Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward

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:

@specki4is: #settingsun – why you hate it. I’ll never forgive them for the filth they printed about Hillsborough

@toomanytigers: #settingsun – historically, I hate it for its treatment of women. Now it’s going even lower. Hopefully it’ll disappear down a sewer…

@shaunflaps: #settingsun Jesus Christ its lost more readers than Jan Moir & thats saying something!

@callumsaunders: @JohnPrescott I’ve always been a staunch Lib Dem but Sun’s treatment of Brown was disgusting. Glad they have lost readers #settingsun

@JohnPrescott: EXTRA, EXTRA! #settingsun goes Tory & loses 135,000 readers. Here’s our front page! http://twitpic.com/pcera

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

12 Responses to “Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward”

  1. Trixy

    I don’t think Farage was too bothered about the Tom Wise affair. After all he took decisive action against Wise as soon as he found out even though the European Parliament had cleared Mr Wise. He was prepared to risk negative coverage because he wanted to do the right thing. He’s also used to OLAF going through accounts as there are certain people who repeatedly report UKIP MEPs to OLAF which conveniently means that journalists can report that they are being investigated. Of course, as before when they were cleared, the papers didn’t report this. The Sunday Times had to apologise to UKIP in court for not reporting these facts correctly amongst other incorrect claims. I don’t see anything big or clever in just smearing people for the sake of it, shouldn’t politics be about policies?

  2. Ian Robathan

    the sun ‘wot’ won it, may they have turned the tide against Brown ?

  3. Anon E Mouse

    Trixy – quite agree here. It seems the principals in politics has gone.

    There was a time when the Left hated war and the Republicans in the US. How times have changed. No longer are the likes of Tony Benn admired for having principals – they all huddle around the middle or centre ground as it’s called.

    Ian the tide had already turned against Brown – the Sun, being the UK’s most popular and politically important paper, just gets the pulse of the nation better and backs winners. It was never “The Sun Wot Won It”.

    What I would say is Brown and Labour are so far off getting what people want in this country that I can see him being dragged from Downing Street next year, hanging on to the door frame by his bitten fingernails and bellowing about “taking the hard decisions and just getting on with the job”.

  4. Canon Alberic

    Just to say – at last a really good, readable, serious progressive blog thats equally low on angry middle-aged men and sectarian egomaniacs. Congratulations. Almost makes up for the smoking ban seeing off Sadies Tavern.

  5. Anon E Mouse

    Canon – I like this blog but there are a few angry middle-aged men here I can assure you.

    It’s not as open or free as Guido and is more partisan but the debate seems good and the language on GF is a bit off putting.

  6. Ian Robathan

    @ anon

    “Ian the tide had already turned against Brown – the Sun, being the UK’s most popular and politically important paper”

    it is the most popular but ‘politically important’ come off it !!

    in the days of the net and blogs it has less influence than ever before and what it did this week was to highlight just how vicious it is and from the responses generally sympathy has gone to Brown on this one.

  7. modernity

    Funny about UKIP, I just wonder who else is on the fiddle?

  8. Anon E Mouse

    Ian – so which one is more important politically?

    The Guardian is going bust because it’s views are pretty outlandish and no one takes the Indy seriously but having read the editorial myself, why would they.

    The Times (which I have delivered) is the Sun written for older readers and the Mail, while certainly very popular, is too biased to the right.

    Pretty much the same as the Mirror is too biased to the left. Mind you employing a berk like Kevin McGuire obviously means you’ll never be taken seriously for your politics. Good for a laugh though. Even he’s give up on Brown now, like Toynebee and Yasmin now claim they never supported him. Yeah right.

    The Telegraph? OK it got the expenses scandal out there and let us see how morally corrupt these MP’s are but it’s a one trick pony.

    Which leaves Britain’s most popular paper, read in canteens and offices the country over. Add to that most only want to look at page 3 you have a huge block of voters who will vote for whoever the Sun says they should.

    Also the Sun gets it on other things. While the Indy is banging on about some new speculative global warming threat with a picure of an iceberg, the Sun features pictures of young men in coffins coming home from Afganistan.

    The most stupid thing I’ve seen was Tony Woodley tearing up a copy of the Sun with the large headline showing “Labour Has Lost It”. He should have folded the paper just to show the red top and not the headline. Stupid man.

  9. Ian Robathan

    Anon, papers in general are less influential. Look at the Mail over Gately, an horrible piece written by an horrible paper and within hours forced to basically retract it because of the net.

    Sure the Sun does carry some influence, it’s lies by some are believed but the Brown story will just in the eyes of many make every story they do, just seem that little less reliable.

  10. Anon E Mouse

    Ian – I agree that papers are less influential and the Sun has certainly (rightly) lost readers over the Brown issue. (He should have his work checked though – as a Prime Minister it’s pretty shoddy not to be able to spell).

    All newspapers tell lies. Many mention the Sun and its (incorrect) reporting of Hillsborough but to many that was just reporting facts that they believed to be true.

    Unlike the Mirror when it faked photos of our servicemen (supposedly) urinating on and torturing Iraqi prisoners while our troops were in theater. The Sun has it’s self to blame on Merseyside but no troops lives were in danger so you pay your money blah blah.

    Labour know exactly how important the Sun is and even though they know they’ll (rightly) lose the next election it’s the scale that worries them and that’s where I believe the Sun will make a difference.

    William Hague as a parrot hanging upside down and Neil Kinnock in a lightbulb are images that affect people and they do matter – no other paper in the UK can do that.

  11. Shamik Das


    Farage has known about Wise’s crookedness since 2005; read through our previous reports on the subject, it’s all there. It is not “absolutely ruthless” to allow him to remain a member for four years after that.


    Read this fantastic article by Professor John Curtice on the waning impact of newspapers:- http://www.progressonline.org.uk/Magazine/article.asp?a=4855

    I think the reason the PM’s letter wasn’t checked by anyone is that he wrote it himself, by hand, put it in the envelope and left it to be mailed. No spin, nothing, just the honest, heartfelt condolences from one parent who has lost a child to another.

  12. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – I’m not critising Brown for sending those hand written letters.

    Abraham Lincoln used to do it, Bush did, Major, Thatcher all did – it’s a nice action and shouldn’t be sneared at in the way the Sun did.

    My only point was that Brown, probably for his well reported character flaws, seems isolated and unable to call on help when it’s needed.

    Those letters are a matter of record and he should have got the deceased soldiers name right and he should not have argued with that woman when the name was wrong. The Sun got her name wrong on their website as well 🙁 but they are a newspaper not a Prime Minister.

    All I’m saying is that if Brown was a more pleasant character people may have helped him rather than being afraid of a flying Nokia mobile phone heading in their direction.

Leave a Reply