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Scottish independence and the left: what’s a coherent position?

by Guest     March 31, 2012 at 7:02 pm

contribution by Nick Bibby

Just as they had south of the Border, it was the Tories that kicked off the anti-independence campaign in Scotland.

In both cases Labour’s struggle to decide whether it disliked the Tories or the Nationalists more was short-lived.

As the only truly British party – with serious representation and the prospect of government in Westminster and the devolved parliaments – Labour is in an unenviable position.
continue reading… »

Why I should run Labour’s portfolio for Welfare reform

by Sue Marsh     March 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm

It was reported this week that Liam Byrne would be stepping down from the shadow cabinet to run for Mayor of Birmingham.

Welfare is a dodgy area for Labour – probably the dodgiest of all. Traditionally, it’s a department for hawks, for hardliners and for attack dogs. I don’t think anyone would argue that it has gone well for Labour under Mr Byrne. Or Mr Alexander for that matter. Or James Purnell.

Well, I want the job. I won’t get it, but here’s why I should :
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Cameron gets the Reggae treatment

by Newswire     March 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Lansley spent £100k on tea in three months

by Newswire     March 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Yesterday we pointed out that Michael Gove’s team spent 14,000 a year on tea and biscuits. Fair enough, you might say.

But it turns out that Andrew Lansley’s team spent £100,000 on tea and biscuits in just three months!

The figures were uncovered by Labour MP Jon Trickett, who also found:

– The Department of Health paid out £43,000 on taxis for civil servants between August and January.

– The Home Office spent £214,059 on ‘free’ refreshments between April 2011 and January this year

– The Department for Culture, Media & Sport spent £3,527 on cut flowers and pot plants

– The Foreign Office and its trading arm FCO Services forked out £151,990 on taxi contracts between August and January.

Jon Trickett MP said:

It is clear that the chaos engulfing the NHS reforms has resulted in Andrew Lansley completely losing his grip on his own department’s reckless spending.

This money would have been far better spent supporting NHS workers on the frontline.

Poll: strong opposition to regional pay

by Newswire     March 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm

A poll has found that the majority of the public oppose a proposal by the government to freeze the pay of public sector workers outside London and the South East.

28% of respondents said that the proposal, which is currently being reviewed by independent pay review boards, is ‘fair’ versus 56% who said it is ‘unfair’ and 15% who replied ‘Don’t Know’.

Opposition among women was particularly significant, with 58% of women (versus 55% of men) saying that the plan is ‘unfair’ and only 23% of women (versus 33% of men) viewing the proposal as ‘fair’.

In terms of party allegiances, of those respondents who voted for the Conservatives in 2010, 50% said that the plan is ‘fair’ while 36% said it is ‘unfair’.

Of those surveyed who said that they voted for Labour, 13% said that the proposal is ‘fair’ while 77% said it is ‘unfair’.

Of those who said that they voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2010, 24% said that the plan is ‘fair’ while 64% said it is ‘unfair’.

What George Galloway’s victory in Bradford does and doesn’t tell us

by Sunny Hundal     March 30, 2012 at 11:41 am

George Galloway’s return to Parliament last night thanks to the people of Bradford has sparked the usual bun-fights on Twitter with people saying how this reinforces what they’ve always believed anyway.

Here are some thoughts on last night’s win, some I already made on Twitter today.
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David Davis: Cabinet look like toffs

by Sunny Hundal     March 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm

David Davis MP today said what everyone else had been thinking: freely admitting that the front bench was unable to connect with working class voters and ‘looked like toffs’.

He also said the government’s campaign of austerity was hurting working people and made them more resentful of government policies.

He made the comments to BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

He said:

With so much austerity and so much pressure, a lot of the working class and lower middle class feel they’ve been pushed off the escalator.

They think we’re better off. They think we’re toffs. The truth of the matter is they look at the front bench and they see them all very dressed, well turned out, well fed, and perhaps feel they’re in a different world to them. That’s why the phrase ‘we are all in this together’ is very important but at the moment its not working.

Listen

Did Tories spur petrol panic to avoid recession?

by Sunny Hundal     March 29, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Some people on Twitter believe almost every government action is a conspiracy to hide something else. I don’t always buy that, but the latest theory doing the rounds has some merit.

At midnight tonight, the First Quarter of the year ends. The UK is already in danger of falling into recession and the OECD is predicting it.

UK GDP fell by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of last year. Technically, two quarters of contraction in a row means a recession.

We already know the UK economy is stagnant and sick. We know that Osborne’s “most pro-growth budget ever” didn’t work. So a technical recession will make little material difference. But the political implications will be huge.

So could the government prevent a recession in such a way? I suppose that will require finding out how much extra money people have spent in panic-buying, and determining whether it will be significant enough to make a significant difference.

But its worth keeping in mind that this also increases the chance of a downturn in Q2.

It isn’t a far-fetched idea to assume Osborne will do almost anything to avoid a technical recession now and save himself for another slew of bad headlines.

I’d be interested in seeing the actual numbers though. Anyone have them?

Update: 0.1% of quarterly GDP would be around £375 million. So to get a 0.2% boost in GDP numbers, consumers would have to spend around £800 million extra over the last few days. Seems a bit of a stretch.
(hat-tip to @DuncanWeldon and @MartynWilliams2, who has also expanded on this in the comments)

Update 2: Actually, this is very unlikely for reasons I didn’t take into account.

As Will Straw points out, most oil is imported. So stock depletion of oil counts against consumer boost. Plus, the provisional figures for GDP will exclude last minute panic buying and will be the ones the media focuses on.

So the chance of this happening? Very slim

Compare how the UK and USA recovered from recession

by Duncan Weldon     March 29, 2012 at 11:05 am

The Bank of England’s MPC member Adam Posen made a very interesting speech yesterday comparing the US and UK recoveries.

It’s well worth a read, or at the very least a quick look at the charts at the back.

Some of these charts are rather striking – the UK recovery has been an awful lot weaker. Why?
continue reading… »

Rally to defend abortion rights on Friday

by Newswire     March 29, 2012 at 9:40 am

On Friday 30th March, ‘40 Days for Life‘ – the anti-choice group protesting in front of the BPAS abortion clinic in London will host a big ‘prayer vigil’ by Bishop Alan Hopes

In retaliation, Abortion Rights have called for a peaceful counter-protest alongside other pro-choice groups.

Abortion Rights say:

Women attempting to access a legal medical service must be able to do so without fear of harassment or intimidation. It’s time for the UK’s pro-choice majority to say we’ve had enough of this kind of behaviour and to stand up for our right to safe, legal abortion.

It is billed as a family-friendly event, and babies, kids and partners are welcome!

Abortion Rights say they plan to be noisy, but good humored and non-confrontational.

Where: Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3HP (nearest tube Tottenham Court Road)
When: 7.00pm on Friday 30th March

Follow @BloomsburyPCA and @Abortion_Rights on Twitter for updates.

Earlier – we posted pictures from the on-going vigil that ’40 days’ have been holding. Friday is their big event.

Earlier video


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