Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

I can’t, in all honesty, say  that I was shocked to read the revelation in Saturday’s Guardian that the Lib Dems had drawn up plans to drop their flagship student pledge before the general election.

The revelation came in a new book about the coalition negotiations by the former Tory whip, Rob Wilson.

The secret document written by Danny Alexander revealed they would have to forego their pledge to abolish the fees within six years.

This is what Alexander wrote on 16 March:

‘On tuition fees we should seek agreement on part time students and leave the rest. We will have clear yellow water with the other [parties] on raising the tuition fee cap, so let us not cause ourselves more headaches.

Despite this Nick Clegg recorded a YouTube video for the NUS in which he stuck by his abolition pledge. In the video, on the 13 April, he said: ‘We will resist, vote against, campaign against any lifting of that cap.’

Although circumstances change and economic or social climates can mean that policies have to adapt, but what angers me about this revelation is that the party never intended to follow the policy it was flaunting.

It used this argument to secure the student vote, to entice those who were unsure by convincing them that they would support growing concern over tuition fees. But this article shows how so many voters were mislead by the party they voted for.

You can read the full article here.

In other news I read that designer shoe maker, Tamara Mellon, (among others) was appointed a global trade envoy for Britain, by David Cameron. Mellon and the other ‘ambassadors’ will be expected to promote and represent the country overseas by participating in foreign visits, meet foreign ministers and deliver speeches.

The other ambassadors are: handbag designer Anya Hindmarch and JCB boss Sir Anthony Bamford, a Tory donor who has contributed almost £1m in recent years, reported the Daily Mail.

Although the appointed ambassadors will not be paid for their work, I am still uncomfortable that the Prime Minister is relying on close allies such as Bamford and Hindmarch, the latter of which the Daily Mail claims is a close friend of the Prime Minister’s wife, to work on the international stage and represent Britain and British trade and industry.

Finally I couldn’t do a round up without mentioning the release of Aung San Suu Ki, the Burmease pro democracy leader and Nobel Peace prize winner. Suu Ki is a modern day symbol of peaceful resistance. She is a remarkable woman who has shown dignity and bravery in equal measure.

Despite being under house arrest for much of the last 20 years she refused, when interviewed by the BBC World Affairs editor, John Simpson, to show any bitterness towards the regime which had kept her captive for so long. Instead she simply said that she had been treated well.

 Her resolve, dignity and strength of character struck a chord, as did the reaction of her supporters, who were risking their own lives just by being so vocal in their joy at her release.

It reminded me how lucky we are to have much freedom which we should never take for granted.

You can read a profile of the peaceful protestor in the Telegraph here.


Labour Party, Women's Rights

I have to admit to avidly ploughing my way through the “Sunday Times” Rich List every year.  It seemed even more necessary reading this year following TV advertising promoting the Rich List to show the effect of the credit crunch on our million and billionaires. Rather than the fate of Alan Sugar or Richard Branson, I was much more interested in the list of 100 wealthiest women.

It made depressing reading. It would  appear that only 16  (yes only 16) of these top 100 women made the money on their own merits, being entries that did not have an asterisk next to the name, which denotes family money, or made their pile through inheritance or divorce.

Tamara Mellon and her Jimmy Choos

Tamara Mellon and her Jimmy Choos

Five, perhaps predictably, made their money in fashion : Tamara Mellon, Linda Bennett, Christina Ong and  Alison Goldberg and Sara Phillips (ther last two have a joint entry); four fall into the publishing, media, music category: Cristina Stenbeck, Louise McBain, Judy Craymer and Charlotte Bonnier; three are writers: Joanne Rowling, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Jackie Collins, while the remaining four are made up of two women in finance, Amanda Staveley and Carol Galley and two in property, Charlotte Townshend and Julia Davey.

In 2009 as a woman it still seems you either have to have been born rich or marry a rich man to make it in the money stakes.  It’s also very apparent that women do better in writing and publishing than most other walks of life, and we should take note of the dearth of leading women in the financial and property sectors.  This is the gender pay gap brought to life in stark terms.  I hope next year will be better, though I doubt it.