James Bloodworth looks back at the week’s politics, including our progressive, regressive and evidence of the week.
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• MPs finally voted on same-sex marriage, with David Cameron dragging the Conservative Party kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
The bill’s journey through the Commons highlighted the divisions which still exist in the Conservative Party between modernisers and the “nasty party” old guard.
Earlier in the week Left Foot Forward looked at five reasons we believe conservatives should back gay marriage, a history of right-wing anti-gay prejudice, as well as at the increasing number of countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
• On Wednesday, the report into the failings at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust – one of the biggest scandals in the history of the NHS – was published. The report called for sweeping changes to the system of NHS care, including the introduction of sanctions for NHS staff who caused death or harm to patients.
Here at Left Foot Forward, Jos Bell warned the government not to try and use the scandal to further dismantle the NHS.
PM David Cameron described what happened at the hospital as “truly dreadful” and promised a tougher inspection regime.
• Michael Gove has been forced to make a humiliating u-turn over his plans to scrap GCSEs, with plans to replace them with a new English Baccalaureate abandoned after pressure from deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, the exams regulator Ofqual and MPs from all parties.
The climbdown represents just the latest u-turn from a government that has previously backtracked on plans for regional pay in the NHS and the removal of housing benefit from the under-25s – for a full list of the coalition’s u-turns, see our Cameron’s Corkers website.
The “golden age” Gove was accused of harking back to with his baccalaureate was nothing more than a myth, school leaders said.
Progressive of the Week:
Former defence secretary Des Browne broke the political consensus over the replacement of Trident this week, warning that the proposed nuclear weapons system would not protect Britain from a new set of long term threats including cyber attacks and nuclear terrorism.
This is seen as significant because Browne was the defence secretary who introduced the pro-replacement White Paper in 2006 and pushed the Trident resolution through parliament in 2007.
Nevertheless, CND’s Kate Hudson welcomed the change of heart, and said it was unsurprising that Browne had finally reached this conclusion.
Regressive of the week
Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather voted against gay marriage on Tuesday – despite the website she shares with Brent Lib Dems carrying a large advert proclaiming that Teather and Brent Lib Dems were “taking PRIDE in delivering Equal Marriage”.
Teather set out her reasoning here, and her objections were based mainly on her religious convictions.
Left Foot Forward notes that Brent has a large population of evangelical Christians. We’re just saying.
Evidence of the Week:
Due to the government’s failure to hit its savings targets, job losses in the public sector could be 300,000 higher by the end of 2017/18 than predicted, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ annual analysis of the government’s spending plans.
The report also claimed that, if the government continued to ring-fence the NHS budget, overseas aid and schools, spending cuts would need to be significantly more severe for the coalition to meet its fiscal consolidation targets.
Left Foot Forward has produced a graphic detailing the budget cuts the coalition government will have to make if it sticks to its policy of ring-fencing aid, the NHS and schools and does not introduce tax rises.