This week in politics
|October 14, 2011||Posted by Tom Wooldridge under this week in politics|
Liam Fox, the defence secretary, has had a tough week this week after the Guardian released information about his relationship with Adam Werrity. It began with the business card Werrity had been handing out which claimed he was Fox’s adviser; the Guardian followed this story up with information that Werrity had run a health consultancy and worked with a private health company while Liam Fox was Shadow Health Secretary. When Fox became Shadow Foreign Secretary in 2005 and subsequently Shadow Defence Secretary, Werrity set up the Atlantic Bridge Charity (ABC) based in Fox’s parliamentary office until the last election. The financial information ABC recorded with the Charity Commission had some anomalies considering the lifestyle that Werrity was living, and was shut down last year by the Commission as it wasn’t working towards or fulfilling any of its charitable aims.
Questions have also been raised about Werrity accompanying Fox on foreign trips after Fox initially claimed he hadn’t been on any. Government records suggested he had in fact been on 18 trips and the MoD is also “99%” sure that the taxpayer hadn’t paid for his travel or accommodation. This week has mostly been a story of Fox denying any wrongdoing, which was subsequently reversed by an apology when the media found out the truth. His fate now rests with Ursula Brenan, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence; Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary; and their report on Friday 21st October which will judge whether Fox has broken the ministerial code. However, Fox is likely to stay as he is in the right wing of the Conservative Party – this is a wing that regularly criticises Cameron and sacking Fox would make problems for the PM.
Unemployment has reached a 17 year high with 2.57m people unemployed. 991,000 of them are 16-24 year olds. With students taken into account that leaves 721,000 not in education or employment, a worrying statistic considering the known effects of unemployment among young people. This means 8.1% of the population are now unemployed and an additional 17,000 people are claiming jobseekers allowance.
The Syrian Ambassador, Sami Khiyami, was called into the Foreign Office this week as allegations of Syrian embassy staff intimidating British protesters are being investigated by Scotland Yard. The Foreign Office has said it will expel diplomats if this continues.
The UN has announced that they believe as many as 3,000 people have been killed in the unrest in Syria. Beijing and Moscow, two previously staunch allies of the country’s establishment, have now called for President Bashar Al-Assad to adopt reforms “quickly”. This is a shift in their position and it might mean that more sanctions or even a resolution could be passed by the UN Security Council. Protests continued this week with the worst violence situated in the north-western town of Banash, as well as flaring in Daraa and Homs.
The Libyan conflict is almost over and the National Transition Council’s leader, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has announced that now Sirte is about to fall there will be a government in place in as little as four weeks, with elections in nine months. Sirte is said to be “eighty percent” captured by the rebels with the Gadaffi loyalists trapped in an area measuring 500m by 1km. There are reports that Mutassim Gadaffi has been captured trying to flee Sirte, but as has happened throughout the conflict this claim may not be true.