17th November 2008
Conservative Plans to Tackle Fuel Poverty
Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Greg Clark outlined Conservative plans to tackle fuel poverty through pressurising energy companies to cut bills. The plans include: making it illegal for energy companies to charge unfair price premiums on prepayment meters; forcing energy companies offer social tariffs to vulnerable households; insist that energy companies inform customers whether or not they are on the cheapest tariff.
13th November 2008
Tory MEP Reportedly Expelled from Party
The Guardian reports that David Cameron has expelled the Conservative party's European Parliament former Chief Whip, Den Dover, following a ruling by EP authorities that he had breached parliamentary expenses rules. Blogger Iain Dale carries the details of a statement by Conservative Group leader Philip Bushill-Matthews saying "Earlier this year, allegations were made regarding the improper use of Mr Dover's parliamentary expenses. The European parliamentary authorities launched a very thorough investigation, which has now come to an end...Mr Dover shared with us the outcome of this investigation. From this, we learned he is required to repay the parliament a significant six-figure sum. On the basis of this information andm after consulting David Cameron, I have instructed the MEPs' chief whip to withdraw the whip from Mr Dover with immediate effect...This, in turn, means he will not be a Conservative candidate at the European parliament elections in 2009".
13th November 2008
New Permanent Secretary for Government Communication Announced
Matt Tee has been announced as the new Permanent Secretary for Government Communication. Tee replaces Howell James and will move from his current role of Chief Executive of NHS Direct. Between 1999 and 2005, Tee served as Director of News at the then Department for Trade and Industry, and in 2005 he held the post of Director General of Communications at the Department of Health. Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell said "I am delighted to have appointed Matt Tee to this vital role. Effective communication is central to the delivery of government policy. And it is increasingly vital that insight into the potential impact of government policy on specific people's lives is factored in right at the start. Driving the effective use of customer insight across government is a key priority". Read all about it
11th November 2008
MPs Propose Crackdown on Pub and Supermarket Booze Promotions
The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has published its report on Policing in the 21st Century, noting that in general "Public expectations of the police are not being met. The public want the police to be more active in dealing with minor crime and anti-social behaviour. The police should be more visible and more responsive to the public, and should give greater consideration to the needs of the victim in investigating crimes". The report stated that 'Alcohol-related crime is estimated to cost the economy £7.3bn a year. 45% of victims of violence describe their assailant as being under the influence of alcohol. 70% of police officers believe that attending alcohol-related incidents diverts them away from tackling other kinds of crime' and recommends a ban on drinks promotions in pubs together with supermarkets from selling alcohol at below cost prices through "recommend[ing] the Government establish as soon as possible a legal basis for banning the use of loss-leading by supermarkets and setting a minimum price for the sale of alcohol". Chairman of the Committee, Keith Vaz, said retailers must end a "pile it high, sell it cheap" drink culture. Committee members were also "disappointed that fraud is not a police priority, given that it is estimated to cost the UK nearly £14 billion per year and identity fraud is a cause of major public concern".
10th November 2008
Court of Auditors finds Continuing Errors in Annual EU Accounting
The European Court of Auditors - the external auditor of the implementation of the European Union's budget - has provided its opinion on the EU's accounts, identifying the need for improvements in supervisory and control systems and recommending the simplification of regulations and detailing that "As in previous years cohesion policies (42 billion euro) are the area most affected by errors. Following the Court's sample estimate at least 11 % of the value of reimbursed cost claims should not have been paid out". Read all about it
10th November 2008
Ros Scott Elected Liberal Democrat President
Baroness Ros Scott has won the Liberal Democrat ballot to become the party's President from the start of January 2009 for a two year term. Ros Scott beat challengers by gaining 72% of the postal ballot of members, to Lembit Öpik's 22% and Chandila Fernando's 6%. Party member turnout was 47.8%. Party Leader Nick Clegg said "The role of President in the Liberal Democrats is a vital one for the organisation and management of the party. I know that Ros will do a fantastic job of representing the membership and upholding the wonderful tradition of internal party democracy that sets us so apart from other political parties" and paid tribute to outgoing President Simon Hughes "for the huge contribution he has made in his role as President of the party. He tirelessly led so many campaigns around the country as President, engaging directly with people and communities with his trademark warmth and energy. His support to me in my first months as a new Leader was invaluable". Ros Scott said "This campaign has given Liberal Democrats the opportunity to have a robust dialogue within the Party about the role of the President and how the Party should be run. Our Party is a genuine grass roots movement, and the job of the President is to ensure that we stay that way - that our members and activists remain at the heart of everything we do".
7th November 2008
Labour Defends SNP Challenge in Glenrothes By-Election
Labour has unexpectedly beaten off the SNP challenge to keep hold of the Glenrothes seat in the by-election. Lindsay Roy is the newly elected MP following the death of John MacDougall. Roy was victorious with a 6,737 majority, receiving 19,946 votes to SNP rival Peter Grant's 13,209. Labour increased their vote from the 2005 general election poll. The Conservative candidate Maurice Golden came third with 1,381 votes, followed by the Liberal Democrat's Harry Wills with 947. Speaking after his victory, Roy said "I pledge my support to the leader of this country...Someone who has worked very hard on behalf of all of us, not just in Fife, but in Scotland and the UK during these volatile economic times...With Gordon Brown, Britain is strong. With Gordon Brown, Labour has won here in Glenrothes and central Fife".
6th November 2008
Bank of England Slashes Interest Rate by 1.5%
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee today voted to shock economic pundits by cutting the base interest rate by 1.5%, to 3%, in an effort to stave off impending recession. This marks the lowest level for over 50 years in Britain. The Bank noted that "The past two months have seen a substantial downward shift in the prospects for inflation in the United Kingdom. There has been a very marked deterioration in the outlook for economic activity at home and abroad". Recent rate cuts have not been fully passed on to consumers and businesses, and lenders have been urged by the Government to ensure the benefits are felt by all. Chancellor Alistair Darling said ""I believe that it is imperative that banks realise that they've got to play their part in helping businesses, helping people, and one of the key ways they can do that is by passing those interest rates cuts through".
5th November 2008
Barack Obama Wins Historic Victory in US Presidential Election
Democrat Barack Obama has been elected by US voters to serve as their 44th President, winning an historic victory over John McCain. With a small number of States still to reveal their projection, Obama has well over the 270 electoral college votes required to take him to the White House. CNN lists the overall percentage of voters for Obama at 53% to McCain's 46%. Speaking in his home town of Chicago the President-Elect said "Even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century" continuing that the "road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there". Democratic gains in the House and Senate place Democrats in their strongest governing position for 30 years.
5th November 2008
British Political Leaders Congratulate Barack Obama
British political leaders have been quick to offer congratulations and praise for the US President-Elect, Barack Obama. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said “This is a moment that will live in history as long as history books are written". Conservative leader David Cameron said "This is an important moment not just for America but for the world. Barack Obama's victory will give people a new opportunity to look at the United States and see her for what I believe she is - a beacon of opportunity, freedom and democracy". Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader, welcomed the result and said "British voters may not have been able to vote in this election, but its outcome is vital to our future". Alex Salmond, Scottish First Minister said it was "a victory for optimism over pessimism, for hope over fear". Welsh First Minister, Rhodri Morgan said "President-elect Barack Obama’s stunning victory represents a triumph of hope over fear". Northern Ireland's Assembly First Minister Peter Robinson said "I look forward to working with his administration and to continuing the mutually beneficial relationship that Northern Ireland has developed with the United States over the years" and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said "We welcome President elect Obama's commitment to furthering progress in Ireland and look forward to working with him towards to developing and deepening our economic and cultural interests with the US. I offer him our sincerest congratulations and best wishes as he sets about the business of government".