Compassion, not coercion, is the answer to Britain’s drug problem.
Over the last two weeks, the main talking point in British politics has been the televised debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage concerning the issue of Europe. As much as I hate to admit it, Nigel Farage came off far better, and Clegg was largely left mumbling about how Farage either loves Putin or was a conspiracy theorist who thought Elvis was still alive. It was clear that the two men are not obvious political allies, and that they are divided on almost every issue. I say almost, because there is one area on which the two men find consensus: drug policy reform.
Farage declared that the war on drugs had been lost ‘many, many years ago’, and that he supported full decriminalisation. I never thought that I would say this, but bravo Mr Farage. Completely at odds with his party, the Ukip leader has bravely gone exactly where he should be going. Ukip advertises itself as a Libertarian Party, and by supporting full decriminalisation of drugs in the UK, Farage is showing that this claim might not be totally off the mark. I’ve always been sceptical of the claim that Ukip were Libertarians, it seemed to me that they were Libertarian about issues they wanted to be (environment and taxation) and not so much about issues they didn’t want to be (same-sex marriage and drug legalisation), but perhaps with the announcement that Farage does support same-sex marriage, followed by this new announcement, they will soon genuinely be able to make that claim.
Likewise, in February of this year, Clegg announced, after a visit to Columbia, that, ‘if you are anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform’. Impressively, Clegg became the first party leader to stand up against our failed drug policy and say that things needed to change. Although some may see this as an attempt to differentiate the Lib-Dems from the Conservatives in the run-up to the general election, it is, without doubt, a step in the right direction. The general public have realised that British Drug laws aren’t working, with the majority of people agreeing that government’s approach to illegal drugs is ineffective, and now politicians are beginning to realise too.
I think that most people agree that drugs are an awful stain on our society, but this does not mean that criminalisation is the answer. People die at the hands of these drugs, but there is no evidence to suggest that making them illegal means that fewer people will take them. The country that spends the most money, by far, on its anti-drugs campaign is the United States, and yet, it leads the table for the highest cocaine use in the world, it leads the table for the highest cannabis use in the world, and it leads the table for the most people in prison for drug use in the world. Why? Wouldn’t you expect, given the amount of money that is spent on keeping people from using drugs, that the rates of abuse would be much lower? Portugal is another interesting case study. In 2001, drug use was decriminalised across the country, and yet, its annual prevalence of cocaine use is 0.3% compared to the US’ 2.8%, and its annual prevalence of cannabis use is 7.6% compared to the US’ 51.6%. Put simply, the United States’ drug laws are not working, but Portugal’s are. The United Kingdom is not far behind the United States, being third in the world for cocaine use and ninth in the world for cannabis use.
Some may argue that Portugal’s drug use has always been lower than that of the United States (or the UK), and that the decriminalisation was not what made the difference, but rather a difference of culture. The statistics again show that this is untrue. Portugal’s reformed policy lead to a reduction in drug related deaths, a reduction in drug use among teenagers, an increase uptake of treatment programs, and a reduction in HIV deaths due to shared needles. What we have seen in Portugal is not a wave of new drug users who have been enticed by their decriminalisation, as we have been warned about by our government, we have not seen more people dying as we have been told there would be, and we have not seen more young people turning to drugs. What we have been told is simply wrong.
So, what is the answer? Compassion and care for drug users. We need to treat drug use, not drug users, as the problem. We need to offer treatment and advice, and try to make sure people are not in a bad enough state that they resort to drug use in the first place. We know the causes of drug abuse, and we know that people in poverty are much more likely to resort to using hard drugs. Income inequality is another factor behind drug use; we know that the worse a country scores on the Gini Coefficient (a measurement of income inequality), the more likely they are to have a drug-taking population. Interestingly, one country that bucks the trend here is Portugal, where there is high income inequality yet low drug use. Any guesses as to why?
The British political landscape is changing. In 2010, we saw the first hung parliament since 1974, showing that the people of the UK are disillusioned with the main two political parties. The smaller parties are rising fast, and these are the parties who are pushing for radical drug law reform. It is only so long until the main parties catch up. I say, the sooner, the better.
The Impact of the NSA files on the Coalition’s civil liberty record
The NSA files leaked by Edward Snowden to Glen Greenwald (former Guardian journalist) from June 2013 exposed the extent of international surveillance by, supposedly democratic governments, across the world. The leaks found Britain’s intelligence agency (GCHQ) working in conjunction with the National Security Agency (NSA) to bypass each other’s national laws for the sake of internet and communications surveillance. The leaks revealed that not only under the Coalition but under Labour, governments had been acting without any consent, collecting ‘meta data’ on mass, without even cabinet ministers’ knowledge.
Many feel that the NSA and GCHQ have gone too far and that collecting hundreds of billions of international internet and telephone data items is a threat to their civil liberties. Edward Snowden, a self-proclaimed libertarian, perhaps with similar views to the conservative party on migration and welfare, did not intend to harm people’s safety; he also insists that he has not leaked information to Chinese or Russian officials. On an internet forum he once stated that leakers of classified information should be “shot in the balls”. But after being revealed the extent of the surveillance; he knew that citizens should be properly informed.
After looking at the government’s failure to implement surveillance law in the past, it is clear why this information was kept secret. Under Labour, the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), a government initiative which meant internet and telephone providers are to store email and telephone contacts for twelve months received strong criticism from the Conservatives . And yet, while in government Theresa May proposed furthering the IMP under the Communications Data Bill (nicknamed the snoopers charter) which would require Internet and mobile providers to keep records of each user’s internet browsing, voice calls, emails, mobile phone messages and even internet gaming for twelve months.
This legislation has not been enacted into law, as even the deputy PM Nick Clegg withdrew his support April last year. He stated that, he had “a number of serious criticisms – not least on scope, proportionality, cost (estimated £1.8 billion), checks and balances, and the need for much wider consultation” . A survey on YouGov found that 71% of Britons “did not trust that the data will be kept secure”, and half described the proposal as “bad value for the money.” Therefore the bill was dropped.
However the NSA leaks, revealed after the Communications Data Bill, are much more widespread and intrusive than the Data Bill would have been. Many have criticised the Conservative’s reaction to the leaks, 70 leading human rights organisations have written an open letter to Cameron in anger of the government’s minimal reaction. Also they criticised the detention of David Miranda another Guardian Journalist under the Terrorism Act 2000 . Nick Clegg has been critical of the government in light of the NSA leaks, and Ed Miliband states that “Labour will make substantial changes to the oversight of British Intelligence agencies.”
The leaks show that the UK government has acted irresponsibly with no accountability. They say ‘if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’; maybe this should be said to our government.
Is the economy rebalancing as proposed?
It is coming up to 4 years since Osborne decided the UK economy needed to be rebalanced. By ‘rebalancing’, he proposed a self-sustainable and largely export led economy. An economy that no longer relied on the financial services of the City, which appears to benefit suited men who know better how to ruin an economy better than those on Downing Street know how to fix one. Moreover Osborne pleaded for an economy with a higher propensity to save as opposed to one which will pay the price for further unsustainable private and public debt. Four years on, there seems to be a lack of policy aimed towards accomplishing a rebalanced economy.
When the economic recovery began in 2009 the conditions seemed to be in place for a manufacturing exports-led resurgence. The pound depreciated significantly during the financial crisis, providing UK manufacturers with a competitive edge. And with domestic spending still slow, it wouldn’t have been surprising for UK firms to look to overseas sales for growth. Manufactured goods are the dominant element in international trade – accounting for 75% of all UK exports. However as expected it is the services industries which have driven the UK recovery. Service output has now passed its pre-crisis peak, whereas manufacturing production is languishing nearly 10% down on its early 2008 level.
Moreover, whilst the UK has many successful manufacturing firms, our strengths are concentrated in a small number of sectors – aerospace, pharmaceuticals, high-value engineering and car production. Britain does not have the broad manufacturing base which has allowed Germany to be so successful in expanding its exports to Asia and other high growth emerging market economies. However economists at Citi reckon the UK’s exports have risen by 182%, in cash terms, in the last 10 years – five times faster than the UK’s exports to advanced economies. Within that, exports to China have risen six-fold since 2002, and exports to India are nearly five times higher. Goods exports to emerging markets now account for nearly a third of our goods exports, up from 17% in 2002. However with the emerging market economies slowing down, our hopes of rebalancing further may be even more dependent on the Eurozone’s recovery than they were before.
Over the recovery, the private sector has created 1.5 million jobs – predominantly in services – greatly offsetting the reduction of about 500,000 in public sector employment. This ideological approach to rebalancing has been working, although it has been isolating those in the public sector greatly whose lack of skills and the lack of private sector employment in regions such as the North East mean they have added to the inconsistent shift from public to private sector growth.
The UK economy is rebalancing – but not as we expected. Rebalancing is happening within the services industries rather than in favour of the manufacturing industry. As long as this is accompanied by export success and rising employment, as it has been so far, we should welcome and support Britain’s services-led recovery.
Weekly Parliament Roundup: 10th March – 16th March
New Budget to be announced by Osborne
George Osborne will be announcing his 5th and final budget on Wednesday. Conservative Backbenchers want more tax cuts for middle earners and they also whish for changes at the level at which which the 40p tax rates kicks in. However, he insists that his priority is to increase the personal allowance on which no income tax is paid. Furthermore, Osborne apparently said that if more people pay 40p tax rate. This is supposedly good news for the conservatives and will boost aspirations as they’ll feel like they’ve succeeded. There might be some big increases in the growth forecast but there is still little room for manoeuvre and Ed Balls has recently accused the conservatives of failing to stem the UK’s cost of living Crisis.
Michael Gove calls Eton filled Tory inner circle ‘Ridiculous’
In a recent interview, Michael was asked if he was comfortable being Education Secretary taking into consideration the fact that there are so many old Etonians within Cameron’s inner circle. As a reply, he exclaimed that the whole thing was ‘ridiculous’ and that he didn’t know any other advanced country in the world that would allow this kind of situation to exist. It is unsure what Mr Gove meant by this remark but he stated that he wished to emphasise the fact that the need for state education needs to be improved. Gove’s Eton remark is however partially true as there is a need for Parliament to be more diverse in terms of educational backgrounds.
Miliband ‘unlikely’ to call EU referendum
Ed Miliband has admitted in an article for the Financial Times that Labour would be unlikely to hold an in/out referendum on membership of the EU if he becomes Prime Minister. He claims that setting an ‘arbitrary timetable’ for a referendum would ‘inflict huge uncertainty on business and undermine Britain’s influence abroad’. The only reason why Labour would call an in/out referendum is if there were any significant transfer of powers to the EU but he suggests that this is ‘unlikely’. Peter Mandelson stated that Miliband’s decision concludes in him thinking that he has shown ‘judgement and courage’ whilst adding ‘I think he’s gone out and made the political weather on a major issue and I think as a result it will strengthen him and help him win the next election.’
‘Feminists need a good slap’ says ex Tory aide
Stewart Green, an aide to a Conservative MP has resigned after calling feminists ‘‘whingeing imbeciles’’who ‘‘need a good slap around the face’’. Stewart told his Facebook friends he was “sick to the back tooth” of “wretched women MPs who seem to be constantly going on about there not being enough women in frontline politics”. He rattled on further by adding that, ‘’This country has been a gradual decline southwards towards the dogs ever since we started cow-towing to the cretinous pseudo-equality demand of these whinging [sic] imbeciles.” Additionally, he referred to a woman last year who refused to take his offer of a seat on the bus as a “fat ginger b****,” whilst adding, “I am absolutely sick and tired of this feminism nonsense. It really has gone too far’’
*** Economy update – March 2014 ***
The tide has somewhat turned in the Conservatives favour. Less than 18 months until the General election and the economy seems to be resuscitating. Better late than never I suppose. With Mr Osborne revealing his last budget for this Parliament next week, the Tory party are trying to map out their economic stance. It is clear that the 2015 general election will be laden with tax and spend policies, as the main parties not only try to prove that they are economically credible but that their policies seek to benefit the hard working.
The first three years of the coalition were characterised by flat lining growth, missed targets, a loss of Britain’s AAA debt rating and a triple-dip recession scare. However, the latter part of 2013 saw improvements in almost all macroeconomic sections. Economic growth for 2013 measured up at 1.8% compared to the sluggish 0.3% of 2012. Osborne insists that his “long term economic plan is working”, with economic growth complemented by increased investment and fast pace job creation in the service sector. Despite Osborne’s “long term” economic plan, Labour still maintain that the government is not meeting its longer term goals as the majority are yet to feel the benefits of this recovery as their wages are eroded by inflation and battle with the so called “cost of living” crisis. Not to mention, the economy is still smaller than it was pre-crisis and this recovery has taken far too long. Economists have started to water down expected forecasts for the economy as low productivity levels stifle economic growth.
Unemployment figures have also fallen to 7.2%. As we approach the 7% figure earlier than expected, the Bank of England has revised its earlier decision to raise interest rates when unemployment falls below 7%. Significantly, youth and long term unemployment have also fallen, an issue that poses the most threat to the economy. Rachel Reeves, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, believes unemployment levels are still too high and that there is still more work to be done. The fall, although welcomed by the Labour Party had the caveat “the government must not be complacent”. Miliband insists wages are £1,600 less than what they were in 2010, and that 13 million people are living in poverty. As unemployment continues to decrease, so does the spare capacity within the economy – what this means is that the economy needs to grow by a faster rate in order to deter inflationary pressures. Inflation is now close to the Bank of England’s inflation target (2%) as it dropped to 1.9% in December to January. Although wages have only risen by 1.3%, some expect wages to rise at a similar rate of inflation, and with plans to raise the minimum wage to £6.50 in October this seems likely to happen before May 2015.
Both Labour and Conservatives have committed themselves to running a budget surplus in the next Parliament but this is very difficult to visualise since the deficit still remains at £111bn. The Lib Dems have accepted the Conservatives’ plans to eliminate the deficit but say that they would go about it in a much ‘fairer’ way; through a mixture of higher taxes and cuts in government expenditure. Just a few months ago, the Lib Dems proposed to raise the personal tax allowance to £10,500. What this would mean is that the first £10,500 earned would be tax exempt. The Tories have now claimed this policy as their own. Cameron says that he will prioritise tax cuts for the low paid in an attempt to shake off the perception they are out of touch, protecting the rich.
It is still premature to conclude that this upturn is down to fiscal conservatism and austerity, but confidence in the economy is key, and with people spending more and businesses increasing investment it is likely that the economy will continue to strengthen in the lead up to the election. All the parties know what the next election will be fought on, as Bill Clinton once said, ‘it’s the economy stupid’.
David Cameron discusses the UK economy, immigration and the threat of UKIP.
PCCs: Powerful, Capable Crime-fighting?
With a 14% average turnout to the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in November 2012, is it really any wonder that news regarding PCCs has disappeared from the mainstream media and government agenda. Simply put – no one cares; a notion reflected in the poor turnout. However, despite the obvious lack of attention from media outlets the Commissioners, and their £100k pay packets, have been busy at work fulfilling their jobs of helping to guide the police and create that all important community link. Or have they? This article will aim to assess the work of the PCCs up to now, whether they have been effective in aiding communities, or if they’ve been a waste of time and resources.
For many areas, the introduction of PCCs has brought many welcomed changes and benefits. It seems like the majority of the 41 elected have taken their job seriously and introduced schemes, which benefit their community. The PCC for Cheshire, for example, has launched a mobile surgery so that he can speak to people at the heart of the community to find out the main concerns and issues that need to be tackled. Further to this, Avon and Somerset have introduced an online service called ‘TrackMyCrime’ so complainants can track what is happening to their reported crime and receive real time updates from officers. Both of these examples show how the PCCs have made the police part of the community as well as more accessible, fulfilling some of the original aims.
However, as is inevitable there are plenty of criticisms and complaints about the current crop of PCCs. In individual cases there have been claims of expenses fiddling or claiming expenses they were not entitled to. Clive Grunshaw PCC for Lancashire, for example, has been investigated by the IPCC on two occasions for alleged expenses abuse. The Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded the evidence suggests he was not seeking financial gain because he did not claim on 28 occasions when he could have, despite making 37 incorrect claims elsewhere. But while there were no financial ramifications for Mr Grunshaw, the PCC for Norfolk Stephen Bett had to pay back £3000 that he claimed. Mr Bett amassed a sum of £4947.75 for driving to and from work, something that “did not seem consistent with the objective of his commission which says it cut costs for Norfolk’s police service.” Mr Bett, though still holding the belief that he was entitled to the money decided to pay back some money so as not to “tarnish the reputation of policing in Norfolk.”
Further criticisms include the ability to hire and fire chief constables. This was a power that had received criticism leading to the Home Affairs Select Committee, mainly, coming to the defence of the PCCs. They said that although it was easy for a Chief Constable to be removed, there are strict protections in place to prevent any unjust firings. This doesn’t however make up for occasions such as in Gwent where Chief Constable Carmel Napier retired while under pressure from commissioner Ian Johnston, or in Avon and Somerset where Chief Constable Colin Port decided not to reapply for his job. (The full story can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23387324 )
So while many PCCs have been very effective at fulfilling their job description, others have had criticisms raised or appear to be taking advantage of their position, representing a very mixed bag. This is somewhat like the political reception too. The Coalition is still very much in favour of the PCCs. Despite the poor turnout in the elections and the problems that have occurred, Theresa May in particular described them as a success saying that “crime is falling” as a result.
Labour, on the other hand, have been big critics of the Commissioners. In their eyes this was simply a way of politicising the police and many, including former ministers Alan Johnson and Charles Clarke, have called for the PCCs to be scrapped entirely. Furthermore, a report that suggested the scrapping of the job was backed by Ed Miliband who described it as a “real plan for the next Labour government.”
The conclusion here is somewhat predictable. As a whole the concept of PCCs seems to be unpopular, which isn’t surprising when the public see examples of fiddling expenses and the ‘sacking’ of Chief Constables. Yet it certainly isn’t all bad. Many PCCs have started to make a positive impact on their community in many ways, perhaps without people taking notice yet. The effectiveness of PCCs is very much on an individual basis and whether the PCC for a particular area has the drive to achieve what they want to. It’s extremely difficult to conclude whether the PCCs have been worth it or not, this is probably a very individual thing depending on what view you hold. All that can be said is if people started paying more attention to their PCC, as the mainstream media has neglected to, they will get a clearer idea whether they have been worth it or not.
If you’re looking for some more information this page provides a good overview of the PCCs (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19504639 ). Watch the video below and you can see what happened when Hitler became a PCC…
Weekly Parliament Roundup: 29/01/14-5/02/14
Conservative style Ofsted
After the firing of Ofsted Chair and Labour peer Sally Morgan, Michael Gove has said that the next head of Ofsted will be appointed upon merit but has not yet ruled out appointing a Conservative peer. A number of critics have been saying that Gove is trying to ‘politicise’ an independent body and the same argument has been said by Liberal Democrat Schools Ministers who have said that Gove is bringing his own people into an impartial organisation. However, Michael Gove has replied back by saying that it’s just time for a fresh pair of eyes and his decision on not ruling out the appointment of Conservative peers has nothing to do with politics.
Formal Tests in Nursery
Michael Gove has given an indication that he wants to introduce formal assessments for 4&5 year olds in order to measure progress more effectively. He believes that by children taking these assessments when they start school, their performance in year 6 will then be better contrasted. As a result, schools will be able to see how well the child has developed academically under their teaching, allowing them to make precise improvements for children in the future. Several schools have already stated that they already do this so the proposal doesn’t seem to be anything drastic.
Miliband to reform links with Trade Unions
Ed Miliband’s plans to reform the party went before the party’s ruling national executive this week. Within these plans, trade unions will keep their 50% votes at the party conference and the selection of parliamentary candidates won’t change. Because of this, Trade Union leaders seem to not appear panicked about the reforms because essentially, parliamentary candidates are unable to get nominated without the backing of Trade Unions. In regards to parliamentary candidates, the plans state that they will have to declare that they want to opt in to pay the party. Once they are then elected, Labour will then send them a ballot paper.
Despite the fact that Miliband thinks that the reforms will strengthen the link between the party and the unions, several trade union leaders have hinted that the fundamental relationship won’t change and the unions won’t accept further reforms. Additionally, they have said that Labour is being a little optimistic in its assessment of how many affiliated members they will gain through these reforms. Furthermore, a more important question arising from these reform proposals is: will they make Labour more dependent on Trade Unions?
Miliband strikes again (PMQs)
This week, we saw Miliband gain another victory roll for the third time this year. After hitting the Prime Minister with a few start up questions on the length at which the Tories were taking in handling the flooding issues, he brought out his killer question about what the PM has exactly done in order to improve women equality. As usual, David Cameron tried to get out of answering the question by giving the opposition figures regarding floods. When he finally did reply, he made the remark of the Conservative party having a female Prime Minister and this gave Miliband the perfect opportunity to hit back at Cameron by highlighting his failures of winning the last General Election.
David Cameron is said to be going back on his word about green taxes despite obligations from Lib Dems.
David Cameron has come under fire for his statement on reviewing energy bills. The Prime Minister said that the green taxes had helped push up household bills to “unacceptable” prices, but a source close to the prime minister said his message in private was blunter than that. He is claimed to have said, “We’ve got to get rid of all this green crap.” Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s Autumn Statement in December will set out new plans to reduce the impact of environmental impacts on fuel bills. The changes have set out to cause disruptions in the coalition government because the Lib Dems vowed to prevent in any falls in levies during this parliament.
The Lib Dems are also keen to keep the green taxes, arguing they are essential to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy supply for the UK. Cameron wants to scrap most of the charges, which help subsidise wind farms and pay for home insulation. But Nick Clegg is insisting they must stay despite Cameron stating “We need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges,” during Prime Minister’s Questions. His decision to review energy levies came after three of the “big six” energy firms announced price rises of between 8% and 10%, as well as pressure from Labour leader Ed Miliband who is vowing to freeze energy prices if he comes to power in 2015. Cameron once pledged back in 2010 that he would lead the “greenest government ever” and even travelled, in 2006, to the Arctic Circle with a pack of huskies to highlight his concern about climate change. He applied to put a wind turbine on the roof of his family home and was repeatedly pictured cycling to the Commons – though this backfired when it emerged his shoes and papers followed in a car.
Yet, his stance on government ideologies about the environment seemed to have changed when faced with pressure in the House of Commons. Tory high command has also privately abandoned Mr Cameron’s pre-election mantra ‘vote blue, go green’. To defend his decision on regulating green taxes after promising to be the “greenest government ever”, he answered, ‘we have got the world’s first green investment bank, we have got great support for our green technology industries and we have got the first nuclear power station since 1995′. ‘This is a government investing in important green technologies’, Cameron defiantly states, when asked by journalists whether he still believed in the environmental agenda.
According to Government figures, the green levies add £112 to a typical household bill. The money is then used to pay for loft insulation schemes and subsidies for renewable energy projects, under the Coalition’s rules. Downing Street sources said that, if there was no policy change, green levies could rise from the current £112 to £194 – or 14 per cent of the typical household bill – by 2020. Mr Cameron wants action to reduce the impact of the levies, the source said.
But, rather than trying to dictate prices or influence the global cost of energy, he said the government’s focus was on dealing with the aspects of energy bills it could control. After the review is held, there will be a competition test for the energy market to see how it is functioning. He said that he wants more energy companies so that consumers have greater choice. ‘I want more companies, I want better regulation, I want better deals for customers, but yes we need to roll back the charges that Mr Miliband put in place as energy secretary’. The reaction from some Lib Dem members hasn’t been too positive with a source accusing the Conservatives of a “panicky U-turn”.
“Everybody knows the Tories are getting cold feet on the environment” the source said.
“The Tories have put no properly worked up policies in front of us. But we will not allow a panicky U-turn during PMQs to dictate Government policy. However where the similarities ended between the Lib Dem party was when Nick Clegg said green levies are not ‘all crap’ and added that Mr Cameron agrees with him. A Conservative MP and environmentalist Zac Goldsmith criticised both Cameron and Miliband on twitter “In 2010, leaders fought to prove they were the greenest. Three years on, they’re desperately blaming their own policies on the other. Muppets.” This came after Mr Miliband and Mr Cameron were seen arguing with each other during Prime Minister’s Question Time, when Miliband said that 60% of green taxes had been introduced by the current government and reminded the Prime Minister of his stated ambition to lead the “greenest government” ever.
“He really is changing his policy every day of the week. His energy secretary says it is nothing to do with green taxes. And who is the man who said ‘Vote blue to go green’? It was him.” To which Mr Cameron made a statement in response to a question from Conservative MP Brian Binley, he said: ”It simply is the politics of the con man to pretend that you can freeze prices when you’re not in control of global energy prices, but the proper approach is to look at what’s driving up bills and deal with it.”
Pick of the Papers (20/1/2014-26/1/2014)
Source: The Telegraph
Politics Topic: Parliament
Summary: After another Conservative MP has announced that she will step down in the 2015 general election, it raises the question why are MPs leaving Parliament. One explanation of this is that while Parliament may look grand on the outside, on the inside it is so dysfunctional that continuing as an MP seems like a real waste of time.
Source: The Independent
Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas
Summary: Trying to get back economic policy credibility is a tough job for the shadow Chancellor Ed Balls who has announced that Labour will still make cuts to the budget so per year they will have a surplus budget, which is seen as a toughening of fiscal policy for Labour.
Source: The Independent
Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas
Summary: Members of the House of Lords as well as Tory backbenchers are putting more pressure onto the prime minister to accept the United Nations programme and to allow Syrian refugees to come to Britain, despite Cameron wanting to get tougher with immigration laws.
Source: The Guardian
Politics Topic: Parliament
Summary: The bill passed through the House of Commons has not been called a dead parrot, as Labour and Lib Dem peers in the House of Lords delaying the bill passing through as long as possible. Critics to this bill state that the bill is ‘inappropriate, confusing and potentially misleading’ while others say that ‘it’s a government bill trying to patch over divisions in the Tory party and outflank Ukip.
Source: The New Statesman
Politics Topic: Party Politics and Ideas
Summary: Nigel Farage has been found to be unable to talk about Ukip policies and completely bemused by policies which are on the website but unknown to him. This has made the Tories write him off as being incredible but to the voters, this just adds to his image of informality which they pay more attention to than policies.