Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Once again the headlines were dominated by the News International scandal. First Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor and CEO of News International stood down from her post as the chief executive and then earlier today she was arrested, over the phone hacking scandal.

We could be forgiven for believing there was no other news worthy of headlines for the way in which this story has dominated both print and broadcast coverage.

One point worth mentioning is how Ed Miliband seemed to capture the mood of the nation so effectively. During Prime Ministers Questions earlier in the week he used sound bites to great effect, telling the PM ‘he just doesn’t get it’ and calling upon him to apologise for what Miliband labelled ‘a serious error of judgement’. You can watch Michael White’s Guardian podcast here for full analysis.

To confirm this, today’s Sunday Mirror carries a poll by polling firm ComRes which states Miliband has received a ‘big bounce’ following the scandal. You can read the analysis of the ComRes poll here.

Perhaps now Murdoch’s media empire has been shaken we can once again have a proper debate about media plurality. Indeed the Independent raised such a point in its leading article: ‘Our democracy is stronger for the dropping of BSkyB bid: We now know that the integrity of our public institutions is not for sale to the highest bidder’. You can read the article in full here.

Media plurality and the demise of the Murdoch empire will, I’m sure be a big moment in British history, but there was other news. Greece is dangerously close to defaulting on its debts and if it does so the consequences threaten to spread far across Europe and will be a complete disaster for the euro.

An article in last week’s Guardian claims that the euro is run according to Germany’s monetary interests and in order for the euro to survive Germany must reconsider its position. If European monetary policy is run according to German interests, the article states, then huge structural imbalances will accumulate. It goes on to argue that Germany will then either have to pay to correct those imbalances, or agree that the euro should not be run primarily according to German interests. If they are unwilling to do either of those things, the euro can’t survive. You can read the full article here.

I was also saddened to learn that there has been a dramatic rise in the number of older workers who are staying in employment simply because they can’t afford to retire.

The report by the TUC shows a significant increase in the number of over-50s and people over the retirement age in work over the past two decades.

Brendan Barber the TUC general secretary was right when he said ‘the increasing number of over 65s in work shows that older workers are highly valued and that the government is absolutely right to scrap the default retirement age.

‘But there is a darker side to people to working beyond their retirement. Low wages and poor pension provision, particularly in the private sector, mean that many people simply cannot afford to retire at 65.’ You can read the article in full here.

Honeyball’s weekly Round-Up

Andrew Rawnsley

It was a week of gaffes as Deputy PM Nick Clegg stood in for the Prime Minister at PMQs this week and announced that the war in Iraq was illegal. Clegg accused the former minister, Jack Straw, of being involved “in the illegal invasion of Iraq.” Yet no sooner had he spluttered the words across the dispatch box to Straw who was standing in for Harriet Harman that the Number 10 apparatchik had issued a point of clarification: “The coalition government has not expressed a view on the illegality of the conflict in Iraq,” it said without hesitation. It was embarrassing for the government because Cameron had backed the war… there will doubtless be more of these ‘mix ups’ as the two men forget that they work together and must therefore agree on policy and move forward with a united front.

Not to be out done by his deputy, David Cameron had his own moment when, while on an official trip to the United States, he described Britain as the “junior partner” of the US during the fight against the Nazis in 1940.

By Friday the embarrassing events of the first half of the week were but a distant memory as the cabinet made its way to Chequers for a school outing, or rather an away day to discuss the coalition governments first 10 weeks in office. They travelled there by relatively modest transport, opting to hire a coach rather than travel individually in their ministerial cars.

David Cameron gave the ministers a tour of his ‘pad’ before saying he would do so “before Nancy and Elwen trash the place”. There was a serious purpose to the day which was to discuss their first 10 weeks in power. Among the sessions was a joint presentation by George Osborne and Danny Alexander who discussed the spending review. They also issued a warning to colleagues about not conducting negotiations through the newspapers.” Andrew Rawnsley has an insightful review of the events in his column for today’s Observer which you can read here.

Although the outing suggested the coalition is a happy place it was clear that this isn’t the case among all members. David Davis’ less than discrete outburst overheard, it would seem by an entire wine bar, which also included a group of journalists from the Financial Times about how disgruntled he and his colleagues were caused yet further embarrassment. He described the Con Lib Dem coalition as a ‘Brokeback coalition.’

The comment supposedly referred to the extent to which backbench Tory MPs are unhappy with the coalition. The problem, I suspect is that a number of them had been promised jobs which couldn’t be honored when the coalition was formed and so are not happy.

New figures on Friday revealed that the economy has grown in the last quarter faster than at any time in the last three years. Andrew Marr asked this morning on his Breakfast Show: “Does that mean then that the medicine applied by Gordon Brown and his Chancellor over the last two years did in fact work?”

Well the answer to that has to simply be yes, of course it did. The Former Chancellor said during the interview that the figures were encouraging and illustrated what he had been saying for the last two years, which is that we needed to support our economy in order to kick start it again.

He warned that the risk is the policy the current government is choosing to adopt risks to derail that recovery. His interview on the Andrew Marr show is well worth listening to again, you can watch it here  (it begins at about 28mins and 30 seconds into the show.)