Blair’s Warning To Miliband

Tony Blair has warned Ed Miliband about turning the UK Labour Party back to a left-wing protest group that it had been in previous decades. In the New Statesman, a political magazine, Blair stated that Labour is “back as the party opposing ‘Tory cuts'” and is in danger of becoming a “repository for people’s anger” rather than a party with answer’s to the problems the country are currently facing.

Ed Miliband responded to Blair’s comments stating that the Labour party is “moving on and moving forward” and was leading the party in his “own way”. He appreciated Blair’s comments but Miliband feels it is necessary to “sketch out a different vision for the future” to ensure past mistakes are not made again.

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Blair showed his concerns of the “old left/right battles” that was in British politics before he himself moved Labour further to the centre ground, through New Labour. He warns Labour against settling back into its “old territory of defending the status quo” and allying itself “to the interests that will passionately and often justly oppose what the government is doing”.

Others have feared the Labour Party, and Ed Miliband, are becoming a second conservative party. Although this appears extreme, Miliband is unwilling to return to traditional ideological grounds for the party. He states: “I always take Tony Blair very, very seriously, but I think what the Labour Party is doing under my leadership is moving on and moving forward. I’m leading in my own way and I think that is what’s most important.”

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Margaret Thatcher – What is your reaction?

With the recent death of The Iron Lady various emotions have been felt throughout the world. She did good and she did bad for the country, including the substantial rise in GDP during her time as Prime Minister but also caused a huge increase in unemployment. Here is how some  have reacted:

David Cameron (Prime Minister)

We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.

As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.

Her legacy will be the fact she served her country so well, she saved our country and that she showed immense courage in doing so. And people will be learning about what she did and her achievements in decades, probably for centuries to come.

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Barack Obama (US President)

The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend. As a grocer’s daughter who rose to become Britain’s first female prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered. As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best. And as an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom’s promise.

Mikail Gorbachev (Former Soviet Leader)

Our first meeting in 1984 marked the beginning of a relationship that was difficult sometimes, not always smooth, but serious and responsible from both sides. Gradually, human relations developed as well, they became more and more friendly. Eventually we were able to reach mutual understanding, and this contributed to changes in atmosphere between our country and the West, and to the end of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher was a great politician. She will remain in our memory and in history.

Ed Miliband, (UK Labour Leader)

She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.

The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength. She also defined the politics of the 1980s. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I all grew up in a politics shaped by Lady Thatcher.

What is your reaction?

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Youth PCC, Paris Brown, stands down

You may remember a few weeks ago we posted about the “World’s Youngest Member Of Parliament” which sparked a healthy debate on youth in politics. Today, the world’s first Police Commissioner (an elective representative to ensure effective policing) stood down as a result of offensive tweets which created widespread criticism.

Yesterday, she apologised for the series of tweets referring to drugs, “pikes” and “fags”, which she had written between the ages of 14 and 16. Kent police (who she was to start work with later this year) are investigating the situation.

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She took on the job with a desire to “represent the young people of Kent”, but her hopes were cut short by the need to apologise and reassure the public that she was “not racist or homophobic”

What are your view on having a teenager in a position of authority? Does this show that children and teenagers have no place in politics?

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UK Cuts Must Continue

George Osborne, the UK Chancellor, has stated that cuts to spending must continue if the government is to remain credibility and trusted by the people. However, not everyone agrees with the continued cutting of spending such as the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Olivier Blanchard.

Mr Osborne said pension, education and welfare reform was helping to make the UK a more competitive economy, while cuts to corporation tax and higher-rate tax were making the country a more attractive place to do business. Such reforms would make the British economy “a winner in the global competitive race”, he said, citing sectors such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, financial services and the creative industries as “world beaters”.

However, these cuts must continue until 2017 according to Osborne if the UK is “to continue moving in the right direction”.

Thanks for reading. What are your views on these ‘tactics’ by the British government?

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UK And The EU

What is happening?

Prime Minister David Cameron is to deliver a speech on the UK’s future in the European Union on Friday in the Netherlands.

Why the big deal if it’s just a speech?

Mr Cameron has been facing mounting pressure from within the Eurosceptic ranks of his own Conservative Party, and the UK Independence Party, who are unhappy with the current relationship between the UK and the European Union. There have been calls for a referendum to be held, and his own MPs want to see action on the Conservative election pledge to “bring back” powers to Westminster from Brussels. For months now, the promise has been that these questions will all be answered in a big speech. And this Friday, we get that speech.

What do we think Cameron will say?

Based on a BBC radio interview this week, we can expect Mr Cameron to say that he plans to renegotiate parts of the UK’s relations with Europe and, if and when that is achieved, promise to put that changed membership package to the British people after the next general election. So that referendum, obviously, also depends on the Conservatives winning a majority in 2015.

What sorts of powers does the UK want back?

There is a cross-government audit under way looking at where the EU has powers over life in the UK. The idea is that each one will then be examined to see whether it is necessary or whether the power could be “brought back” to the UK. Areas it might include are the Working Time Directive, which imposes employment rules such as limiting the working week and giving EU workers a minimum number of holidays each year. The UK is also keen on opt-outs from policing and criminal justice measures. The 2010 Conservative manifesto said: “We will work to bring back key powers over legal rights, criminal justice and social and employment legislation to the UK.”

So if we know all that, why watch the speech?

There are still a host of unanswered questions, not least about what would happen if the rest of Europe refused to agree to the UK’s demands. Will the prime minister threaten to hold an in/out referendum on EU membership, if new terms of membership aren’t agreed? And if they are agreed, what would happen if the British people then rejected them in a referendum – would that lead to an in/out vote?

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Why does Cameron think he can agree changes with EU leaders?

The recent eurozone crisis has led those countries using the single currency to believe that they need closer integration in future – a move which will further increase the gap between the euro and non-euro EU members. Mr Cameron says there needs to be a new EU treaty to facilitate the eurozone integration, so, as part of negotiations, there is a chance to redefine the membership rules for countries like the UK.

So does this all mean that the UK’s going to leave the EU?

David Cameron says that he opposes the idea of the UK leaving the EU (which the UK joined in 1973). However he did add during his BBC radio interview: “Would Britain collapse if we left the European Union? No, of course not. You could choose a different path. The question is, what is in our national interest? I’ve always been very clear it’s in our national interest as a trading nation to be in the single market.”

What do critics of Cameron say?

Well that depends which critics you are talking about – there are those attacking him from the pro-European viewpoint and others from the Eurosceptic viewpoint.

What do the pro-Europeans say?

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has warned that proposing a referendum at a future date would cause uncertainty and have a “chilling effect” on jobs and growth. A succession of business leaders have spoken up in favour of UK membership of the EU and the US and a range of European politicians have also warned of negative results if the UK left the EU.

What about the Eurosceptics?

There are a sizable number of MPs, mostly Conservatives, who want a straightforward referendum asking the British people whether or not the UK should stay in the EU. The UK Independence Party, whose main policy is to pull out of the EU, has also seen its poll ratings rise. They argue that there is nothing to fear, as a global trading nation, from leaving the European Union.

Why is Cameron delivering the speech in the Netherlands?

Downing Street say that he wanted to “set out his view on the EU and Britain’s relationship within it” and giving the speech in the Netherlands would allow the PM to speak in a “founder member of the European Union, not dissimilar from the UK, with a strong tradition of global trade”. He’s not the first PM to cross the channel to deliver a big EU speech – Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair both did the same when they were in No 10.

(FROM THE BBC WEBSITE)

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Should The UK Hold EU Referendum? Obama Is Worried…

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been facing considerable pressure to hold a referendum on the UK’s position in Europe. He has stated the Conservatives would offer “real change” and “real choice” on this issue. Cameron told the nation that he wants to remain part of Europe but there is a strong need to redefine their relationship – especially with recent moves towards further integration by countries using the single currency (the Euro).

However, the Obama administration has expressed a lot of concern about the potential impacts of holding this referendum and the UK’s future relationship with the EU. This stance was supported by a senior official in the US Senate Department, Philip Gordon, who declared that a “strong British voice within the EU” is in the interest of the American people. He went on to say that he “welcomes an outward-looking EU with Britain in it.” with fear that a referendum would turn the UK “inwards”

There is strong concern that internal debate and referendums within the EU will create a disunited union. A disunited union could ultimately create a political mess, both for the UK and the USA. This is David Cameron’s view on the subject (watch if you want to know the debate in more depth!):

What are your thoughts on the subject?

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Plebgate

What is the plebgate scandal?

In the UK, Plebgate is a scandal that arose in September 2012 after the ex-Conservative Chief Whip (someone who ensures their party votes and does how their party desires) Andrew Mitchell swore at the police and called them ‘plebs’ – a pejorative term for someone of low social class – after being refused to go through a gate into Downing Street. Although he apologised for swearing he denied that he called the police ‘plebs’, but he later resigned as Chief Whip. However, there is an investigation underway due to recent evidence and CCTV footage calling into evidence the reports of the incidence.

The Doubts Of The Police Evidence

In December 2012 the CCTV footage was released which Mitchell stated supported his view of how the events unfolded. An email was sent from a police offer which stated that “there were several members of the public” present during the incident involving Mitchell and the police and that they appeared “visibly shocked”. However, the CCTV footage shows no members of the public – later the policeman who supposedly sent the message claimed that the email was fake and he had not been present during the incident.

Operation Alice

There has been an outcry for a full investigation into the events of the ‘plebgate’ scandal with the Metropolitan police stating that there are 30 officers holding an investigation called ‘Operation Alice’. So far there have been 2 arrests from within the police force causing many people to redefine the scandal as ‘plodgate’ (‘plod’ is British slang for police) rather than ‘plebgate’.

2013

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that he is “open minded” about the incident as it is “yet to be proven” whether the incident did actually occur. When addressing MPs today (Tuesday 8th January) he told them that it be “very serious” if the police involved had told lies or made up evidence.

The Police Federation has been high profile and aggressive in its public relations since the coalition announced its programme of cuts in 2010. This incident could have been used by the Police Federation to push their response to police cuts and retain the sympathy of the public as well as to secure the resignation of Mitchell himself. We do not know yet if their tactics and their claims were legitimate or that a small incident was exploited as part of a bigger stunt in their negotiations with government over policies affecting them which they deeply disagree with, but we will have to see – if a group manage to get a Cabinet Minister to resign then that is real political power being shown here.

What are your views on the incident?

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Legitimacy In The UK And Around The World

What Is Legitimacy?

Legitimacy is the principle that a regime, institution or individual has a legitimate right to exercise power. Legitimacy is usually, though not always, bestowed through election, but the legitimacy of many political bodies can be disputed. It is a contestable term in that it is not always clear whether an institution is legitimate or not as we will show you using these UK and world examples that follow.

Legitimacy in the UK’s political bodies

– The House of Commons is legitimate because it is elected. However, many claim that the electoral college system is unfair and distorts political representation, so legitimacy can be challenged

– The House of Lords is arguable not legitimate because its members are not elected. However, it does have traditional authority and its political influence remains widely recognised

– UK government is legitimate because it is elected with a clear mandate to govern. However, every government in the UK has been elected with a minority of the popular vote, so we can challenge its legitimacy

– The power of the Prime Minister is legitimate because it is widely acknowledged that he/she is the supreme policy maker in the political system. However, there is no legal basis for prime ministerial power, so it could be said to lack legitimacy

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Legitimacy can be challenged far more in other countries

– Regimes that seize power by force are not considered to be legitimate. This applies to the government of Cuba, where the communist party came to power after a civil war

– States which have one-party systems, such as China, lack democratic legitimacy even though they might receive widespread popular support

– States where democracy is considered to be a facade or ‘sham’ lack legitimacy, such as in Iran

– Hereditary monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, lack democratic legitimacy

Thank you very much for reading, please do tell us why the country you live in is legitimate/not legitimate?

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The Importance Of Women In Politics

The role of women in politics has only been accepted very recently with women getting the vote in the 1920s in both America and the UK. However, some countries only gave women the vote far more recently, such as in the United Arab Emirates where they got the vote in 2006. Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, women are still not allowed to have the vote and will not do so until 2015. So, as a world where the demographics make a roughly even split between males and females, there is quite an obvious and important role that women play in politics today.

In the 2012 presidential election there was considerable debate over women and how they would vote – of course, most of their views were in favour of equal rights, which corresponded with the Democrat Party. Unfortunately for the Republican party women are not so interested in their conservative agenda. This can be seen by the result of the presidential election where 55% of Women voted for Obama and 44% of women voted for Romney (1% other parties). This is partly due to gaffes made within the Republican Party, such as Todd Akin who made a remark about ‘legitimate rape’, however it is equally due to Obama – through the ‘coat-tails effect’ – where lower ranking women candidates gain popularity through a high ranking person within the party.

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The result of the ‘coat-tails effect’ has seen the destruction of the glass-ceiling enabling women a greater role in Congress. Therefore, women’s rights and women in general are better represented further increasing the importance of pleasing this section of voters and aggregating their demands.

The 2012 election produced 20 senators who are women, which is the most ever in history. One of these women is Elizabeth Warren, who is the Senator of Massachussettes, replaced Scott Brown who came into office shortly after Ted Kennedy’s death in the state. There are also a record amount of congresswomen, beating the previous record of 73 women.

In previous times, women have been disregarded in politics claiming that they are not citizens. However, now, they are the future of politics and it seems only inevitable that we will see more women reaching increasingly powerful spots in politics; and it is likely that in the near future the world’s most powerful office – the president – will be a women.

What are your views on women in politics?

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Health and Social Care Act 2012

The Health and Social Care Act 2012, as clarified by parliament.uk, states that it involves the following:

  • establishes an independent NHS Board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidance
  • increases GPs’ powers to commission services on behalf of their patients
  • strengthens the role of the Care Quality Commission
  • develops Monitor, the body that currently regulates NHS foundation trusts, into an economic regulator to oversee aspects of access and competition in the NHS
  • cuts the number of health bodies to help meet the Government’s commitment to cut NHS administration costs by a third, including abolishing Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities.

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The reforms have been the most significant reforms to the NHS ever with a purpose to abolish NHS primary care trusts and Strategic Health Authorities. A primary care trust is a service which commission primary, community and secondary care from providers. The Strategic Health Authorities are responsible for enacting the directives and implementing fiscal policy as dictated by the Department of Health at a regional level. The reforms were introduced by the ex-secretary of state for health, Andrew Lansley.

The Act was very controversial due to a lot of the proposals not being mentioned in the Conservative manifesto of 2010, but brought up at a later date. But 2 months later a white paper was published outlining the proposal of Health an Social Care reform. White papers are documents which outline future policy as proposed by Government.

The controversial nature of this change in policy can be highlighted by the high level of scrutiny it received – with over 1000 amendments before it could be passed, receiving royal assent on 27th March 2012. Pressure group activity was high with groups such as the British Medical Association lobbying governmental committees to reach an agreement – that was to set up an NHS Forum before the act had passed. Other groups vehemently opposed the reforms, such as ’38Degrees’, ‘NHS Direct Action’ and ‘Keep our NHS public’. Protests had also been frequent with the group ‘UK Uncut’ leading a protest on Westminster Bridge and ’38 Degrees’ rectifying a plethora of billboards across London.

What are your views on the Health and Social Care Act 2012? I would be particularly interested in hearing from Americans who have recently had the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’) come into law…

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