Category Archives: politics

Politics: Simple breakdown of UK Economic policy

The new coalition Government provides many opportunities, and some problems, for the financial services sector. The economic policy for both parties was top of the agenda throughout the election campaign, and now that the talks between David Cameron and Nick Clegg have achieved an agreement between the two parties – legitimised by an in-depth publication of the deal last week – the country can begin to benefit from the Government’s pledges.

With the public outcry over bankers bonuses, particularly for those who reported significant losses on the year, the Government has said it will reform the banking system in its entirety, introducing a levy on banking bonuses to avoid the level of bonuses seen in the past, as well as a proposal to split up the banks into investment and retail in order to reduce the risk of another financial crisis.

The idea to break up the banks is one which Vince Cable, the new Business Secretary, has long supported, and he said “The banks that have been rescued or underwritten by the taxpayer must be treated as the servants, not the masters, of the economy” (BBC).

Britain’s debt, another key concern for politicians, is set to be reduced by cutting costs rather than raising taxes, in an attempt to keep the electorate on side after over a decade of increasing Government spending, particularly in areas such as the NHS.

The Government has promised a full Spending Review this Autumn, while creating £6billion through cuts between now and 2011, as well as reducing spending on Child Tax Fund and tax credits for higher earners.

In an attempt to stabilise British business and encourage businessmen, particularly those in European Union, that Britain is a safe and attractive place to invest, the Government has pledged to simplify business taxes and create the “most competitive corporate tax regime in the G20 “. Also Regional Development Agencies will be replaced with Local Enterprise Partnerships, to leave more power in the hands of local businesses rather than the Government.

The biggest concert for the financial services sector is whether the coalition will make good on its promises, and if it will prove to be the decisive and effective Government the sector needs to fully recover from some of the hardest times in decades.

Initial reaction to the plans has been positive, with many considering the plans to be the best of each party’s manifestos, but the stock markets have not faired well in recent days as the FTSE fell for the fourth consecutive day this morning, amid news that the Bank of Spain was taking control of commercial bank, meaning the Euro debt crisis isn’t coming to an end as analysts had hoped.

The effectiveness of Britain’s own recovery efforts are still uncertain, despite George Osbourne detailing the £6billion in cuts this morning, and it will take some time before the business world, as well as the public, have faith in the economy.

James Michael Parry

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Barack Obama: It’s about life…It’s about change…It’s about Bono at ANOTHER concert…

As America seems to already be settling in to the idea of having a new man in charge of the keys of the White House, plans have been announced to hold a celebratory bash two days before the new President is sworn in on January 20.

The ever-patriotic Bono with the rest of U2 in tow are one of the many big names who have decided to play to usher in this time of change for the American people.

As impressive and feel-good as it may be to have a big party with a host of big stars, there’s no escaping that Obama’s time will be a difficult one, though he should be able to avoid pissing off the entire country so long as he doesn’t invade anywhere…at least not until his second term.

The gathering is said to focus on ‘unification’ and ‘history’, rather than a stream of self-indulgence like the Live 8 or Live Earth events that have taken place in recent years.

Stars have been asked to play songs which reflect the nature of the event, whatever that means, but it seems Obama is already being likened to Abraham Lincoln, the well-known American president who won the election through his vicious debates with opponent Stephen A Douglas about the slave trade. Interestingly, Lincoln was a Republican, not a Democrat like Obama, but already he’s being likened to this strong historical figure, hopefully this does not suggest the direction which his political career will take absolutely…since Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth and killed.

Judgement and criticism should be reserved for a few months time, when the US economy will surely either have rallied or sunk, since there can be no other option, but for now the reality TV nature of this new presidency and its overt celebrity star cannot go ignored.

Everyone knows that thing can change, but few seem to remember that change goes two ways.

Introduction and Britain’s water supply

So, ‘blogs’, they tell me.

I was under the impression they were just something to update people about the latest Big Brother gossip or rant about things they don’t like, like a glorified letters section of a broadsheet or, heaven forbid, electronic agony aunt stories.

In fact there’s a code of conduct, a list of ethics by which we should all abide. Many are obvious such as don’t copy people without asking or clearly distinguish opinion from fact, but others are more cryptic, such as ‘recognise common standards of decency’, which raises the question what the definition of all those words is in this complex modern world.

I suppose in order to fill the aforementioned criteria I should point out that they came from an information pack for my Journalism module, for which this blog was created.

We have been split into groups of our own choosing and must each tackle a topic from the following four: Sport, Entertainment, Health and Politics. Since my group members (who’s blogs you can find in the links list on the right) chose politics and entertainment, I chose health, since I have no strong interest in sport whatsoever.

So, without further ado I must endeavour to educate about health, but first what is health? It could mean the National Health Service, which has had numerous trials and tribulations over the last decade to do with improvement of services and efficiency, or perhaps it refers to the day to day health of people and the onslaught of healthy eating and living, or even how new diets and new packaging on products in our supermarkets drive us towards ‘the healthy option’ in a move by government watchdogs to attempt to combat obesity.

Today health ministers have said they back plans to add fluoride to drinking water, because it strengthens children’s teeth. Fluoride itself, commonly found in and advertised on toothpaste tubes across the country, is found in around 10% of the country’s water supply, but only a couple of areas, namely Hartlepool in the North West and parts of Essex, have high enough level to benefit dental health. (source: http://www.dentalhealth.org.uk/faqs/leafletdetail.php?LeafletID=17)

This is what has led to the idea of intruducing it into the water supply as: “effective and relatively easy way” to reduce tooth decay among children in poorer areas. (source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7224743.stm) Opponents to the idea claim there is risk of bone cancer from increased levels of the element, and it’s difficult to know how long-term exposure could effect children, since the 6 million people already benefiting from the increased levels in the North West are a minority of the total population, and many water companies are apprehensive to take the idea forward, despite MPs making the process easier in 2003.