Look Left – Leveson, the Work Programme, and Palestine

Shamik Das looks back at the week’s politics, including our progressive, regressive and evidence of the week.


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• Lord Justice Leveson delivered his report into the press today – proposing a watchdog underpinned by statute, with real power.

Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband back the proposals – but David Cameron does not, leading to the unprecedented spectacle of the deputy prime minister contradicting the prime minister in the Commons. The Hacked Off campaign also side with the report’s findings, and have expressed their disappointment with the prime minister’s stance, calling on him to stand up to media barons and special interests. Victims say they feel “let down” and that Cameron has “ripped the heart out of the Leveson Report” by appearing to “back the status quo” of self regulation.

There was some relief for Cameron, however, with the report largely clearing him and Jeremy Hunt over the propriety of their links with News International and Rupert Murdoch. It also cleared the police of major wrongdoing. Alex Salmond, though, was accused of a “striking” readiness to assist News Corp, and of being prepared to interfere in the BSkyB bid. See our reports here and here for more.

• The failure of the Work Programme was laid bare this week.

Its success rate is only 3.5% – less than the 5.5% target set by the government – and below even the ‘deadweight’ figure of people who would got into work without any help. David Cameron and Ed Miliband clashed on the Work Programme at PMQs yesterday, Miliband saying Cameron “got rid of a Labour programme that was working and replaced it with a Tory one that is” – a claim dismissed by an angry Cameron but one backed up by the facts.

See our reports on Left Foot Forward explaining how much more effective the Future Jobs Fund and Flexible New Deal were than the Work Programme.

• Sixty five years to the day since the UN voted to partition Palestine, the General Assembly will vote tonight on whether to grant Palestine non-member status.

On Left Foot Forward today, Seph Brown of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding outlined the five main reasons why the UK should back the bid: two states for two peoples; negotiations that work; non-violence; our message to the region; and everybody wants it. Foreign secretary William Hague has said the UK will support the vote if Palestinian leaders agree to re-enter peace talks with Israel and refrain from applying to the International Criminal Court or International Court of Justice. The European Council of Foreign Relations has also made the case for Europeans to vote Yes to Palestinian statehood at the UN – consistency; state-building; values; and interests.

We will have more on the UN vote tomorrow on Left Foot Forward.

Progressives of the Week

The Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, which has long made the case for and this week once more marched and rallied to save the local hospital. Read our reports on the campaign from Jos Bell here and here – outlining the idiocy of the decision to close the hospital, the life-threatening risks it poses and what you can do to help.

Regressive of the Week:

Consulting Association chief executive Ian Kerr, who ran the trade union blacklist, and was this week called before Parliament’s Scottish affairs committee. Steve Acheson, one of those affected, was prevented from working in construction because of Kerr’s blacklist, told Left Foot Forward he had “ruined my life”, adding: “The guilty should be brought to justice.” Read John Millington’s report on Kerr’s appearance here.

Evidence of the Week:

DECC’s lastest Energy Trends report, released today, which again highlighted – amidst all the debate over wind farms and the publication of the coalition’s long-awaited Energy Bill – how reliant the UK is on coal, petroleum and natural gas. See our report and graph here.

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