Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th

The IMF warning on cutting the deficit too soon, the MPs' report into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, schools, prisons and banks.

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The International Monetary Fund has backed Labour’s approach to spending, warning that slashing the deficit before 2011 may lead to a “double-dip” recession. The warning comes in an IMF paper on exit strategies carried out by stricken advanced economies, reports the Telegraph, and “will be characterised as a blow for the Conservative party”, with the fund saying countries risked sparking a potential double-dip in their economies if they start cutting spending and raising taxes too early, emphasising governments and reguators should be careful not to start tightening either monetary or fiscal policy too early. The Guardian describes the report as giving “strong backing” to the government’s ‘wait-and-see’ approach to cutting Britain’s budget deficit, the weakness of growth requiring tax increases and spending cuts to be delayed until next year. The Guardian calls it a “rebuff” to David Cameron’s plans to start repairing the public finances as soon as he comes to power in the event of him winning the election.

The Guardian leads on the select committee report into the conduct of the News of the World, which criticises the tabloid’s “collective amnesia”, “deliberate obfuscation” and “hush money” payouts. There will be relief, however, in Tory circles, with David Cameron’s media chief escaping censure, the report finding “there was no evidence that he knew of phone hacking”, though the report does say “that such hacking took place reveals a serious management failure for which as editor he bore ultimate responsibility, and we believe that he was correct to accept this and resign”. The Sun, meanwhile, claims that the report “was hijacked by Labour MPs for political gain”, and “tried to link the Tories with bullying allegations”. More widely, the report describes the Press Complaints Commission as “toothless”, criticises the reporting of the Madeleine McCann story, and recommends changes to libel law and limits on the use of superinjunctions. Left Foot Forward will have detailed analysis of the report later today.

The Independent reports government plans to give parents a vote on whether struggling schools should be taken over by new owners. The scheme, unveiled by the prime minister yesterday, would force local authorities to conduct a ballot on whether a new organisation should be brought in were a significant number of parents to express dissatisfaction with the present leadership, the new owners having to come from a list of approved providers, including universities, colleges, successful schools and private sponsors. Schools secretary Ed Balls said: “If you are dissatisfied with the progress your local school is making, you will be able to get a new and quality-guaranteed provider.” However the general secretary of teachers’ union Voice, Philip Parkin, told the Indy the scheme would be “impractical and unworkable and would create more bureaucracy”, adding: “The ballot box is not the way to organise a programme of school improvement.”

The Telegraph reports the Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers’s warning that budget cuts have raised fears that “offenders are released without being fully rehabilitated”. In her final annual report, says the Telegraph, she implies that resource restraints could lead to violent disturbances in jails and warns of “increased instability in a fragile environment” – which could see a return to an overcrowding crisis in future. She says: “The hidden and incremental pressures this produces should not be underestimated … there are two risks: of increased instability in fragile environments and of reducing prisons’ capacity to rehabilitate those they hold.” On Monday Left Foot Forward reported concerns that Tory plans to reduce levels of community sentences could lead to an increase in re-offending.

Finally, The Independent reports Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable’s insistence that “banks must do more to help businesses”. He accused them of “denying the facts” and “endangering economic recovery” – though he was keen to stress the Liberal Democrats were not “anti-bank”. Outlining his party’s policy on banks, he said of RBS and Lloyds in particular: “They insist that they are falling over backwards to help their business customers despite all the mass of evidence to the contrary … Most small and medium-sized businesses, however, never indulged in the overleveraged excesses seen in the domestic property market or by major commercial property developers. The problem with the banks’ argument is that there is a fallacy of composition … On the anniversaries of the RBS and Lloyds lending agreements, I challenge Alistair Darling to give a full, public account of what has happened under these legally binding agreements.”

• US magazine Dissent hosts “Obama – what’s gone wrong?” on March 24 at 6.30pm for a high profile panel debate. Free. To RSVP email [email protected]

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21 Responses to “Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th”

  1. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: IMF warning: Don't cut deficit before 2011:- Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th: http://is.gd/944vp

  2. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd IMF warning: Don't cut deficit before 2011:- Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th: http://is.gd/944vp

  3. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – No mention of the story leading Sky and the BBC?

    You know the one where No.10 “brief against” (intimidate? bully?)the UK chancellor, Alistair Darling…

    “Mr Darling had claimed he was briefed against by No10 advisers, including Damian McBride who resigned as Mr Brown’s chief spokesman over an email smear campaign.”

    Usual Labour smears it seems to me…

    So come on LFF what nasty unsubstantiated remarks are you going to make against Alistair Darling then?

  4. Shamik Das

    I think the views of the IMF and the future of the economy, questions of whether we go into a “double dip” recession or not are more relevant than the latest tittle tattle about who said what when. Furthermore, you seem to imply we’ve made “nasty, unsubstantiated remarks” in relation to this story before. Everything that we’ve published on this subject is true.

  5. Kurt

    Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/cU65dm

  6. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – I’m just waiting for LFF to start it’s remarks is all.

    Even your implication that it’s just the “latest tittle tattle” shows how little you seem to appreciate the nature of bullying and smearing and the effects it can have on it’s victims.

    Does the name David Kelly mean nothing to LFF?

    What’s even worse is when it’s carried out by unelected officials from the highest “open plan office” in the land and against an MP elected to represent the people of this country.

    The unelected and unaccountable persecuting the elected seems wrong to me and they are supposed to be from the same political party…

    And you consider this to be “tittle tattle” LFF? I call it bullying and intimidation and a disgraceful way to behave.

    Why would so many different people, including the Chancellor be lying? Because someone is – both cannot be right…

  7. Shamik Das

    Here we go again! The mentions of David Kelly and McBride etc. etc. I’m not the one who behaves in a bullying and threatening manner on comments threads, bringing up all kinds of stuff, smearing other commenters and throwing accusations around.

  8. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – Have you not been listening to the radio or TV all day yesterday / today?

    Where do you get the “evidence” from for this blog?

    Did you miss PMQ’s or something?

  9. Noya Khobor » Blog Archive » Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th | Left Foot Forward

    […] View post: Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th | Left Foot Forward […]

  10. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – Read my post. I never mentioned McBride, Sky news did – (That’s why it’s in Quotes).


    : weblogemdia.co.uk Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th (Left Foot Forward) (source: Wikio) http://ow.ly/16ExiP

  12. Mr. Sensible

    There’s definitely something going on with our press at the moment; the phone hacking, and the appalling comments about Stephen Gately’s death in the Daily Mail. I think the Press Complaints Commission should be Independent, not run by newspaper editors ETC.

    It is important that a balance must be struck; no big company should be able to take out a super-injunction against the Guardian to prevent the reporting of Parliament, yet some people should have the right to privicy.

    It’s a case of what is in the public interest; the Traffigura case is, but John Terry, frankly, isn’t; I’m bored stiff of hearing what the selebs are up to. I prefer to focus on real news!

    There’s an interesting editorial on Mr Coulson from Alistair Campbell in today’s Guardian:

    Which shows, Mr Mouse, that whatever the allegations are about bullying in No 10, Mr Colson has had his fair share of controversy too.

    One thing I’m surprised at though, Shamik, is that Left Foot Forward has not commented on Gordon Brown’s apology in relation to the Child Migrants.

    As someone who lives in Nottinghamshire, I am particularly interested; it was a former Nottinghamshire County Council social worker who uncovered what happened.

    Yet, when David Cameron echoed Gordon Brown’s comments praising her work and that of the child migrants’ trust, I couldn’t help thinking that Mr Cameron’s comments were rather hollow, given that our County Council
    removed a notice board about the trust.

    See this from the Nottingham Evening Post last year:


  13. Mr. Sensible

    I’m interested in the Independent’s comments on the government’s policy of allowing parents to change the running of a school.

    Personally, I am not a big fan of ocadomies; sounds too close to the Tory free schools policy for comfort! I think a good school is one run in the common interest by the local authority, who can be held publically accountable, and think the ocadomies program has run its course.

  14. Gina Conde

    RT @leftfootfwd: IMF warning: Don't cut deficit before 2011:- Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th: http://is.gd/944vp

  15. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by leftfootfwd: IMF warning: Don’t cut deficit before 2011:- Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 24th: http://is.gd/944vp

  16. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – last time I looked Andy Coulson wasn’t a public servant…

  17. Mr. Sensible

    “Mr.Sensible – last time I looked Andy Coulson wasn’t a public servant…”

    Maybe not, but he is an adviser to David Cameron.

  18. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – “Maybe not, but he is an adviser to David Cameron.”

    So what?

    Last time I looked Andy Coulson wasn’t a public servant…

  19. Mr. Sensible

    Mr Mouse, as has been said in the Guardian column I linked to earlier, Coulson probably rights Cameron’s scripts for him.

  20. Mr. Sensible

    My point is, how could Coulson possibly have kept a strait face when writing that for Cameron?

  21. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – Who David Cameron does or does not appoint is his business. Coulson, apart from being cleared in any event, is not a public servant and costs us nothing.

    What is clear is that Damian McBride was paid for by the taxpayer but I’m sure you’re as disgusted by his behaviour as myself and Alistair Darling are…

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