Politics Summary: Thursday, May 27th

Iain Duncan Smith, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, has hinted that he may change the definition of child poverty. In an interview with the Guardian, he said, “You get this constant juddering adjustment with poverty figures going up when, for instance, upper incomes rise.” Mr Duncan Smith described Britain’s benefits system as “bust” He said, “My general view is that the benefit system is a deeply ineffective and costly way of subsidising people’s lives. If you want to help people above a certain income the route to do that is through tax – it is simple, straightforward and easy.”

Mr Duncan Smith said that both Conservative and Labour governments had “used [Incapacity Benefit] as a way of slightly getting out of the unemployment figures and not being overly honest.” Yvette Cooper told the Today programme, “If you look really at what the Conservatives are proposing they talk about trying to get more people back into work. In fact the only thing that they have done so far is to cut £300 million from the employment programs budget… that means really cutting 80,000 youth jobs.”

The Telegraph reports that, “Labour activists try to avoid a Miliband contest”. It says that, “Members are putting pressure on party chiefs to change the rules to ensure that Labour’s electoral college has a wider choice of candidates.” The Daily Mirror reports that, “Andy Burnham yesterday launched his Labour leadership campaign by vowing to “reconnect” the party with its grassroots”. The Telegraph says that, “Friends of Mr Burnham are hoping that, if the rules are not changed, enough undecided MPs would be persuaded by the argument that a full range of candidates should be able take part in the contest. They would then nominate those who failed to reach the threshold even if they did not go on to vote for them.” Left Foot Forward reported yesterday on the launch of David Miliband’s website, which seeks to emulate the site used by Barack Obama.

The Times‘ front page reports that, “George Osborne has opened talks on watering down the planned increases to capital gains tax before his emergency Budget on June 22.” The paper writes that, “The coalition Government is facing its first serious rift after Lib Dem aspirations to rebalance the tax system ran into angry opposition from Tory backbenchers and grassroots supporters in the shires.” In the Daily Mail, David Davis writes, “unless it is very carefully designed, the plan to increase Capital Gains Tax will not only fail to raise the money needed, it will cost money.” Osborne is “understood to be looking at a range of options, from minimising the rise to restricting the scope of tax so that it hits fewer people.”

The Daily Telegraph‘s front page headline says, “University vice-chancellors’ pay ‘out of step with reality’, says Vince Cable”. The paper reports that research showed that university heads were paid an average of £219,000 last year, as salaries and benefits rose by almost 11 per cent. Mr Cable said: “I was very taken aback to discover that last year the pay of vice-chancellors rose by over 10 per cent in the middle of a financial crisis.” Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, said the average rise in 2009-10 was 0.5 per cent. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that Mr Cable, “stood down from his role as deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats last night in order to concentrate on his role as business secretary in the new coalition government.” Simon Hughes is rumoured to be a possible favourite to replace him.

The Financial Times‘ front page reports that, “UK and France reject EU bank plan”. The paper says, “London rejected the idea, arguing it would introduce “moral hazard” and encourage banks to think the levy was an insurance premium that entitled them to help if they got into trouble. French officials said Paris had similar concerns.” Michel Barnier, EU internal market commissioner, set out plans for member states to form national funds to help wind up or reorganise failing banks, funded by a levy on the financial sector. Mr Osborne plans to press ahead with a unilateral levy in the Budget next month. Meanwhile, The Times reports that Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, urged other European Union members to raise their sights and increase the target from 20 to 30 per cent by 2020. During the election Mr Huhne signed a Friends of the Earth pledge calling for “a reduction in UK greenhouse gas emission of 42 per cent by 2020.”

6 Responses to “Politics Summary: Thursday, May 27th”

  1. Anon E Mouse

    Will – Seems to me that someone needs to tell Yvette Cooper that Labour is no longer in government – I heard her on the radio this morning and it’s obvious dinosaurs like her and her husband should really just be ignored.

    If Burnham wasn’t such a prat he might be a good candidate but I’m still going David Miliband…

    The definition of poverty needs to be changed urgently or targets will always be lagging behind top earnings.

    Good balanced newspaper review this morning.

  2. Lauolefiso Stibbie

    Politics Summary: Thursday, May 27th | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/cm2j2V

  3. Casey Vanderpool

    Politics Summary: Thursday, May 27th | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/dmn2uw

  4. Mr. Sensible

    Ian Duncan Smith is just all talk and no substance.

    As Evette Cooper has said, and I believe LFF has highlighted before, what Ian Duncan Smith is proposing is already going on.

    They were talking about this on Tuesday on the Tony Livesy Show, and someone from the non-taxpayers’ alliance suggested effectively that people should effectively use 1 job as a steppingstone towards another. Have a listen:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00shpn1

    I don’t think an employer would have much confidence in an employee if that employee is forever looking over their shoulder.

    I see that in the Guardian Cameron might be about to do a U turn over Capital Gains Tax:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/27/david-cameron-coalition-capital-gains-tax

    However, on a much more serious point, a lot of the news coverage has been given over to the anniversary of the Rescue from Dunkirk. And so, whatever we think of war, it is important that we remember the role our armed forces played then, and continue to play today.
    BTW Will, was the website down earlier this morning? I tried to get on earlier this morning without success.

  5. Raymond Kelly

    Mr. Mouse doesn’t seem to have caught IDS’s drift. He doesn’t like poverty being measured relative to top incomes. When the rich earn more, more people appear to be in poverty because the gap has widened. He wants a fixed definition of poverty which doesn’t change when top earners are coining it in.

    Who cares if the poor fall behind? they only need the minimum anyway according to IDS’s train of thought.

  6. Anon E Mouse

    Raymond Kelly – Those top earners may be employing people in order to “coin it in” and just because every Labour government has left with unemployment higher than when they took office it doesn’t make it right. Jobs are a good thing Raymond.

    The poor have been under the governance of the Labour Party that increased stealth taxes, NI and removed the 10p tax band along with saddling every taxpayer with a mountain of debt.

    Top that off with the equality gap widening and Mandelson being “comfortable” with it I’m surprised anyone here can criticise the new government considering the last control freak warmongers we were ruled by.

    And I care if the poor fall behind as they did under the last government – things are different now.

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