Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Yesterday Chancellor George Osborne admitted austerity measures will be here to stay until at least 2018.

And the Sunday Mirror revealed that a “rattled” George Osborne will outline plans to slash the benefits bill this week as he admits he is struggling to cut the UK’s debts.

He plans to freeze some payments for the unemployed, rather than bringing them in line with inflation and, the report says, the Chancellor will block the Lib Dems’ ‘cherished’ policy of a mansion tax.

Vincent Moss writes that “The admission is a sign that Mr Osborne may have to confess that he will not meet his pledge to make sure debt is falling as a share of the total economy by 2016.” You can read the story in full here.

Aside from Mr Osborne’s cuts it was an important week politically, not only did Lord Justice Leveson reveal the findings of his long awaited report into press standards, but Labour secured three seats in the by elections of Croydon North, Middlesbrough and Rotherham. The Guardian provided a great analysis of the results in its editorial of the elections on Friday which you can read here. Congratulations to all three new MPs.

Back to Leveson, and a debate will ensue this week regarding the best way forward, following Lord Justice Leveson recommendation’s that there should be an independent self-regulatory body for the newspaper industry which will be backed by legislation to ensure it is both independent and effective.

In an interview at the weekend with the Observer Ed Miliband said he is prepared to fight to bring in a law to regulate the press. Miliband told Toby Helm and Daniel Boffey that this must not be ‘run into the ground, and that he is determined to ensure something emerges as a result of the Leveson report. “I think there is huge urgency,” the Labour leader said. “We’re not going to let these talks become a smokescreen for inaction and just be used as a way to run this into the ground”.

You can read his interview in full here.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

More than a million spectators converged on the Thames yesterday to watch the diamond jubilee river pageant, despite worsening weather that forced the cancellation of a flypast.

As the Queen and other members of the royal family joined 20,000 participants in the 1,000-strong flotilla, millions of people across Britain joined in the celebrations at street parties, though many were hastily relocated indoors.

Understandably the media has been very focussed on the Jubilee, especially in the last few days, so there hasn’t been much discussion of the referendum vote in Ireland, despite it being a highly significant moment, especially for us in the UK.

In Britain, hostility to the EU is growing, with an array of political forces clamouring for a break-up of the euro and even of the European Union.  The main trouble with the British anti-EU argument is that Europe’s voters keep letting them down. The Irish referendum is a case in point. In spite of the ongoing crisis in the eurozone, they did not endorse the policies of the current Dublin government. Instead, they remain firmly pro-EU.

Similarly, in Greece the leftist Syriza party is carrying the hopes of those struggling against the economic depression and is both pro-EU and anti-austerity, as is the majority of the Greek population.

It is also true in France, where the pro-EU, anti-cuts Front de Gauche performed so well in the first round of the presidential election. The same applies to the emerging anti-cuts movement in Spain.

Sadly in the UK we are out of touch with the rest of Europe.  The leader of the formerly euro-fanatic Lib Dems has joined the anti-EU chorus, even Ed Balls has suggested a European referendum to “rebuild trust” with the electorate. Reversing the coalition’s cuts might achieve that more directly. Bending to Euro hostility will benefit only the Tories and UKIP.

Ed Miliband is to meet François Hollande

Labour Party

Ed Miliband is due to meet the French Socialist Presidential candidate François Hollande in London on Wednesday. Having suggested on this blog that Ed campaign for M. Hollande in the forthcoming Presidential elections in France, I am delighted that the two centre-left, dare I say, socialist leaders have agreed to meet.

I have picked up that the talks will focus on economic growth. With the EU and the UK in the grip of right-wing imposed austerity this, of course, very welcome. As I maintained in my earlier blogpost, if M. Hollande were to win, as the opinion polls are still predicting, France under a centre-left leader would be in a position to challenge the prevailing right-wing economic orthodoxy. This would, I believe, be of enormous benefit to Europe as a whole. It would also force David Cameron and George Osborne ton rethink their disastrous cuts agenda which is doing our country so much harm.

It is very heartening that M. Hollande is taking his meeting with Ed Miliband seriously. He is bringing with him his campaign manager, former French Foreign Minister Pierre Moscovici who also used to be an MEP, and Elisabeth Guigou, French Justice Minister from 1997-2000. On our side will be Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander, Shadow Chancellor and Foreign Secretary, plus the Europe Minister Emma Reynolds, who helpfully speaks French fluently.

In the context of how to pull Europe out of recession, the meeting is likely to look at Hollande’s idea of a contract between the generations, a concept not a million mikes away from Ed Miliband’s idea of a British Promise. Both leaders are comfortable discussing ideas and viewing the big picture.

Contact such as this with another centre-left European leader is immensely valuable. In the case of M. Hollande who remains the front-runner to become French President, it is completely the right thing to do. Hollande is apparently not meeting David Cameron. I wonder why not?