Which laws should we scrap?

Marcus's picture
Submitted by Marcus on Thu, 2010-07-01 08:03

In a historic move, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is asking people to submit ideas about which UK laws need to be scrapped.

He has already set up a website for contributions called "Your Freedom":


It remains to be seen whether the Government will actually act on the popular suggestions, or if it will just end up as a glorified talking shop.

After a quick look through I have seen some encouraging proposals such as the decriminalizing of drugs, allowing protests outside parliament, removing restrictions on fire-arm use, overturning anti-smoking ban and removing restrictions on Sunday trading.

So my question to SOLOists is what law or regulation would you repeal if you could choose just one?

I think I would overturn the ability of the Treasury to prosecute people for not paying taxes. (Assuming that is just one law.)

( categories: )


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"Hopes of a sustained recovery have been fuelled after official figures revealed Britain's economy grew by a better-than-expected 0.8% during the third quarter.

The quarter-on-quarter rise in gross domestic product (GDP) was less than the 1.2% surge in the previous three months, but double the growth expected by most experts.

Economic growth over the past six months has now hit 2%, which is the fastest pace of expansion seen over two consecutive quarters for 10 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)."


Government plans huge sell-off of Britain's forests

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"The government is drawing up plans to sell off publicly owned forests in a move that could see private developers allowed to clear ancient trees to make way for holiday resorts, golf courses and adventure playgrounds.

The plan is designed to raise funds to help to pay off the Budget deficit, but has been met by opposition from some of Britain's highest-profile nature lovers.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs plans to dispose of about half the land looked after by the Forestry Commission, raising fears that the trees will disappear to be replaced by amusement parks and other ventures. The Forestry Commission holds about 1.85 million acres of woodland, about a third of which may be sold off, in one the biggest land sales in British history."


Majority of voters support Cameron's cuts

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"Fears that the £81billion spending cuts will leave millions of families far worse off and might even lead to French-style civil disorder in the UK have put Labour back ahead of the Coalition in today’s Mail on Sunday/BPIX poll.

And Labour leader Ed Miliband’s warning that the drastic economic surgery ordered by David Cameron could kill off the recovery is supported by a majority of voters, according to the poll.

But the findings are not all doom and gloom for No 10. There is strong backing for cuts in welfare, and even those on benefits are only marginally opposed."


Stop spending so much, furious Cameron tells EU

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"David Cameron today launches Britain’s revolt against a ‘completely unacceptable’ demand by the European Union for a 6 per cent budget increase.

Speaking exclusively to the Mail, the Prime Minister reveals that he will use a summit next week to say ‘No’ to the EU’s plan to increase funding just as Britain and other countries are being forced to tighten their belts at home.

Critics have demanded that Mr Cameron steps in to oppose the astonishing spending rise at a time of austerity. And in his first interview since the Coalition outlined the most painful public spending cuts since the 1970s, Mr Cameron delivered a blunt message to the EU.

As he prepares to meet other leaders in Brussels, he said: ‘Stop spending so much money, in short.’

Mr Cameron also:

Declared himself ready for unpopularity, hinting he was relaxed about his future if the price of taking tough decisions is a one-term government;

Insisted there is no alternative to his £81billion austerity package, declaring, ‘I won’t turn back’;

Rejected claims that the cuts will unfairly hit the poor but accepted families earning £43,000 are not ‘rich’;

Held out the prospect of tax breaks for the middle class by the end of this Parliament as the economy recovers.

Mr Cameron’s comments came as public sector unions stepped up their campaign against the cuts announced in George Osborne’s spending review.

They threaten a poll-tax style protest rally in March. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber wants a five-month campaign of resistance – culminating in the biggest rally in British union history."



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Employment Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said the unemployed should 'get on the bus' to find a job

"A Government minister has been accused of delivering a "disgusting insult" to the unemployed after he suggested they should "get on a bus" to look for jobs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said people had to be ready to move out of struggling areas because there were jobs available.

Interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight, Mr Duncan Smith said: "The truth is there are jobs. They may not be absolutely in the town you are living in. They may be in a neighbouring town."

He said Merthyr Tydfil was an example of a place where people had become "static" and "didn't know if they got on the bus an hour's journey they'd be in Cardiff and they could look for the job there".

He went on: "We need to recognise the jobs often don't come to you. Sometimes you need to go to the jobs."

His remarks had echoes of former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit's 1981 suggestion that jobless claimants should "get on their bikes".

Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of the Unite union, said: "Despite all the shiny new packaging about fairness, it is clear that the Tory nasty party has never gone away.

"While Iain Duncan Smith has been presented as the Government's Mister Nice, he cannot shake off the vicious Tory determination to make the poor suffer. Can the Con-Dem coalition really believe that the unemployment being created by savage Government cuts will be fixed by having people wandering across the country with their meagre possessions crammed into the luggage racks of buses.

"Meanwhile, their children will presumably be left at home to fend for themselves with schools being run down and even closed. Iain Duncan Smith offers us a 19th-century vision of sturdy beggars and the undeserving poor, while the bankers and their chums continue to rake in millions and dodge taxes. The only polite reaction to all this is to say 'shame on you'."


Murdoch hails the Thatcher legacy in first UK speech for years

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Rare appearance: Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, delivers a public lecture in Lady Thatcher's honour

"Rupert Murdoch last night praised the Government’s tough spending cuts in a speech in which he paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher.

The chairman and chief executive of News Corporation said it was important to learn from the legacy of the former prime minister to ensure Britain’s economic recovery.

Delivering the inaugural Margaret Thatcher lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies, Mr Murdoch said: ‘Her Britain is a society of citizens who are upright, self-sufficient, energetic, adventurous, independent-minded, loyal to friends, and robust against enemies.’

‘Strong medicine is bitter and difficult to swallow. But unless you stay the political course, you will be neither robust nor popular.

'When people have grown accustomed to looking to the Government – for their housing, for their health care, for their retirement – the idea of looking out for themselves can seem frightening.

‘Like Margaret Thatcher, I make no apologies for my concerns about the growth of unaccountable bureaucracies – and the burdens they impose on hard-working people.’

It was Mr Murdoch’s first major UK speech since 1989, when he delivered the MacTaggart lecture in Edinburgh, lambasting the state of British television."



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"Nick Clegg has hit out at a respected economic think tank after it dismissed the coalition's claims that the pain of public spending cuts had been spread fairly.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the Government "fundamentally" disagreed with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and described its measure of fairness as "a complete nonsense".

The IFS insisted £81 billion of cuts unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne would hit the poorest harder than most of the better off. Its intervention undermined the Government's efforts to present the spending review as fair, a test that ministers have been at pains to stress that the plans meet.

In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Clegg said the IFS had "airbrushed" out many of the aspects of state provision upon which poorer people depend. "We just fundamentally disagree with the IFS," he said. "It goes back to a culture of how you measure fairness that took root under Gordon Brown's time, where fairness was seen through one prism and one prism only which was the tax and benefits system...

Mr Osborne's cuts package was backed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which described them as "tough, necessary and courageous".

Media baron Rupert Murdoch also backed the Government's tough line on the public finances, urging the coalition to "stay the political course". The chairman and chief executive of News Corporation said the coalition - like Margaret Thatcher - "must not be for turning".

But a YouGov poll for The Sun revealed uncertainty among the public about whether the cuts would be good or bad for the economy. While a majority of voters felt the cuts were unavoidable, 41% thought they would be good for the economy while another 41% said they would be bad.

Meanwhile, the TUC has echoed the IFS, saying the poorest 10% of households will be hit 15 times harder than the richest 10%.

The TUC said a study of how different groups benefit from public services revealed that people with annual pay below £10,200, will suffer reductions in spending on services equivalent to 29.5% of their income. In contrast, the richest 10% will lose services worth just 2% of their net income, the equivalent of £1,506 a year, said the union organisation."


David Cameron faces pressure to block huge increase for Brussels bureaucrats

"David Cameron was last night under mounting pressure to block a huge rise in the EU budget – as it emerged it will fund a 90 per cent increase in staff jollies for Brussels bureaucrats.

The European Commission has already angered ministers by proposing a 5.9 per cent increase in its budget at a time when public services in this country are being slashed.

But the row intensified last night as it emerged that the budget will help fund huge increases in entertainment for bureaucrats in Brussels, as well as a big increase in the subsidies for their canteens and new cash to promote the EU.

Conservatives last night seized on the revelations to urge Mr Cameron to block the EU budget.

Nineteen Tory MPs signed a Commons motion calling on the Prime Minister to block any rise and reject plans for new EU taxes."


Media response to cuts...

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Left-wing press

Spending review axe falls on the poor

"George Osborne claims sweeping cuts will take the country back from the brink of bankruptcy."


Tory wrecking crew batter poor in rage of austerity

"To wild cheers from Tories, the Chancellor announced the most savage cuts since the Second World War.

He and David Cameron slashed £81billion off public spending and tore into the welfare state in a brutal move that will hit the poorest hardest."


A colder, crueller country – for no gain

"Cameron has revealed that his baby sleeps in a cardboard box decorated by her big sister. Thanks to him, a lot more people are going to be sleeping in cardboard boxes."


Right-wing press

Spending Review 2010: The Chancellor has made the right call

"Telegraph View: The Comprehensive Spending Review is an intelligent, businesslike and brave package."


Benefits savaged, jobs axed, budgets slashed: George Osborne is the man who rolled back the state

"George Osborne's historic attempt to turn around the juggernaut of state spending will hit the middle classes the hardest, according to Treasury documents."



"GEORGE Osborne unleashed an £18billion crackdown on Britain’s bloated welfare and benefits system yesterday."


Osborne wields UK spending axe

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"Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled the biggest UK spending cuts since World War II, with welfare, councils and police budgets all hit.

The pension age will rise sooner than expected, some incapacity benefits will be time limited and other money clawed back through changes to tax credits and housing benefit.

A new bank levy will also be brought in - with full details due on Thursday.

Mr Osborne said the four year cuts were guided by fairness, reform and growth.

The 19% average cuts to departmental budgets were less severe than the 25% expected - thanks to an extra £7bn in savings from the welfare budget, the chancellor told MPs.

He claimed this meant his savings were less than the 20% cuts Labour had planned ahead of the general election.

Outlining his Spending Review in the Commons, which includes £81bn in spending cuts over four years, he told MPs: "Today is the day when Britain steps back from the brink, when we confront the bills from a decade of debt."

He claimed the programme would restore "sanity to our public finances and stability to our economy", telling MPs: "It is a hard road, but it leads to a better future."

The government will slash the amount of money it gives to local councils by 7.1% from April, but will give local authorities more control over how council tax money is spent.

Universal benefits for pensioners will be retained as budgeted for by the previous government and the temporary increase in the cold weather payment will be made permanent.

But a planned rise in the state pension age for men and women to 66 will start in 2020, six years earlier than planned.

The main new welfare savings come from abolishing Employment and Support Allowance for some categories of claimant after one year, raising £2bn, and higher contributions to public sector pensions...

Home Office - 6% cuts, with police spending down by 4% each year of the spending settlement

Foreign Office - 24% cut through reduction in the number of Whitehall-based diplomats and back office costs

HM Revenue and Customs - 15% through the better use of new technology and greater efficiency

Justice - 6%, with plans for a new 1,500 place dropped and local courts closed...

The government will also deliver £6bn of Whitehall savings - double the £3bn promised earlier, said the chancellor.

The Spending Review is the culmination of months of heated negotiations with ministers over their departmental budgets and comes a day after the Ministry of Defence and the BBC learned their financial fate."


Spending Review 2010: £83 billion sounds a lot – but these cuts are nowhere near enough

"Before George Osborne took office I had grave reservations about his understanding of economics and, more to the point, his understanding of why exactly we are in this mess. Nothing he has said since May, and nothing leaked in the last few days, has altered this view. Maybe we shall be pleasantly surprised by his genius today, but we should not be banking on it.

Rather, we should have reservations about what we have been told is proposed. The reduction of £83 billion sounds like a lot of money, but it still represents a £92 billion increase in public spending by 2014-15. It will leave a state that is still too large, that is too much of a drain on the productive areas of the economy, and that is undertaking functions that could be done more efficiently and cheaply if transferred to the private sector. It will also leave a level of debt that will impoverish us steadily as interest rates rise, as one day they must. More should have been cut, and there should have been no shame in having an ideological ambition to take the state out of people’s lives as far as possible. After all, it is part of the Liberal Democrat intellectual heritage to do that, isn’t it?"


Osborne slashes 490,000 jobs, cuts welfare by £7bn and forces us all to work longer - but there's even MORE money for overseas aid and global warming

Osborne: 'Today is the day Britain steps back from the brink'

Whitehall savings doubled from £3billion to £6billion

Treasury budget is slashed by 33%, Home Office 23%, Foreign Office 24%

Queen's Civil List frozen for a year and cut by 14% in 2012/13

Reprieve for child benefit on 16-19-year-olds but retirement age to rise

£11.5bn EXTRA for international aid, more than £2bn for green energy

UK's net debt hits £842.9 billion - record 57.2% of GDP

"George Osborne took the axe to welfare, waste and public sector jobs today - with a brutal round of cuts designed to pull Britain ‘back from the brink of bankruptcy’.

The Chancellor confirmed that the bloodiest cuts since the Second World War will lead to 500,000 job losses in the public sector - almost one in 10 of the total.

Britain’s bloated welfare budget will also face much deeper cuts than originally planned to limit the damage to public services.

But in a controversial move, Mr Osborne revealed even more money will be poured into tackling climate change and international aid with health and schools spending also ring-fenced."


Unions and business offer polar review reactions


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

"Business leaders said they understood the need to make drastic savings to tackle the UK's huge deficit, but unions described the cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review as a "brutal assault" on public services.

John Walker, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "We all know we are living in an age of austerity and that these cuts will affect us all, but our members understand that to reduce the public sector deficit, these cuts had to be made...

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "These cuts represent the most brutal assault on public services, jobs and living standards since the 1930's and show that the ConDem government are prepared to force working people to carry the can for an economic crisis cooked up in the boardrooms and on the trading floors. This is all-out class war with its roots firmly planted in the playing fields of Eton."


Rule Britannia? Perhaps

gregster's picture

If they'll sign up to deficit reductions for the benefits gained - imagine what real spending cuts in addition would create!!

Spending review: government scraps 490,000 public sector jobs

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"The coalition expects 490,000 public sector jobs to be lost by 2014-15 as a direct result of its drastic spending cuts, Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, has accidently disclosed.

Alexander inadvertently allowed two pages of tomorrow's spending review to be photographed as he left the Treasury building.

It is the first time the government has stated that job losses of this order are going to happen due to the spending cuts.

The document also proposes that public sector employers should try to strike deals to cut hours to reduce the level of redundancies."


Severn barrage ditched as new nuclear plants get green light

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"The UK government today dropped plans to build a 10-mile barrage across the Severn estuary to generate "green" electricity from tides, as revealed by the Guardian yesterday.

An official study said there was no "strategic case" for investing public money in such a scheme, which could cost more than £30bn, although it said it could be reconsidered as a long-term option.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change paved the way for new nuclear power plants at eight sites: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk and Wylfa, Anglesey.

The coalition government has already said it will give the go-ahead to companies who want to build new nuclear plants, provided there is no public subsidy involved, despite the Lib Dems' opposition to new nuclear power stations."


Business backing for George Osborne's spending cuts

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"The leaders of 35 of the UK's biggest companies have expressed their support for the government's plans for spending cuts running into billions of pounds.

The bosses of Marks and Spencer, BT and GlaxoSmithKline are among those to have signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph.

They write that it would be a "mistake" for Chancellor George Osborne to water down his programme for reducing the budget deficit.

Mr Osborne will announce details of the Spending Review on Wednesday."


SIR – It has been suggested that the deficit reduction programme set out by George Osborne in his emergency Budget should be watered down and spread over more than one parliament. We believe that this would be a mistake.

Addressing the debt problem in a decisive way will improve business and consumer confidence. Reducing the deficit more slowly would mean additional borrowing every year, higher national debt, and therefore higher spending on interest payments.

The cost of delay would result in almost £100 billion of additional national debt by the end of this parliament alone. In the end, the result would be deeper cuts, or further tax rises, in order to pay for the extra debt interest.

The cost of delay could be even greater than this. As recent events in some European countries have demonstrated, if the markets lose faith in Britain, interest rates will rise for all of us.

There is no reason to think that the pace of consolidation envisaged in the Budget will undermine the recovery.

The private sector should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector, and the redeployment of people to more productive activities will improve economic performance, so generating more employment opportunities.

So, each writing in our personal capacity, we would encourage George Osborne and the Government to press ahead with his plans to reduce the deficit.

In the long run it will deliver a healthier and more stable economy.

Will Adderley
CEO, Dunelm Group
Robert Bensoussan
Chairman, L.K. Bennett
Andy Bond
Chairman, ASDA
Ian Cheshire
Chief Executive, Kingfisher
Gerald Corbett
Chairman, SSL International, moneysupermarket.com, Britvic
Peter Cullum
Executive Chairman, Towergate
Tej Dhillon
Chairman and CEO, Dhillon Group
Philip Dilley
Chairman, Arup
Charles Dunstone
Chairman, Carphone Warehouse Group
Chairman, TalkTalk Telecom Group
Warren East
CEO, ARM Holdings
Gordon Frazer
Managing Director, Microsoft UK
Sir Christopher Gent
Non-Executive Chairman, GlaxoSmithKline
Ben Gordon
Chief Executive, Mothercare
Anthony Habgood
Chairman, Whitbread
Chairman, Reed Elsevier
Aidan Heavey
Chief Executive, Tullow Oil
Neil Johnson
Chairman, UMECO
Nick Leslau
Chairman, Prestbury Group
Ian Livingston
CEO, BT Group
Ruby McGregor-Smith
Rick Medlock
CFO, Inmarsat; Non-Executive Director lovefilms.com, The Betting Group
John Nelson
Chairman, Hammerson
Stefano Pessina
Executive Chairman, Alliance Boots
Nick Prest
Chairman, AVEVA
Nick Robertson
Sir Stuart Rose
Chairman, Marks & Spencer
Tim Steiner
CEO, Ocado
Andrew Sukawaty
Chairman and CEO, Inmarsat
Michael Turner
Executive Chairman, Fuller, Smith and Turner
Moni Varma
Chairman, Veetee
Paul Walker
Chief Executive, Sage
Paul Walsh
Chief Executive, Diageo
Robert Walters
CEO, Robert Walters
Joseph Wan
Chief Executive, Harvey Nichols
Bob Wigley
Chairman, Expansys, Stonehaven Associates, Yell Group
Simon Wolfson
Chief Executive, Next


Benefit cheats are 'mugging taxpayers' says Osborne

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"Chancellor George Osborne today announced a crackdown on benefit cheats, comparing them to muggers robbing taxpayers of their hard-earned money.

A new drive to tackle benefit and tax credit fraud, to be launched tomorrow, will include mobile hit squads of inspectors being sent to areas where the problem is rife, he said.

And repeat offenders could have their benefits suspended for as long as four years.

Mr Osborne has said that bringing down the welfare bill will play a crucial role in easing the impact of state spending cuts as he tries to pay down Britain's structural deficit over the coming four years.

Fraud in the benefit and tax credit system is estimated to cost the taxpayer around £1.5 billion a year.

Mr Osborne told the News of the World: "This is a fight. We are really going to go after the welfare cheats.

"Frankly, a welfare cheat is no different from someone who comes up and robs you in the street. It's your money."



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"David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne enjoy a substantial advantage over their Labour counterparts in terms of public trust as they go into next week's crucial spending review, according to a new poll.

The survey finds that 45% have more trust in the Conservative pair to steer Britain's economy through the downturn, compared to 23% for Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Alan Johnson.

But there were signs of widespread concern about the measures to be announced by Mr Osborne on Wednesday, when he will detail cuts in public spending totalling £83 billion as he sets out how he intends to eliminate the UK's state deficit over the next four years."


Revealing documentary shows unguarded side of Lord Mandelson

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"The film, exclusive clips of which are being broadcast by the Guardian, is likely to ruffle feathers in the Westminster establishment.

The documentary opens with the then-business secretary in his ministerial car, speaking to an unidentified official over the phone. "How is the eye?" he asks, in an apparent reference to Brown's faulty eyesight. "Is he worried about going out with it?"

Mandelson is later shown speaking to the prime minister over the phone, reassuring him about his performance in the first televised debate. "There are certain adjustments you can make – tone, style or whatever – and all those can be programmed in," he tells the then prime minister.

Another scene likely to irk Brown reveals concern among his advisers about his unpopularity with the electorate. In one strategy meeting at which Brown was not present, David Muir, his director of political strategy, says the public sees the prime minister as "beaten up and lacking in confidence".

"We can't construct a campaign which on paper gives him definition – as a brand – if it actually saps his energy and saps his confidence," he said.

Mandelson replied that the public "don't like him terribly" and "certainly wouldn't like to go down the pub with him".

"He can have his braininess – he can be as brainy as he likes," Mandelson adds, "but what I also want him to be is sufficiently relaxed and approachable that people can conclude that he is a human being."

During another meeting – less than a month before election day – the senior Downing Street adviser Patrick Diamond confides in Mandelson that the party's manifesto spending plans "don't add up".

"Personally I think we are in a real mess over social care," Diamond said. "We've now discovered that we need £1.5bn to fund the next parliament, but we've discovered since a £3.8bn black hole in the funding for maintaining the current level of social care provision."

The film repeatedly shows Mandelson's famed ability at managing journalists, including a bruising encounter with Harding. Angry over a critical editorial in the newspaper, Mandelson calls the Times editor and rebukes him over the phone."


Government scraps 192 quangos

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Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister.

"The government today delivered its promised "bonfire of the quangos", abolishing 192 government agencies, merging another 118 and substantially reforming a further 171.

Thousands of jobs will go and as many will be transferred into new departments. It amounts to the biggest shakeup of government the coalition has made to date.

Health bodies are dealt a particularly heavy blow with the Health Protection Agency being scrapped and its functions brought into the Department of Health. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Human Genetics Commission and the Human Tissue Authority will all be scrapped.

The BBC World Service and the British Council have both won reprieves and the Equality and Human Rights Commission will be retained, though its regulatory functions will be substantially changed and its budget is expected to be dramatically reduced.

The government is now emphasising that the reforms are to drive accountability of the organisations, rowing back from previous claims that they it would save money. Many of the closures are not expected to save money for many years after their liabilities in pensions, redundancies and contracts are paid.

Labour accused the coalition of "chasing headlines" by making the closures.

Overall, 901 bodies will be reduced to 648. However, 40 are still under review. Among the most prominent organisations affected are:

• British Nuclear Fuels Limited will be abolished.

• The Competition Commission will merge with the competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading.

• Consumer Focus, the consumer rights group, will transfer to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

• Design Council and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), will become charities.

• British Waterways will be abolished as a public corporation in England and Wales and a new waterways charitable trust will be created – similar to a National Trust.

• The Environment Agency will be substantially reformed with further announcements in the spending review.

• The Student Loans Company, responsible for delayed loan payments to thousands of students last year, is still under review and could be axed.

• The Youth Justice Board, set up by Jack Straw to oversee crime prevention and custody of under 18s, is to be abolished. The National Women's Commission is to be abolished and its functions transferred to the Government Equalities Office. The Security Industry Authority, which regulates the private security industry, will be abolished.

In a statement to the Commons the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, said that every body had been vetted to assess whether it provided a crucial technical function or requires political accountability or independence to carry out its work.

Maude said: "We know that for a long time there has been a huge hunger for change. People have been fed up with the old way of doing business, where the ministers they voted for could often avoid taking responsibility for difficult and tough decisions by creating or hiding behind one of these quangos."


Schwarzenegger visits Downing Street

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"Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood movie star turned politician, visited David Cameron in Downing Street today.

Mr Cameron joked as the Terminator actor arrived: 'He's going to help me terminate the budget deficit.'

As conservatives who have each tried to broaden their appeal by looking at environmental and social issues, the two men have struck up a firm friendship in recent years...

Mr Cameron's spokesman said: 'He's coming to the end of his term, he's in London and he's visiting the Prime Minister.'

Mr Schwarzenegger yesterday had a discreet dinner in Mayfair and took time out to pose for photographs between the statues of Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill on Old Bond Street.

The images of the two leaders were cast in bronze 15 years ago to mark 50 years of peace since the end of World War II.

The actor is in Britain on a stopover in the wake of his Moscow trip 'to promote high-tech jobs and innovation in Russia' and unofficially to add some Sunshine State style to US relations with the UK."


Treasury locked in battle over green investment bank

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"The Treasury is locked in battle with environmentalists across the government over the scope and remit of a proposed new bank on which the UK's transition to a low-carbon economy by 2025 could rest.

A green investment bank (GIB) is being pushed for to turn the £50-80bn of traditional project capital available into the much higher amounts funding experts say will be needed to pay for the low-carbon technologies the UK is expected to need. But Whitehall negotiations for its establishment have become tense and are said to have entered their last few days, with the decision expected by many to be made by Friday. Though no announcement will be made in the comprehensive spending review, government officials want some progress to be announced as part of a sequence of positive developments to manage the government's emergence from next Wednesday's heavy day of public spending cuts.

Officials and politicians in the department for energy and climate change as well as the business department and the cabinet office are fighting for the GIB to be a bank with the ability to raise bonds and given £4-6bn of upfront capital which experts say could see it able to raise at least £100bn. Its supporters also want it be established by legislation.

Instead the Treasury are said to want it to remain as a fund, kickstarted by £2bn, without the ability to raise bonds and not established by legislation."


Cable 'endorses' tuition fee increase plan

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Lord Browne outlines a competitive system in which universities could be taken over or shut down

"Business Secretary Vince Cable has given the government's approval to a report calling for an unlimited level of tuition fees for students...

Labour's business spokesman, John Denham, claimed that fee increases assumed a forthcoming 80% cut in teaching grants.

"It would effectively end public funding of most courses and it would put the responsibility for paying for higher education on to students alone," said Mr Denham...

The blueprint for universities in England set out by Lord Browne would see a new emphasis on competition.

It calls for the current £3,290 cap on fees to be scrapped and replaced by a free market, in which universities set their own charges for different courses...

The report comes ahead of next week's comprehensive spending review, in which major cuts to higher education funding are expected.

Lord Browne sets out a system in which much of the cost of a degree would be transferred from the taxpayer to the student.

This more competitive market would also mean that for the first time universities could go out of business.

Universities must compete over students, fee levels and against new providers, the review panel recommends: "If they fail... they might ultimately close or be taken over."


Don't expect us to pay benefits for babies, says minister

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Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the state 'shouldn't support' large families

A Cabinet minister came under attack today after saying that the state should not provide limitless support to benefits claimants with large families.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt savaged the policy of sizeable handouts totalling more than the average household earns

Speaking on BBC2's Newsnight, Mr Hunt claimed that the Government's proposed cap on benefits reflected the need for claimants to 'take responsibility' for their children.

But he denied that the new limit was a 'penalty' on large families.

'The number of children that you have is a choice and what we're saying is that if people are living on benefits, then they make choices but they also have to have responsibility for those choices,' he said.

'It's not going to be the role of the state to finance those choices.'


Luckily Cameron is not a dictator...

Marcus's picture

...like Blair and Brown tried to be.

So regardless if he is wonky on conservative ideology, his Government and party do have some good policies.

Cameron is no capitalist

Kenny's picture

In his speech today he said that he does not believe in laissez-faire. In last year's conference speech, he attacked libertarianism and individualism. Sad


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David Cameron is welcomed onto the stage by the Cabinet at the Conservative Party Conference

"AFTER a controversial attack on middle England's child benefits, Prime Minister David Cameron, today promised that the British public would have more money in their pockets if they 'saw out' the government's cuts.

Amid the first signs of a backlash against coalition plans, David Cameron insisted there was no responsible alternative to bringing down the deficit immediately.

In his keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference, he said he knew “how anxious” people were, adding: “I wish there was another way. I wish there was an easier way. But I tell you, there is no other responsible way.”

Mr Cameron said the cuts - averaging 25% per department over four years - would be even worse if the deficit was not tackled quickly and sought to convince voters they would be able to see the benefits before the next general election.

“I promise you that if we pull together to deal with these debts today, then just a few years down the line the rewards will be felt by everyone in our country,” he said.

“More money in your pocket, more investment in our businesses, growing industries, better jobs, stronger prospects for our young people, and the thing you can’t measure but you just know it when you see it, the sense that our country is moving ahead once more.”...


Tesco makes a profit of £6,000 a minute

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'Tailwinds of recovery': Supermarket giant Tesco unveiled a 12.5per cent rise in half-year profits to £1.6 billion today

"Supermarket giant Tesco this morning unveiled a 12.5 per cent rise in half-year profits to £1.6billion - the equivalent of £105 every second.

The figures were released as it signaled its banking arm was set to become a 'significant' part of its business, as it finalised plans to launch mortgages and current accounts.

The surge in profits came despite 'modest' UK sales growth in the 26 weeks to August 28, constrained by higher fuel costs as customers spent more at the pump instead of in store and after low food inflation.

Delivering his last set of results, outgoing chief executive Sir Terry Leahy claimed the retailer - which plans to create 9,000 jobs in the UK this year - was experiencing 'the tailwinds of recovery'...

The supermarket has for the past two years made clear its ambition to become a full service banking operation, last year relaunching its personal finance operation as Tesco Bank to match its aims.

Tesco was quick to pounce amid the financial crisis, establishing its banking arm as a savings brand to capitalise on rock-bottom consumer confidence in major banks.

Today, it said it anticipated launching mortgages in the first half of 2011, followed by current accounts in the second half of 2011/2012 financial year."


George Osborne: cuts must be fast and deep

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George Osborne is expected to reveal details of his plan to cut Britain’s £109bn deficit tomorrow.

"George Osborne will tomorrow vow to stick by his controversial plan to wipe out Britain's £109bn structural deficit in one parliament, saying the alternative of delay would only hit the poor and consign the country to a decade of debt.

In his speech to the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, the chancellor will announce that every Whitehall department will have its head office staff cut by a third, promise to give the armed forces the tools to finish the job, and dismiss Britain's public service structure as designed for the 1950s.

He will audaciously offer the deficit reduction plan as an example of his One Nation Conservatism, rather than an ideological assault on the state, and will hold out the prospect of lifting more people out of tax through raising thresholds.

He will insist that "there will be no cuts for its own sake, but instead savings to secure our future".


David Miliband twice as popular with voters as Ed

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Band of brothers: Ed and David Miliband at last week's Labour party conference

The worries of Labour MPs who said Blairite David would have done better than Brownite ed appear to be borne out by the survey.



Miliband of Brothers

David and Ed Miliband have shared a childhood immersed in the left-wing politics of the 70s and 80s, geeky and politics-obsessed student days, and their meteoric rise through the Labour party, culminating in the ultimate sibling rivalry: the contest for the leadership of the Labour Party.

From the production company behind More4's When Boris Met Dave, which charted the careers of Boris Johnson and David Cameron, Miliband of Brothers explores the inexorable political rise and filial relationship of Ed and David.

This satirical docudrama provides an entertaining new perspective on the relationship between two brothers who, up until the leadership vote, have been supportive of each other's political careers, and shines new light on their political ambitions and influences.

The programme contains dramatised scenes incorporating archive of events from the time, supported by interviews with a wide range of people who have known and/ or influenced the brothers, including teachers, university friends, former colleagues and key Labour figures Tony Benn, Neil Kinnock and Oona King.


Health and safety review to curb the 'nanny state'

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"Councils that wrongly ban events and activities on health and safety grounds could be forced to pay compensation under plans being considered by the government.

The proposal is among plans to curb the excesses of the health and safety culture. They have been drawn up by the Conservative peer and former minister Lord Young at David Cameron's request.

The measures would also crack down on advertising encouraging people to make personal injury claims on a no-win, no-fee basis.

Emergency workers and teachers would be freed from rules that require someone to be held accountable for everyday mishaps and accidents, while red tape that can prevent children from going on school outings would be scrapped.

Young, who is due to outline his proposals at the Conservative conference in Birmingham, said he had uncovered some extraordinary examples of excessive health and safety measures.

These included a restaurant that would not give out toothpicks for fear of injury, a headteacher who told pupils not to walk under a conker tree without helmets and a council that banned a pancake race because it was raining."


Gove scraps the 'no touching' rule for teachers in bid to let them assert more authority

"‘No touch’ rules that discourage teachers from restraining or comforting children are to be scrapped, the Education Secretary said last night.

Michael Gove also signalled the coalition was pushing ahead with controversial plans to give teachers a right to anonymity when faced by allegations from pupils.

‘At the moment if you want to become au fait with what this department thinks on how to keep order in class you have to read the equivalent of War and Peace,’ he said.

‘There are about 500 pages of guidance on discipline and another 500 pages on bullying. We will clarify and shrink that.

‘Teachers worry that if they assert a degree of discipline, one determined maverick pupil will say “I know my rights” and so teachers become reticent about asserting themselves."



"David Cameron has sought to dampen fears over the coalition's drastic austerity measures as the Tories gathered for their first conference since regaining power...

The cuts are set to dominate the four-day event, with tough negotiations still ongoing between ministers ahead of the CSR and trade unions planning a series of protests.

But Mr Cameron told the News of the World that the curbs - which could be up to 40 per cent in some departments - may not hurt as much as people feared. "Let's put these cuts into perspective," he said. "Many businesses have had to make far greater reductions than us in one year."

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, he also claimed the UK economy was now out of the "danger zone" where its credit rating was under threat, and was once again "open for business".


IMF backs coalition spending cuts

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"The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said the UK economy is "on the mend" and has backed the coalition government's plans to cut spending.

The IMF described the deficit reduction plan as "essential" in supporting the UK's debt position, and said it "supported a balanced recovery".

The body also said that the UK economy would continue to recover at a moderate pace while the cuts were implemented.

The IMF predicted growth of 2% in 2011, rising to 2.5% in the medium term.

That marks a small revision downwards from an earlier forecast of 2.1% growth in 2011.

"Economic recovery is underway, unemployment has stabilised and financial sector health has improved," the IMF said.

It acknowledged that the spending cuts designed to reduce the government's budget deficit would hit growth, but it said that the economy would continue to recover.

"Fiscal tightening will dampen short-term growth but not stop it as other sectors of the economy emerge as drivers of recovery, supported by continued monetary stimulus."

It also said companies were starting to increase investment as "the demand outlook strengthens".


The insidious Independent Safeguarding Authority should not be saved, says Philip Johnston.

"Initially, the scheme was set to cover 11 million people – not just those who work professionally with children, like teachers, but parents who volunteer their time to coach children in sports, or run Scout groups or adventure outings. After an outcry last year, the Labour government modified the requirements so that people arranging among themselves to drive children to a football match or a dance class on an occasional basis would not first have to obtain clearance. Yet this still left nine million people facing checks, many of them volunteers who resented being told they had to register with the ISA (on pain of a £5,000 fine) before continuing to offer a service they had been providing for years.

How can it be good for children if these people, with their experience and skills, give up volunteering?

Imagine the cancelled school trips when a vetted mother who was to accompany the children falls ill and another with the requisite clearance cannot be found. The simple way around this, of course, is for all adults to be registered – and that is precisely what will happen. "Given the extent to which this scheme seems likely gradually to encompass all parents, as well as adults working or volunteering with children, the logic is that the majority of the adult population will sooner or later find itself on the vetting database," says the study.

Judging by Home Office statements the intention is to keep the scheme in some scaled-back form; yet you can be sure that over the years it will expand once again because the assumptions behind it are not being questioned. A redesign of this pernicious project is pointless. Mrs May should take a deep breath – and scrap it."


Leaked list suggests 180 quangos to be abolished

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"Proposals to abolish 180 quangos and merge a further 124 have been seen by the BBC's Politics Show.

The Renewables Advisory Board and Museum, Libraries and Archives Council are among taxpayer-funded bodies proposed for abolition.

The list, dated 26 August, includes groups linked to all major government departments.

The Cabinet Office has ordered a leak inquiry and says it regrets any "uncertainty" for employees.

The list of public bodies up for abolition, mergers or other reforms was included in a letter from Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to other ministers.

It includes the previously announced abolition of the Health Protection Agency, UK Film Council, Audit Commission and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority but also puts a question mark over the future of dozens of less well-known bodies."


Suffolk council plans to become a "virtual" council

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"First came 'easyCouncil', a plan by Barnet, in north London, to model local authority services on the no-frills approach of budget airlines. Now Suffolk county council is taking an even more radical approach to public sector reform by proposing a "virtual" authority that outsources all but a handful of its services.

The Tory-controlled county's "new strategic direction", set for approval tomorrow, could see virtually every service outsourced to social enterprises or companies. The aim is to turn the authority from one which provides public services itself, to an "enabling" council, which only commissions them. The council hopes offloading services could shave 30% off its £1.1bn budget, as part of the government's drive to reduce the fiscal deficit.

Although councils have outsourced chunks of their services before, these proposals are regarded by experts as the first time a local authority has considered not directly providing any services at all."


New Oxford school of governance will 'groom future world leaders

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"The school, funded by a £75m gift from a US philanthropist, will train graduates from around the world in the "skills and responsibilities of government," the university said.

Students will be taught how to deal with complex problems such as the BSE crisis or swine flu which require an understanding of specialist areas of science and the law, as well as being given a grounding in practical skills such as handling budgets.

Professor Ngaire Woods, academic director of the new school, said: "We sat down and said, with 21st century policy problems, what does a public policy maker need to understand about them?...

Professor Andrew Hamilton, the university's vice-chancellor, described the school as "a huge milestone in Oxford's history."

In a statement, he said: "It will give tomorrow's leaders the best of Oxford's traditional strengths alongside new and practical ways of understanding and addressing the challenges of good governance. The university has educated 26 British prime ministers and over 30 other world leaders, yet until now the major international schools of government have all been outside Europe, principally in the United States. The establishment of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford will correct that imbalance."


There is no future for us as left-wing rivals to Labour

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"Nick Clegg has declared that there is "no future" for the Liberal Democrats as a left-wing alternative to Labour as he appealed to his party to show "patience" and maintain a united front with the Conservatives.

In an interview with The Independent on the eve of Liberal Democrat conference starting today, he promised his party it would reap the electoral rewards if it held its nerve about its slump in the opinion polls.

He said: "There were some people, particularly around the height of the Iraq war, who gave up on the Labour Party and turned to the Liberal Democrats as a sort of left-wing conscience of the Labour Party.

"I totally understand that some of these people are not happy with what the Lib Dems are doing in coalition with the Conservatives. The Lib Dems never were and aren't a receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. There is no future for that; there never was."

His comments suggest Mr Clegg is resigned to losing a section of his party's support after departing from the strategy of Charles Kennedy, who opposed the Iraq war. An Ipsos MORI poll this week showed Labour and the Tories neck and neck on 37 per cent with Liberal Democrats on 15 per cent, down from the 23 per cent they won at the May election. Some 32,000 people have joined Labour since May, including 10,000 who formerly supported the Liberal Democrats. Although 600 members have quit Mr Clegg's party, another 4,500 have joined."


Woman who took part in attacks on white farmers denied UK asylum

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"A woman who admitted taking part in savage evictions of white farmers from their homes in Zimbabwe lost her bid for asylum after a High Court judge accused her of ‘crimes against humanity.’

Mr Justice Ouseley threw out the widowed mother-of-two’s appeal to remain in the UK after she confessed to beating up ten people during two land invasions.

The judge said the state-sponsored mob violence, which saw white famers’ land seized and shared out among President Robert Mugabe’s cronies, was akin to genocide.

‘We are satisfied that the two farm invasions were crimes against humanity,’ he said, likening the 39-year-old woman’s role to a concentration camp guard who followed Nazi orders during the Holocaust."


The wicked wit of Prince Philip

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If only his son, Prince Charles, could grow a pair!

Nick Clegg defends radical benefits cuts

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"Nick Clegg today issued a staunch defence of radical benefit cuts as he geared up for potential clashes with Liberal Democrat activists at the party's annual conference.

The deputy prime minister said welfare should not be there "to compensate the poor for their predicament" but act as "an engine of mobility".

Billions of pounds are to be slashed from the welfare budget by the chancellor, George Osborne, when he unveils the results of his drastic public spending review next month.

Liberal Democrat backbenchers have publicly accused the coalition government of targeting the vulnerable, and Clegg of breaking promises to ensure all cuts were fair.

The issue could prove a flashpoint with the left of the party when activists gather for the first time since joining the Tories in government, at the conference in Liverpool from Saturday.

But Clegg made clear he considered the reforms to be essential."


Armed forces to lose one in four lawyers

"The armed forces are set to lose one quarter of their lawyers, the Guardian has learned, in a series of cuts that lawyers say could directly impact frontline troops.

Sources inside the armed forces say the defence spending and security review will result in a reduction of at least 25% in the number of lawyers in the army and royal air force.

Lawyers say the predicted reduction in legal advice, which will affect troops and commanders, could affect the ability of the armed forces to act in compliance with the Geneva conventions."


Your ideas for your freedom closed - sep 10th.

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The site may be closed, but I'll keep you updated on coalition activities.

"Over the last few months, you’ve used Your Freedom to tell us which laws and regulations you think we should get rid of, and your feedback will help shape government policy.

We’d like to thank you for your contributions. The response has been incredible – we received:

•46,000 people
•14,000 ideas

The site closed to ideas and comments on Friday 10 September as Your Freedom moves into its next stage. All of the ideas submitted will now be looked at within Government to decide which can be taken forward...

All ideas and comments will also be aggregated by discussion theme, and the most relevant government department will respond.

We’ll also look to respond in other ways, which could include:

•direct feedback on this dialogue (in the form of comments)

•video messages from members of the Government

•invitations to idea creators to meet members of the Government and interested groups to discuss the ideas they have submitted

•information on DirectGov and major news channels

Please understand that we won't able to respond to ideas that relate to laws and regulations that are outside the remit of central government – including those that fall under the jurisdiction of Europe, devolved administrations or local authorities.

We'll continue to offer you the opportunity to collaborate with us and help shape and change government policy.

Departments will also publish their structural reform plans shortly. Members of the public and interested parties will be given an opportunity to feedback on these plans and hold the Government to account over its programme."

New Cuban revolution: ONE MILLION jobs to go

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Reform: Raul Castro, the Cuban president, is behind the news that 500,000 jobs will be axed by April and up to 1m are set to go

"A million jobs are to be to be axed in Cuba in the biggest shake-up of the country's economic system since the 1959 revolution.

The communist nation's perilous finances has led to the eye-watering public sector cuts which will fundamentally change its 5.1m-strong workforce.

Currently, only a handful of workers are allowed to run their own businesses while the overwhelming majority are state-employed.

However, the government-dominated economy has proved unsustainable, leading to the reforms ushered in by leader Raul Castro.

In the future, workers will be encouraged to set up their own small businesses or take employment with a number of private co-operatives which will be allowed for the first time.

The job cuts will start immediately and continue for months, according to a statement from the nearly three million-member Cuban Workers Confederation...

In a series of ever-harsher reforms, Raul Castro has warned Cubans that they must stop expecting too much from the government, which provides free education and health care and heavily subsidizes housing, transportation and basic food."


Coalition targets a £25billion sale of Government owned property

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"Plans to sell Government property worth £25 billion – nearly seven per cent of all Stateowned buildings and land – over the next three years will be unveiled next month by Chancellor George Osborne.

In the battle to cut Britain’s monumental deficit, every Whitehall department will be given an incentive to cash in their property assets or use them more efficiently as the Prime Minister urges colleagues to come up with new ways of exploiting the nation’s £370 billion property portfolio.

David Cameron wants civil servants to devise ‘innovative’ ideas to squeeze the maximum benefit out of the State’s assets."


News International plan to sponsor academy school causes concern

"Rupert Murdoch's News International (NI) is drawing up plans to sponsor an academy school in a move that is likely to trigger anxiety about the media mogul's influence.

The Observer understands that executives at NI, which owns the Times, the Sun, the Sunday Times and the News of the World (NoW), are actively discussing sponsoring a school in east London, close to the company's headquarters in Wapping.

The idea, which is being spearheaded by Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the Sun, who is now chief executive of NI, has been under discussion for several months but is still at an early stage, according to sources.

The plan will alarm Murdoch's critics who claim the tycoon's media empire, which spans broadcasting, publishing and internet interests around the world, already wields formidable influence over the UK's political system and society."


US Tea Party in London to spread low tax message

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A Tea Party anti-tax protest in Atlanta: The rightwing group is in London to promote its small government and low tax message.

"Lobbyists behind the rightwing Tea Party group in the US will arrive in London today to spread their message of low taxes and small government at an event organised by the UK's controversial Taxpayers' Alliance.

The event, the largest of its kind in Europe, is heavily sponsored by US lobby groups that have backed the Tea Party grouping as its challenges moderate Republican party candidates in congressional elections.

Critics of the event said it established a clear link between British rightwing groups and aggressive American lobbyists who pursued low taxes, loose regulation and widespread privatisation of public services.

The Taxpayers' Alliance aggressively promotes an anti-tax, anti-state, anti-Europe agenda and many of its leading figures have close links with the Tory party and the rightwing press. Its chief executive, Matthew Elliott, will lead the "no" campaign against the adoption of the alternative vote system in next May's referendum.

Today's conference will be attended by Americans who have lobbied in the US to overturn Barack Obama's healthcare plan and maintain tax breaks for the rich. Several of the groups have close links to the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, prominent tormentors of the Obama administration.

US groups sponsoring the event include the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, which came to prominence in the 1970s as Ronald Reagan's favourite thinktank. The Kochs, whose private company owns oil rigs and pipelines in the US, founded the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and have spent tens of millions of dollars supporting the Cato Institute. They also channel funds into causes through their business empire and one Koch-owned firm, Flint Hills Resources, has donated $1m (£650,000) to the campaign against California's anti-global warning proposition being voted on in November.

The Cato Institute, which promotes its views on Fox News and other rightwing media, is one of the Tea Party's main backers.

Prominent Tory supporters are also backing the conference. Stanley Kalms, the former chairman of Dixons, is a key sponsor of the event along with investment banker Howard Flight. Flight was a Tory MP and frontbench Treasury spokesman before David Cameron became leader, while Kalms was Tory treasurer and one of its main backers.

Campaigner Richard Murphy, who wrote a report for the TUC showing how companies and wealthy individuals avoid billions of pounds of tax, said: "It's clear the Taxpayers' Alliance receives a huge amount of support from the US, where there is serious money behind the lobbying for low taxes. The conference is billed as a debate among European thinktanks, but it is a barely disguised front for the most aggressive lobby tactics championed on the other side of the Atlantic."

A spokesman for the Taxpayers' Alliance said the conference had a long history of links with US thinktanks, along with free market groups worldwide.

"It is a place for people who believe in the free market to debate ideas and how to influence events," he said."



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"The Government is to press ahead with controversial privatisation plans for the Royal Mail after a report it commissioned warned that "urgent action" was needed to protect the service, it has been announced.

An updated version of a study originally ordered by the Labour government called for private investment, which will revive huge controversy over ownership of the group.

Richard Hooper, a former deputy chairman of Ofcom, the communications regulator, said the Royal Mail's financial position had worsened since his earlier report and the group's £10 billion pension deficit was more unsustainable.

He called for an injection of private capital into the business, arguing that it would fund increased modernisation of the postal service."


George Osborne faces benefit cuts backlash

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Coalition MPs question chancellor's plan to slash the benefit budget for the unemployed by a further £4bn

"Chancellor George Osborne today faced a growing backlash from coalition MPs over his decision to slash the benefit budget for the unemployed by a further £4bn.

Bob Russell, a Liberal Democrat, has tabled an urgent question in parliament on Osborne's decision, which he described as unethical.

Russell said he hoped his question would be answered on Monday.

Osborne said last night that he would go after those who regarded welfare benefits as a "lifestyle choice".

But Russell, the MP for Colchester, accused Osborne of using the welfare bill as a "smokescreen" for the country's ills."


Clegg vows to give ministers time to develop

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"Ministers in the new Government will be given more time to prove themselves in their jobs without fear of being reshuffled, as the coalition seeks to "govern for the long term", Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will say today.

The short-termist outlook of the last Labour administration meant that ministers stayed for an average of only 1.3 years in each post, barely giving them time to get to grips with their subjects, Mr Clegg will say.

And he will promise a "horizon shift" in the way Government tackles its tasks, with less focus on the immediate demands of the day and more on the administration's longer-term objectives."


Eric Pickles fires the left-wing quango queen

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Eric Pickles is to remove Jenny Watson from her post at the Audit Commission. Miss Watson was blamed for the election night shambles

"The 'quango queen' blamed for the shambles on the night of the General Election is to be axed from another lucrative public sector post.

Jenny Watson is to be told by ministers her tenure as a board member of the Audit Commission, the local authority spending watchdog, will not be renewed.

The 46-year-old, who was dubbed the 'Modern Militant' thanks to her work at a string of quangos under Labour, earns £100,000 a year as head of the elections watchdog, the Electoral Commission...

In the 1990s, Miss Watson was campaign manager for the left-wing intellectual pressure group Charter 88, which demanded a controversial new written constitution for Britain.

She went on to become a seasoned 'quango queen' working for taxpayer-funded bodies including the Equal Opportunities Commission, where she was nicknamed 'the Modern Militant'.

She has also worked for Victim Support and the gender equality group The Fawcett Society.

She now lives in a £400,000 house in Hackney, East London, with Andrew Puddephatt, 60, a former general-secretary of Liberty and Labour leader of Hackney Council."

Miss Watson was blamed for the General Election shambles which saw potential voters, pictured here in Sheffield, locked out when polls closed at 10pm



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"Labour's leadership contenders have all described themselves as socialists as they took part in a live televised hustings in Norwich.

The five candidates all agreed with the label, which arguably would have been seen as a damaging admission to make under New Labour.

And they called on the party to focus on the future and move on from the years under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which were dominated by internal warfare between the two rival camps.

In the Sky News debate they all stressed Labour still had much to learn from its punishing defeat at the hands of voters in the recent general election.

Shadow education secretary Ed Balls said Labour had to have a "distinctive message" on the "big issues" that people cared about such as jobs, housing and student finance.

He said: "We have go to get back on people's sides...if we get that right we can win again."


Is the 'biased' BBC now trying to cosy up to the Coalition?

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Dossier: Expressed 'concern' about the impartiality of a forthcoming BBC 'season' on the spending review but promised to make viewers aware of the 'whys and wherefores'

"As he arrived at No 10 yesterday, Mr Thompson was pictured with a memo from his head of news Helen Boaden clearly on view.

It revealed she had met Mr Cameron's press chief Andy Coulson for lunch, at which he had expressed 'concern' about the impartiality of a forthcoming BBC 'season' on the spending review.

The memo promised to make viewers aware of the 'whys and wherefores', adding: 'I said that's what we always try to do.'

Miss Boaden went on to defend coverage of cuts over the summer – including claims that the poorest would be hardest hit and the possibility, now ruled out, of free school milk being axed.

She said the BBC had been 'driven by news lines'. The document went on to list plans for various output, including Newsnight, the Today programme and Five Live, and suggest an interview with Chancellor George Osborne.

A BBC source said Mr Thompson had discussed upcoming coverage and which ministers might appear on various shows to explain the cuts.

The source insisted the director general was 'not embarrassed' to have unwittingly revealed the content of his meeting.

As part of an apparently concerted charm offensive by the BBC, earlier this week Mr Thompson admitted the corporation had in the past been guilty of 'massive' Left-wing bias but said it was now a 'broader church'.

The BBC governing body is also thought to be preparing to postpone a planned rise in the licence fee by 2 per cent next April, from £145.50 to £148.50, to fend off deeper cuts being imposed by the Government."



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"The former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, lavishly praised by Blair in his book"

I'm surprised Blair praises Prescott. My guess would be that Prescott united the warring Labour factions, but he never came across as any brain. Our equivalent might be Mallard.

Tony Blair's prescription for economy rejected by Labour

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"Candidates for the Labour leadership moved tonight to limit the impact of politically explosive remarks in Tony Blair's memoirs in which he backed the economic strategy of the Conservative-led coalition government.

Blair shook the party with his backing of David Cameron and George Osborne's economic strategy to cut the financial deficit. Blair also backed the government's decision to raise VAT, which Gordon Brown vehemently warned against throughout the election campaign.

"If governments don't tackle deficits, the bill is footed by taxpayers, who fear that big deficits mean big taxes, both of which reduce confidence, investment and purchasing power," Blair wrote, in sharp criticism of Brown. "We should have taken a New Labour way out of the economic crisis: kept direct taxes competitive, had a gradual rise in VAT and other indirect taxes to close the deficit, and used the crisis to push further and faster on reform."

The intervention forced the leadership candidates to nail their colours to the mast on the economy as ballots for the contest were sent out. It also elicited gleeful responses from senior coalition figures.

In his memoirs, Blair warned against a drift to the left and praised the leadership skills of David Miliband, the shadow foreign secretary – though he refused to back any one candidate.

Miliband was forced to distance himself from the comments of his one-time mentor. "I am clear we must tackle the deficit, but we need to do it in a Labour way, that's why I would halve the deficit over four years," he told the Guardian. "I oppose the rise in VAT because it's a regressive tax which hits the poorest the hardest, and under my deficit reduction plan those with the broadest shoulders would carry the biggest share of the burden. We also need a growth plan for the economy, which builds industry and creates jobs, making it easier to get the deficit down."...

Along with his accusations that Brown lost the election when he abandoned the New Labour agenda, Blair claims Brown was wrong in his approach to solving the financial crisis by ploughing government money into the economy. He writes: "I profoundly disagree with important parts of the statist, so-called Keynesian response to the economic crisis."


Osborne cuts Treasury staff by 25 per cent

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"George Osborne is to set an example to other Whitehall departments by getting rid of a quarter of his Treasury staff.

The Chancellor will pledge the dramatic cull at the start of a 'star chamber' process, during which Cabinet ministers will have to argue their case for scarce public cash.

He has also told his civil servants they will have to sit at smaller desks to allow hundreds of officials from other Whitehall departments to squeeze into their building.

Ministers have been falling over themselves to offer massive cuts, with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman leading the way.

Mrs Spelman has identified up to 30 quangos to be downsized or axed. She will cut grants to British Waterways and scrap a £50million plan for a UK coastal path.

Mr Hunt has outlined the largest cuts - of 50 per cent - and wants to reduce his staff by 400 and move his department out of its costly Trafalgar Square offices. Arts funding will be slashed.

The Chancellor will reconvene public spending talks this week, with the aim of settling a number of departmental budgets by the middle of the month.

He has asked all ministries to draft plans for cuts of 25 to 40 per cent."


Radical Britain

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On my recent travels I spotted this cover from the Economist from earlier this month. Hilarious!

Britain has embarked on a great gamble. Sooner or later, many other rich-world countries will have to take it too

Aug 12th 2010


Prime Minister has developed expensive taste in whisky

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David Cameron seems determined to emulate his heroine Margaret Thatcher - even to the extent of adopting her favourite drink, whisky.

But where the Iron Lady was a modest Bell's drinker, her heir has more expensive tastes.

Having previously chosen Isle of Jura single malt (£28) on Radio 4 as his Desert Island luxury, he's now developed a taste for Bruichladdich Organic single malt from the neighbouring island of Islay, priced at £41...

David Cameron's fondness for the odd drink sets him apart from many of the modern crop of world leaders.

Although Obama is partial to a beer, George W. Bush gave up alcohol in 1986, joining powerful teetotallers such as Alastair Campbell, Abraham Lincoln, Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Sarkozy - although this didn't stop Sarkozy demanding to approve the palace wine list before his dinner with the Queen in 2008. (Carla Bruni , apparently, appreciates a fine wine.)


Bonfire of the middle class benefits

Marcus's picture

"Middle-class families face losing child benefit in a £13billion slashing of the universal welfare system.

Winter fuel allowances for better-off pensioners also face the axe in plans being drawn up by Iain Duncan Smith, senior sources have revealed.

The drastic cuts would end seven decades of state handouts for all regardless of income – and cost a typical family with two children more than £1,700 a year."



Marcus's picture

"Courts could be set up in shopping centres under plans to speed up the justice system and reduce public spending, the Magistrates' Association has said.

The proposals, which will be submitted to ministers, aim to reduce the time that victims, witnesses and others spend travelling to hearings by allowing more cases to be dealt with close to where the people involved live or work.

State-of-the-art court buildings are not always needed to administer justice and empty stores in shopping centres could be used instead, with the public able to see the courts at work, the Magistrates' Association said.

John Howson, the association's deputy chairman, said the offences that tend to be dealt with by magistrates "should be dealt with as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible and as locally as possible".

The introduction of fewer, larger courts to replace more than 100 magistrates' courts that face closure as part of a £37 million cost-cutting drive may not be the best way forward, he said.

"Centralisation may not be the only way of doing it and it may risk compromising both speed and cost effectiveness," Mr Howson said. "Pop-up courts in shopping centres would enable crime to be dealt with and punished very quickly."


Councils pay for disabled to visit prostitutes

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Councils pay for disabled to visit prostitutes and lap-dancing clubs from £520m taxpayer fund

By Paul Sims
15th August 2010

"Councils are using taxpayers money to pay for prostitutes, visits to lap-dancing clubs and exotic holidays for the disabled, it emerged today.

One local authority has even agreed to pay for a 21-year-old with moderate learning disabilities to visit a sex worker in Amsterdam next month.

His trip will be paid for using money from a £520million scheme introduced by the last government which was designed to empower people with disabilities.

Payments are transferred directly from council funds to service users who can then decide exactly how to spend it - so long as it meets their eligible needs.

The man's social worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they would be violating his human rights if they refused to let him use the money for sex."


Judge us on five years, not a 100 days

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The deputy prime minister says coalition ambitions will triumph

Nick Clegg
The Observer, Sunday 15 August 2010

"All new governments claim that they are governing for the long term. Most end up being pushed around by short-term events. All claim they have a plan. Most end up with no plan at all. All say they're going to ignore headlines. Most end up driven round the bend by the press.

So I understand why people might react with scepticism to the claim that, this time, this government will be different. But as this new coalition government approaches its first 100 days in office, I believe the claim is a strong one: we will govern for the long term and we'll stick to our plan.

There are two reasons why: first, the nature of coalition and, second, the scale of the economic challenges ahead. A coalition can only work if it is upfront about the differences between the two parties and explicit about the partnership it is seeking to create. It requires collective decision-making and a high level of candour as two different parties seek to govern together.

The fiefdoms, factionalism and backbiting of the Blair-Brown years thrived within the secretive world of internal Labour party politics. The differences between two parties in one government, on the other hand, are explicit and so in some ways easier to overcome.

That is what our painstakingly negotiated programme for coalition government was all about: a five-year plan for government based on a clear understanding of our differences and the nature of our collective strength. So we have had a much more radical first 100 days than conventional wisdom predicted, confounding the myth that compromising on policies means you are left with a bland, cautious mush, the common denominator approach.

Instead, we have set out radical steps to boost patient power and local democratic accountability in the NHS and steps to give more freedom to parents, teachers and communities in our school system, combined with more money for disadvantaged children. We are restoring a plethora of rights to liberty and privacy and have set out an ambitious programme for lasting political reform. And we have held an emergency budget, taking a big first step towards a fairer tax system and setting out plans to eliminate the bulk of Britain's enormous budget deficit.

That is not bad going, by any account. But the truth is that this government doesn't expect anyone to reach their verdict after 100 days. We expect to be judged on what we have achieved in five years. That should be a relief. When government lurches from one short-term goal to the next, the country pays the price. In their daily desperation to sound tough, Labour sacrificed one hard-won civil liberty after the next."


The Audit Commission is scrapped

Marcus's picture

"Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles: 'The corporate centre of the Audit Commission has lost its way. Rather than being a watchdog that champions taxpayers' interests, it has become the creature of the Whitehall state.'

'We need to redress this balance. Audit should remain to ensure taxpayers' money is properly spent, but this can be done in a competitive environment, drawing on professional audit expertise across the country.

'I want to see the commission's auditing function become independent of Government, competing for future audit business from the public and private sector.

The announcement had been due tomorrow but was brought forward after details were leaked.

As well as councils, the commission is responsible for auditing 11,000 public bodies covering health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services.

The commission has had a difficult relationship with the Government since it came to power last May...

In May, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to save nearly £500million in a cull of Labour's non-governmental advisory groups, known as quangos.

It is estimated that there are more than 1,100 such public sector bodies, which cost taxpayers around £64bn a year to maintain.

They employ more than 100,000 people, and quango chiefs can earn more than the Prime Minister, with salaries of up to £624,000.

The Department for Communities and Local Government estimates that the scrapping of the Audit Commission - which will come into effect in 2012-13 - will save £50million.

The future options for the commission could now include a management buy-out, or becoming a mutual which is owned by the staff."


Labour accused by coalition of overseeing culture of excess

Marcus's picture

Bob Neill, the local government minister, said: "It seems, quite literally, the government offices for the regions were taking the taxpayer for a ride.

"They were living it up at the taxpayers' expense whilst thousands of households were struggling to make ends meet.

"Splashing out six-figure sums on pollsters appears to be another one of Labour's vanity projects. It's unforgivable that a culture of excess was allowed to flourish for so long."

David Cameron said the government's new approach would encourage ministers and officials to think twice before wasting money.

"If civil servants and if ministers and MPs know that the public are going to see how money is spent, it will make them think twice before spending it on something stupid like a massage chair or whatever else," he said at a Downing Street news conference with the Danish prime minister.

"I can't promise that people won't make bad spending decisions in the future, but I can promise you will find out about them and that will be one of the best ways of stopping bad spending."

The 1,900 items of expenditure disclosed by the communities department for 2009-10 total £314m.

There was a £16m bill for marketing, advertising, promotion and events, while £635,000 went on taxis and chauffeur-driven cars, and nearly £310,000 was spent on catering and food.

The department's quangos accounted for another £337m. One entry for the government offices for the regions, which are being abolished by the coalition government, was a £1,673 payment to Stress Angels, a company that offers on-site corporate massages.

Pickles said his department was "leading the charge" before councils were obliged to publish similar information.

"This department, like the rest of Whitehall, needs to look at where every penny is going, and getting this data out in the open will help that process," he said.

"The simple task of putting spending online will open the doors to an army of armchair auditors who will be able to see at a glance exactly where millions of pounds spent last year went.

"The public and the press can go through the books and hold ministers to account for how taxpayers' money is being spent.

"The data is already showing how we need to do things differently. That means spending more carefully, getting better deals and asking ourselves at every turn whether every purchase is needed and whether it provides value for the taxpayers' pound.

"Looking at last year's spending, it is clear that there is room for improvement."


British are bunch of thick people ruled by a mafia

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British are bunch of thick people ruled by a mafia, says Iran's vice president

The British people and David Cameron have been labelled ‘thick’ by a senior member of Iran’s government.

In a blistering diatribe against Britain, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said: ‘They have plundered the world in the last 500 years and the young lad in charge now is even more stupid than his predecessor. It’s as if God has made this nation servants of America and Zionists.’

Iran’s First Vice President added: ‘England has nothing. Its inhabitants are not human, its officials are not responsible, and it doesn’t even have any natural resources. (They are) a bunch of thick people ruled by a mafia.’...

Rahimi denounced countries that had supported the latest round of UN sanctions against Iran and, like the U.S., Britain and Australia, imposed extra ones of their own.

He called the Australians a ‘bunch of cow herders’ and suggested that the South Koreans should be ‘smacked in the face until they become human’...

Iranian officials frequently lambast Britain, but calling the British ‘thick’ is new.

The British are usually depicted as a crafty and cunning ‘little Satan’ pulling the strings of the ‘Great Satan’ America which is seen as having more brawn but fewer brains.

The Iranian regime has accused both London and Washington of stirring up last summer’s unrest that followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fiercely disputed re-election...


As good as a rest

Marcus's picture

Why did Gordon Brown's collected speeches (2007-2009) sell only a reported 32 copies?

"A book of Gordon Brown's collected speeches (2007-2009) is reported to have sold only 32 copies. This surely cannot be explained by its contents, which include such favourites as the address to the 2009 TUC Congress in Liverpool. Then, on the cover, 16 famous names, from Barack Obama to Kofi Annan are named as providing introductions to the chapters. You'd think they might each have bought a copy. If not, a telephone call from the author in the early hours might go some way to persuading them.

No, the explanation must be the title: The Change we Choose. Like Labour's election motto, "A future fair for all", it sounds like nothing so much as a crossword clue. What can the answer be? "Change" suggests an anagram. An anagram of "we choose" is "woe's echo". Is that it? Or the reference may be to spare change. With a price of £20 a copy that won't quite be enough."


Cato Institute admires Britain's coalition government

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Cato Institute says Britain's coalition government has brought together the best traditions of British liberalism.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have come in for praise from a leading rightwing thinktank in Washington

"Writing in the Washinton Examiner he concludes: "Hope has been hard to come by for small-government types in the age of Obama. But the Tea Party movement could learn a lot from the urbane duo of Cameron and Clegg, who've brought together the best traditions of British liberalism, marrying economic and social laissez-faire.

"Americans tend to prefer an earthier conservatism, one that clips the 'g's off of its present participles and rails against cultural elites. How odd – and refreshing – then, if a pair of Oxford and Cambridge-educated toffs managed to point the way forward for the American Right."

The praise for the coalition represents something of a change for the institute that previously predicted Cameron was going to increase the size of the state by increasing value added tax and capital gains tax.

Commenting on the July budget, one of its senior fellows Daniel Mitchell warned "The United Kingdom, I fear, has gone past the point of no return in the journey toward becoming indistinguishable from the decrepit welfare states so common in the rest of Europe."

Cameron has made efforts to court American political opinion in his visit to America last month, but as the scale of the cuts emerge in the UK, it is likely the American right will take increasing interest in whether the experiment works and what it means for the need to cut the deficit in the US.

The other leading rightwing Washington thinktank, the Heritage Foundation has also praised Cameron for taking a bold line on deficit reduction."





Marcus's picture

Britain is on track to have new nuclear power stations up and running within eight years, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has insisted.

"Mr Huhne said a number of potential sites for the stations had been identified - generally close to existing nuclear energy installations - and that power should be on stream by 2018.

He reiterated that the Government would not subsidise the new nuclear power stations but said investors had indicated they were ready to press ahead thanks to rising gas, oil and carbon prices."


Benefit cheat bounty hunters

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Cameron declares war on welfare fraudsters who cost us billions

"Private firms will be paid bonuses to hunt down benefit cheats by trawling through household bills and credit card applications.

The tough stance comes as David Cameron launches a crackdown on the £5.2billion lost each year to fraud and error in the welfare system.

The Prime Minister will vow to take more cheats to court while Ministers will also give credit ratings agencies payment for every fraudulent applicant they identify.

The move means the firms will have access to the Government's records on housing benefit, incapacity and unemployment benefit claimants.

They could receive a 'bounty' payment of up to 5 per cent of the money they recover from fraudulent claimants.

The Government hopes the scheme will save the state £1billion, which could earn private firms up to £50million.

Experian, the credit ratings agency, is expected to start working with the Department for Work and Pensions within weeks."


Fish and chips in your office for £148?

Marcus's picture

As the man charged with slashing Britain’s £180 billion annual deficit, George Osborne is a Chancellor on a money-saving mission.

So, when he asked the canteen at HM Treasury to send up a fish-and-chips lunch for himself, Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of ­England, and four aides, he was astonished to be told that it would cost £148.58.

A quick phone call from Mr Osborne established that if the men who run Britain’s economy descended two flights of stairs, they could eat the same lunch in the canteen with pudding and a fruit drink at a cost of just £32.88 for all six.

Determined not to pay the extra £115 charge allowed under a Private Finance Initiative scheme introduced by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor, Mr Osborne declared: ‘We will eat in the canteen.’

Accompanied by Mr King and their four advisers, Mr Osborne then walked down the stairs in the Whitehall building and sat at a Formica table with his lunch guests after lining up in the self-service queue and paying the bill with his own money.

George Osborne was amazed to be told that fish and chips for himself and five others would total £148.58


I hope that the reported admiration in the US...

Marcus's picture

...for David Cameron is real.

If US politicians are watching the UK government's spending cuts and civil liberties agenda with envy, I'm sure they wont just replicate it, but will take it to the next level and the administrations in both countries will spur each other on.

Let's look for that sea change to start this coming November and then continue on to 2012!

This thread ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... or rather, what it's about, is the most encouraging thing we've seen in a long time. Keep on updating, Marcus!

I had drinks with a cabinet minister's press sec a couple of nights back. He said every day they get calls along the lines of, "My tap's leaking. Wot's the gummint gonna do about it?" Rather than say, "Get a life—and take ownership of it"—the ministers immediately capitulate and promise legislation. Aaaaaargh!!!!!

Government axes database

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Government axes database holding contact details of all 11million children in England

A controversial database containing the personal details of 11million children was finally scrapped yesterday as ministers admitted nearly 400,000 public sector workers could have had access to it.

The centralised ContactPoint database held the names, ages and addresses and of nearly every child in England, as well as contact numbers for their schools, GPs and guardians.

Children and Families Minister Tim Loughton revealed that 390,000 workers in government departments and town halls could have eventually had access to the database.

Mr Loughton said he had security concerns over the ContactPoint system because of the massive number with clearance to look at information on the under-18s.

‘As it stands at the moment, it’s fewer than 15,000. That’s still a lot. The intention if the thing was to go on and be rolled out completely, was that [it would be accessed by] as many as 390,000 people,’ he told Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘That has serious security concerns when you are dealing with so many different people in offices around the country.

‘We don’t think that spreading very thinly a resource that contains the details of all 11million children in the country, more than 90 per cent of which will never come into contact with children’s services, is the best way of safeguarding vulnerable children.’


David Cameron warns public sector cuts will be permanent

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Prime minister tells an audience in Birmingham that cuts need to be 'sustainable' and that funding will not be restored once budget deficit is under control

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron takes questions at a 'PM Direct' event at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in Birmingham today.

"David Cameron today dashed hopes of public sector funding levels being restored once the budget deficit has been addressed, saying he expects staff to find new ways of working to deliver services on less money.

The prime minister told an audience in Birmingham that cuts imposed by his government should be "sustainable".

"We are going to have to change the way we work," he said. "How can we do things differently and better to give value for money?"

Urging voters to recognise that his administration was thinking in terms of cuts of 5% a year, rather than a big bang cut of 25% immediately, he nevertheless said that the government was focusing on the big-ticket items such as welfare, pensions and public sector pay rather than smaller cuts in other departments."


David Cameron and Nick Clegg remind cabinet deficit is priority

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Prime minister and his deputy say they thought it would be 'helpful' to tell colleagues again what is most urgent issue.

Clegg and Cameron: letter to colleagues.

"David Cameron and Nick Clegg have written to cabinet colleagues to remind them that reducing the deficit is the "most urgent issue facing Britain".

The prime minister and his deputy said they thought it would be "helpful" to remind coalition colleagues of the discussions held just over a week ago at a political meeting at Chequers.

In a letter in which they also thanked cabinet ministers for their commitment to the coalition during an "intense and at times tough" first 12 weeks, the pair said that because the new administration "unlike previous governments, would govern for the long term", it would allow ministers to take "difficult decisions".

As departments prepare to engage in "vital negotiations" with the Treasury, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders stressed that ministers should keep in their sights the purpose of government, which is "putting power in the hands of communities and individuals and equipping Britain for long-term success".



Brant Gaede's picture

The entire anti-war movement collapsed with Pearl Harbor. All those people disappeared. My Father burned his mailing lists.


Even if Germany had conquered GB the US would have beat it

Marcus's picture

Not really.

Remember that many Americans belonged to the German-American bund and were supplying financial aid and succor to the NAZI's.

You don't have to believe everything you see in Hollywood films Eye


Brant Gaede's picture

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and America declared war on Japan and Germany (stupidly) declared war on the United States, Churchill knew the war was won--and concurrently, that the Japanese would be "ground to dust."

It was not the respective sacrifices but that the United States could beat up Germany with its right hand and beat up Japan with its left--and did.

Great Britain spent 1/4 of its wealth waging an air war against Germany which didn't appreciably shorten the war but which mightily contributed to its post-war evisceration (plus socialism) while the United States emerged as the greatest world power of all time and that present-time.

Even if Germany had conquered GB the US would have beat it to a pulp.

The USSR was able to fight back in great part because of massive US military aid which arrived both from the north and the south.


Terrorism row: David Cameron refuses to back down

Marcus's picture

Daily Telegraph

Terrorism row: David Cameron refuses to back down on Pakistan terrorism remarks

David Cameron will not apologise for his comments about Pakistan exporting terrorism when he meets the country’s president for talks this week.

By Andrew Porter, Political Editor
02 Aug 2010

The Prime Minister provoked outrage in Pakistan when, during a trip to India last week, he said Islamabad could not “look both ways” when it came to tackling terrorism. Some Pakistani politicians urged Asif Ali Zardari to cancel his meeting with Mr Cameron in protest, but the visit will go ahead.

Mr Zardari arrived in Paris last night. He will travel to London tomorrow and meet Mr Cameron at Chequers on Friday. Downing Street stressed that Mr Cameron would not back away from his remarks about Pakistan promoting “the export of terror” and he would not apologise. “He stands by his comments,” a senior source said. “We are not looking to inflame the situation and we made clear that his comments were not directed at the Pakistan government, but what he said was clear. We are glad the president’s trip is going ahead and we are looking forward to the talks.”


NHS trusts bid to attract more private patients

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Hospitals bid to lure paying patients after Andrew Lansley abolishes cap on revenues.

"Elite NHS foundation trusts are gearing up to lure private patients from home and abroad as health budgets are squeezed – a decision made possible after health secretary Andrew Lansley said he would abolish the cap limiting the proportion of total income hospitals can earn from the paying sick, research by the Guardian has shown.

With a £20bn black hole opening up in NHS budgets, a group of top performing trusts are seeking to profit from paying patients and use the money to fund public healthcare in Britain. The Guardian contacted the top 10 NHS trusts in terms of private income after the health secretary proposed new freedoms and discovered proposals to build new wings and wards to cater for private patients, set up hospitals abroad and entice medical tourists with airport-to-hospital bed services."


The great switch off: Thousands of speed cameras set to be scrapped as councils follow Oxfordshire's lead

A view of the future: Many councils plan to follow Oxfordshire's lead when it switches its cameras off at midnight

"Britain’s network of 6,000 speed cameras could be dramatically reduced after a raft of councils looked set to follow Oxfordshire’s move and switch theirs off.

The county’s entire network of 72 cameras will be switched off at midnight tonight after the coalition Government pulled the plug on their funding.

The change of heart could usher in a different landscape for Britain’s 33million motorists two decades after the first network was installed.

Already, neighbouring Buckinghamshire said it is ‘very likely’ to switch off its cameras, while Bedfordshire, Suffolk and Derbyshire have launched reviews.

Northamptonshire has also switched off eight of their 42 cameras and Somerset is to axe nine of its 26 traps in coming weeks."


Cameron becomes a Western leader!

Marcus's picture

You can't become a "true" leader in the West until someone in a Muslim country burns an effigy of you.

Pakistani activists burn an effigy of David Cameron.

Pakistan's prime minister condemns David Cameron's terror claims

Yousaf Raza Gilani's comments follow cancellation of trip to Britain by Pakistan's spy chief


I think I just woke up in an Orwellian nightmare...

Marcus's picture

...created by Nu Labour!

Coalition budget faces legal challenge from Fawcett Society over claims women will bear brunt of cuts

Commons vote could be overturned in the courts if MPs were not told that bulk of the £8bn cutbacks would target women

Anushka Asthana
The Observer, Sunday 1 August 2010

The coalition government's emergency budget could be branded unlawful after a groundbreaking legal case was launched in the high court. Papers filed on Friday claim that Treasury officials broke the law by failing to carry out an assessment of whether the plans for heavy spending cuts would hit women hardest.

The action is being taken by the country's leading women's rights group in what is believed to be the first ever legal challenge to a British government's budget. The Fawcett Society, which believes the plans "risk rolling back women's equality in the UK by a generation", is being represented by barristers from Matrix Chambers, which was co-founded by Cherie Booth, wife of the former prime minister Tony Blair. It follows research that suggested women would shoulder three quarters of the pain inflicted by the budget.

Karon Monaghan QC, one of the country's top equality and discrimination lawyers, will argue that by law MPs should have been able to look at such a study before voting on the budget. If there was any suggestion that moves would discriminate against women, then ministers would have had to take "urgent action" to mitigate the impact...


Coalition is more radical than Thatcher government

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Francis Maude defends scope and speed of reforms with claim earlier governments have not pushed ahead vigorously enough.

"The coalition is trying to push through quicker and more vigorous reforms than attempted by either Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair in their first terms, Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister and senior Tory responsible for the party's transition into government, said today.

There has been criticism that David Cameron risks overloading the Whitehall machine, and storing up political trouble, by quickly pursuing radical reforms on so many fronts simultaneously.

But Maude, in a Guardian interview, said: "If you look at the last transitions of governments and the way they came in, I would say one of the things that Thatcher regretted was not pushing ahead vigorously enough, and quickly enough, in terms of reform. The big reforming Thatcher governments were not until 1983 and 1987."


Speed Cameras to be scrapped

Marcus's picture

I have posted this because I drive a car in Oxfordshire and I am happy with this decision. I do not believe that speed cameras decrease the number of accidents on roads and the money they raise simply goes towards funding vested interests and government.

BBC News

27 July 2010

Oxfordshire's 72 fixed and 89 mobile camera sites could be switched off by the end of the month.

"At the time, the partnership said the cut equated to a 71% drop in its income from the council and enforcement at mobile sites would cease "with immediate effect".

The council backed the cuts at a meeting on 20 July. The full council then ratified the vote on Tuesday...

A spokesman said last week that the county council was merely passing on cuts imposed by central government."


Coalition to tear up welfare system

Marcus's picture

Labour’s flagship tax credits could be scrapped in the biggest shake-up of Britain’s welfare system for decades, a leaked government paper reveals.

Work and Pensions Secre­tary Iain Duncan Smith will today set out dramatic plans to simplify the complex benefits system and make work pay as the Govern­ment attempts to rein in welfare dependency.

Mr Duncan Smith’s command paper, called 21st Century Welfare, makes it clear that his aim is nothing less than tearing up the welfare system and starting from scratch.


David Miliband attacks 'loudmouth' Cameron over Pakistan comment

Marcus's picture

Former foreign secretary criticises PM for warning that Pakistan 'should not be allowed to promote the export of terror'

"David Cameron was today accused of being a "loudmouth" by David Miliband, the former foreign secretary and Labour leadership contender, over his claims that elements of the Pakistani state are responsible for exporting terrorism abroad.

The prime minister stood by his warning that Pakistan should not be allowed "to promote the export of terror" in the world, despite the anger his comments have provoked. Cameron said he would always talk "frankly" to Britain's friends as he insisted he had caused no offence and had not blamed the Islamabad government for promoting terrorism.

Speaking in New Delhi this morning on the second and final day of his visit to India, the prime minister said: "I don't think the British taxpayer wants me to go around the world saying what people want to hear."

Miliband rounded on Cameron's comments, claiming there was a "big difference between straight-talking and being a loudmouth".

Miliband said everyone had "two ears and one mouth" and it was important to use them "in that proportion" when it came to foreign policy."

David Miliband, the human chimpanzee.


I think Cameron's overseas trip...

Marcus's picture

...is causing a lot of people to scratch their heads.

It appears he is saying whatever he believes is good for trade.

A weird policy in a way. Not sure I have seen this done so blatantly before by any political leader.

He wants trade deals with Turkey and India.

Therefore he slams Pakistan, Israel and even the EU for denying Turkey membership.

Go figure?

I don't get this Cameron guy ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Today he was on Fox attacking Israel for thwarting that Gaza "relief" ship. Will the real one stand up?

David Cameron: Pakistan is promoting the ‘export of terror’

Marcus's picture

David Cameron has risked inflaming international relations after suggesting Pakistan is promoting the ‘export of terror’ in Afghanistan and around the world.

"In words which will be greeted with alarm in Islamabad, the Prime Minister also suggested that Pakistan had links with terrorist groups, and was guilty of double dealing by aligning itself with both the West and the forces it was opposing.

Mr Cameron’s attack will be even more unwelcome given that he was speaking during a visit to India, Pakistan’s neighbour and great military rival."


Britain to allow export of civil nuclear technology to India

Move likely to raise fears of leakage to military nuclear programme

"Britain is to follow the example of the United States and allow the export of civil nuclear technology and expertise to India.

The move, which is the most dramatic illustration of a new special relationship David Cameron is hoping to forge with India, will prove controversial because Delhi is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Labour backed away from offering co-operation to India on civil nuclear power amid fears that there would be leakage to its military nuclear programme."


MPs to lose gold-plated pensions

Marcus's picture

MPs are to be told they will no longer be entitled to gold-plated pensions as part of their package of benefits at Westminster.

The generous scheme which has been afforded to MPs, giving them much better final salary pay-outs than others in the public sector and many in the private sector, has been under fire for years.

But only now has a radical shake-up been proposed. It comes as Whitehall spending cuts prepare to bite across the country with a huge impact on other public servants.


Barack Obama should learn from David Cameron

Marcus's picture

The Conservatives and coalition government have every right to be pleased with David Cameron's Washington debut last week, writes Alex Spillius.

The reviews were glowing. "David Cameron was quite the charmer. He owned that East Room," was the view of Chuck Todd on MSNBC, a cable news station.

"He had a lot of verve, that's for sure," chirped his co-host Savannah Guthrie. Many Republican commentators looked on and yearned for someone of Cameron's sharpness and broad appeal to lead them into battle in 2012.

Before their meeting the similarities between Cameron and Obama had been plain: both were young and gifted and saw themselves as agents of change.

Both could change the course of a political campaign with well delivered and chosen words, but both were of limited experience.

But long before the Prime Minister flew into Washington on a commercial British Airways flight, a crucial difference had become clear: the British leader is intent on tackling his country's deficit and the American is not.


UK economy grows at the fastest pace in four years

Marcus's picture

Daily Telegraph

The UK economy soared by an unexpected 1.1pc between April and June, official figures showed today.

23 Jul 2010

The stellar advance, driven by huge growth in business services, finance and construction, comes amid a global debate over the impact of austerity measures on the economy and could be taken to vindicate Chancellor George Osborne's decision to push ahead with his planned fiscal squeeze.

Overall the UK posted its strongest annual growth – 1.6pc – since before the recession at the beginning of 2008 and much better than the 1.2pc growth forecast for the year produced by the the Office for Budget Responsibility...

Mr Osborne said: "Today's figures show the private sector contributing all but 0.1pc of the growth in the second quarter, and put beyond doubt that it was right to begin acting on the deficit now."

"While I am cautiously optimistic about the path for the economy, the job is not yet done. The priority now is to implement the Budget policies which support rebalancing and help ensure the sustained growth that the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast this year and next."

The pound jumped more than a cent against the dollar to $1.54 on the release of the figures...

Government departments have been ordered to plan for almost unprecedented spending cuts of up to 40pc...


Cameron's historic blunder

Marcus's picture

Fury as PM says we were 'junior partner' to Americans in 1940

By Tim Shipman, Deputy Political Editor
22nd July 2010

David Cameron faced a furious backlash yesterday for the astonishing claim that the UK was a 'junior partner' to America in 1940 - a year before the U.S. even entered the war.

The Prime Minister was accused of forgetting the sacrifices made in 1940 by those who fought in the Battle of Britain, the heroes of Dunkirk and the Londoners bombed out of their homes in the Blitz.

Downing Street hastily claimed that Mr Cameron had meant to refer to the 1940s in general. But by then the damage was done...

In fact, Britain under the leadership of Churchill - one of Mr Cameron's heroes - stood alone in 1940 against Nazi Germany and had far more men under arms than the U.S. until 1944.

While Britain fought on, with some material assistance from the U.S., America did not actually enter the war until December 1941 after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

And Britain lost a total of 449,800 war dead compared with 418,500 Americans.

Historian Andrew Roberts, author of the recent Second World War history The Storm of War, said: 'The Prime Minister is wrong. He shouldn't wear a hair shirt.

'In the early years of the war Britain had an army of 2.4million men in the field when the Americans had 240,000 - one tenth of the fighting force.

'It was not really until 1944 that the Americans had more men in the field than the UK, the British Empire and Commonwealth.

'In 1940 there was material help from America, but not belligerency against the Nazis. Britain was the dominant partner in terms of the strategy until at least 1943.'...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new...

David Cameron: 'Lockerbie bomber should have died in jail'

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"I will say to them (the senators) that I agree that the decision to release al-Megrahi was wrong. I said it was wrong at the time," he told National Public Radio in Washington.

"It was the Scottish Government that took that decision. They took it after proper process and what they saw as the right, compassionate reasons. I just happen to think it was profoundly misguided.

"He was convicted of the biggest mass murder and in my view he should have died in jail. I said that very, very clearly at the time; that is my view today.

"Of course BP has got to do everything necessary to cap the oil well, to clean up the spill, to pay compensation. I have met with BP and I know they want to do that and will do that.

"But let's be clear about who released al-Megrahi... it was a Government decision in the UK. It was the wrong decision. It was not the decision of BP - it was the decision of Scottish ministers."


David Cameron orders review of Lockerbie bomber documents

David Cameron has asked the UK's top civil servant to review the Government's documentation on the release of the Lockerbie bomber, it has been disclosed.

20 Jul 2010

The Prime Minister has instructed Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, to ensure that all material that "should be made public has been made public".

"I am asking the Cabinet Secretary in the UK to go back over the paperwork and see if there is anything else that should be released and there is the clearest possible pressure out there of what decision was taken and why," he told ABC News ahead of a meeting with Barack Obama.


Cameron launches new power to the people plan

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"The Prime Minister today revived his vision for a 'dramatic' redistribution of power from Whitehall elites to ordinary voters.

He said he wanted to 'liberate' millions from the tyranny of 'top-down, heavy, controlling' government which has sapped their sense of responsibility and civic duty...

The Prime Minister said: 'It's about liberation - the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street.'

He added that he believes a huge cultural change is needed in Britain, so that 'people, in their everyday lives, don't always turn to officials, local authorities or central government for answers to the problems they face'.

Each area will also get a funded local organiser trained in community action. But Mr Cameron will admit that there will be problems and objections 'from vested interests'.

The Government would also slash centralised bureaucracy in public services, which he said 'wastes money and undermines morale'.

Instead, public services would be opened up to charities and private companies."

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new...

Burka ban ruled out by immigration minister

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"Britain will not follow France by introducing a law banning women from wearing the burka, the immigration minister has ruled."


Willetts warns graduates: if you can't get a job start a busines

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Universities minister says students leaving higher education should rethink what they consider to be a graduate career.

"The way in which the statistics define a graduate job is very old-fashioned ... it is out of touch with people's aspirations – a lot of people do want to run their own business."

"Mike Hill, chief executive of Graduate Prospects, which offers careers advice to students, graduates and universities, said that Willetts was right, and "getting any job is better than no job at all". University leavers had to be more flexible in the current climate, Hill said, even if that meant starting on the shopfloor."


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