Politics Summary: Monday, May 24th

The main story of the day is the Government’s announcement of £6 billion in cuts this year. The Independent reports that civil servants will be told today that they are being banned from recruiting any new staff in a “severe setback for students who are due to graduate this summer”. The paper believes that 300,000 Whitehall and public sector workers may lose their jobs. The Telegraph puts the figure at 3,000. The paper says that other cuts will include a “populist gesture” of cutting central government funding for speed cameras. 

The Times believes that Vince Cable’s Business Department will “bear the brunt” of the cuts with £900 million in savings over the next nine months. This will include culling regional development agencies in the South, quangos, and some of the last-minute grants and loans extended by his predecessor, Lord Mandelson. Nick Clegg is widely quoted saying the cuts would be “painful and controversial”. The Financial Times reports that, “trade union leaders are gearing up for a fight with the coalition government” over the cuts. Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the spending cuts to be announced on Monday were “dangerous” and risked a “double-dip recession”.

The Times reports that Defence secretary Liam Fox was under attack last night for damaging Britain’s relations with Kabul after he described Afghanistan as a “broken 13th-century country”. According to senior Afghan officials, Dr Fox’s characterisation of the country was raised at a meeting with President Karzai on Saturday. The President expressed his deep displeasure at the remarks, they said. The Daily Mail says that William Hague has “slapped down”  Mr Fox “twice in two days” as he also “turned government policy on its head by demanding a quick withdrawal of British troops.” The foreign secretary said it was “unwise and unhelpful” for anyone to demand an early withdrawal of British troops. And on the eve of cuts across Whitehall, the Guardian reports that, “Fox said the Treasury would have to ‘cough up’ more money as a thank you to troops and would fulfil the Conservative pledge to double the operational allowance in Afghanistan, currently around £2,600 for a six-month tour. Meanwhile, The Sun reveals that “the head of the Army’s bomb disposal squad has quit amid fears that cuts left his men over-stretched in Afghanistan.”

The Independent reports that the Office for National Statistics is today widely expected to raise its initial assessment of GDP growth for the first quarter of the year. The paper says that “the ONS disappointed economists and dealt a blow to the election campaign of Gordon Brown” last month with estimates of only 0.2 per cent. Since then, data on both the manufacturing sector and business investment figures have come in higher than predicted. Last week the Chancellor was told that borrowing last year was £7 billion lower than had previously been thought.

The Guardian reports that Oona King, the former London MP will announce today her return to frontline politics by “declaring that she will challenge Ken Livingstone to become Labour’s candidate for mayor of London in 2012.” Meanwhile, the Independent reports that John Prescott has launched his campaign to “take one of the few jobs in politics that he has not already held: treasurer of the Labour Party.” The paper says that, “Without an energetic treasurer to help crank up the party machine, it is in danger of slipping back into a state of near total dependency on trade union backing.”

The Guardian devotes their front page to “how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons”. The “top secret” minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa’s defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them “in three sizes”. The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that “the very existence of this agreement” was to remain secret. The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provides the first official documentary evidence of the state’s possession of nuclear weapons.

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15 Responses to “Politics Summary: Monday, May 24th”

  1. Lord Pont

    6 billion is negligible but shows willing. after the euro bailout, the UK is next on the panic list for investors in sovereign debt. we will need a serious contingencey plan incase the markets lose faith.

  2. Mr. Sensible

    The figures on both borrowing and GDP are an indictment of the coalition’s slash and burn approach.

    By stimulating the economy, the figures show that the economy has grown 2 quarters in a row by a total of I think just under 1%, and public borrowing for this year has come in £7 billion under the treasury’s figures for budget 2010, and I believe £19 billion fewer than in budget 2009.

    And now we know just what we’re getting from the coalition. An attack on Regional Development Agencies, Public Sector Workers, the disabled with the axing of Becta and removing the bias towards inclusion, and just what are they going to replace the QDCA with? I read in the Independent yesterday that some of the top univercities could consider going private:

    I would be interested to see what NUS President Elect Mr Porter, who sometimes writes here has to say on that.

    Mr Clegg has done a complete U-turn to get a seat in power, and the Euro situation is a convenient excuse. The Lib Dems support a Tory freeze in council tax, despite standing hand-in-hand with Labour in opposing that very policy here in Nottinghamshire earlier this year.

    Speaking of Nottinghamshire, when the Tories took office here last year, they talked a lot about efficiency. Since which time, services have been cut; there was a good editorial published on that just before the Election by ‘Tory Stories.’

    And as you say in the article Will, the slash-and-burn approach to public sector jobs will come as a blow to students, and for those reaching the end of their A levels or whatever looking at their options this, combined with the possible privatization of some of our top univercities will come as a double blow.

    And finally, cutting public spending now could have an impact on parts of the Private Sector, for example if Building Schools for the Future is scrapped.

    In short, the economic times may be tough, but the Lib Dems have swallowed the Tories’ dogmatic cuts hook, line and sinker. These cuts aren’t to cut the deficit; they’re to fund the Tories’ pet projects. For example, out goes BUILDING SCHOOLS FOR THE FUTURE, in comes ‘Free Schools.’ And what the Lib Dems are doing is nothing more than doublespeak.

    I have to say, the ‘Con Dem Nation’ headline actually has a certain ring to it!
    Rant over!


  3. Lord Pont

    It would be excellent if the Universities went private and properly funded themselves. We may get a few less media studies and surfing graduates if students had to pay the full cost of their courses.

    In addition I wouldn’t give a flying f*ck what NUS President Elect Mr Porter had to say about it.

  4. £6bn cuts - long-term pain for short-term gain? | Left Foot Forward

    […] However there are less politically salient casualties of the cuts. The abolition of the popular Child Trust Fund will save just over £300m, and the £120m generated by a freeze in civil service recruitment will hit graduate job-seekers particularly hard. […]

  5. SadButMadLad

    Loads of cuts to to various public sector areas. Axing of quangos. Slashing perks of the job. Probably loads of “climate change managers” and “street football coordinators” losing their jobs. However I haven’t heard about front line workers losing their jobs, only pen pushers.

Comments are closed.