Pick Of The Papers (25/11/13-1/12/13)
Woodhouse’ weekly pick of the papers is devoted to keeping A level politics students up to date with the political news and on track with the Unit 1 and Unit 2 syllabus.
Source: The Independent
Politics Topic: Parties Policies and Ideas
Summary: Voters in four key marginals were asked about the two main parties – neither came out well. Voters believe that Miliband lacks vision to become a future prime minister as his policy of an “energy freeze” is nothing more than a “sweetener” as well as the Conservatives due swing voters believing that they “favour the rich” and are associated with “cuts”.
ALevelPolitics Help: Labour leading in YouGov poll but Cameron claims Miliband’s policies are “weak”
Source: The Telegraph Party
Politics Topic: Policies and Ideas
Summary: Chancellor says he does ‘not agree’ with the comments the Mayor of London made arguing that because people have varying IQs economic equality is impossible. In a speech at the Margaret Thatcher lecture last week Mr Johnson suggested that economic equality will never be possible which some have suggested that he is Margaret Thatcher’s Heir. Mr Osborne has been the first Conservative to distance himself from the Mayor of London.
Source: The Telegraph
Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas
Summary: The Prime Minister has been told by a group of his own MPs that he risks division within the Conservative party if he waters down green policies to please the Right.
ALevelPolitics Help: Can Cameron claim a green government?
Source: The New Statesman
Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas
Summary: With the Tories his party’s main electoral foe, Clegg is seeking to woo the One Nation voters alienated by the Conservatives’ UKIP tendency. Any Labour/Lib Dem coalition after the next election is likely to be based upon common agreement in the policy areas of tax, the environment and housing. This is good news for Labour as Lib Dem voters believe that those three main areas plus jobs are the four key principles in the 2015 manifesto.
Source: The Independent
Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas
Summary: Downing Street is on the back foot over Ed Miliband’s energy price freeze policy as Labour suggests that the government is in disarray over energy freezes over energy companies stating that ministers asked them to halt energy price rises as well as condemning Labour for calling for energy freezes as they are a “con”.
ALevelPolitics Help: Cameron’s Dilemma
Weekly Parliament Roundup: 27/11/13-4/12/13
George Osborne released an Autumn statement on which was said to concentrate on delivering a responsible recovery. The statement aims to turn the political conversation back to the economy and to emphasise the fact that we are making considerable improvements as our growth forecast is upgrading and how we are now borrowing less.
Coalition action on Energy Bill Crisis
Recently, there have been Coalition plans to reduce energy bills by an average of £50 per year. In addition to this, the cost of insulating homes will be spread over a longer period and there are plans for a new £1000 incentive scheme given to new home buyers to help them insulate their homes. The government is hoping that this plan will turn attention away from Ed Miliband’s proposed plans to resolve the cost of living crisis which he has not failed to emphasise upon successfully for the last few months.
However, there are many rising issues associated with the plans and the most important one is that the coalition government have not yet made it clear on how these plans will be acted upon and is currently less clear compared to Miliband’s plans. Also, the £1000 incentive is apparently going to be paid off by extra tax avoidance and the £50 will still be paid by the taxpayer. If this is so, how will the government’s proposal be helping individuals if the money that will be supposedly ‘reduced’ from their bill has actually come out of their own pockets anyway?
At the beginning of the coalition it was quite obvious that despite their differences, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had the potential of creating an effective and stable government. The two parties have currently been letting their differences get the better of them and both parties think they’re going all the way to 2015. The Conservatives have been stressing to the Lib Dems that if they talk about what they’ve stopped them from doing and keep creating and strengthening their own agenda, the government will look weak and divided. The union that was immensely strong is beginning to break down as Nick Clegg has finally begun to stand firmly on his own two feet since he has been insisting that the Liberal Democrats crucially need to have their own agenda.
Labour’s silence on the economy
The Cost of Living Crisis has been Labour’s anthem for the last few months and Miliband has not allowed the issue from escaping the Tories’ minds. Even though the Labour party have been trying to make effective plan proposals to solve the issue, they haven’t said a word about the economy. It is hard to identify exactly why this might be but in according to David Cameron, the main reason why they aren’t talking about the economy is because it’s recovering. This might be true but it must be said that Labour has avoided being attacked by the opposition about the recovery of the economy because of their concentration on the Cost of Living Crisis. Yes it’s been like Miliband’s ongoing rant but it has worked in regards to turning attention away from the fact that the coalition government are actually improving the economy, without much of their input.
PMQs-Liberal Democrats vs. Labour
This week’s Prime Minister Questions was answered by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg as David Cameron visits China. The Deputy PM faced some grilling questions from the opposition, especially from Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman. Mr Clegg was asked by Harriet Harman this winter’s energy bills will be lower or higher and he answered that they would be higher if the coalition government didn’t take the action that they have. He also stated Harriet Harman’s party’s economically illiterate policy was ineffective and that they aren’t able to control energy prices. To add, Clegg also highlighted their inability to stand up to trade union paymasters but Harman hit back by telling Clegg to leave it to labour to handle its party members, especially since some of them used to be his.
Surprisingly, without mentioning the Conservatives, Clegg fired back at the opposition by saying that without the Liberal Democrats, there wouldn’t be a recovery and they didn’t suck up to the banks like labour did. Evidently, we are beginning to see a stronger and more independent side of Mr Clegg which is willing to stand firm by Liberal Democrat policies. However, the opposition still see him as weak and this is shown through Harriet Harman’s reference to Nick Clegg as ‘Cameron’s little helper’ on her recent website post.
Weekly Parliament Roundup: 20th -27th November
Cameron to take on Brussels:
A Liberal Democrat cabinet minister shared concerns that David Cameron is prepared to take on Brussels by imposing tougher conditions on European migrants. The minister claimed and stressed upon the fact that any rules on migrants’ eligibility to welfare payments should be discussed with all members of the European Union. David Cameron wants to extend the time that migrants stay in the UK before they are eligible to receive welfare payments. He believes that this would be the best way to ensure that the migrants don’t take advantage of the welfare system which is put in place to help genuine citizens in need. However, he will need an agreement and permission from the EU to do this but it is not obvious on how the conditions will be imposed.
In this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions there was an ongoing battle between Cameron and Miliband in regards to payday lenders and the cost of living crisis, including the proposed 20 month energy price freeze by Labour. When Ed Miliband attempted to attack Mr Cameron on the current payday lenders issue, the Prime Minister attacked back harder by stating that there are ‘dreadful practices’ which take place within the payday lenders industries and for 30 years, Labour has done nothing about it. The fact that the Conservatives are taking action on the payday lenders issue might highlight Labour’s inability to take action on their plans. More importantly, Mr Cameron pointed out that Mr Miliband has never asked a question in regards to payday lenders during for three years and it is only when it becomes an arising issue that Miliband feels the need to take an opportunity to begin questioning Mr Cameron’s intentions on the issue.
More Bobbies on the Beat:
There is to be a report on the future of policing in England and Wales which will recommend that there should be more guaranteed Bobbies on the beat in neighbourhoods. Labour asked Lord Stephens to carry out the enquiry and it will call for more neighbouring policing. Miliband stated that the report’s outcomes will be important for ‘helping communities and tackling crime’. In addition to this, it will also restrict the use of private company policing.
On Tuesday 26th , Scotland unveiled its blueprint for an Independent Nation. In the document, it states that an Independent Scotland would keep the British pound, have the Queen as a monarch, stay in in the EU and have access to the BBC. In addition, an independent Scotland would have its own defence force and even collect its own taxes. On top of all this, there are various other changes which Scotland also wishes for but the big question is, would an independent Scotland truly be independent? The very fact that they want to keep the British pound and the Queen as a monarch might slightly imply that Scotland doesn’t want to fully let go of the tight bond and benefits it has gained from being united with England. However, the document might be the first step for Scotland to achieve the freedom that they evidently wish for.
Labour tied to the Co-op Bank:
Despite the recent scandals that have been tied to the Co-operative bank, Labour can’t seem to get out of the trap of defending them when attacked about the issue by the Conservatives. The bank is one of the main major funders of the Labour party and it has been recently claimed that the party are heavily dependent on the bank for funding. Labour can’t actually deny support of this bank since their other major funders are trade unions and as they have recently been questioning trade union bosses, they can’t make the wrong move as they might lose both major funding sources. As a result of the issue, the Conservatives have found the perfect opportunity to keep questioning the Labour party about the Co-op bank as this will eventually make them weaker and weaker. The Conservatives don’t really know what they’re after with this but as long as Miliband gets a taste of his own interrogation medicine, Cameron will be just fine.
Old Labour vs New Labour
At the start of this year, Ed Miliband had set a clear path for the Labour Party to follow. Fearing that a radical approach would further alienate voters, he declared that his ‘One Nation’ Labour would acknowledge the lack of relevance that both strands in his party’s post-war history hold in 21st century Britain. Miliband professed that his Labour will reach out to voters alienated by the party in the 1980s, while also standing up to the vested interests courted by the party in government over the past decade. “New Labour”, he continued, “rightly broke from Old Labour to celebrate the power of private enterprise to energise the country … From crime to welfare to antisocial behaviour, New Labour was clear that we owe duties to each other as citizens.” He went on to criticise New Labour’s feebleness under the influence of big businesses, declaring:
“by the time we left office, too many of the people of Britain didn’t feel as if the Labour party was open to their influence, or listening to them.”
Miliband suggests that a sense of inevitable failure was deeply rooted within the policies of both Old and New Labour, and that, historically, his party has quite the poor record. However, is he right to brand these two strands of Labour under the same name? What are the main differences between the ideals of Old and New Labour, and how can this be seen through their policies?
New Labour tended to emphasise the idea of social justice, in contrast to the idea of social equality, which tended to be Labour’s focus under politicians such as Michael Foot. Ideas such as ‘minimum standards’ and ‘equality of oppurtunity’ started to emerge under Blair, sweeping aside concepts such as ‘equality of outcome’, which had started to develop into an aim during Old Labour’s more socialist history. Blair, sensing the toxic brand that Old Labour had become, removed any notion that communist ideals remained in the Labour Party by implementing a sense of merit into his policies, while retaining the more left-wing value of equal oppurtunities. For example, it is under New Labour that the minimum wage was introduced in April 1999, after being a central plank of Tony Blair’s 1997 election manifesto. The policy was hailed as one of the most successful in 30 years, and it is from this realm of ideals that New Labour morphed from its previous self into a more centrist party, dedicated to appealing to a broad spectrum of voters from a multitude of classes and backgrounds. Here lies the basis of Old and New Labour’s ideological differences, and perhaps the basis of Miliband’s sentiment that New Labour became weak and complacent: from a desire to please everyone spawned an inability to do so in a competent manner.
The fundamental differences between Old and New Labour can be seen through their attitudes towards crime prevention. Old Labour had traditionally held a more compassionate attitude towards criminality – looking at the sociological influence behind crime, as well as economic factors which may result in criminal tendencies. Parts of New Labour’s political philosophy did link crime with social exclusion, but a heavier conservative influence than Old Labour resulted in Blair paving a “Third Way” in relation to crime. He maintained a more traditional approach to crime than Old Labour: the prison population in 2005 rose to over 76,000, mostly due to the increasing length of sentences. Blair’s insistence that he was “tough on crime” (Labour MP Yvette Cooper still supports) was a way of convincing the public that he did not see criminals as victims of Thatcherism, which was argued by the Michael Foot Labour Party that Blair was so clearly anxious to set apart from his own party. Differing attitudes towards crime is just one way in which Blair seems to have been motivated by a widespread sense of disdain towards the stance of the Michael Foot Labour party, which fuelled a determination to hold very different ideals in relation to sectors such as crime. New Labour’s dedication to reducing anti-social behaviour can be seen through acts such as the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, which introduced Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs).
New Labour held a more prudent economic approach than Old Labour, who encouraged a ‘Tax and Spend’ policy in order to redistribute wealth through high taxation and increased government spending. Old Labour, of course, embraced the idea of public ownership, and it was important to Blair that his new party was not seen to be ideologically pursuing centralised public ownership in order to create a party that appealed to a wider range of voters, in particular the middle classes. He continued to pave a Third Way, by arguing that it was possible to maintain the efficiency of capitalism while achieving the aims of socialism that were key to keeping Labour’s working class base. Under New Labour, economic decisions were made that would maintain the party’s socialist roots such as Working Tax Credit, and Child Tax Credit. These state benefits for people on a low income who are struggling to raise a family highlighted that New Labour was keen to hold on to the strong working class base that Labour had inherited, while continuing to pursue economic growth. In a 2001 statement, Tony Blair insisted, ”We are a left of centre party, pursuing economic prosperity and social justice as partners and not as opposites”.
So, how similar are Old and New Labour? It would be naive to suggest that New Labour abandoned its socialist history completely, yet New Labour made a deliberate step away from Old Labour’s socialist brand. Old Labour’s ideological rejection of privatisation was dissolved by Blair’s Private finance initiative (PFI), a way of creating “public–private partnerships” by funding public infrastructure projects with private capital. Introduced into the London Underground, the NHS and schools, these policies raised money in the short-term without the need for higher taxes. This is just one way in which New Labour presented themselves as a “sensible”, pragmatic party in contrast to Old Labour’s dogmatic, ideologically-driven ways. New Labour wanted to build a practical, prosperous society and condemned Foot’s Labour as “stubborn” and “old-fashioned” through their insistence that nationalisation and equality of outcome is not a practical way forward.
New Labour – Purple Labour – was a radical step away from Old Labour’s ‘Red’ roots.
Weekly Parliament Roundup – 13/11/13-20/11/13
Geneva II Conference November 2013
Over the last few weeks, the Geneva conference has taken centre stage in the news, in regards to Iran’s nuclear projects. The conference was postponed to the 20th and has resumed over the past few days. Even though definite decisions have not yet been made, following his visit to Geneva, Foreign Secretary William Hague states that Britain’s aim is to create a “Interim first step agreement with Iran that can then create the confidence and the space to then create a comprehensive and final agreement”. The main question is however, is it too late for Britain to step in and try to give Iran guidance on the decision that it should make? The country seems set on making the brave choice to go ahead with their plans without the restrictions from America. Hopefully, Hague will make an influential effort to try and impose financial and energy sanctions against Iran, with the help of other countries such as France and Germany.
Increase in Tax Thresholds
Nick Clegg has made recent proposal plans to raise the income tax threshold to £10,500 and wishes for this to be done by April 2015. The Lib Dem leader already succeeded in getting the Conservatives to increase the tax threshold to £10,000 but he claims that by raising the threshold to a further £10,500, it would mean a tax cut of around £100 a year. Mr Clegg has suggested that part of this increase might be funded by the Mansion Tax but David Cameron has not shown any support of this proposal thus far. The main reason why this might be is because there is no clarity as to where this increase will be funded and a big criticism of this proposal is that it’s an extremely expensive way to deliver a positive outcome for the poorest.
Prime Minister’s controversial trip to Sri Lanka
The Prime Minister recently returned from his trip to Sri Lanka and on Monday, he told MPs in Parliament about the outcomes of his trip. In his speech, he emphasized the fact that it was an extremely difficult trip but it had various achievements. In addition, he announced that there will be a time limit to set up an enquiry on the human rights violation allegations and if Sri Lanka’s president doesn’t set up an enquiry by next year March, Cameron will use his way with the UN to get an International enquiry set up regarding the issue. Read up on Sri Lanka’s response to Cameron’s visit
Left Wing Unity Party
There have been recent talks about the setting up of a new Left Wing Unity Party. The proposed party will differ to other left wing parties by appealing to individuals who are not involved in any kind of politics. In other words, the party will try to attract those who feel dissatisfied with current left wing parties and their policies but yet don’t want to vote right wing. For now, these plans have not been finalised and there will be more information on this topic once any Parliamentary action has been taken.
Ed Miliband’s Childcare Cost talks and PMQs
Labour Leader Ed Miliband has been stressing upon the issue of the dramatic increase of problems with child care costs. He has even gone as far as stating that parents in England are facing a ‘childcare crunch’ and he believes that these issues need to be immediately addressed in order to reduce financial burden on parents. The main reason why there have been rises in childcare costs, he claims, is due to ‘broken coalition promises’ and he made this issue pretty clear as he intensely grilled David Cameron during this week’s PMQs where he also mentioned about closures of Sure Start services for disabled children. The PM hit back stating that when it comes to childcare, the Conservatives have provided 15 hours childcare for every 3 and 4 year old, 3 hours of free child care for disadvantaged 2 year old children and upgraded child tax credit by £420 which is something the Labour party never managed to do. Overall, the PMQs highlighted the growing tension between the two leaders. Click to read about how Ed Miliband vows to tackle ‘childcare crunch’
Weekly Parliament review – 6th -13th November 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron will still attend the Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka despite India and Canada boycotting the event. There have been calls for the PM to boycott the event, especially from Labour members who proposed that they would strongly support the Prime Minister if reversed his decision to attend. On the other hand, Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that if the Prime Minister decided not to attend the summit, it would damage the commonwealth without making any positive change in Sri Lanka. The summit will concern the country’s Human Rights records and Cameron has pledged to put ‘serious questions’ to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa about his regime’s widely condemned Human Rights records and allegations of war crimes against the Tamil minority.
Concerns over rise in personal debt in the UK
The Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee Mark Garnier has raised concerns over the level of personal debt in the UK. He recently stated on The World This Weekend on BBC Radio 4 over the issue:
“I think we’ve, as a society have got ourselves into a pretty terrible mess quite frankly. If you look at household debt as a percentage of household income, then you cast your mind back to the 1980s during the Lawson-boom; we saw household debt as a percentage of household income go from 70% to 80%, and that fuelled what was quite an exciting time for people, such as myself, who were starting their careers.
There are some real pressures on households, and certainly with energy prices. Obviously we’re having this huge debate at the moment in the House of Commons about energy prices, and we’ve got to come up with a proper answer to this, that households are under a certain pressure. But having said that, we have seen in the economy an extra one and a quarter million people in jobs, we’ve got more people in jobs than ever before. So actually what that has meant is that there’s more money collectively around.”
Help to buy scheme
It’s been a month since the Help to buy scheme has been introduced and on 11th November, Cameron will talk to the individuals who have already benefited from the scheme and make a speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet. There have been various criticisms from the opposition in regards to the type of people who are applying, but the scheme seems to be getting off to a good start as recent polls this week has shown that over 2,000 people have put forward offers to enter into the scheme. Additionally, recent polls also show that the majority of those who are placing offers for the scheme are in their early thirties and are also first time buyers-these are the type of individuals which The Tories would like to attract for the next General Elections.
Ed Miliband and Cost of living argument
Ed Miliband has pledged to ban payday lenders to stop advertising on children’s TV channels . On Tuesday 12th November, Miliband took part in an apposition debate where he pledged for the bedroom tax of what the ministers call the ‘spare room subsidy’. The cost of living has been an issue which Miliband has been determined to highlight in Parliament. 54% of people agree that if people are living in a house that is subsidised by the tax payer and they have a spare room, they should receive less housing benefits.
Overall, the week in Parliament heavily consisted of talks about whether or not the Prime Minister should boycott the Commonwealth conference and the benefits and progress of the Rights to buy scheme. Ed Miliband’s “cost of living crisis” campaign which was raised 12th November in the opposition debate has left Nick Clegg wanting to “fightback”, says the Independent. In next week’s review, we will look more closely and in full about this week’s Geneva Conference and William Hague’s proposals regarding the Iraq Nuclear programme.
Pick of the Papers (4/11/13-10/11/13)
Woodhouse’ weekly pick of the papers is devoted to keeping A level politics students up to date with the political news and on track with the Unit 1 and Unit 2 syllabus.
Source: The Guardian
Politics topic: Elections
Summary: Labour is frustrated by Conservative stalling over agreeing to the general election TV debates between the leaders, Miliband has a “boost in ratings” and “most people, including Mr Miliband, mainly attribute this to the impact of his pledge to freeze energy bills”. 80% of voters “favour the energy price freeze but only half as many think he could actually deliver it”.
ALevelPolitics help: Read the energy bill crisis article on Cameron’s dilemma
Source: The Independent
Politics topic: Democracy and Participation
Summary: Parties will change their economic decisions and policies to people who actually vote, not people who do not vote. Turnout has fallen among the young and the least affluent and ”The cuts have disproportionately affected the young and the poor – precisely those groups that vote with least frequency,” says the report. “More worryingly, unequal turnout unleashes a vicious cycle of disaffection and under-representation among those groups. This downward spiral risks permanently excluding these citizens from electoral life… and thus threatens a central claim of democracy: that every citizen’s preference, no matter their status, should count equally.”
ALevelPolitics help: Read the Russell Brand Vs Jeremy Paxman article on the comedian/actor’s view on voting, apathy and indifference
Source: The Independent
Politics topic: Party policies and ideas/Elections
Summary: UKIP, considered one of the smaller parties are on the “cusp of a national breakthrough” and are edging ahead of the Liberal Democrats in the polls. Farage’s main problems are the “squabbling” that is occurring within the party and the response to his policy on immigration.
ALevelPolitics help: Read the UKIP article on policies and elections
Source: The Daily Mail
Politics topic: Party policies and ideas/Judges and Civil Liberties
Summary: The mess in the Unite vote-rigging scandal puts more pressure on the Labour leader to start an inquiry into it. Conservative MP Priti Patel said the tactics of the union were unacceptable and asked detectives in Hampshire and Scotland to investigate whether they had been in breach of the law.
Source: The Telegraph
Politics topic: Party policies and ideas
Summary: Philip Hammond says the legislation of the same-sex message was “damaging” for the Conservative party because ”it created a perception that the leadership was in a different place to the core of the party’s active supporters”. Hammond also believes that it was “pushed through too quickly” and that on a separate matter the party needs to continue in reforming its agenda (Education and Welfare state).
Source: The Telegraph
Politics Topic: Party policies and ideas
Summary: Clegg has been tailoring his speeches to the most loyal of his voters and “pressure is growing for the Deputy PM to show that he believes in more than just stopping other parties doing things”. Clegg states he would not allow the Coalition to take its “foot off the pedal now” on cutting carbon emissions and The Lib Dem party are trying to be seen as capable of improving any government but one that shouldn’t be taken alone, therefore, supporting a future coalition.
UKIP, the UK Independence Party is a right-wing political party that was established in 1993. Their views are often seen as being more radical than the other political parties, like their immigration policies and proposed EU referendum.
There is constant controversy surrounding UKIP due to its proposal of radical changes to immigration, such as implementing a five year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement and disallowing immigrants to apply for public housing and benefits until they have paid tax for five years. Some argue they are racist, as they are exploiting immigrants’ rights. UKIP deny that, claiming they are not against race but against an ‘open-door’ policy.
Nigel Farage stated that in the past 10 years, there has been more migration into Britain than between 1066 and 1950. Anna Soubry, the defence minister, said that Nigel Farage was ‘scaremongering’ and putting ‘fear in people’s hearts’ with his anti-immigration rhetoric and ‘prejudice’. Farage hit back at Soubry’s remarks by calling them ‘abusive’ and it showed how the Conservatives were ‘terrified’ about the rise of UKIP. Its policy to end ‘mass uncontrolled immigration’ certainly seems like a popular policy at the time of recession, it seems inevitable that UKIP’s electoral power will begin to grow.
UKIP are most known for their belief in withdrawing from the EU, this view is not held by any other mainstream political party, who have all adopted a more centrist position towards the EU. Farage wants an ‘amicable divorce’ from the European Union, and Britain will only maintain trading links with its neighbouring countries and end its membership. The policy seems to have wide support amongst British voters and crucially amongst leading Conservative MP’s and members.
So, how many votes have UKIP secured? At local elections, they have made steady and significant ground with 227 UKIP councillors. However this is more symbolic, the Conservatives have 8,550 and Labour have 8,151 councillors respectively. But it is at the EU Parliamentary elections that they have made the most significant progress, with 11 out of 73 UK seats, and not far behind with 13 seats are Labour and with 12 seats are the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives still have the largest share. UKIP can be seen in many ways as a pressure group, attempting to use elections to pressure political parties and in particular the Conservatives into a more anti-Eu position.
However, UKIP have not actually won any seats in the Houses of Commons, yet. With the existing electoral system: first past the post, it looks improbable that they will, as they would have to damage a large majority largely from Conservative constituencies. Moreover, they would need a large concentration of voters in a particular constituency in order to win at least one seat. Although they have 30,000 members, many view the party to have incorporated racists and fascists. Former UKIP member Chris Pain was found to have posted alleged racist comments on Facebook and was expelled from the party in September. In the same month of Pain’s expulsion, UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended claims about his schooldays after Channel 4 claimed to have a letter from his teachers from 1981, describing him as a ‘fascist’ and a ‘bully’. In August, MEP Godfrey Bloom was filmed on camera saying British aid shouldn’t be sent to ‘Bongo, Bongo Land’, referring to third-world countries, however later regretted his remarks. All these examples may show that members of UKIP have closet racist views.
In the next general election, Nigel Farage claims that by 2015, UKIP membership will be the third highest in the country. He also says: UKIP is still ‘on course’ to be a significant political force in the 2015 general election despite a shambolic conference, overshadowed by Godfrey Bloom’s comments about women.
UKIP will continue to attract support due to the present economic climate, public opposition towards immigration and anti-EU sentiments. With their sights on next years EU parliament elections and the 2015 general election UKIP may still ‘cause an earthquake in British politics’.
Energy Bills – Is Cameron ‘panicking‘ yet?
Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed politicians persistently speaking of energy prices rocketing and of the ‘Big Six’ making huge profits from the bills of their overcharged customer’s, of whom are without any knowledge of they came to be so high in price. Many individuals who are unable to afford these high prices are left confused and deceived by their energy supplier and blame PM David Cameron for not taking action against this ever increasing issue. Recently, the problem has been addressed by Cameron in parliament and of who has even been in discussion with Neck Clegg in order to find a way to get household bills down and made sustainable. The “big” questions are; how soon and how will he make changes to the British taxpayer’s energy bill?
According to research by uSwitch, energy bill suppliers such as the likes of British Gas have a current bill at around £1,340 and the new bill is said to raise to a staggering £1,465 – an increase of £125 which will make lives extremely hard for customers struggling to survive financially. Shockingly, The British Gas Boss has currently seen a pay rise of 40% in line with bills. This alone should be enough to persuade Cameron to revisit his Social Conservative ideologies and not only do something to prevent the energy suppliers from unfairly profiting from these bills but to also prevent them from stealing from the people’s pockets, the same British people he highly values and encourages to work hard for their country.
In the run up to the 2015 elections, Labour looks like they’re one step ahead of Cameron on energy issues as Ed Miliband promised in the recent Labour conference to put a 20 month freeze on the energy bills if he wins the next election. In fact, Cameron’s inability to put energy cut action plans on paper has given the Labour party an opportunity to criticise his priorities and responsibility to the public. During the conference, Caroline Flint,the shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary ,said consumers were ‘’sick and tired of being left out of pocket because of David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies’’.
Despite criticisms, it is clear that Cameron is ready to take a stand against the ‘Big Six’ by proposing to cut the energy bill prices. However, it is still uncertain as to how and when he is going to do this. He has already begun to focus on the green aspect of the average household fuel bill which currently stands at £112. The Liberal Democrats have insisted that only £50 of the bill really subsidies the issues e.g wind and solar power, and they suggest that £62 is help for householder and it should subsidies for greener boilers and insulation. Focusing on greener energy such as these will aid the government in helping to keep the bills down.
Hopefully, these plans in discussion will be Cameron’s stepping stones into helping him put a stop to the rising energy bills for once and for all.
Recent figures have shown the UK unemployment rate dropped to 7.7% between May and June from 7.8% in the previous three months. The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in July fell by 32,600 to 1.4 million, its lowest level since February 1992. In recent weeks, David Cameron and George Osborne have boasted about the UK economy “turning a corner”. It seems this statement holds some validity.
When discussing unemployment, we must consider that this is a recovering economy and even the Prime Minister admits this government has “still a long way to go”. The economy is at least moving in the right direction which is good news for the unemployed.
Mark Carney, The governor of the Bank of England has set a target rate of 7% before interests rates are likely to be raised. This is one of the main reasons why the unemployment rate has been brought to everyone’s attention lately. Mr Carney expects this target to be reached within the next three years.
These figures suggest that the jobs market is recovering and we are on track to come down to the target rate of 7%. What they don’t tell us is the worrying stats for youth unemployment and the increase of part-time work which is definitely not the solution.
Youth unemployment (16-24) increased by 15,000 to reach 973,000. The number of people working part-time because they cannot find a full-time job rose to 1.45 million.
Labour often criticise the Coalitions failure to address rising youth unemployment. The Youth Contract was the flagship coalition scheme to get young people back into work however it has missed its target by more than 92% and the amount of benefits being given to young people has risen. Labour has proposed a ‘real jobs guarantee’ which would see all under 25s unemployed for one year offered six months of work. Sound familiar? Critics of Blair and Brown say that job creation lay largely in the public sector and created ‘pointless’ jobs. Youth unemployment according to Clegg rose 40% under Labour. Where Miliband plans to find these placements is unclear, if he plans on working with private companies then it seems awfully similar to the highly criticised work programme which saw claimants having to work at Poundland and Tesco to ensure benefits. If he plans on finding these places in the public sector then he may just be repeating the mistakes of the previous Labour government.