Politics Summary: Thursday, July 8th

Andy Burnham has accused supporters of a rival camp in the Labour leadership contest of conducting "malicious briefings".

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Andy Burnham has accused supporters of a rival camp in the Labour leadership contest of conducting “malicious briefings”. The Independent reports that the shadow health secretary, an outsider in the five-way contest to land Labour’s top job, has accused supporters of an unnamed rival of trying to get him to throw in the towel; he told the Indy: “It was malicious briefing. I can only conclude that they’re worried. It was total rubbish. It’s a sign of desperation.”

The report says of Mr Burnham: “He has tried to carve out a distinctive identity for himself by emphasising his northern roots. He is the son of a telephone engineer, brought up on Merseyside, and has his campaign headquarters in Manchester. He has also begun making free use of the word ‘socialist’, which virtually disappeared from the mouths of leading Labour politicians in the 1990s. His latest email to Labour supporters is headed ‘the ‘S’ word is back’ – which works better as a slogan for winning a leadership campaign within the Labour Party than in a contest between Labour and the Conservatives… Mr Burnham believes that England’s dismal performance in World Cup contests would improve if the clubs were owned by their supporters rather than big business, because they would then become more interested in training new talent rather than buying in foreign players.” This morning at 10am, Left Foot Forward has an interview with another of the candidates in the Labour leadership race, Ed Miliband, in which the shadow climate change secretary says greater income equality should be an “explicit goal” for the Labour Party.

The European Parliament has backed tough new rules on bankers’ bonuses. The Financial Times reports that the new regulations, which will require banks to defer 40 to 60 per cent of bonuses for three to five years, and half of any immediate bonus must be paid in shares or in other securities linked to the bank’s performance, could take effect within the European Union’s 27 member states by this winter. The report says: “Arlene McCarthy, the British MEP who steered the new rules through the parliament, told fellow lawmakers this week that the regime should help address ‘fundamental flaws in the banking system’ and discourage excessive risk-taking. ‘Since 2008, banks have failed to reform their structures – we are now doing the job for them,’ she said. Michel Barnier, the EU’s internal market commissioner, also said he believed the new regime would ‘restrict remuneration policies which have only encouraged excessive risk-taking’. On Monday, Left Foot Forward reported how the new deal on capping bonuses would change the financial sector, and the role Labour MEPs had played in driving the legislation.

The health secretary has said there will be no new anti-junk food laws, reports The Guardian. Andrew Lansley yesterday said that the time had come to accept that “lecturing or nannying” people to change their behaviour did not work; he said: “No government campaign or programme can force people to make healthy choices. We want to free business from the burden of regulation, but we don’t want, in doing that, to sacrifice public health outcomes.” Health campaigners, however, said they were “horrorstruck” by Mr Lansley’s remarks. Tam Fry, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “This is nothing other than a bare-faced request for cash from a rich food and drink industry, to bail out a cash-starved Department of Health campaign. The quid pro quo is that the department gives industry an assurance that there will no regulation or legislation over its activities.” The food industry, though, said it welcomed the new move and was keen to work in partnership with the government. Julian Hunt of the Food and Drink Federation said: “We agree that in complex debates, such as obesity, the best solutions will be delivered through a shared social responsibility and not state regulation.”

Private schools will be required to provide more free school places for children from poor homes for the first time. The Daily Telegraph reports that two independent schools, under pressure from the official charities regulator, will increase the amount of money set aside for bursaries, a move which could have implications for other fee-paying schools. The Telegraph reports: “Last night, private school leaders warned that the rules could ‘jeopardise the future’ of some schools. The Independent Schools Council is now seeking a judicial review of guidelines issued by the Charity Commission amid claims it is acting ‘illegally’. Under Labour’s 2006 Charities Act, fee-paying schools are no longer automatically entitled to charitable status. They must prove they provide “public benefit” to remain in business and retain tax breaks worth around £100m a year. The commission has warned that it could intervene at schools struggling to meet the requirement to find ‘ways to fund free or subsidised access’.” David Lyscom, ISC chief executive, said: “This is an appalling situation for schools to be in, and jeopardises the future of beacons of educational excellence educating almost half a million children annually.”

And in the New Statesman, leading economist and former member of the Monetary Policy Committee David Blanchflower warns that the Coalition Government’s promise that the private sector will create 2.5 million jobs is not credible. He writes: “The PM’s claim that employment will rise contradicts leaked Treasury analysis of George Osborne’s Budget showing a loss of at least 1.1 million jobs by 2015… David Cameron based his unlikely claim on figures from the Office for Budget Responsi­bility (OBR), which rushed out a new employment forecast after a leaked Treasury analysis got the government in a bit of a jam… The leaked Treasury analysis revealed that George Osborne’s Budget will result in the loss of at least half a million jobs in the public sector and 600,000- 700,000 in the private sector by the end of this parliament… The downside risks to the OBR’s forecast suggest that Cameron’s claim of future falls in unemployment is simply not credible… Sadly for the British people, Cameron is going to have to eat his words.” Also in the New Statesman, Richard Grayson, vice-chair of the Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee, says the Lib Dem leadership is committed to a centre-right, free-market philosophy not shared by the party membership at large, writing: “We have a leadership that tends to see the state as a problem, rather than the means of solving problems.”

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