This week in politics
|September 23, 2011||Posted by Tom Wooldridge under this week in politics|
This week saw the enticing events of the Lib Dem Conference, held in Birmingham. It was largely the same as last year with lots of rhetoric that will be forgotten by next week. Chris Huhne (Energy and Climate Change), Vince Cable (Business) and Danny Alexander (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) all talked about the government taking action to tackle the declining economic growth. This was in stark contrast to Clegg yesterday who said that the government can do something but aren’t. This was the same week Osborne (the Chancellor) said Britain was likely to miss its borrowing target this month, with estimates suggesting we borrowed £15.9bn last month (excl. the cost of the bank bailout) compared to £14bn in August 2010, before the cuts. This was used straight away by Ed Balls as a weapon to attacks the government’s “growth strategy” (well, they claim to have one). A thinktank close to government, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, expects Britain to borrow over £135bn this year, not the £121bn target Osborne was hoping for. This also came in the same week that the IMF predicted Britain has a 17% chance of a double dip recession. Growth is projected to slow to 1.1% and Christine Lagarde, the newly appointed head of the IMF, said that some countries are “pushing too hard” on austerity and could “slow down a bit.”
Palestine is beginning its international effort to gain full UN membership, but Obama has said he “will veto” any attempt for them to become a state in the UN Security Council. French President Nicholas Sarkozy has been in talks with Palestine and said he would support “observer status”, the level below full membership, with negotiations with Israel starting again within the next year. The British government has not confirmed its position but is likely to back America. Realistically Palestine is likely to achieve “observer status” as this doesn’t require a vote by the UN Security Council (where the US has a veto), but a vote by the assembly with only 75% of the countries needing to support it, which they have. This vote will happen next week following their formal application expected on Friday 23rd September. There have been protests in the West Bank and Gaza and the usual suppression by the Israelis. Either way there are likely to be clashes between the opposing views.
Union and government relations haven’t gotten off to a good start in the new political year; the TUC-led negotiations on behalf of 13 unions have not gone well and the 9 unions who need to ballot to participate in industrial action are going to start the process. The National Association of Head Teachers is also balloting for a strike on pensions for the 3oth November, the first in their history. Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, has said there have been no “dramatic changes” in the talks and that’s why they are continuing to ballot their members. This dispute is becoming a prolonged argument that is unlikely to be solved this year, and should stop anyone in the public sector ever voting Tory again.