Look Left – Indecisive Cardinals, progressive Tory voters and the Falklands

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

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This week saw 115 Catholic Cardinals come together to elect the new pontiff after the retirement of Pope Benedict last month.

It was a long wait for the faithful as the world’s most watched chimney gave out black smoke (meaning no decision on the new Pope had been made) at the end of the first day’s deliberations.

On Wednesday evening, however, the Cardinals gathered inside the Sistine Chapel finally reached a decision on who would be the next Pope (and no, it wasn’t Bono – odds 1000/1, but Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio).

Left Foot Forward looked at five challenges facing the next Pope, how the paper’s reacted to the election of the new pontiff, as well as at the humble beginnings of the man nominated to succeed Joseph Ratzinger.

• The Falkland islanders finally made their voices heard this week after months of increasingly inflammatory rhetoric from Argentina over it’s professed claim to the islands.

The result of the referendum was as expected, with the islanders choosing overwhelmingly to remain a UK overseas territory – just three islanders voted against.

Our writer James Hallwood forcefully argued that, now the Falkland islanders have spoken, it is time the world (and the Left) listened.

• The Coalition did a partial u-turn this week over its much-maligned Bedroom Tax, with work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith announcing proposals to exempt foster carers and armed forces personnel from the controversial policy.

The most regressive parts of the Bedroom Tax remain, however, with thousands of households with disabled people expected to lose an average of £14 a week.

Left Foot Forward looked at the punitive features of the Bedroom Tax, as well as at the unpopularity of the measure – comparable to Margaret Thatcher’s hated Poll Tax.

Progressive of the Week:

Tory voters. Yes, that’s right. This week we learned that 75 per cent of Conservative Party voters support the idea of a Mansion Tax on houses worth more than £2 million pounds.

Unlike their party, many Tory voters (perhaps we should start calling them former Tory voters) appear to recognise that those who have benefited in recent years from the property boom ought to pay their fair share.

And to think, the Conservative Party is fretting over whether or not it should move further to the Right.

Regressive of the week:

Fraser Nelson wrote a piece for the Spectator this week in which he argued that the way to ensure the rich pay a greater share in tax is to cut their taxes. He presented as evidence the fact that more revenue is generated by the top 1 per cent of taxpayers today than 30 years ago.

In truth, however, this is almost certainly down to the fact that the richest 1 per cent got much richer in the 80s and 90s, meaning more of their income was taxable, meaning they paid more in tax.

Evidence of the Week:

The UK found itself on the verge of an unprecedented triple-dip recession after a dire January for manufacturers. Official figures revealed a 1.5 per cent slide for the sector – the biggest slump in output since June 2012.

Left Foot Forward reported on the figures as well as on further evidence that George Osborne is set to miss his deficit reduction target by at least two years.

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