The Week in Politics
• This week saw 2009 become the worst year for British military casualties since the Falklands war 27 years ago. The number of soldiers killed this year is now 93, following the massacre of five servicemen at their base in Helmand province on Wednesday – a week before Armistice Day. The tragedy brings to 229 the number of troops killed in Afghanistan since the conflict began. In response to the deaths, the Prime Minister today vowed to fight on in the country. In a major speech on defence he said:
“We cannot, must not and will not walk away.”
• Domestically, the Conservatives unveiled their new health policy, which pledged to create a patient-led NHS, take day-to-day political interference out of the NHS, devolve decision-making to doctors and nurses, focus government action on improving public health and reform long-term care. David Cameron’s speech to launch the new policy, however, was riddled with holes; Left Foot Forward found inaccuracies in his claims about stroke unit closures and nurses’ paperwork – and his Shadow Health Secretary appeared to contradict him as well.
• The week began with the row over the sacking of government drugs adviser David Nutt, dismissed for the heinous crime of presenting scientific evidence as fact. One of the few people to back up the Home Secretary over his decision was Daily Mail professional angry woman Melanie Phillips, whose arguments were systematically taken apart by Left Foot Forward on Monday. We can but speculate what she was on when writing her piece…
Progressives of the week
The African contingent at the UN climate change talks in Barcelona, who bade adiós to their fellow delegates in protest at the lack of progress made by rich countries in cutting emissions. All 55 members of the African bloc stormed out of two working groups which the UN was forced to abandon. They were backed up by Aosis, the LDC group and the G77 plus China. (And, no, we can’t name all 77 either!)
Regressive of the week
Another week, another headache for the Tories over Europe. If it’s not David Cameron’s homophobic Lithuanian allies causing trouble for him, it’s his own far-Right MEPs, two of whom quit over his decision not to hold a referendum on Lisbon. Roger Helmer and Daniel Hannan resigned as Employment and Legal Affairs spokesmen respectively, because, now try not to laugh, they believe the Tory leader isn’t Eurosceptic enough.
Hannan, you will remember, described the NHS as “a 60-year mistake” which he “wouldn’t wish” on anybody. He also lavished praise on Enoch Powell, citing him as his “key political influence”. You’d never guess it, but on his blog he claims he “loves Europe”; Left Foot Forward wonders how long it is before his accompanying picture has the “I ♥ NHS” logo attached.
Evidence of the week
One in five – two million – British children now live in households where neither parent has a job, a rise of 170,000 since 2008, revealed a report by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, which warned that halving child poverty by 2010 requires £4 billion in the pre-budget report.
What’s trending on Twitter
Politicians will have hoped the publication of the Kelly Report this week would draw a line under the expenses scandal. In time, it may well do, but public anger at the abuses, and the attitudes of some MPs, is still raw:
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@alpew: MP in Times: “My family often travel with me to/from constituency, am I going to have to put kids in economy while I go 1st class?” No, you go economy like the rest of us do.sorted! #mp #expenses #takingthepiss