Look left: The Royal Baby, GDP figures and internet porn

James Bloodworth looks back at the week’s politics, including our progressive, regressive and evidence of the week.

Royal Baby

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• On Monday Kate Middleton gave birth to a baby boy. The young Prince, named George by Kate and father Prince William, will almost certainly be King one day.

Predictably the birth has dominated the news agenda this week, with other issues taking something of a backseat.

That said, and despite the relatively non-partisan nature of the event, there were still a number of issues surrounding the birth for the more critically minded to consider.

This week Left Foot Forward looked at the vast majority of mothers who aren’t so lucky in childbirth (Kate gave birth at a private hospital), as well as at the average life chances of the other 2,000 babies born on the same day as Prince George. Meanwhile, Ed Jacobs looked at how the media responded to the birth (as one might expect, some commentators were a lot more critical than others).

• UK GDP grew by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2013, according to the latest quarterly national accounts from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures are certainly cause for cheer. After three years of flatlining the economy is finally showing signs of life.

The problem for the government, however, is that as a country we should have been at this point much earlier – not three years into a=the parliament. Today’s positive figures also conceal a more troubling picture in terms of living standards, with pay growing by just 1 per cent in the year to May – inflation for the same period was 3.1 per cent. In other words, average real earnings fell by about 2 per cent.

Today Left Foot Forward looked at today’s GDP figures in the context of the bigger (more troubling) economic picture.

• On Monday David Cameron set out a number of proposals to tackle the proliferation of internet pornography.

The plans include anti-porn filters for all new internet customers by the end of the year – with the option of turning them off – as well as new rules so that videos streamed on the internet are subject to the same restrictions as those sold in shops.

It’s hard not to reach the conclusion that those calling for government to put the lid back on the net’s increasing influence on our sex lives are doing so from a moral position rather than an evidence-based one.

This week Left Foot Forward looked at the evidence (or as it turned out the lack of it) to support the idea that pornography is inherently harmful to society.

Progressive of the Week:

The Archbishop Justin Welby was back in the news this week after telling Errol Damelin, the chief executive of payday lender Wonga, that he wants to put the company out of business.

Welby told Damelin in a ‘business meeting’ that he is not in the business of influencing legislation against payday lenders; instead he plans to compete with them to drive them out of business.

This week payday lending expert Carl Packman welcomed Welby’s desire to drive unscrupulous moneylenders from the high street. He also looked at the attempt by Labour-run Plymouth council to ban the advertising of payday loans.

Regressive of the week:

Criticism is increasingly raining down on chancellor George Osborne for his coveted Help to Buy scheme, with voices from the financial world warning that he is risking another asset bubble.

The latest criticism has come from the Institute of Directors (IoD), who called the scheme “dangerous”

“The housing market needs help to supply, not help to buy and the extension of this scheme is very dangerous,” said chief economist Graeme Leach.

Evidence of the Week:

Liberal Democrat members would overwhelmingly prefer a post-2015 alliance with Labour to a continuing one with the Tories, according to a new poll for the Liberal Democrat Voice website.

The poll, of 600 party members, found that Lib Dem members would prefer an alliance with Labour by 55 per cent, compared to just 18 per cent for a continued alliance with the Tories.

According to the poll, almost half (40 per cent) of Lib Dems also expect the party to be back in government in a coalition after 2015.

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