4th November 2008
UKIP Rejects Electoral Pact Offer from BNP
The UK Independence Party's National Executive has "unanimously rejected" an approach by the British National Party to forge an electoral pact ahead of next summer's European Parliament elections. The former British tennis star Buster Mottram, claiming that he represented BNP leader Nick Griffin, made the offer at a Whitehall gathering on Monday which would have seen the BNP fighting seats in the North, leaving UKIP to contest Southern seats. UKIP leader, Nigel Farage MEP said "There are no circumstances, no possible situations, in which we would even consider doing any type of deal with the BNP whatsoever. I'm simply amazed that the BNP thought we would even consider such a thing, given that we are a non-racist, non-sectarian party". After refusing to leave the meeting and having to be escorted away by the police, Mottram was immediately expelled from membership of UKIP.
3rd November 2008
DWP Targets Benefit Thieves in National Campaign
The Department for Work And Pensions has launched a national campaign to target benefit thieves called 'We're closing in'. Campaign adverts will appear on TV and radio, online, poster sites and in newspapers as well as on ATM screens. Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform Tony McNulty said "Stealing from the benefit system takes money from the pockets of hard working taxpayers. We're absolutely determined to catch benefit thieves and have been very successful, cutting fraud by two thirds since 2001. This campaign is the next step in our fight and presents a clear message - there is no hiding if you try to steal from the taxpayer. With over 600 calls to the Benefit Fraud Hotline everyday, we know the general public are behind us".
3rd November 2008
Purnell Apologies for Losing Confidential Documents
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell has said he is "very sorry" after losing confidential documents on a train at the start of October. Mr Purnell's spokesman said that "It was one letter from an MP with the attached correspondence and was returned safely within three days. Obviously, James is very sorry for the mistake".
30th October 2008
New Director of Communications at DCMS
Jane Cooper has been appointed to the post of Director of Communications at the Department for Culture Media and Sport. She will take up the post in 2009, moving from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Ms. Cooper said "This is a brilliant time to be joining the DCMS - a Department which touches the lives of so many people in this country in so many different ways. With London 2012 less than four years away, an international spotlight is now on the UK. So much of our face to the world will be influenced by this department's interest in culture media and sport. I'm really looking forward to joining the team and helping to promote the very best of what this country has to offer".
28th October 2008
Osborne Admits to Making Mistake over Deripaska
Shadow Chancellor, Georger Osborne, has admitted making a mistake by meeting Oleg Deripaska, the Russian billionaire. He told the BBC that "I neither asked for money nor received any and I didn't break any rules but I think I did make a mistake". John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, is understood to have ruled out the investigation of a received complaint on the matter.
27th October 2008
Lord Tebbit to Stir Up Anti-Tory Sentiment to the EU
At this evening's Bruges Group dinner, Eurosceptics will celebrate 20 years since Margaret Thatcher’s famous Bruges Speech to the College of Europe in which she spoke of the relationship between Britain and Europe, “To try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the centre of a European conglomerate would be highly damaging... Europe will be stronger precisely because it has France as France, Spain as Spain, Britain as Britain, each with its own customs, traditions and identity. It would be folly to try to fit them into some sort of identikit European personality". Lord Tebbit and Václav Klaus, the Czech Republic's President will address the Group this evening. Norman Tebbit will call on the Conservative Party to show ‘Thatchertite courage and determination’ in Government and take early action to 'resolve the European question'. Tebbitt will say “I hope that the Conservative Party will set out a negotiating brief that the next Conservative Government will take to Brussels early in its next term, and that it would within two years of the next election, present to the British people the outcome of its negotiations. Then in a referendum the British people would decide whether to accept what was on offer - or simply to leave the Union. We cannot drift on as we have been. It is not fair either to the British people or to the European Union".
27th October 2008
Welfare Benefits Reform Package into Effect
A new Employment and Support Allowance comes into effect replacing Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid on incapacity grounds. The Government claims this marks the end of 'the era of writing people off'. The new system is designed to give people the support they need to improve their health, skills and to aid them in finding work, whilst it introduces an individual assessment by an expert health professional designed to look at what people can do rather than what they can't. James Purnell, Work and Pensions Secretary, said "In the 1990s people were written off on Incapacity benefit with no help to overcome their problems or support to get them into work. It is even more important during an economic downturn that we increase support for people not take it away. The introduction of Employment and Support Allowance, which marks a significant landmark for the delivery of our welfare reforms, will offer the help and support disabled people and people with ill health are telling us they want in order for them to get back to work".
23rd October 2008
Public and Commercial Services Union Strike Action
The Public and Commercial Services Union's national executive committee has agreed a programme of industrial action to take place across civil and public services over the 2% public sector pay cap. The one day strike has been set for 10th November. Should the Government not come to the negotiating table with ways forward, sectoral action will be announced. General Secretary Mark Serwotka said "There is a three week opportunity to avoid damaging industrial action, where the government can pay heed to the Bank of England’s warning on the economic consequences that the squeeze on wages is having".
23rd October 2008
Kids to be Better Equipped about Sex, Personal Finance & Drug Misuse
State schools are to receive lessons in more social and health areas such as personal finance, first aid, relationships and drug misuse. The moves come in response to the Review of Sex and Relationships Education in Schools and the report by the Advisory Group on Drug and Alcohol Education. Schools Minister Jim Knight said “This is a bold move and a necessary one. Modern life is increasingly complex and we have a duty to equip our young people with the knowledge and skills to deal with it. It’s vital that this information doesn’t come from playground rumour or the mixed messages from the media about sex. We need structured classroom teaching, set within a clear understanding of right and wrong that emphasises the importance of family relationships". Read the DCSF release
23rd October 2008
Government Launches 'Solution for Business'
Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has launched 'Solutions for Business - funded by government' comprising a national package of publicly funded business support products to be accessed via Business Link, aiming to make it easier for all companies to find the right products to help them tackle issues such as getting started, growing, finance, export, skills, innovation and the environment. Mandelson said "Better business support is about better customer service - reducing backroom wastage and delivering greater impact with the same resources. [Business Support Simplification Programme] is about helping the UK to become the most enterprising economy in the world".