The results of the lengthy, and no doubt costly, Leveson inquiry
into press standards in the UK have been revealed today, November 29, 2012. PM Cameron and his depuity Nick Clegg had more than a sneak preview and were able to mull over the document late yesterday and early today. The news is that they could not agree on how to go forwards.At 1.30pm GMT today the Leveson report was made public.
It appears that his verdict is that rules and regulations must be tightened up. Leveson has called for the current
Press Complaints Commission to be scrapped. In its place he would like to see a new Independent body established and overseen by Ofcom. Ofcom is reportedly an
"Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries". it seems to make sense then that they are involved and would surely offer a compromise. It is important that we retain as free a press as possible but that individuals are protected.The Leveson inquiry heard evidence from many who had suffered at the hands of a poorly regulated press.
One was the Mother of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler. The mother was given false hope that her daughter was alive following some in the media accessing her cell phone.The wrongdoing by certain members of the press ranged from intruding on the privacy of celebrities to paying police for information. There are many heads that need to roll.David Cameron is all for maintaining the freedom of the press whilst his deputy Nick Clegg wants more regulation.
There is talk of incentives to persuade those in the reporting business to voluntarily accept any changes. Yesterday the Spectator bosses said that they would not abide by any attempts to limit the freedom of the press.The new body if it comes into force will have the power to levy £1ml fines against those found to have overstepped the mark.Such is the disagreement between Cameron and Clegg that they will both deliver individual responses to the report in the House today. So will Labour leader Ed Miliband. The hope is now that the problems will be resolved and a working compromise agreed.
The Hacked Off campaign group, in an initial statement,said, "These proposals are reasonable and proportionate and we call on all parties to get together to implement them as soon as possible. The press must be given a deadline, the inquiry is over, now is the time for action"OpinionYou could not watch people like the parents of missing Maddie McCann and Millie Dowler and not be affected. We need to be careful about a knee jerk response though even after all this time. Some bad apples must not be allowed to spoil the whole barrel. The Press is not as easy to define as it once was. There are online publications, both small like TEK and established such as The Times, there are social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook and then there are websites where people are paid to be citizen journalists. Some are run in the UK but most are not. How on earth can all of this be "policed"The UK Tories benefitted from a close rleationship with sections of the British media, some would say. That is probably true of all political parties at some time or another. That could be part of the reason why Cameron is reluctant to change things a great deal. The current system could be useful to some.
Just a few of the providers
UK Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg faced Breakfast TV cameras this morning to announce government proposals re our fuel bills.
The energy industry was privatised by a previous Conservative government which has left customers paying a variety of charges. Whilst it was applauded by some many had qualms. In some ways it has proved to be good for UK householders but not as competitive as had been hoped. After all there are still only so many energy providers and suppliers.
Since privatisation of UK energy it has proved quite a battle to get the best deal. Each supplier has a range of tariffs. You may find that the tariff you opted for last year, which was brilliant then, is now the pits. You can change your provider but for some vulnerable householders this is not as easy as it could be. Securing the best deal around often needs the use of a computer and the Internet in order to "shop around".
Mr Clegg was interviewed on UK Breakfast TV April 11, 2012, explaining proposals which should hep energy customers get the best value for their money. The latest government initiative will mean that energy providers have to issue an update once a year regarding the best value deal available to its customers. Vulnerable customers, such as those living on a limited invalidity income or the elderly will receive a statement twice a year.
In theory this sounds a brilliant idea and it will help many. It may however confuse some customers and it will not cost the companies involved nothing, will it? The statements will have to involve the use of hard copy which will be far from eco friendly or cost free.
Will this mean that any associated costs will be passed down to customers and the prices be less attractive?
Mr Clegg claimed customers could save around £100 a year. He said, "We have secured a landmark deal with the six big energy companies who cover 99% of customers, to give customers a guaranteed offer of the best tariff for them."Right now, seven out of 10 customers are on the wrong tariff for their needs, so are paying too much. "Yet people rarely switch, despite the fact some families could save up to £100 a year. "There are currently over 120 different tariffs, making it very difficult to know where to start. That is going to change. "As of this autumn, your supplier will have to contact you with the best tariff for your needs - and if you call them, they'll have to offer you the best deal too."
Nick Clegg is a good speaker and the way he explained the changes they did sound positive. Of course the interviewers ciould not wait to get to the thorny issues of internet freedom and snooping by the authorities. Clegg may be a good speaker, and perhaps a genuine man, but you could see he was prepared but not happy to discuss the subject.
Having previously denied any knowledge of the government internet snooping plans, yesterday's announcement by Tory PM David Cameron that Mr Clegg and members of his party were well aware of the changes, Nick is in a sticky position. It was not hard to see that he was uncomfortable but he bluffed it out. In the end Mr Clegg said that he and his party accepted that some changes may be necessary but they would not allow the implementation of Draconian measures.
Well Mr Clegg, we shall soon see if you can put your money where your mouth is, won't we?
Tags: Nick Clegg, UK energy, energy providers, Gas, Electric, annual energy statements, internet snooping
It was announced in the last week or so that the UK coalition government had plans to increase its online snooping on UK citizens.
Whilst a few Brits may have shrugged their shoulders and said "so what?" the majority were outraged.
The Tory part of the UK coalition had revealed that new internet snooping legislation proposals would be announced in the forthcoming Queen's speech. The Lib Dem part of the coalition was up in arms.Nick Clegg
, Deputy PM and leader of the Lib Dems was quick to denounce his political allies. He assured the public that there would be a period of consultation and no changes would simply be implemented. PM David Cameron has contradicted this today stating emphatically that Mr Clegg and leading Liberal Democrats were at the table when the plans to increase spying were discussed.
Who is lying is hard to say. Both leaders and parties do not currently have a good track record for telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Perhaps there is an element of truth in what both men have said. We of course will never know.
The May local elections are just around the corner and if the snooping announcement is to cause any political fall-out it will be the Lib Dems who are affected. This is because voters who took a chance on voting LD had hoped for much more from this political party. They had not from the Tories.
Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron, has however gone on record as saying that his party will "kill" any attempts by the government to implement the changes, unless they are watered down. That last point is of course significant. How will they be watered down? Will what they call "watered down" be what UK voters believe that to be?
Still we have to remain hopeful. The current proposals would enable the increased monitoring of emails and internet use in real time, and without recourse to a judge for a warrant. Mr Farron has said that he and his fellow party members will not back "authoritarian laws"Well that is good to hear. Most people accept in time there will be some changes but no-one wants an expansion of UK Big Brother.
Whether we can rely on Mr Farron or trust him though is another variable. In the meantime we can but hope, lobby our MPs, make your voice heard at the elections and sign the many petitions out there, including the one on this blog.At least one Tory MP opposes the proposals
Tags: Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Online snooping, UK online spying
The UK political alliance between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties has been under strain recently. At one time most people would have thought them too different to join forces. Politics can make for strange "bedfellows" though and these two parties for the sake of convenience have become bound as one in a ruling coalition government. Some may claim that they joined forces for the good of the country whilst others will insist that it was simply so that both could gain power.
Whatever the reason it has damaged the Liberal Democrats standing more than the Conservatives. The Lib Dems are often seen as having sold out to the highest bidder.
Last week we had a Tory Minster engineering a damaging fuel shortage and this week we have had another attacking our freedoms. Excessive description? No, not at all. The government had planned to announce an expansion of its online snooping so that all emails and Internet browsing could be viewed in real terms. If we are not careful they will soon want to open our mail before we do. Hard copy mail may be few and far between these days but we all expect to be the first person to open and read such a communication. This should also be the case for our emails.
He may have looked uncomfortable but yesterday, April 3, 2012, Nick Clegg came out in support of the online spying expansion. He tried to reassure citizens that ordinary people would not be affected at all. In truth he was unable to make such reassurances. This morning it has been announced that the online spying expansion has been put on hold. The general public's outcry had taken the government by surprise. Whilst they may maintain that changes will follow they have shelved it for a year. This however is proving hard to confirm. Please make sure you continue to pressure your political representative and sign online petitions available.
Perhaps Mr Clegg, Mr Cameron and members of the Coalition should remember their stance when in opposition and beyond. The mailonline reminds us that, "Last year Mr Clegg also unveiled the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which pledged to put 'traditional British freedoms at the heart of the Whitehall agenda'. In Opposition, the Conservatives also pledged to cut down on intrusion into private lives. The party's manifesto said that 'wherever possible, personal data should be controlled by individual citizens'."
UK citizens have hardly had time to draw breath though and there is a further announcement regarding "secret trials". This time however Nick Clegg has spoken out publicly about this proposal. It could be due to the fact that May elections are almost here or simply that he has decided to show some bottle and stand up to the Tories.
Today SkyNews has carried a report on the latest furore, "Moves to create "secret justice" in Britain have suffered a blow after Nick Clegg warned the Prime Minister he could not support the current plans.The intervention by Mr Clegg came as an influential group of MPs and peers savaged proposals to hold more inquests and court cases behind closed doors.The plans are aimed at ensuring that sensitive evidence from the security services is not made public in open courts.Mr Clegg's objection was set out in a letter to the National Security Council - chaired by David Cameron - in which he warned that major changes were needed to the plans before they could get backing from Liberal Democrat colleagues.
In response UK PM David Cameron contradicted, "But David Cameron intervened in the row to say it was the "job of the Prime Minister to make sure we do everything that is necessary to keep the country safe". There are "significant gaps" in the UK's defences in terms of technological progress and in the courts that need to be addressed, he said. He added he believed it is possible to balance security requirements without harming civil liberties and it was up to him to make difficult decisions."OPINION:
OK so here is my opinion, for what is worth. This joke of a UK government came to power preaching openness. It has continued to attack people's freedoms. It has war mongered abroad. It has actively helped rebels in civil wars. It has cut police and army personnel numbers to the core. It has brought in an austerity package that has hit many people hard. It cares not one jot except for keeping hold on to power.
Part of the desire for change follows from the US. It seems they prefer behind closed door dealings and secrecy. They do not want to be involved in our trials if they are more open. In order to satisfy America Cameron wants us to follow the US yet again
Most people in the UK do no want, respect, or like the idea of so called American justice. We prefer to have our own legislated, well thought justice system. Right now the coalition seems to want to turn the UK into a Big Brother state. The point is will you let them?
It is time for Mr Clegg and his party members, and Ed Miliband and his party members, to stand up and be counted. The longer Clegg props up the Tory joke the less electable the Lib Dems will become.
Right now Cameron and his gang are scaremongering, talking up security issues and the like in order to make the Birtish people run scared. Do not let them.Full Story here
The UK Liberal Democrat Party held its brief Spring conference last weekend. As the Lib Dems currently share government with the Conservatives unsurprisingly there was some discord. Much of the Lib Dems unease surrounds the NHS reform bill.
Veteran Liberal Democrat Shirley Williams was brought out to try and persuade the rank and file to support the government Bill. According to Dame Shirley the Bill has undergone many changes since it was first announced. The Bill is now said to be beyond recognition. As such Dame Shirley was adamant that it was now a good thig and should be given Lib Dem support. The rank and file begged to differ.
In the end a compromise of sorts was reached."Delegates endorsed a motion backing the policy. But, defying Mr Clegg, they refused to order Lib Dem peers to vote for the changes in Parliament". Whether the Lib Dems are more concerned about the effects of the Health and Social Care Bill or what it could do to their political support is not clear. What is abundantly clear is that they are not happy with the Bill. In parliament and the Commons the Bill has been amended time and time again by the Lib Dems.
Once again Nick Clegg is in a tricky position. He had hoped that the Lib Dem delegates would now support the amended Bill and put and end to months of wrangling.
Nick's conference woes continued with his tax plans. A so called "tycoon tax" had seemed a viable alternative to the proposed Mansion Tax. When Nick unveiled his tycoon tax proposals to conference though he rattled Business Secretary Vince Cable. Mr Cable had been kept in the dark about this tax and it directly challenges his planned property taxes.
Next week the UK will hear the Chancellor's Spring Budget. It is not expected to include the Mansion Tax. With a front bench of parliament that is full of Millionaires it could look to the general public as if they are simply looking after each other. That is of course unless Chancellor Osborne has a fair well though out budget to announce.
The problem for Nick Clegg and the LIberal Democrats is that any Government negatives reflect badly on them. Right now it is hard to imagine that the Lib Dems could ever gain office again.
The UK is facing a government Spring budget in March 2012. Budgets can never please all of the people. If you are a one parent family what will suit you will hardly suit a multi millionaire business person. However budgets should be all about fairness. If we have to swallow some nasty medicine we should all join in. Asking the man, woman and child on the street to tighten their belt whilst those who can afford to continue to prosper is not good news. It is bad for families, those on low income. the unemployed, pensioners, the physically challenged, the country and more.
UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been pushing Chancellor George Osborne to alleviate the tax burden of the low paid. In the UK many workers have only secured part time jobs with a relatively small pay packet. These people though believe that it is better to work part time than to be unemployed.
Mr Clegg would like to raise the threshold before tax is paid to £10,000 a year. After this level of income is reached the basic tax rates would kick in. Osborne has said that he is considering the matter but will not be drawn on it. He is admant that he will not borrow more money to pay for it. This means that those who could receive a tax break in one hand will have it snacthed away by another.
As usual Osborne and his fellow Tories are full of lies and hypocrisy.
First it may be worth reiterating that, "The Lib Dems secured a coalition commitment from the Conservatives to increase the personal allowance to £10,000 before the end of this Parliament"
Time is moving on and if deals are to be honoured sooner or later this change will have to take place. Will it be yet one more broken Tory promise?
According to Sky news Osborne said, "I listen always - very seriously and carefully - to the Deputy Prime Minister and our coalition partners. We are a coalition and the Budget will be a coalition Budget. He knows, as I do, as the country knows, that any tax cut will have to be paid for. In other words, there would have to be a tax rise somewhere else or a spending reduction. What we are not going to do in this Budget is borrow more money to either increase spending or cut taxes."
Really Mr Osborne?
There are predictions that Mr Osborne will drop the 50p tax rate for the rich in the UK
. Revenues are lower than expected which has led to speculation that wealthy people's money is going elsewhere. It seems that Osborne will be happy to pander to his chums and ease their tax burden. Where will the money to fund this come from?
Traditional Tories are pushing George Osborne to reinstate the married couple's tax break. Although in the past this blogger has gained from that tax break the time to reinstate it is not now. It may never be the time to do so. Perhaps we should remember that it was a Conservative government that scrapped it in 2000.
There are many more pieces of the tax system that are unfair However, here is a way to fund the increase in personal allowances to £10,000.
- Currently the personal allowance is £7,475. It is due to rise to £8,105 for the years 2012,/2013. The cut off threshold for receiving that tax break is an income of a £100,000 a year. This could be reduced to those earning £90,000 for example. Any such change would barely hit the pockets of those higher earners but would alleviate a great deal of UK poverty. This would fund the £10,000 allowance.
- For 2012/ 2013 the 40p higher tax rate kicks in at £34,371-£150,000. Changing that to between £40,000 and £120,000 would be self funding and leave some money to spare.
- For 2012/2013 the 50p rate kicks in at over £150,000. That should be maintained as it is.
OK obviously there is more to it than that. I did not enjoy a public school education with all its trimmings but I do know common sense.
Part of the problem for George Osborne is having the will to help those who need help. The old saying that where there is a will there is a way is so very true. The problem is that Mr Osborne wants to "look after his own". You may see that as old fashioned rhetoric, however for George Osborne it is a way of life.
In 2012 Great Britain will push its spending out to the limit with the Olympics and The Royal Jubilee. Those will be fiunded come Hell or high water. Then again according to The Guardian Osborne h
as more money that he had planned for and can afford a budget giveaway!
Perhaps a friend should have made UK Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne aware of that famous old saying, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. You might claim that it is sexist is some ways but time and time again it has been proved to be true. This time though the revenge looks to have backfired somewhat on the lady in question.
Huhne was a leading light in the Liberal Democrat Party. He had stood for election as party leader on more than one occasion and many people felt he would eventually take over from current Party leader Nick Clegg. Any such plans and political ambitions have now been put on long term hold.
Today, February 3, 2012, Chris Huhne was told that he was facing prosecution and he has quickly resigned from the Coalition Government. His crime? The alleged offence dates back almost ten years. An acrimonious divorce from his wife, economist Vicky Pryce, directly led to this case. In an apparent fit of anger she claimed that Chris had asked someone to take his penalty speeding points, on his behalf. This would leave Huhne with an unblemished driving licence. In the end it seemed that it was now former wife Vicky who Huhne asked.For a while now the allegations have been under investigation and as the news, that he and former wife Vicky were to face criminal charges, was announced, he has resigned. The last laugh for him will be that she too is facing court action.Many enemies of the now former energy and climate change secretary may join in the laughter.Over the years Mr Hune has been happy to rise above the crowd as far as his political ambitions went. He was renowned for pushing all in his path unceremoniously out the way. He is a self made millionaire who some may claim is ruthless. For these people today will be a little poetic justice.Although Huhne has resigned from Cabinet Office he remains an MP. He has vowed to keep working hard to represent his constituency. Nick Clegg has already said that he will welcome him back into the political fold as soon as the case is over. That is assuming that he is proved innocent.
Huhne and his former wife are charged with perverting the course of justice.More here - Chris Huhne
Nick Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK and leader of the country's Liberal Democrat Party. He came to office due to the coalition between the UK Conservative party and the Lib Dems. He could have chosen to dig in his heels at the last UK election and refuse to sell the Lib Dems out. Instead the two parties decided that being unusual political bedfellows was their best option at the time. The problem for Nick Clegg and his political party is that the coalition has benefited the Tories more than the Lib Dems. In recent days the media has reported that L
abour and its leader Ed Miliband are not catching up the Tories in opinion polls. It is a good job that an election is not on the cards then.
Currently the Tories are enjoying an increase in their support but the Lib Dems have fallen way back in popularity. In a way they have made themselves appear to be insignificant with no clear policies, by tying themselves in with the UK Tories.At the last UK election Clegg was called by many the "kingmaker" His popularity was on a high and he had performed well in the UK's new televised political debates.
The Lib Dems did not poll as high a percentage of the vote as they had hoped and in the end chose to partner the Tories. Mr Clegg's standing since then has plummeted.Today, January 26, 2012, it has been reported that Mr Clegg has been talking about the plight of many who struggle to keep their heads above water, as far as finances go.
Too many people have endured salary cuts or pay freezes, plus in real terms their wages have lost a great deal of value. Nick has said that the government needs to bring forward its planned tax changes. In 2015 tax thresholds are set to change but Mr Clegg wants that to happen now.In
a speech at the Resolution Foundation Clegg said that he, "wanted the government to go "further and faster" in raising the personal tax
allowance to £10,000. The government is committed to raising it to £10,000 by 2015, and it was assumed it would do it in stages over the next three years". If inflation continues on the same path those changes in 2012 will be pointless.
Tory ministers have tended to view Clegg's words, to suit themselves. They seem to believe that he was happy with their proposed changes over the next few years but simply wanted cost of living increases brought forward.Either way Nick Clegg is damned. If the Tories
agree to his proposals many will feel that it was a set up. A ploy designed to give Clegg's falling popularity a boost. If the Tories ignore his appeal it will seem that he has no clout and is just a puppet of the Tories. All in all the Tories seem determined to ensure that Mr Clegg does not claim ownership of any positive changes. Nick will not be flavour of the month with the Tories though after proposing Mansion House taxes and more. A great deal of what he said makes sense and would mean a fairer system. Obviously the Tories will not want this. Read his speech at the Guardian blog here
UK economic slump: We are all in this together. Pull the other one
This is the first of at least three stories today regarding inequalities in the UK. These are not inequalities brought about due to one person's skill as opposed to another person's. Rather it is a stark reminder that as much as David Cameron may want to state "we are all in this together", that is a long way from the truth.
Today figures have been published regarding 2011 pay increases. They make for shocking reading. That is they would if you had believed the Coalition government's lies
Many people in the UK have had only a small pay increase this year and others have had none at all. With inflation past the 5% mark the figures are worrying but of course if you are a corporate fat cat it is a different story.The Director's of companies in the UK top 100 FTSE were blasted last night as
"elite greedy pigs. Yes a fair assesment that would see. Whilst they have been happy and encouraging of meagre pay rises for the UK population they have grabbed what they could.Awarding themselves pay rises of 49% must have stunk, even to such greedy people.Percentages are always rather a con anyways. After all 2% of very little is still very little, wheras 2% of an inflated wage is still a huge amount of money.The statistics for the UK read:
UK Pay day: Top earning chief executives
- Public Sector workers in many cases had no pay rise.
- Private Sector workers averaged around a 2.6%
- The current, UK minimum wage hourly rate is, £6.08 - for workers aged 21 and over, £4.98 - the 18-20 rate, £3.68 - the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18, £2.60 - the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.
- Britain's top company directors now take home average earnings of almost £2.7m a year
- In 2011 the average bonus payments for directors increased by 23% from £737,000 in 2010 to £906,000.
- UK FTSE chief executives pay rose by 43% in the last financial year, to an average of £3.8m, while finance directors enjoyed a 34% increase taking their average earnings over the £2m mark
- Mick Davis (Xstrata) £18,426,105
- Bart Becht (Reckitt Benkiser) £17,879,000
- Michael Spencer (ICAP) £13,419,619
- Sir Terry Leahy(Tesco) £12,038,303
- Tom Albanese (Rio Tinto) £11,623,162
- Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP Group) £8,949,985
- Todd Kozel (Gulf Keystone Petroleum) £8,913,223
- Don Robert (Experian) £8,601,984
- Edward Bonham Carter (Jupiter Fund Management) £8,003,641
- Dame Marjorie Scardino (Pearson) £8,003,641
After these figures were released David Cameron mildly admonished the rogues whilst Nick Clgg spoke more strongly.Labour Leader Ed Miliband said,
"I think its wrong because what we see is rewards not based on performance, not a something for something culture but a something for nothing culture. We've seen the stock market flat over the last year or so, so not more wealth being created and yet top pay going up by 50%. This is what we have to change about our economy so that we make sure what people get out is related to what they get in."OPINION: The Coalition is always quick to condemn those on welfare as "takers"
but today's figures are appalling. They speak for themselves. No matter what rubbish words such executives use to justify these pay rises it will all be nonsense.The global Occupy Protest Movement is derided by many, especially people of this ilk. However, these fat pigs are the 1% who they are protesting against. It seems that the 99% can have their incomes cut till there is no leeway left as long as Corporate Fat Cats continue to prosper.