Politics Summary: Thursday, November 12th

Gordon Brown will make a major speech today on immigration. The Guardian says he is expected to promise that migrant workers will only be used where there are labour shortages while guaranteeing the creation of training schemes to ensure that unskilled British workers can take on the jobs where there are skills shortages. He will rule out the Tory policy of an immigration cap as unworkable butalso – according to the Times – say that UK the population will not, as predicted, reach 70 million in the next 20 years. The Telegraph outlines that the Migration Advisory Committee have recently shown that more people were now leaving the country for work reasons than were coming in. Brown gives an extensive interview on the issue to the Mail.

The papers are split on the latest economic news. The Times calls it a “rosier growth forecast” while the Guardian believe that Mervyn King’s announcement yesterday was “sombre.” The FT call it a “sharply improving outlook for growth” and detail that the Bank forecast growth rates of 2.1 per cent for 2010 and 4 per cent for 2011 were much higher than the outlook of private sector economists and the Treasury’s predictions. Better than expected unemployment figures meant that “analysts tore up previous warnings that unemployment would hit three million next year” but the number of jobless 18 to 24-year-olds increased by 24,000 to 746,000, or 18 per cent, the highest level since records began in 1992. There were clashes at PMQs, as David Cameron accused Gordon Brown of “living in a parallel universe” on the issue. Meanwhile while Peter Mandelson announced plans for 35,000 new apprenticeships.

Hospitals and schools would be transformed into John Lewis-style partnerships under radical new Labour plans. Government advisers point out that successful mutuals already see a 4%-to-5% increase in their productivity. Tessa Jowell, secretary of state for the Cabinet Office, is quoted in the Telegraph: “We think mutuals have a much broader potential across the public sector, especially now where they can become an expression of the new national soul post-credit crunch.” Meanwhile, the FT shows that after falling since at least 2001, NHS productivity increased with Audit Commission’s analysis showing that average unit costs for in-patient care last year dropped by almost 2 per cent. A Times exclusive reveals that anyone who wishes to become a nurse will need to have a degree within four years, in one of the biggest shake-ups of medical education in the history of the NHS.

The Times says David Miliband has publicly ruled himself out of the race to become foreign minister of the European Union, three weeks after he first ruled himself out. An emergency summit is likely to take place in Brussels next Thursday to settle the two posts created by the Lisbon treaty. Massimo D’Alema, Italy’s former leftist prime minister, has emerged as frontrunner for the foreign minister post.

While Barack Obama continues to review his options on a strategy shift in Afghanistan, the US Ambassador and former top military commander in the country urged caution on a troop increase in two classified cables sent to the White House this week, report both the New York Times and the Washington Post. Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired lieutenant general, has recently voiced deep concerns on the reliability of President Karzai and corruption in the government.

And the rest:
  • The families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan condemned the Ministry of Defence last night for awarding its civil servants bonuses totalling £47m in the first seven months of this financial year.
  • Labour is quietly confident that history will not repeat itself today when voters go to the polls in a parliamentary by-election in Glasgow North East.
  • David Cameron has been accused of making a “contract” with Britain’s biggest media company to trade political support before an election for government favours afterwards if the Tories win.
  • Lord Mandelson is being tipped as a possible “minister for information” under a shake-up of the way Downing Street holds its media briefings announced today.
  • The head of Britain’s police chiefs has said that a scheme to monitor political campaigners may be scrapped as part of plans to make national policing more accountable.
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