David Cameron's enterprise adviser Lord Young resigned today after saying people were better off after the recession. Young had told the Telegraph: "For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started." Labour leader Ed Miliband described the remarks as "disgraceful" and said people would feel "insulted" by his comments.
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• David Cameron’s enterprise adviser Lord Young resigned today after saying people were better off after the recession. Young had told the Telegraph: “For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started.” Labour leader Ed Miliband described the remarks as “disgraceful” and said people would feel “insulted” by his comments.
Mr Miliband added: “I do have to say though that it reflects very badly on the prime minister that he made this appointment of someone who seems so out of touch with people up and down this country. Part of what this government has to do is demonstrate they do understand the consequences of the decisions they are making and the way people are struggling every day in our economy. I’m worried that people like Lord Young indicate a government that doesn’t understand that.” Earlier, the prime minister had called the comments “extremely embarrassing“.
It’s been quite a week for the old Thatcherite. On Wednesday, he was crowned “Peer of the Year” at the Spectator awards; now, just 48 hours later, he’s gone.
• There were a number of stories this week about Ed Miliband’s leadership. In the Times (£), several senior New Labour figures gave their tuppenceworth on the issue, with the Times editorial (£) calling for a change to the way the Labour leader is elected and questioning the union link, which was rebutted by Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley on Left Foot Forward today. Woodley said the leading article “more reflects the paper’s enduring hostility to trade unionism than a serious concern for Labour’s integrity”.
Also this week, Labour Uncut’s Dan Hodges, writing in the New Statesman, claimed that: “Ed Miliband’s team are terrified of Ed Balls and Yvette. They think they’re going to come and try and kill him. And the reason they think that is because they will.” Responding to all the claims, our own Will Straw, interviewed on the Today programme this morning, said he thought the claims were overplayed, there wasn’t a lack of leadership and people wanted to give Mr Miliband a fair chance.
• Ireland’s economic crisis continues to dominate the headlines. The IMF have stepped in to the breach, and looks set to bail out the country, prompting an Irish Times editorial to ask:
“Was it for this? It may seem strange to some that The Irish Times would ask whether this is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side. There is the shame of it all. Having obtained our political independence from Britain to be the masters of our own affairs, we have now surrendered our sovereignty to the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.”
On Left Foot Forward today, Aoife Carroll explained the background to the crisis, which was “a product of a decade of disastrous economic policies that emphasised property development and led to a massive property bubble that was always going to burst. This was Ireland’s special version of crony capitalism”.
Progressives of the week:
The thousands of people, 60,000 in all, whose messages of protest over Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB were delivered to Ofcom this morning. Murdoch’s bid, if successful, will give him total control of the broadcaster, putting him on the fast track to more than half of Britain’s newspaper and television market share. Campaigners are worried this will mean less choice for the public and even greater political influence for the billionaire with significant corporate interests.
The campaign was organised by Avaaz and 38 Degrees, whose director David Babbs said: “Rupert Murdoch isn’t going to spend £7.8 billion without expecting to build his empire and expand control over the British media. Ofcom need to put the public interest first and stand up to this power grab that will harm our democracy.”
Regressive of the week:
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, who on Wednesday outlined proposals for a “two-speed” internet, which critics warn could harm free speech and stifle innovation. In essence, what Mr Vaizey proposes is an online ‘free market’, which, as Jon Worth explained on Left Foot Forward today, could result in text and images loading slower on some sites than others, and video streaming much, much slower. Tomorrow morning LFF will have more analysis on the net neutrality debate.
Evidence of the week:
Nicola Smith’s analysis for Left Foot Forward on Monday which revealed many people will be worse off under the Universal Credit. The calculations the government used for a graph claiming to show “many households will receive more under Universal Credit than under the current system” didn’t include childcare costs and did include all UK households – not just those who are claiming benefits or Tax Credits, distorting the graph.
As Nicola concluded: “Important questions remain unanswered about what the real impacts of Universal Credit will be, and exactly which benefits and Tax Credits are being included or excluded from its reach. A government committed to transparency should be willing to provide more details, and to be clearer about the impacts their changes will have for households across Britain.”
Ed Jacobs’s Week outside Westminster:
Scotland: The Scottish draft Budget was either, in John Swinney’s words, one “that protects jobs, economic recovery and frontline services”, or, according to his Labour shadow, Andy Kerr, puts “party before nation, self-interest before public interest and the finance secretary’s own job before those of the people he is supposed to serve”. New figures also revealed unemployment increased in Scotland between July and September.
Wales: The Labour/Plaid coalition announced a draft Budget that will see the NHS facing cuts over the next three years. “The draft budget is framed against the most difficult financial backdrop since the advent of devolution,” argued Budget minister Jane Hutt. Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams somewhat unbelievably argued that the economic recovery was too fragile to take the cuts despite her party’s actions in Westminster. Meanwhile, Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan was forced to cancel a lecture at Aberystwyth University following rumours online of protests by students over tuition fees.
Northern Ireland: Gerry Adams announced he would be quitting Stormont and Westminster to fight for a seat in the Dáil Éireann. Adams said of the decision: “Ireland is at a crossroads. This state is in the midst of a deep economic and social crisis. This Government is probably the most unpopular in the history of the state. It is now implementing bad, deeply damaging policies. It has no mandate whatsoever for this. There is a better way. Together we can rebuild Ireland.” The Belfast Telegraph dubbed it a “high-risk gamble” whilst DUP finance minister Sammy Wilson bluntly concluded: “I must say if the Republic are hoping for Gerry Adams to solve their problems, they have a very, very sad future ahead of them.”
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