Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

It will be a historic day today as MPs vote over press regulation.

Ed Miliband gave a powerful interview to the Observer in which he said MPs from all sides must stop living in fear of retribution and do the right thing by those who have suffered media intrusion. He said: “”Monday is the day that politics has got to do the duty by the victims and has got to stand up for the victims.”

He admits, in the candid interview, of initially being nervous of the consequences of speaking out about the press and specifically of ‘making it personal about Rebekah Brooks’ when he called for her resignation. She had been the chief executive of News international at the time and another executive there reportedly warned one of his officials that ‘having made it personal about Rebekah, we are going to make it personal about you.’

Miliband has worked hard and shown great leadership in preparation for tomorrow. His proposal would see a regulator with greater independence from the industry created. It would have better powers to investigate complaints. It would also be able to influence on the prominence of apologies in the print media and crucially it would be enshrined in legislation.

You can read more on this here.

This week (20 March) will also see the Chancellor deliver his budget. In preparation Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, and George Osborne appeared on the Marr Show yesterday morning. The Shadow Chancellor said not enough was being done to stimulate growth and accused the coalition of following the “economics of the lunatic farm”. You can read more here. 

The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg has published a book in which she argues women lose out in the workplace because they don’t negotiate for themselves and, if they do, are punished for it.

An extract of her book, Lean In, Women, Work and the Will to Lead, reveals case studies which show that it is no different at the mighty Facebook HQ. Sandberg describes, for example, how a group of gifted engineers at Facebook, all female, fell silent when asked to share the progress they had made in building products. They only opened up and shared stories when Sandberg then asked them to tell each others stories.

She says the key to your own success is achieving more success-but how can this be done if women fail to share their professional elf advancement?

Sandberg writes: “For women, taking credit comes at a real social and professional cost. In fact, a woman who explains why she is qualified or mentions previous successes in a job interview can lower her chances of getting hired.

“As if this double bind were not enough to navigate, gendered stereotypes can also lead to women having to do additional work without additional reward.

“When a man helps a colleague, the recipient feels indebted to him and is highly likely to return the favour. But when a woman helps out, the feeling of indebtedness is weaker.”

The Guardian extract is to her book was actually very interesting; not least because it suggested women try to please everyone but in business trying to please ‘all the people all of the time’ will hold you back. Her final story reveals what happened during her first six month review with Mark (Zuckerberg); he told her “that my desire to be liked by everyone would hold me back. He said that when you want to change things, you can’t please everyone. If you do please everyone, you aren’t making enough progress. Mark was right.” You can read the full extract here.



Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Last week’s UK news was somewhat dominated by the coalition government’s Budget. We were ‘treated’ to a few leaks before it was announced but it was only following the full reading that the full impact really reached us.

George Osborne announced, as predicted, a cut to the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p, obviously to help those who need it the most- the wealthiest in society. And Labour leader, Ed Miliband addressed this head on and rightly had the front bench ‘squirming’ as Peter McHugh in his political sketch for the New Statesman said.

McHugh said: ‘He was on even better form as he demonstrated that cutting the top rate from 50p to 45p was five times better news for us – and not the rich who would be clobbered anyway by a crackdown on tax dodging.

You can read his full analysis here.

Jackie Ashley predicted the Budget would be bad news for women, and said it had to be closely scrutinised by the usual prisms such as class and gender. Gender is important because, as she rightly pointed out, policy is rarely gender neutral, and if last week’s Budget is anything to go by then we see how detrimental it was to women. You can read her full article here.

Yesterday’s Observer broke down the Budget bit by bit and asked two commentators their views. It’s really worth reading this article as it puts much of last week’s rhetoric into perspective.

On gender, one of the commentators – Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, a think-tank focusing on low-to-middle earners and former deputy chief of staff to Gordon Brown said that it was important to close the gender pay gap within the next decade.Closing that gap over the next 10 years represents a rare opportunity to spread prosperity.’

He added: ‘This will only happen if there are more quality part-time jobs and a major expansion in affordable and flexible childcare. It will also mean more equal sharing of caring responsibilities between genders. Closing the gap means change for men as well as women.’

You can read the full article here.



Liberal Democrats discomfited by the most right wing budget since Margaret Thatcher

Labour Party

Business Secretary Vince Cable, according to Harriet Harman, has gone from ‘national treasure’ to the ‘Treasury poodle’. Referring to both Mr Cable and his beleaguered Lib-Dem Coalition colleagues, Harriet told the House of Commons that while the Labour Party fought to support jobs for people, the Lib-Dems sought to secure jobs for themselves.

Harriet is, of course, right.  By any stretch of the imagination, yesterday’s budget, the most right-wing since the Thatcher Government, demonstrated just how hollow the Lib- Dems election campaign pledges have turned out to be.

A mere 50 days ago the Deputy PM (Nick Clegg) denounced the public expenditure cuts favoured by the Tory Party in their general election campaign. Yet in yesterday’s budget the Lib-Dems showed support for virtually everything they had fought so hard against. It was difficult to watch, both in terms of content and the reactions of the junior members of the Coalition.

While the Chancellor told us to brace ourselves for a series of cuts and VAT hikes, I watched closely at how uncomfortable Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, and Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander, looked despite being perfectly positioned either side of their Conservative Chancellor.

In contrast, I have not seen a performance as good as the one given by Harriet Harman for a very long time. She spoke with great passion and directed her reaction to the Budget not at the Conservatives, or the Con Lib-Dem coalition, but at the Liberal Democrats themselves. ‘How could they let down everyone who voted for them – how could they let the Tories so exploit them?’ she bellowed to the chamber. This budget she said was driven by ideology rather than economics.

In questioning quite how the Lib Dems could approve decisions they did not support less than two months ago Harriet exposed the fragility of the Con-Dem coalition.  In this budget the Lib-Dems have had to swallow almost everything they have always fought against. It begs the huge question, “will they be able to deliver their MPs and activists a second time?”


Labour Party

As some of you may know, I am a longstanding member of the Co-op, having worked in the Political Department of one of disparate parts of the retail co-operative sector (the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society) in the 1980s.

Following the budget, I therefore wanted to make the point that in times of change as these we are all looking closely at ways of building the new economy. But, whatever the shape of the post-crunch world, its roots lie in this one – and indeed one route to creating this new economy will be employee ownership.  I strongly believe that the mutual model could have a real role to play in our future economic organisation.   

I am pleased to say that the UK has seen one of the largest increases in employee share schemes over recent years and long may this continue. We put in place legislation allowing for the schemes’ expansion, and well-known companies like John Lewis are fully employee-owned. John Lewis in particular is incredibly popular, and this is not least thanks to the friendly and engaged staff you find in store, who are no doubt motivated by their personal ownership of the company.

Allowing mutual recognition of employee share schemes between EU Member States would be a key way of promoting this excellent way of doing things. For the past five years businesses have been able to transform themselves into a Societas Europaea – a European Company – and the time is now ripe to complement this by developing European Stock Ownership Plans. Indeed, the Americans have had something similar in place for over 30 years, and it is only right that European citizens be able to benefit too.

That’s why I am pleased to support the European Federation of Employee Share Ownership’s election manifesto ahead of the European Parliamentary Elections in June.