IT IS UNCLEAR HOW lIAM fOX WILL RECOVER FROM HIS RESIGNATION. For a man who lost a job he loved, the blow will be immense. But this episode is also a lesson that perspective can be lost when in positions of great power. The debate over the relationship between lobbyists and politicians, and the role of advisers and influencers on ministers, will continue. Fox remains an intriguing politician, whatever the future holds for him. An out-and-out Thatcherite and Atlanticist, he has never been truly accepted by his party’s right wing as a champion in cabinet and potential leader. However, he can always be guaranteed to say something interesting. Amber Elliott’s interview on p44 digs out many intriguing details, ranging from admitting our operations in Libya may continue until December to his decision to attend churches of different denominations. He is a man worth reading about. We also sent Iain Dale in to see Patrick McLoughlin, the chief whip. Read the resulting interview on p38. He can come across as a cheery soul away from a crucial vote, but as an ex-miner and with over 15 years’ experience in the dark arts of whips’ offices, he is a unique Conservative MP and an expert operator in arm-twisting.
As well as these experienced members of the Commons, I interview Rachel Reeves on p34. Whenever someone is tipped for the top, you can usually make a judgement about whether it’s hot air or real potential. As I mention, Reeves has two great advantages to doing well. Firstly, she has a background in economics rather than politics. Within Labour that means she is not a tribalist, although handily enough she was an early supporter of Ed Miliband. She is also fiercely driven but without that naked ambition others possess, the kind that leaves people at parties wondering if they are being listened to properly. As shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, she will become a prominent feature of Labour’s attacks on a government yet to prove it can create growth in the economy. As ever in politics, distress for some opens opportunities for others.
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I f y o u w o ul dli k e y o u r l e t t e r p r i n t e d,
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T o t al P oliticsreservestheri g h t t o e ditl e t t e r s.
The right to vote I reside with my husband in Majorca and as a resident of Sa Pobla, my husband and I are eligible to vote in the local elections, but we are not permitted to vote during the general elections even though we own property and I work and pay the taxes.
I believe I’m right in thinking that anyone who is on the electoral register in the UK, whether they live in the UK or not, with the exception of certain circumstances, have the right to vote in all elections.
Surely it would be much fairer for people only to vote in the country they reside in. After all, it’s our money governments are spending and we should be entitled to have a say in who governs that particular country. J Shrimpton Sa Pobla, Majorca
Desperate times? In 2009 George Osborne said “printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed”. The Bank of England has now said it will inject a further £75bn into the economy through quantitative easing. Does this mean the government is now desperate? Cllr James Alexander Labour Leader of City of York Council Our green Revolution We welcome the commitment shown by both government and opposition to the green energy revolution. It is clear that in order to secure new sources of energy from renewable sources a coherent policy framework must be in place, and we are glad that both sides recognise this.
However, the scale of investment needed to deliver the government’s renewable energy targets will require that framework to be delivered quickly. With this in mind, we are concerned that elements of the government’s electricity market reform remain unclear, and the review of the existing support mechanism for green energy, the renewables obligation, has been delayed. Adam Bell Communications manager, RenewableUK Parents of the future Ryan Shorthouse is right to point out that a return to the golden age of family life is not a useful policy goal (TP, October). Firstly, because there never was a golden age where all couples stayed together and provided perfect parenting for their children. And secondly because most conceptions of the golden age cast women as stay at home carers and home-makers while their husbands went out to work. This flies in the face of modern reality. Fathers want to be more involved in childcare and mothers have reasonable hopes of equal participation in the workforce. Policies like shareable parental leave will be much more successful than ideas about marriage tax breaks.
Parenting skills are important but are not, as Ryan suggests, the guarantor of family life. Relationship skills are even more important in this regard. Acquiring these skills helps couples stay together and also, as a secondary effect, improves their parenting. Helping people raise the quality of their relationships gives us a chance of building a golden age of family life in the future, even if we can’t find it in the past. Rob Williams Chief executive, The Fatherhood Institute Progressive parenting Ryan Shorthouse’s argument (TP, October) that the family unit is ‘thriving, stronger and as important as ever’, is wrong on all kinds of fronts, while missing the point on others. His claim that unmarried cohabitation was common in the 19th century and that high marriage rates in the recent post-war period are an exception is as tired a claim as it is empirically incorrect. Banal assertions that family cohesion has been strengthened by modern technology, or that 20-somethings who still live at home are somehow to be taken as evidence of deeper kinship simply ignores the raw data: children do overwhelmingly better in stable households with two parents. Crucially, the likelihood of two-parent households goes up dramatically if those parents are married. The British public instinctively recognises this: a recent YouGov poll showed that 83 per cent of the public say that family breakdown is a serious or very serious problem facing society. Three quarters said the same about fatherlessness, while two-thirds support recognising marriage in the tax system. Adopting a family position that recognises the evidence that the strongest families are supported by marriage is not a backward-looking gaze to a bygone era. Far from it. It is a progressive, 21st century policy position that reflects good evidence and the common sense of the British public. Dr Samantha Callan Early Years Commission chairman, Centre for Social Justice
Death to the death penalty Paul Nuttall MEP wants a debate on the death penalty at a time when most of the world has abandoned capital punishment (TP, October). Of those that cling on to it, China is by far the biggest user, followed by Iran. Countries like Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Yemen also carry out numerous executions each year. Do we really want to join this club?
There is a growing global consensus that the death penalty is cruel, unnecessary, is often arbitrarily applied, has no deterrence value, and runs an intolerable risk of executing the innocent. There are many important issues warranting a Commons debate. The death penalty is not one of them. Clare Bracey Death penalty campaign manager, Amnesty International UK Freedom of education The enormous interest in the free schools debate shows us that there is a genuine interest in education, raising standards and alternative ways of schooling. There is no doubt that Michael Gove’s policy is genuine in addressing these three areas.
Labour, on the other hand, seems keen on opposing the initiative for the sake of opposition. There is scaremongering about unsuitable buildings, unqualified teachers and that the whole thing is a gamble.
There’s nothing automatic about raising standards. At the West London Free School we set high standards of courtesy, duty, appearance and behaviour. This is achieved by the same means as the independent sector – by being enabled to create our own ethos unfettered by a ‘one size first all’ approach. Tom Packer Headmaster, West London Free School
The gut and its beneficial bacteria
A successful partnership defending the body against disease.
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