This week in politics
|October 7, 2011||Posted by Tom Wooldridge under this week in politics|
The Tory Party Conference this week came from Manchester, a strange choice considering the city’s traditional and current support for Labour. Theresa May made headlines over “cat gate”, her false claim that the courts barred one man from being deported because he had a cat. In actual fact the decision was made due to the Home Office not following the correct deportation procedure. This was May’s attempt to disown the Human Rights Act and Article 8, which has a “right to private family life” clause, and was quickly denounced by Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, although No. 10 still supported May.
David Cameron’s speech on Wednesday 5th October was full of rhetoric and vague policy. Cameron mentioned ending the vetting and barring scheme and “simplifying” the CRB (Child Protection Bureau) checks. I hope this is thought through unlike most government policies; the current system which results in people having a CRB for each different organisation (I have three) does need reform, but it also needs lots of consultation as any mistakes could have disastrous consequences. Cameron then banged on about deregulation and blamed “the last government” as he has done for the last eighteen months. I expect few policies to develop from this speech, particularly following the press briefing that was wrongly interpreted by some members of the press – Cameron appeared to be saying households should pay off their credit card debt, continuing his metaphor comparing government to household finances, and this led to an overnight rewrite for his actual speech.
In any case, these conferences will quickly be forgotten with the economic problems the world is experiencing. Expect the political debate to be largely focussed on the economy, bailout packages and the Euro rather than the Human Rights Act for the next few months.
The Bank of England on Thursday 6th October announced it was restarting Quantitative Easing (QE). This where the Bank buy assets such as government bonds to stimulate the commercial sector to lend. They have released £75bn and this will reduce the interest rates the government pays on long term government bonds which will, in turn, reduce the cost to the government and the banks that (they hope) should be able to lend more to businesses. This should help economic growth and has received some support from the CBI. These are the only details announced as this TSR article publishes. The reintroduction of QE has been expected by many experts since early spring and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, said that “temporary factors” also added to the decision. King is referring to the Greece and Eurozone crises which are causing unease in the markets; this round of QE should temporarily help stabilise the markets.
Following the unrest in Bahrain earlier this year, the Bahraini government set up a military court for people convicted of offences during the unrest. So far they have put eighty people in prison, twenty of whom were paramedics and doctors at hospitals. They were given sentences of between 5 and 15 years in prison for inciting violence among other offences. The sentences were denounced by the international community and the government has now promised them a retrial with full re-evaluation of the evidence in a civil court. The remaining sixty are not going to get re-trials.
The paramedics and doctors treat the victims of government suppression and some spoke to the international press, which led to government troops raiding the hospital, taking away injured and dead protesters, and intimidating staff. They have continued to block protesters’ access to the hospital since February this year when the alleged offences took place.