David Cameron delivered the first prime ministerial speech to a Conservative party conference in 14 years on Wednesday - a speech littered with errors.
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• David Cameron delivered the first prime ministerial speech to a Conservative party conference in 14 years on Wednesday. The address, however, was littered with mistakes, on academies, apprenticeships, National Insurance, the deficit, debt, fairness, poverty, tax, health, education, drugs, and much, much more – as reported by Left Foot Forward’s Will Straw within an hour of the Tory leader’s speech. Channel Four News’s Cathy Newman also fact-checked Mr Cameron’s claims, finding further fault with his assertions on schools, university places, the NHS, parallels with Greece and crime statistics. The BBC’s Mark Easton and the Full Fact website also chipped in.
To compound Mr Cameron’s woes, it emerged this week that membership of the Conservative party is down a third since he became leader to 177,000; Labour party membership, meanwhile, has been on the up and is set to rise even further if members heed Mr Miliband’s advice and sign up a friend, because, as he says: “Even Labour party members have at least one friend!”
• To Labour then, and the results of elections to Mr Miliband’s shadow cabinet were announced last night followed by the allocation of portfolios today. In a repeat of her success in our readers’ poll, Yvette Cooper came out on top amongst her Parliamentary Labour Party colleagues, with a massive 232 votes, followed by John Healey – who Left Foot Forward had tipped for promotion in the run-up to the elections – with 192 votes and Ed Balls with 179.
The appointment of Alan Johnson to shadow chancellor has taken most commentators by surprise and will be seen as an act of unity. On this occasion, Left Foot Forward failed to chart the major course of events although we did correctly predict the outcome for Sadiq Khan (justice), Jim Murphy (defence), Ann McKechin (Scotland, and Angela Eagle (chief secretary).
• Elsewhere, the prime minister’s director of communications Andy Coulson came under further scrutiny – not that you’ll have known it from the media blackout of the story. Channel Four’s Dispatches programme this week alleged Mr Coulson was not only aware of the intercepting of celebrities’ mobile phone voicemails, but actively took part in the illicit activities, listening in to the hacked messages. The story, however, was ignored by the BBC and the Murdoch press, only being reported by the Guardian, Mail, Independent and New Statesman. Labour MP Tom Watson wrote to the prime minister calling on him to suspend Mr Coulson while the latest allegations of impropriety are carried out.
Progressives of the week:
The Conservative party and Northern Ireland deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, for moving on from the past, looking to the future and giving hope to all with Mr McGuinness’s historic appearance at a fringe meeting at the Tory party conference in Birmingham, in which he condemned the “neanderthals” and “conflict junkies” responsible for Monday’s car bomb in Derry.
Regressive of the week:
Matthew Hancock (again!) who this week attacked the Equality Act, telling a group of businessmen at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference the act would cause “an awful lot of problems” for the government – this, just days after Tory home secretary Theresa May praised the Act for “clearing a path towards equal pay”. Thankfully, Mr Hancock’s views appear to be little shared amongst his colleagues – only two current Conservative MPs voted against the final reading of the Equality Bill.
Evidence of the week:
Ippr research, covered on Left Foot Forward yesterday, which shows that, by the end of 2011, there will be 4.6 unemployed people for every vacancy. The research also reveals that there are 330,000 fewer job vacancies in the UK than there are long-term unemployed people, with the shortage of jobs in both good times and bad playing a bigger role than previously realised, and that, far from lacking motivation, many people living in deprived areas have to put constant effort into looking for work, locked in a frustrating search for the next low paid, low skilled and temporary job.
Ed Jacobs’s Week outside Westminster:
Leaders of the devolved nations came together to tell the coalition government: “The devolved administrations believe that the proposed approach to public spending reductions by the UK government runs the risk of delivering significant economic and social harm and urge the UK Government to re-consider its proposals.”
Scotland: As one Tory candidate in next year’s Scottish elections said Scots were “so thick” for hating Margaret Thatcher, another of the party’s candidates in Scotland described carers as “the great unwashed”. Wales: Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan declared that “coalition government suits women” – failing to mention her own government’s woeful lack of women. Northern Ireland: As Martin McGuniess became the first Sinn Fein figure to attend the Conservative conference, there was widespread outrage following the car bomb attack in Derry.
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