Politics Summary: Friday, July 23rd

The Guardian front page reports that, “Labour steps up pressure on Tories in Sheffield Forgemasters sleaze row”. Labour accused Andrew Cook – the Tories’ largest donor in Yorkshire, who subsidised David Cameron’s flights in opposition to the tune of £54,000 – of a conflict of interest after he wrote to the Conservative business minister Mark Prisk in May to warn that an £80m state loan to Sheffield Forgemasters might be illegal under EU law. The Independent’s sketch outlines that, “The plot has enjoyed a number of thickening agents in the last couple of days” referring to both the Cook letter and correspondence that showed directors were willing to countenance a dilution of their shareholding in contrast to Nick Clegg’s original explanation for the cancellation – a point discussed at PMQs on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the government is also accused of improperly using aid funds after ministers approved the construction of an airport on the tiny South Atlantic island of St Helena just weeks after being lobbied by the Tories’ billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft, reveals the Guardian. The Telegraph reports that Lord Ashcroft said he had been “aware” that the progress of the runway project was being reviewed. Last week he had a Parliamentary Question about the landing strip plans answered. Asked if he had contacted Mr Mitchell about the plans for the airstrip, he said: “I know Andrew, but not particularly over this matter. I was aware they were reviewing it.”

The Financial Times reports that Royal Mail is likely to be partly or wholly in private hands within two to three years, according to the minister in charge of privatising the service. Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat minister, said in an interview with the Financial Times that the Con-Lib coalition would pass “flexible” legislation by June before embarking on the most ambitious privatisation for 20 years. The paper says, “A big test will be whether privatisation can be pushed through in the face of opposition from the Communication Workers’ Union without provoking strikes”. “I don’t expect the CWU to change their fundamental position on the injection of private capital but I have found them very constructive when talking about issues like their members’ pensions,” Mr Davey said. The Telegraph reports remarks by George Thomson, the general secretary of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, who said that the national postal service should be British-owned in order to protect the post office network from further cuts: “A foreign company does not have the interests of the British public at heart in the same way [as a British company].” There is speculation that either Dutch-owned TNT or Germany’s DHL could buy Royal Mail, or a stake in the company, as part of the Government plans to inject private capital into the business

The front page of the Daily Express covers the last minute decision by the Queen to ban BNP leader Nick Griffin from her garden party. The Guardian concludes that, “The British National party’s latest quest for political respectability collapsed in fiasco [yesterday]”. Griffin, who had earlier boasted on television that he would be representing a million British patriots – “this event shows how far this party has come” – was left fuming over what he described as a “thoroughly unBritish outrage”. Announcing the decision at lunchtime, just before the 8,000 guests began arriving, a palace statement said: “Nick Griffin MEP will be denied entry to today’s garden party at Buckingham Palace due to the fact he has overtly used his personal invitation for party political purposes through the media. This, in turn, has increased the security threat and the potential discomfort to the many other guests also attending. We would apply the same rules to anyone who would try to blatantly politicise their attendance in this way.”

The Daily Telegraph‘s front page outlines that, “Britain no longer has the cash to defend itself from every threat, says Liam Fox”. In an interview with the paper, Dr Fox said: “We don’t have the money as a country to protect ourselves against every potential future threat. We just don’t have it.” The Defence Secretary’s admission casts doubt on the future of the 25,000 troops currently stationed in Germany: “I would say, what do Challenger tanks in Germany and the costs of maintaining them and the personnel required to train for them, what does that contribute to what’s happening in Afghanistan?” In the last week Dr Fox has been fighting the Treasury to ensure that cash for the replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent comes from outside the MoD’s core budget.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Chris Huhne has admitted that “nuclear [power] is going to play a part in the energy mix”. The paper says that Mr Huhne was confident that a new generation of nuclear power stations would be built, even without state subsidies – a condition of enforced austerity which some Lib Dems expected to scupper the programme. When asked whether energy bills must increase to meet the government’s green agenda, Mr Huhne instead highlighted the dangers of an era of erratic oil prices. “The world we’re going into isn’t going to be a world where the oil price will be $80 a barrel flat for ever, or $150 a barrel flat for ever,” he said. “It will be a world where we will have very substantial oil price spikes, which have an enormous capacity to provide shocks to the domestic economy and to the world economy, exactly as they did in the 1970s and 80s.”

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14 Responses to “Politics Summary: Friday, July 23rd”

  1. Gideon Thomas

    RT @leftfootfwd: Politics Summary – Coalition accused in sleaze rows over Forgemasters & Ashcroft lobbying http://bit.ly/cRcQix

  2. Naushabah Khan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Politics Summary – Coalition accused in sleaze rows over Forgemasters & Ashcroft lobbying http://bit.ly/cRcQix

  3. Anon E Mouse

    Will – Tory sleeze?

    Why doesn’t Left Foot Forward state its position on the fact Labour’s own Richard Caborn set this deal up and we know he worked for the same for 20 odd years – that’s sleezy…

  4. Mr. Sensible

    These 2 ‘Slees’ allegations are very damaging.

    And, Will, without wishing to blow my own trumpet, the first one about Forgemasters is something I tuched on yesterday morning.

    I see that the economic figures for April to June have shown growth of 1.1%.

    The Coalition may try to use this as a justification for cuts, but as 1 of the BBC economic corrispondants has said, this is before the June budget. I don’t know if LFF’s got any editorial coming on this, so I will reserve comment further on this for now.

    And it seems that the coalition seems to be proving a test for the Lib Dems:

    And, Will, what do you make of Camebridge University’s comments about changes to A Levels?

  5. james kirk

    Politics Summary: Friday, July 23rd | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/csP7Rh

  6. james o kirk

    Politics Summary: Friday, July 23rd | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/csP7Rh

  7. Marcel Duda

    <b>Politics</b> Summary: Friday, July 23rd | Left Foot Forward http://goo.gl/fb/pqGMZ

  8. Kurt

    Politics Summary: Friday, July 23rd | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/bJ15B6

  9. Lauolefiso Stibbie

    Politics Summary: Friday, July 23rd | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/cMWq4d

  10. Denise Taylor

    Politics Summary: Friday, July 23rd | Left Foot Forward: The Guardian front page reports that, Labour steps up pre… http://bit.ly/ao1hpC

  11. Mr. Sensible

    I think it was entirely right that Griffin did not attend, though I can’t see why he was invited in the first place. The only reason the BNP got in was because of a low turnout.

    What do you think, Will, of comments by 1 of the justice Ministers that the ban on Prison Parties could be lifted? I see he has been rightly rebuked by NO 10.

    And, Will, what do you make of the ‘Big Society’ allowing local communities to build houses without Planning Permission?

    It seems to me rather extraordinary that the same communities as the Tories tried to protect are now being singled out. The scrapping of regional spasial strategies was bad enough, but now to remove the democratic planning process? This is another example of the ‘Big Society’ failing the ‘accountability’ test.

  12. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – (I’m still waiting for you to justify giving money to private companies like Forgemasters – please I’m begging now!)

    On the BNP – if all MEP’s were invited so should Griffin. You just give him publicity by doing this – he is a legitimately elected MEP.

    Also you should really pause for breath before you paste your slavish support for the useless Labour Party – I suggest you think ahead Mr.S.

    By stating that the only reason the BNP got in was because of a low turnout just serves to remind everyone how bad things went for Labour and it doesn’t help your cause.

    Remember Labour got 23% in the local elections in 2009 – a historic low for the party – the Tories got the popular vote in Wales.

    Labour got 29% in the general election, only 6% more than the Lib dems and about the same as the 1983 election under Michael Foot who in fairness was more popular than the useless unelected Gordon Brown. Brown was the most unpopular PM since records began in 1923.

    I dislike the BNP I’m sure as much as you do but the difference is I won’t post silly remarks that make them look like the victim and give them more publicity and you shouldn’t in my opinion…

  13. Mr. Sensible

    Mr Mouse I’ve already answered that one about Forgemasters; given that Cable has said the banks are ripping us off, and given that the directors were prepared to dilute their shares (as Clegg now admits), it was entirely right that the previous government gave them this lone to help our engineering industry and thus create jobs. I believe that because of the withdrawal of the lone the project in question has now been stopped.

    As for Griffin, can you tell me why he sought to use his invite to try and make political capital for the BNP? I’m afraid this is what the likes of the ‘Index on Senserhsip’ need to accept; there are certain lines of desency ETC that should not be crossed.

  14. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – So that’s it? You want to spend £440 000 for each job in Forgemasters?

    I see things differently and as you clearly think it is acceptable that the banks are allowed to behave as they please with our money my actions would be against them, as they will be.

    That will happen Mr.S – this country is going to go through a revolution of freedom with Nick Clegg and it will leave the Labour Party increasingly marginalised and irrelevant.

    Yesterday for example I saw Alan Johnson on Sky stating that people like the DNA database and speed cameras… well unlucky.

    People do not want what Labour STILL appears to offer – the leadership election seems to be a fight to maintain and justify the very policies that got Labour booted out of office with their worst election result since 1983.

    If the banks won’t lend the money make them, don’t just give up and throw your hands in the air and stop allowing private companies to borrow directly from the government.

    Governments are elected to govern, not run businesses…

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