The Week in Politics
• The week just past was a sombre one, a time of reflection, of rememberance, as the world paused to honour the dead of two world wars and all conflicts since. Wednesday marked the 91st anniversary of the end of World War I – what was meant to be the war to end all wars. It was the first Armistice Day without any surviving British soldiers from the Great War. Harry Patch, Henry Allingham and William Stone, who all passed away this year, were commemorated in a service at Westminster Abbey, where the poet laureate’s haunting ode to the fallen was read out.
Here is an extract:
If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin,
That moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud …
But you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood,
Run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
See lines and lines of British boys rewind,
Back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home –
Mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers,
Not entering the story now;
To die. And die. And die.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month was particularly poignant this year following the recent heavy losses in Afghanistan – Tuesday saw the repatriation to Wootton Bassett of the five soldiers killed last week by a policeman they had been training – and the anguish of Jacqui Janes, whose son’s death was mercilessly exploited by the Sun.
• The economy looked to be slowly getting back on track. Unemployment fell by 7,000 between August and September, while employment rose by 6,000 in the three months to September. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King was cautiously optimistic about the news. “Last November, the full ramifications of the financial crisis were just starting to become clear,” he said. “We have come a long way since then, helped in part by the extraordinary policy actions that have been implemented. We have, however, only just started along the road to recovery.”
King also attacked David Cameron over quantitative easing, and, in a bad week for the Opposition on the economy, the Conservative leader’s use of ‘severe’ poverty statistics was questioned, academics criticised his approach to inequality, George Osborne’s plans for the Financial Services Authority were challenged, two of his key players contradicted each other and the Tories’ propagandist-in-chief, Speccie hack Fraser Nelson, got a C- for his A-A-A-article on the UK’s credit rating.
• However bad it was for Cameron, he must have been thanking his lucky stars he’s not leading UKIP. Not only did Nigel Farage see one of his former MEPs jailed for two years, he had to endure the sight of Europe’s fraud police crossing the Channel and rifling through his accounts. To compund matters, he put his foot in it by denouncing three of his colleagues as neither serious nor credible candidates to replace him. You might even call it “ruthless”.
Progressive of the week
With just three weeks to go till the Copenhagen summit, Housing Minister John Healey urged everyone in Britain to play their part in reducing carbon emission leakages from their homes and businesses, and called for red tape to be cut so homeowners and developers could easily install their own wind turbines, solar panels and air source heat pumps. “If we stand a chance of tackling climate change, we need nothing less than a national crusade with everyone able to play their part,” he said. “There is no plan B and homes must become greener.”
Regressive of the week
In a week in which Labour MPs were arguing about spending priorities, it’s worth remebering who got us into this mess in the first place. That’s right – bankers. Step forward Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, who claims he’s “just a banker doing God’s work” and that “everyone should be, frankly, happy” at the stratospheric profits he and his bank buddies are making.
Evidence of the week
The hidden costs of the Government’s plans to build nuclear power stations: Four new European Pressurised Reactors could cost up to £45 billion – with EdF, the company building them, looking for a subsidy from the taxpayer. However the Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, insisted: “We are not going to provide public subsidy for the construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power stations.”
What’s trending on Twitter
The Sun’s treatment of the Prime Minister over his misspelling of a letter to the grieving mother of a fallen hero has been widely condemned, with tweeters from across the political spectrum outraged at the paper’s behaviour, past and present:
Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.