Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward

The Week in Politics

• The culture, media and sport committee produced its long-awaited report into “Press standards, privacy and libel”, criticising the News of the World – then edited by David Cameron’s director of communications Andy Coulson – for buying the silence of a former reporter and private investigator, covering their tracks, and ensuring not enough evidence remained to name Coulson directly. The report, which was praised by libel reform campaigners, also scalded the PCC for its inaction, describing the watchdog as “toothless”.

The Press Complaints Commission had earlier been criticised for allowing “poisonous journalism” to be published scot free, like the despicable Jan Moir column after the death of Stephen Gately. “It is the nature of the Code itself,” wrote leading academic Professor Julian Petley, “coupled with the way in which the Commission deals with complaints arising from alleged breaches of it, which allows poisonous journalism of this kind to flourish.”

The PCC also got it in the neck for failing to take any action against the reams of climate denial copy and the constant misrepresentation of climate change scientists. “I don’t know what to do”, said Mojib Latif after the Mail portrayed him as dissenting from the scientific consensus. “They just make these things up.”

• A cross-party amendment to the Government’s Energy Bill was narrowly defeated in the Commons this week, despite a sizeable backbench rebellion by Labour MPs. The amendment, which fell partly due to several Liberal Democrat MPs not bothering to turn up, would have seen a prohibition on the construction of new mass-polluting power stations like Kingsnorth. Following the vote, the executive director of Greenpeace, John Sauven, told Left Foot Forward that the unamended bill “would hand billions of pounds to energy companies” without holding them to account, adding:

“Ministers caved into lobbyists from big German utilities who claimed that this measure would scare off investment, when the evidence from places like California shows that the opposite is true. Investors want certainty.

“Without an emissions performance standard new power stations are subject not to a legally binding limit, but to a gentleman’s agreement that leaves an uncertain future for both investors and the UK’s climate targets.”

• The economy once again remained the key policy issue this week. On Monday, Left Foot Forward outlined the “stupidity” of George Osborne’s plans for “people’s bonuses”, while on Wednesday we asked him to answer key questions about his policies. Mr “weak link” is yet to reply; if you see him, do ask him to get in touch.

In the City, the issue of bankers’ bonuses came back into the news after the Royal Bank of Scotland – 84% owned by the taxpayer – announced it would pay out £1.3 billion in bonuses this year, 100 of their investment bankers trousering more than £1 million each. All this despite RBS announcing a £3.6 billion loss.


Progressive of the week

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey, who on Tuesday’s Newsnight defence debate shook up the Labour/Tory consensus by reframing the Trident renewal debate. He said that rather then a false choice between Britain as a nuclear power today or unilateral nuclear disarmament tomorrow:

“This nuclear deterrent (Trident) keeps us a nuclear power for another 20 years, the decision is whether we want one for 30 years after that.”


Regressives of the week

Tories: members, candidates and MPs, who, various surveys revealed this week, remain stuck in the past, as far from the David Cameron’s attempted rebranded as is humanly possible. These are among the polls’ revelations:

• 84% of members want a cut in net immigration of three-quarters;

• 91% of PPCs and 73% of MPs do not believe in man made climate change;

• Seven times as many candidates say Lady Thatcher is their hero as say Nelson Mandela;

• A fifth of candidates support the reintroduction of the death penalty; and

• More Tory PPCs said Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson were villains as said Hitler.


Evidence of the week

New polling undertaken for Gingerbread this week which found the public’s perceptions of single parents out of step with reality. Sixty-five per cent of those polled believed that less than half of single parents are working, when in fact 57% have a paid job, and 55% of single parents have been married, against a public belief belief that only 39% had been. Such misconceptions are nothing new; a survey in 2008 found that, when asked what proportion of single parents were teenagers, the average guess was 15 times higher than the actual figure of 2 per cent.

As Left Foot Forward revealed yesterday, teenage pregnancies have fallen to their lowest rate for more than 20 years, with teenage birthrates now at around the same level as in the 1950s.


Conor Pope’s Blog The Week

This week, inbetween writing election-winning songs and mourning the departure of James Purnell, Conor fails to heed Nicholas Winterton’s warning about “those other people” and braves the second class carriage, with disastrous consequences…


What’s trending on Twitter

According to our friends at Tweetminster, here is a list of the week’s top political stories:

• The narrowing of the polls;

• ConservativeHome’s reaction to what the party should do about it;

• David Cameron’s transparency agenda;

• The tail-end of the National Bullying Helpline story; and

• Cameron and the mystery £72 billion.


With Tory support seemingly in meltdown, here are a few tweets on it:

@TonyBurkson: rarely do bookmakers get it wrong< the Tories odds of a majority are 1/2 and the odds for a no overall maj for either party are 13/8 #polls

@Karen4HWG: New blog post: Tory Support Crumbling http://bit.ly/be8jws #tory #polls

@FionnHodgson: #Labour have axed Mandy’s #piracy cut-off plans. They are also closer in the #polls. My faith in Gordon Brown is steadily being restored.

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