James Bloodworth looks back at the week’s politics, including our progressive, regressive and evidence of the week.
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• In a move seen as an attempt to outflank Ukip and shore up the Tory Right, David Cameron promised on Monday to ban EU nationals from claiming benefits unless they can prove they have been continuously looking for work.
Much of the evidence cited by Cameron to support the need for a crack down quickly unravelled, however, with health secretary Jeremy Hunt contradicting the prime minister over the cost to the NHS of treating patients from the European Economic Area (EEA).
Of the two million net migrants from the eight eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004, it also emerged that just 13,000 had claimed jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).
This week James Bloodworth pulled apart the government’s claim that immigrants “appear to get better treatment” when it comes to social housing. He also looked at how migrants are 60 per cent less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits. Jill Rutter warned politicians not to start a dangerous race to the bottom on immigration, and Anna Musgrave told the government not to blame the strain on the NHS on foreigners.
• The week ended with the name of David Miliband on the lips of most politicos, but it was Boris Johnson who was under the spotlight as the week got underway after a bruising interview with Eddie Mair.
Johnson was called a “nasty piece of work” by Mair and forced to admit that he had “mildly sandpapered” a quote whilst working at the Times.
This week Left Foot Forward looked at Boris’s dodgy claim to have cut crime since he became London Mayor. Salman Shaheen also urged the media to hold Boris to account for his politics as well as his “integrity”.
• David Miliband revealed this week that he would be leaving British politics and standing down from his seat in South Shields to join a US-based charity.
Miliband said he “feared being a distraction” and hoped his decision to leave UK politics would help his brother Ed to lead Labour against the coalition in an “uninhibited way”.
This week Left Foot Forward looked back on the career of David Miliband, as well as at some other politicians who came close to their party’s summit but never quite made the grade.
Progressive of the Week:
Former United States secretary of the treasury Larry Summers gave George Osborne’s economic strategy a kicking on Newsnight on Monday evening.
Summers, who previously advised President Clinton, described the results of Osborne’s austerity drive as “not encouraging”. He also said he had “difficulty following the logic” of Osborne’s Help to Buy scheme, which he said went against what was “taught in basic finance textbooks”.
Regressive of the week:
Richard Littlejohn. The Daily Mail faced a protest by transgender activists on Sunday as the newspaper came under pressure to dump the columnist over the death of Lucy Meadows, who is believed to have taken her own life.
There is no evidence linking a column by commentator Richard Littlejohn with the death of Ms Meadows, but his was the most high profile attack on her amid a media frenzy.
Marko Attila Hoare looked at the media’s role in the lead up to the death of Ms Meadows, and argued that the defenders of Littlejohn’s right to offend were not really interested in free speech, but in the right to abuse a minority still considered fair game.
Evidence of the Week:
Figures out on Thursday showed that the coalition’s promise to be the “greenest government ever” was failing to materialise, with greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions higher in 2012 than in the previous year.
The increase in CO2 emissions resulted primarily from lower use of gas and greater use of coal for electricity generation at power stations, combined with an increase in residential gas use.
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