeated three other candidates on the short list following a secret ballot of party members in the constituency. He wants to return in team for a leadership contest which might take place if Cameron loses the general election next year. He stated that the process was “very enjoyable” and paid tribute to his three unsuccessful opponents. Furthermore, Boris denied that this was the start of a campaign to enter Downing Street and was instead the beginning of a battle to retain the west-London seat, which has a Tory majority of more than 11,000, for the Conservatives and stopping Labour from winning the next election.

Woodhouse’ Weekly Pick of the Papers: 1st-8th September 2014

8 September, 2014 Exam, Unit 3 UK Issues
Woodhouse’ Weekly Pick of the Papers: 1st-8th September 2014

Pick of the Papers

Examples to use for A-level Government and Politics exams. Click the links for articles and for more information.

General Election 2015: Housing and childcare  to be Lib Dems’ manifesto keystones.

Source: The Independent

A2 Topic: Welfare

AS Topic: Elections

Summary: Nick Clegg has launched 300 new policies in the pre-draft of his manifesto before the Glasgow conference which takes place in october. and it has emerged that Housing and childcare are the main priorities that the Lib Dems will prioritise if there is another hung parliament. Promising to build 300,000 homes a year and £2.8bn a year in expansion it is a key part of the Lib Dems’ dream to “ to help all families with childcare support and nursery education right the way through from the end of parental leave to the start of school.” The Tories to them “are more bothered about helping only some couples through a married couples’ tax break.”

 

Scottish Independence: George Osborne offers Scotland fresh powers, but says no to sharing the pound.

Source: The Independent

AS Topic: Constitution/Parliament

A2 Topic: Welfare state

Summary: As the Yes Campaign is gaining more support towards the referendum date of 18th of September, Westminster has panicked, offering more powers to Scotland, including more tax powers, welfare powers and control over the welfare state. However, Osborne is still adamant over the Scots not allowing to enter a currency union with the rest of the UK if it leaves the union.

 

Celebrity photos leak: Lib Dems pledge a digital bill of rights to protect privacy in its election manifesto.

Source: The Independent

AS Topic: Democracy

A2 Topic: Crime and Order

Summary: The Lib Dems have promised to crack down on intimate photos being posted online without the consent of the person in response to hackers who posted intimate photos of female celebrities. They have also called for a ‘digital bill of rights’ in which the individual has their privacy protected as well as giving them more control over their personal data. Julian Huppart, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman has stated “Protecting people’s privacy is an essential part of building the society we want to live in, and when people violate that, there have to be proportionate powers available to hold those responsible to account.”

 

George Osborne denies UK defence spending will fall below 2% of GDP

Source: The Guardian

AS Topic: PM and Cabinet

A2 Topic: Economy

Summary: As austerity measures continue to be implemented in the UK economy, Osborne has refused to comment on the thinktank Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) which has claimed that defence spending will fall to 1.8%, instead stating that “I think we need to continue to meet the 2% commitment,” adding that as chancellor he will always put Britain’s security needs first. This is in response to the growing threat of Isis in which two American journalists have been executed and a third British person is under threat.

 

Rail fare rises will be capped, says George Osborne

George Osborne has outlined proposals to strip non UK residents of their personal tax allowances

Source: The Telegraph

A2 Topic: Economy

Summary: Osborne has announced that rail fares can only rise in terms of RPI (retail price inflation) which went up by 2.5 points this summer. Talking to the Sun, the Chancellor stated that “Support for hardworking taxpayers is at the heart of our long term economic plan” and has said that train firms will lose the flexibility to raise fares, thus giving more certainty to railway travellers.

 

By Kevin Augustine

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 1st September – 5th September 2014

6 September, 2014 A2 Politics
Weekly Parliament Roundup: 1st September – 5th September 2014

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 1St September – 5th September

 

No return home for British Jihadists?

Following the recent Syrian Crisis, David Cameron’s unveiling of anti-terror laws on Monday failed to include specific proposals regarding the prospect of British born citizens coming back to the UK after being involved in acts of terrorism in Syria. Cameron emphasised on the fact that we need a ‘targeted, discretionary power to allow us to exclude Brit Nationals from the UK’ but he failed to state how we would go about in doing this. At the moment, this action would not be following the conducts of Law and order since removing the passports from returning British Citizens would not only be a breach of International Law but it will also be a breach of UK common Law. Despite this, the prospect of banning returning Brit Jihadists might be put into action soon as there have been possible proposals to provide the police with temporary powers to seize their passports. Even with this option, there are still difficulties with the legalities of of doing so, especially for those with dual nationalities as it might make it harder for them to exercise their citizenship rights. Hopefully, more will be told soon about the actions that are being taken in regards to this matter.

Promise of free school meals for all primary school pupils

The Liberal Democrats have pledged that all primary school pupils will receive free school meals if the party has a role to play in the next government. This pledge follows the recent decision to provide free meals for five –to seven-year olds, which has received some criticism for being so restrictive with the age group. As a result, Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws told The Independent that the party ‘never planned to keep it to just five-to seven –year-olds’ and are willing to extend it to all pupils if the next general action results in a coalition or majority for the party. At the moment there are no specific details on the timing of this programme but according to Laws, the pledge would be delivered by September 2019.  If the Lib Dems do get a positive outcome in the next General Election and this proposal is completed, it might prove to be a huge advantage for parents as it will enable them to save more, thus possibly improving the standard of living.

More Job Growth in UK than rest of EU

According to David Cameron, The UK has seen more net employment growth over 4 years than the rest of the EU put together. Even though Cameron, who was said to be unsure of the source when addressing it at a private meeting, this statement is most likely to be accurate due to the fact that official illustrate how the UK has seen 1.6 million extra people find jobs, coming second to Germany who have seen 1.7 million people find jobs. Britain’s figure is significantly more effective compared to the rest of the EU as a single block who have lost 770,000 people from the workforce. Despite these figures implying that Britain is doing well in terms of providing work for more people in the last four years, we have to question the nature/types of jobs which are being created. Most of these ‘new jobs’ are in the form of zero-hour contracts which bring about low productivity.

By Gloria Ganda

 

 

 

Arguments against an elected Lords

Arguments against an elected Lords

One argument against an elected second chamber is the danger that it could become a ‘mirror image’ of the Commons. People would be likely to vote along their usual party lines, meaning that Lords would have to focus on political tactics to get elected, such as charisma, rather than expertise. Many current Lords are human rights experts (which has been very significant in relation to the Human Rights Act) or other examples of the growing ‘professionalism’ of the chamber, but these people would be less likely to stand for election or be successful. However, the fact that unelected people can decide on fundamental principles like human rights undermines Britain’s claim to be a modern democracy.

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Coalition and Parliament: 10 crucial votes

Coalition and Parliament: 10 crucial votes

Taken from Revolts.co.uk

Ten votes in the Commons that tell the story of the Coalition and its relationship with the House of Commons.

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How effective is the House of Commons?

How effective is the House of Commons?

The Commons could be argued to be effective in scrutinising the government through questions. Although main questions require advance warning to ministers, supplementary ones do not, and ministers are expected to regularly appear to be ‘interrogated’. ‘Urgent Questions’ can be particularly effective – in 2012, Education Secretary Michael Gove had to seriously consider GCSE reforms after they were met with opposition in the Commons. This showed that questions can help in the function of holding the government to account. However, the scripted nature of rituals like PMQ’s means that it can be more of a media contest between leaders than an actual way to find out details of government policy.

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The Coalition Government Policy Fault-lines

The Coalition Government Policy Fault-lines

The coalition is generally united over policies and ideas, many of the big reforms of this government, austerity, health and education have all passed due to agreement at cabinet level. Both parties combined their manifestos and developed a working document for government in 2010 and suggested 70% of their manifestos were adopted. There are, however a number of areas where disagreement has emerged, particularly constitutional matters and Europe. 

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