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  • Lammy says Christianity and class give him common ground with JD Vance

    UK foreign secretary says he has talked to Trump running mate as he seeks to build bridges with senior Republicans

    Lammy says Christianity and class give him common ground with JD Vance

    > Vance has previously described Britain under Labour as the first “truly Islamist” country with a nuclear weapon. > > Lammy told BBC Breakfast: “Let me just say on JD Vance that I’ve met him now on several occasions, we share a similar working class background with addiction issues in our family. We’ve written books on that. We’ve talked about that. > > “And we’re both Christians so I think I can find common ground with JD Vance.” > […] > Expanding on his views on Vance on BBC Radio 4, Lammy said he had started to discuss the US view on global defence at the security conference in Munich in February. > > “Yes, he has had strong things to say about European defences, and he has had a point of view about Ukraine,” Lammy said. “That’s why I’ve been engaged with JD Vance for many, many months.” > > The foreign secretary once called Donald Trump a “neo-Nazi sociopath” and “a tyrant in a toupee”, but has distanced himself from those comments as the US presidential election has approached. > > More recently Lammy has spoken at conservative events in the US, telling the Hudson Institute in May that he “gets the agenda that drives ‘America first’”.

  • The Bonfire of Structures

    Labour's plans to deregulate planning processes will further open up Britain to the property developers who have already caused so much damage to the country — and do little to help those at the sharp end of the housing crisis.

    The Bonfire of Structures

    > […] Following Labour’s victory, the share prices of the major housebuilders rose, and the new Chancellor bragged about meetings with asset managers like BlackRock who were just waiting to invest in UK housing. > > This enthusiasm from major real estate investors is for Labour’s housing and planning policies. Last week, Bloomberg described Labour’s proposals as a ‘revolution in planning’, while Rachel Reeves called planning ‘the single greatest obstacle to our economic success’. Planning, an area of the state which had received little attention from Labour or the Left, is now the central and defining area for reform in the incoming government’s programme. For Labour, planning reform is the key to unlocking growth, drawing upon a set of supply-side planning and housing policies developed by organisations that now tend to self-refer as part of a ‘YIMBY [Yes In My Backyard] movement’. Unfortunately, their proposals draw more from right-wing think tanks, astroturf campaigns and asset managers than they do the demands of workers, tenants and the labour movement. > […] > The YIMBY view, which several leading UK politicians apparently endorse, is not simply that more homes need to be built, which is a fairly banal view. The YIMBY position, long held by right-wing think tanks, advocates for liberalising planning regulations to address the (largely imagined) problem of the NIMBY [Not In My Backyard], thereby stimulating mass private sector housebuilding and alleviating the housing crisis by reducing sale and rental prices. > > There are three problems with their basic proposition. First, it is by no means clear that even a large-scale private house-building programme, such as building over 300,000 houses a year, would significantly decrease prices. The best that high rates of building could do is help slow the rate of price increases. However, since the early 2000s, the average house price to average income ratio has doubled its historical norm, rising from 4:1 to around 9:1. Based on recent annual average wage growth, it would take around 25 years of zero price growth to return back to something like affordability. Private housebuilding, which with a fair wind usually settles at around 170,000 a year, could easily be bolstered with a social housing programme that would reduce the rents paid by those currently in private rental housing more directly and more swiftly whilst hitting the 300,000 a year target. The impacts would be felt within years, not decades, as well as reducing the substantial housing benefit bill (a staggering £23.4 billion in 2022) > > Second, it is also not clear that the various proposals to reform planning, ranging from zoning systems to Labour’s vague promise to ‘bulldoze’ regulations, would even lead to such a housing boom. Private housebuilders build at rates that ensure their profitability — it’s not in their interests to ramp up house-building rates beyond a certain point without some form of state subsidy. While it is true that planning is a source of delay and uncertainty for development, this is because it has been decimated as a public service through austerity and various policy ‘streamlining’ exercises. A strong public planning system linked with an actual industrial strategy can help us find a way through the pressures and trade-offs inherent in land-use decisions rather than creating folk devils out of groups of pensioners with a WordPress site. > > Third, the YIMBY proposition is one that elides the problem of what constitutes demand for land and housing. The affordability problem began in the early 2000s, as demand for land and housing in major cities was increasingly driven by those with significantly higher spending power than individual households. Institutional investors, buy-to-let landlords, and a variety of international investors seeking ‘safe havens’ all bought up huge amounts of property in major cities. Added to this, the reduced capacity of local authorities to lead housing development and provide social housing has meant that demand for land is increasingly driven by those who have greater access to credit and can outcompete households, increasing rents and sale prices. > […] > Rejecting YIMBYism does not mean rejecting housebuilding. What we want to see is houses as homes, not new opportunities for upward wealth redistribution. Indeed, the reason the YIMBY ‘movement’ exists is to divert focus from the real, egalitarian solutions for the housing crisis the Left has put back on the table in recent years, such as rent controls, major social housing programmes, and reversing austerity — solutions which require a shift in power against the rentiers that dominate the UK economy and a government with the courage to take that on.

  • Keir Starmer appoints two influential leftwing critics as government advisers

    Both had warned against ditching £28bn green spending pledge and urged scrapping of two-child benefit cap

    Keir Starmer appoints two influential leftwing critics as government advisers
  • Green Party's Suffolk MP calls for pause on East Anglia pylons plan

    Adrian Ramsay wants Labour to consider other options for a 114-mile pylon route across three counties.

    Green Party's Suffolk MP calls for pause on East Anglia pylons plan
  • I call on Keir Starmer to suspend arms sales to Israel and end Britain’s complicity in the killing | Zarah Sultana

    International law is clear: we have an obligation to prevent genocide. That is why I have tabled an amendment to the king’s speech, says Labour MP Zarah Sultana

    I call on Keir Starmer to suspend arms sales to Israel and end Britain’s complicity in the killing | Zarah Sultana
  • Cleaners at £24,000-a-year private school have pay cut by 12% after strike vote

  • BBC opening of parliament. Tories still seem able to lie and distort.

    Was watching the kings' speech on BBC. While the interviewed members of the 3 leading parties.

    Amazing that the Tory member can make claims with no challenge. Specifically.

    >We will ensure labour stick to their promise not to raise taxes. (paraphrased)

    They have claimed this throughout the election. Without labour or the media questioning it.

    The actual promise. >Labour will not increase income tax, national insurance or VAT. (cut and paste from

    This is not a promise to not raise taxes. It is about very specific taxes that generally affect the poorest more. Corp taxes capital gains etc are still free. But It seems intentional that Tories choose to ignore that.

    Also, intentional that labour do not choose to publicly disagree.

    > Some claim about the nationalisation of rail costing a fortune.

    While he included GB energy and others that do have some cost. He very openly attacked rail as the main cost.

    This really needs challenging. Since privatisation, the government has spent way more inflation adjusted running the pseudo privatised gift to the shareholders. Then national rail ever cost. Nothing has improved since rail was privatised. (honestly safety has but due to modern standards not privatisation).

    Nothing labour has promised is a cost sink. Yes, as company contracts end, the gov will need to take over running costs. But as we are already funding huge chunks of that cost now. The argument that nationalisation of rail is expensive is crap.

    The more honest analysis is the Labour Party has little in the way of plans to fund needed improvements.


    As much as I hate to admit, it's not going to happen.

    The only reason to have the BBC is so that capital interests do not take over all UK media. And it really seems like the BBC no longer has that mantel.

    Yes, the Tories worked hard to do this over the last 14 years, and the number of folks deciding the licence is no longer worth it. While hard to blame them, def has not helped.

    But I can't help but wonder how we replace it. In 2024 how do we go about creating some form of a real news and current affairs channel that is free from commercial interests. Free from bias is going to be harder. Free from perceived bias impossible. Most consider the truth to have bias if it disagrees with their objective view.

  • Jobcentre revamp to focus on career advice rather than policing benefits

    Full text archive link:

    Some further thoughts from the FT politics newsletter:

    > Labour has an ambitious target to increase the UK’s employment rate to 80 per cent — for context, the OECD average is 70 per cent, and the UK is currently at 75 per cent. If it could achieve this, the UK would be part of a small group of countries: Iceland, the Netherlands and Switzerland are the only OECD countries with employment rates above 80 per cent > > However, while the UK’s employment rate looks good next to its peers, it is also the only G7 country that has an employment rate lower than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic. So while it is an ambitious target, a) it is not an impossible one and b) the UK could almost certainly get closer to 80 per cent than it is now. > > One lever that Labour wants to pull to turn that around is to reform what jobcentres do — Delphine Strauss’s story is here — getting them to focus more on providing career advice than policing the benefits system. > > When government departments and agencies work well, they are obsessed with improving performance. When they are working badly, they are obsessed with improving performance indicators. When this happens in education it leads to grade inflation, because it is always in the interest of the government of the day to be able to point to better grades. (Some more thoughts on that here.) > > Jobcentres have essentially always been the part of the government that is most geared towards producing improved performance indicators rather than improved performance. While it matters a great deal to the UK’s economic performance whether someone who comes into contact with a jobcentre leaves with a better job than the one they had lost or with a new qualification, in political debates all that really matters is whether or not you can say that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit has fallen. > > One way Labour is trying to change that is, for the first time since the Thatcher government, by having two different ministers in charge of employment (Alison McGovern) and social security (Stephen Timms, who having been a very effective select committee chair and a former minister in the last Labour government, is perhaps the most Keir Starmer-y appointment it is possible to make) at the DWP. > > But it’s a big, big, big cultural change the party is looking to bring about in jobcentres, and doing so is a big part of how it is going to try and meet what is its most ambitious target when it comes to social policy.

  • Former Foreign Minister Cleared of Antisemitism Claims After Calling Out Israel Lobbying Former Foreign Minister Cleared of Antisemitism Claims After Calling Out Israel Lobbying | Novara Media

    Sir Alan Duncan has been formally exonerated by the party following claims that his criticism of two directors of the Conservative Friends of Israel - only one of whom is Jewish - constituted antisemitism. Simon Childs reports.

    Former Foreign Minister Cleared of Antisemitism Claims After Calling Out Israel Lobbying | Novara Media
  • Anti-monarchy Labour MP has to retake oath after omitting part of it as protest

    Clive Lewis would have been at risk of a byelection if he did not pledge allegiance to ‘heirs and successors’ of the king

    Anti-monarchy Labour MP has to retake oath after omitting part of it as protest
  • Mandatory housing targets at core of economy-focused king’s speech

    Planning reforms and transport policies included in package of more than 35 bills as Labour prioritises growth

    Mandatory housing targets at core of economy-focused king’s speech
  • Gething resigns as first minister of Wales

  • Southern Water pays chief £183,000 bonus after proposing 73% rise in customer bills


    > Southern Water had asked regulator Ofwat to approve a 73 per cent rise in household bills over the five years to 2030 before inflation, but in proposals published last week, the regulator put forward a 44 per cent rise for Southern. It believes the company can deliver services to its 4.2mn customers in south-east England at “less cost than it requested”. > > It also told the company to rewrite its “inadequate” business plan, saying it did not meet “minimum” standards. > > In its annual report last week, Southern revealed it had awarded chief executive, Lawrence Gosden, a £183,000 bonus for the year to March 31, increasing his total pay for the year to £764,000. Stuart Ledger, chief financial officer, was given a £128,000 bonus, taking his total pay to £610,000. None of the executives were paid bonuses in the previous year. > […] > According to the Consumer Council for Water, Ofwat’s proposed increase for Southern would raise average household bills from about £451 per household per year to £722 by 2030, after annual inflation of 2 per cent is included. The regulator will make a final ruling on how much the water companies can put up their prices by the end of the year. > > Southern swung from a £202mn profit to a £210.9mn loss in the year to the end of March 2024, as a result of higher energy, labour and financing costs. It is liable for a £54mn fine if it fails to resubmit an improved business plan by Christmas. It is also on Ofwat’s financial health watch list, along with Thames Water and South East Water.

  • Voters of all parties back Labour’s plans to boost workers’ rights, poll shows

    Policies popular even among Tory and Reform voters as unions say pledges must be honoured in king’s speech

    Voters of all parties back Labour’s plans to boost workers’ rights, poll shows

    > Labour’s plans for boosting workers’ rights are backed by voters across the political spectrum, including a majority of Conservative and Reform supporters, new polling commissioned by the TUC shows. > >As the new government prepares to set out its programme in the king’s speech on Wednesday, the TUC is urging ministers to press ahead with implementing their manifesto pledges on workers’ rights in full. > > In a poll of 3,000 voters carried out by Opinium on the day after the general election this month, almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) supported giving workers’ protection against unfair dismissal from day one of a job. > >That included an overwhelming majority of Labour voters (81%), along with 55% of Conservative voters and 57% of those who backed Reform. > >Similarly, more than two-thirds of those polled (67%) supported banning zero-hours contracts, which included 67% of Conservative voters and 72% of Reform voters. > >Other aspects of Labour’s new deal for working people, including a ban on fire and rehire, also commanded majority support in the poll, including among voters who did not back Labour on 4 July.

  • Comment piece: I went to see how the Tories are handling defeat – and found Faragism and a total lack of reflection | Polly Toynbee I went to see how the Tories are handling defeat – and found Faragism and a total lack of reflection | Polly Toynbee

    Even after election wipeout, the Conservatives are too blinded by ideology to see their voters don’t want a Reform merger, says Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee

    I went to see how the Tories are handling defeat – and found Faragism and a total lack of reflection | Polly Toynbee
  • Angela Rayner dismisses ‘Islamist’ Labour comment by new Trump running mate Angela Rayner dismisses ‘Islamist’ Labour comment by new Trump running mate – politics live

    JD Vance said the UK was the first ‘Islamist country’ to get a nuclear weapon after Labour won power

    Angela Rayner dismisses ‘Islamist’ Labour comment by new Trump running mate – politics live
  • Conservatives take donation from firm linked to convicted tycoon

    Westminster Development Services Ltd, part-owned by Prakash Hinduja, gave the Conservatives £50,000.

    Conservatives take donation from firm linked to convicted tycoon

    I hope articles like this about the Tories keep up throughout labours time in power so people don't forget on the next GE.

  • This is upsetting to see. I've got a friend with MS and I hope she is not prevented from claiming assistance if (or when) she needs it due to this case causing more stringent checks on claimants.

    At least this lady got the jail.

  • Where’s the cash for child hunger? Labour is running out of time to find it | Frances Ryan

    Pressure is mounting over the two-child benefit cap, and the king’s speech will bring matters to a head, says Guardian columnist Frances Ryan

    Where’s the cash for child hunger? Labour is running out of time to find it | Frances Ryan

    > As honeymoon periods go, Keir Starmer’s has been mostly chocolates and flowers. Over the first 10 days in office, the new prime minister has been gifted a jump in personal poll ratings, a Nato summit, and the rare national optimism that comes with England making it to a Euros final. > > On Wednesday, though, watch out for the first marital row. As the government sets out its inaugural king’s speech, a Labour backbencher, Kim Johnson, will throw the leadership a test: an amendment calling for the two-child benefit limit to be scrapped. > > The policy was a conspicuous absence in the party’s election manifesto, and pressure is mounting on Starmer to repeal the 2017 cut, as figures last week showed a record 1.6 million children have now been hit by the policy, with a staggering 93% of affected parents less able to afford food. > […] > That the chancellor, Rachel Reeves, will reportedly use Wednesday to enshrine her “fiscal rules” on borrowing into law – a plan that is widely seen as at best, arbitrary and at worst, nonsensical – will only deepen the cracks. The message to restless backbenchers is loud and clear: there is no room in the king’s speech to commit to feeding hungry children – but plenty for rules that’ll make it harder to raise the cash to do it. > > In many ways, Labour’s stubbornness over the two-child limit shows the stranglehold “fiscal responsibility” has over future policy. At this point, the doctrine is less a helpful bit of discipline and more reminiscent of a cult, a dead-eyed chant that increasingly blinkers the leadership from common sense. Under this hyper self-restraint, even a highly cost-effective move that would quickly lift hundreds of thousands of children above the breadline is dismissed. What’s left is a shallow senselessness: a “child poverty” strategy that refuses to scrap a key driver of child poverty. > […] > From bankrupt councils to NHS waiting lists and overcrowded prisons, Labour is effectively in a state of cognitive dissonance: it acknowledges the scale of the crises that the party has inherited from the Conservatives and is positioning itself as the fixer, but falls short of committing to spend the money needed to do it. Starmer’s recent pledge to give Ukraine £3bn a year “for as long as it takes” shows there is money available if the government chooses to find it. Not all spending is treated equally: to some, using resources to boost health or the benefits bill is wasteful, while funding defence is prudent. > > In lieu of injections of cash, Labour is focusing on “reform” as a means for renewal: from rights for workers to the deregulation of housebuilding and an emphasis on preventive healthcare. That’s fine. But in politics, much like in life, there really are some problems that can only be solved by writing a cheque. > > The electorate, tired of a country where nothing seems to work any more, appear to understand this more than those they’ve elected. The latest Ipsos poll shows that of people who voted for Labour this month, more than three-quarters expect the government to spend more on public services, as well as improve living standards for people on low incomes. > > The quirk of Starmer’s majority is that he has at once a strong mandate and no real mandate at all. A manifesto designed to be as unthreatening and vague as possible was effectively a Rorschach test: voters saw what they wanted to see. The many non-voters, meanwhile, saw nothing at all. As prime minister, Starmer – managerial, efficient and nonideological to the point of pride – is a political blank canvas, a mood board for the public to project their varied expectations on. That hope is in limited supply and cynicism high does not mean there is not a deep desire out there for change. Few people voted for more food banks. > > In the coming months, when the public grow impatient and the honeymoon period starts to wane, Starmer will have to make his peace with taxing the super-rich, borrowing or both. The alternative is a rudderless society, perpetually stuck in the ashes of Conservative decline, and a Labour party losing ever more alienated voters to the Greens, independents or Reform. Winning power is one thing, knowing what to do with it once you have it is quite another.

  • Wes Streeting defends puberty blocker ban decision after Labour criticism

    Health secretary says ‘safety of children must come first’ after MPs reacted to move to retain Tory policy

    Wes Streeting defends puberty blocker ban decision after Labour criticism

    > The health secretary cited the Cass review into gender identity services as saying there was currently not enough evidence about the impact on young people of using puberty-suppressing hormones, which are occasionally used for children with gender dysphoria. > >But Labour MPs including Stella Creasy said that while the review published earlier this year by the paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass recommended caution, this did not mean a complete ban. > >In a lengthy thread on X on Sunday, Streeting said he was backing an emergency ban on their use, imposed by his Conservative predecessor, Victoria Atkins, which is being challenged in the high court. > >News of Streeting’s decision prompted a reaction from some Labour MPs over the weekend, with Creasy saying the Cass review “recommended caution, not exclusion” on puberty blockers for children. > >She wrote on X: “To those asking, will always be MP who listens to demand for better research & evidence base for help for those with gender dysphoria, not abandons them.” > >Zarah Sultana, another backbencher, tweeted: “Labour’s manifesto promised to ‘remove indignities for trans people who deserve recognition & acceptance’. That entails ending the Tories’ ban on puberty blockers. Young people – cis & trans – must have access to healthcare they need. I’ll always stand with the trans community.” > >Nadia Whittome said: “Only a small number of young people are prescribed puberty blockers. Those who are often describe them as lifesaving. I know the distress the puberty blockers ban is causing them. No matter what happens in court, I will continue fighting for the government to scrap it.” > > ... > > Following his posts on social media, LGBT+ Labour published a letter to Streeting, signed by the organisation’s national trans officer, Dylan Naylor, and Willow Parker, the trans officer for the political party’s student wing. > >They wrote: “In line with the review’s recommendations, steps must be taken to cut waiting lists for trans youth, address long-term staffing issues, move towards a decentralised, equitable system for accessing care (including through the provision of regional centres), provide comprehensive training for NHS staff on how best to support and work sensitively with trans and questioning young people, and better address the current toxicity of public debate which is actively harmful to young people.” > >The authors called on the health secretary to “urgently set out the timeline, scope and nature” of a clinical trial and added: “We hope that, under this new Labour government, progress can be made to reset the public discussion on trans rights, centring on the humanity of, and compassion for, each individual trans person.”

    Previously: Streeting's Xitter statements are discussed here, this is more about the reaction to them.

  • Nuclear war never closer, CND campaigners warn as they camp outside RAF Lakenheath

  • Diego Garcia detainees in bureaucratic limbo

    Lawyers for some of around 60 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers stranded on the British-held island of Diego Garcia have appealed to the UK's new Foreign Minister David Lammy to intervene after the US blocked them from visiting the island... Read moreDiego Garcia detainees in bureaucratic limbo

    Diego Garcia detainees in bureaucratic limbo
  • Election abuse of candidates may have been coordinated Election abuse of candidates may have been coordinated - adviser

    Yvette Cooper has been urged to set up a short inquiry to investigate the ‘dark underbelly’ of abuse.

    Election abuse of candidates may have been coordinated - adviser

    >The government’s adviser on political violence has written to the home secretary asking to investigate the intimidation of candidates during the general election. > >Lord Walney is suggesting there could have been a "concerted campaign by extremists". > >He is urging Yvette Cooper and Security Minister Dan Jarvis to commission a short inquiry to find out if groups in different constituencies were working together and to document what he calls the "dark underbelly" of abuse. > > In the letter, seen by the BBC, Lord Walney said evidence from the last couple of months points to a "concerted campaign by extremists to create a hostile atmosphere for MPs within their constituencies to compel them to cave into political demands". > >He writes the "conduct of the election campaign in many communities has underlined the gravity of the threat to our democracy" from the abuse and intimidation of politicians, local and national. > >Lord Walney said: "I am increasingly concerned about the scale of intimidation against candidates in the general election. > >"I believe there is now a need for a focused piece of work on the scale and drivers of this intimidation so that it cannot continue to mar our democratic processes and put candidates at risk." > > ... > > His concerns follow comments from the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who told the BBC: "if there is something that keeps me awake at night, it is the safety of MPs". > > ... > > Sir Lindsay said he had "never seen anything as bad" as the current level of intimidation.

  • UK government adviser warns assassination attempts becoming more likely

    Exclusive: John Woodcock, who has written to home secretary about election violence, says Trump shooting highlights danger

    UK government adviser warns assassination attempts becoming more likely

    > The UK government’s adviser on political violence said the growth of a “toxic, dangerous environment” in public life increased the risk of there being an assassination attempt on a British politician, as he called on the home secretary to launch an investigation into the intimidation of candidates in the election. > >John Woodcock wrote to Yvette Cooper on Friday expressing his concern that a series of incidents in the election campaign could have been a “concerted campaign by extremists” that “underlined the gravity of the threat to our democracy”. > >In an interview with the Guardian on Sunday, Woodcock, who has the title Lord Walney, said the apparent attempted murder of Donald Trump was “a vivid reminder of the vulnerability of all politicians”. > >He added: “We have seen the growth in the UK of US-style politics of aggressive confrontation and intimidation which is unfortunately, exactly the toxic environment that could lead to another assassination attempt on a UK politician, of which we have already tragically seen a number in recent years.” > >Many political candidates and their staff suffered threats and intimidation in the run-up to the election. Several of those targeted were female Labour candidates standing in seats where there was a strong opposition to the party’s stance on the war in Gaza. > >Woodcock said he believed intimidation was increasingly being used as “a core electoral strategy to try to either get candidates defeated or bully candidates into submission”. He added that there was a particular pattern of abuse “created by aggressive pro-Palestine activists”. > > ... > > Woodcock, who was a Labour MP before becoming a cross-bench peer, was appointed by Boris Johnson’s government as an independent adviser on political violence and disruption. The findings of his review on the issue were published 24 hours before the election was called. > >Titled Protecting Our Democracy from Coercion, his report was condemned by protest groups, including Greenpeace and Just Stop Oil. They said its proposals, which included a review of undercover surveillance of activists and making protest organisers pay towards policing, would “weaken democracy”.

    See also: Election abuse of candidates may have been coordinated

  • Sorry Lisa Nandy, but the culture wars aren't over

    Complacency now just means more fights in the future

    Sorry Lisa Nandy, but the culture wars aren't over

    > Have you heard? The war is over. Not the ones in Ukraine or Gaza, unfortunately. The figurative war. The conflict of ideas. The culture wars. > >At least that’s what Culture Secretary Lisa Nandy has said this week. “For too long, for too many people, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves as a nation has not reflected them, their communities or their lives,” she said in her first address to her department. > >“This is how polarisation, division and isolation thrives. In recent years we’ve found multiple ways to divide ourselves from one another. And lost that sense of a self-confident, outward-looking country which values its own people in every part of the UK. > > “Changing that is the mission of this department. The era of culture wars is over.” > > ... > > It’s a nice thought. And I suppose it’s not totally baseless in the sense that people’s patience for culture wars really is wearing thin. For the past couple of years, polls and surveys have pointed to a decline in people buying into the myth that the biggest threats to their lives and lifestyles are groups that those stoking these conflicts have labelled the “wokerati”. > >According to 2023 research from King’s College London and Ipsos Mori, six in 10 people now agree that “politicians invent or exaggerate culture wars as a political tactic” – that’s up from around four in 10 in 2020. > >Two months ago, polling organisation More In Common found that people across the political spectrum had far more interest in political campaigns that focused on local issues than those that used culture war tactics to win support. > >That we’re beginning to emerge from this era now is not simply a matter of people becoming bored of it all. It’s about the culture wars’ inability to divert attention from reality in perpetuity. > > ... > > Nandy may have declared the culture wars over, but we need to remember that as long as there are cultural and social power struggles in society, there will be attempts to apportion blame somewhere. > >So, if we want to ensure minority groups aren’t caught up in the fray, and that we stick to the task at hand of making society better and fairer, we can’t be complacent. We can’t pat ourselves on the back for no longer being susceptible to propaganda – that’s not going to prevent a future war by another name.

  • Streeting defends puberty blocker ban in Twitter thread

    Link. He's only posted this on Twitter for whatever reason, here's what he wrote:

    > Puberty Blockers. A 🧵 > > Children’s healthcare must always be led by evidence. > > Medicine given to children must always be proven safe and effective first. > > I know there’s lots of fear and anxiety. > > Let me explain why this decision was taken. > > Cass Review found there is not enough evidence about the long-term impact of puberty blockers for gender incongruence to know whether they are safe or not, nor which children might benefit from them. > > The evidence should have been established before they were ever prescribed. > > The NHS took the decision to stop the routine use of puberty blockers for gender incongruence/dysphoria in children. > > They are establishing a clinical trial with NIHR to ensure the effects of puberty blockers can be safely monitored and provide the evidence we need. > > The former Health Secretary issued an emergency order to extend the restriction on prescription to the private sector, which I am defending. > > Puberty blockers have been used to delay puberty in children and young people who start puberty much too early. > > Use in those cases has been extensively tested (a very different indication from use in gender dysphoria) and has met strict safety requirements. > > This is because the puberty blockers are suppressing hormone levels that are abnormally high for the age of the child. > > This is different to stopping the normal surge of hormones that occur in puberty. This affects children’s psychological and brain development. > > We don’t yet know the risks of stopping pubertal hormones at this critical life stage. > > That is the basis upon which I am making decisions. > > I am treading cautiously in this area because the safety of children must come first. > > Some of the public statements being made are highly irresponsible and could put vulnerable young people at risk. > > I know there’s lots of fear and anxiety. I am determined to improve the quality of, and access to, care for trans people. > > I hope this thread provides some context for the caution and care I am taking when it comes to this vulnerable group of young people. > > The decisions I am taking will always be based on evidence, rather than politics or political pressure.

  • Union warnings after Starmer says he won't grant above-inflation pay rises

  • Thousands of prisoners to be released early to ease overcrowding

    Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmood warns of a "total breakdown of law and order" unless action is taken.

    Thousands of prisoners to be released early to ease overcrowding
  • Revealed: America’s secret special forces flights to Israel from UK base on Cyprus

    The US military has been flying covert planes to Israel from RAF Akrotiri since the bombing of Gaza began, Declassified has discovered.

    Revealed: America’s secret special forces flights to Israel from UK base on Cyprus

    > The US Air Force has been sending unmarked planes from Britain’s base on Cyprus to Israel since it began bombing Gaza, it can be revealed. > > The planes are all C-295 and CN-235 aircraft, which are believed to be used by American special forces. > > Declassified has found 18 of these aircraft which have gone from the sprawling British air base on Cyprus, RAF Akrotiri, to Israel’s coastal city Tel Aviv since October 7. > > [RAF] Akrotiri is the key node in the international effort to arm and provide logistical support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. > > But the UK government has always refused to divulge any information about US activities at Akrotiri, which is known to include transporting weapons to Israel. > > Asked in May how many US Air Force (USAF) flights had taken off from the base since October 7, [then] defence minister Leo Docherty said: “The Ministry of Defence does not comment on the operations of our Allies.” > > But Declassified discovered the unmarked planes that flew from Akrotiri to Israel from November to June have a serial number showing they are operated by the USAF. Most of these journeys had the flight number GONZO62. > > Six more unmarked C-130 planes have gone from Akrotiri to Tel Aviv since the bombing of Gaza began, which are believed to be USAF, but it was not possible for Declassified to locate their operator. > […] > A spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence would only tell Declassified: “In response to the situation in Israel and Gaza, we are working with international partners to de-escalate the conflict, reinforce stability and support humanitarian efforts in the region. Any use of UK bases will be in line with these objectives.”

  • Starmer to host EU leaders’ summit delayed by Sunak

    Archive link for us on benefits.

  • Avoidable deaths have increased in the UK: the damning data political parties aren’t discussing

    While politicians fuss over waiting lists, not much is being said about the reason so many people are critically ill.

    Avoidable deaths have increased in the UK: the damning data political parties aren’t discussing
  • The Tories have lost. Now which voters should they chase?

    The Conservatives are debating their future - but the path back to victory is not straightforward.

    The Tories have lost. Now which voters should they chase?

    This gave me a big belly laugh:

    >Another Conservative said: “The answer is we need to find a way to appeal to voters we lost to all parties. I don’t know how you do that on policy, but Keir Starmer showed you can do it by looking competent and serious. But I don’t know if any of the candidates we have at the moment can do that.”

  • UK universities face growing struggle to recruit international students

    Applications for sponsored visas have plummeted since new restrictions brought in, raising financial fears

    UK universities face growing struggle to recruit international students
  • Labour's Wes Streeting 'to make trans puberty blocker ban permanent'

    Wes Streeting has reportedly indicated that the Labour government will make the Tories' emergency puberty blocker ban permament.

    Labour's Wes Streeting 'to make trans puberty blocker ban permanent'

    I think Wes might be right here but this is going to cause consternation amongst groups who were hoping that Labour might take a more liberal approach to LGBT issues than the tories.

  • Government announces first steps to reform water sector

    Environment Secretary Steve Reed has announced a series of initial steps towards ending the crisis in the water sector.

    Government announces first steps to reform water sector
  • US ‘pressuring UK to block ICC’s Netanyahu arrest warrant’

    Human rights barrister says US expects Labour government to continue UK challenge to proposed action against Israeli PM

    US ‘pressuring UK to block ICC’s Netanyahu arrest warrant’

    cross-posted from:

    > >Labour officials at the weekend told the Guardian that in opposition Labour had rejected the Conservative legal challenge to the ICC jurisdiction and its policy remained unchanged in government, but did not say if the claim was being withdrawn as a result.

  • Labour starts term with massive war boost

    Starmer shows his priorities – and they are those of the ‘forever war’ Establishment, not ordinary people The Starmer government has begun its term with a huge programme of spendi…

    Labour starts term with massive war boost
  • Keir Starmer gives go-ahead for British missiles to be used in strikes against targets inside Russia

    The decision over the use of Storm Shadow missiles, which has been welcomed by Ukraine, represents a hawkish shift in policy from the stance taken by the former Conservative government.

    Keir Starmer gives go-ahead for British missiles to be used in strikes against targets inside Russia

    > Sir Keir Starmer has told the Ukrainian president that British missiles can be used for defensive strikes against targets inside Russia. > >The announcement came as the new British prime minister met Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the NATO summit in Washington DC on Wednesday. > >The decision over the Storm Shadow missiles, which has been welcomed by Ukraine, represents a hawkish shift in policy from the stance taken by the former Conservative government. > > ... > > In a post on X after the meeting with Sir Keir, President Zelenskyy said: "This morning, I learned about the permission to use Storm Shadow miss­iles against military targets in Russian territory. > >"Today we had the opportunity to discuss the practical implementation of this decision. I'm grateful to the UK for its unwavering support for Ukraine and our people." > > However, reacting to the news, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said: "If this is so then, of course, this is another absolutely irresponsible step towards escalating tensions and seriously escalating the situation." > >Dimitry Peskov told Reuters: "We will be watching this very thoroughly and respond accordingly."

  • Wes Streeting announces independent probe into performance of NHS

    The Health Secretary said the investigation will be led by former health minister Lord Ara Darzi

    Wes Streeting announces independent probe into performance of NHS

    > The new health secretary said the service has been “wrecked” by the Conservatives and launched an independent investigation. > > He has appointed Lord Ara Darzi, a health minister in the last Labour government, to carry out the review and ordered officials to hand over whatever information is needed. > > Writing in The Sun, Mr Streeting said: “Honesty is the best policy, and this report will provide patients, staff and myself with a full and frank assessment of the state of the NHS, warts and all. > > “It’s going to take time to turn the NHS around - we were honest about that before the election. > > "Sticking plasters won’t be enough to heal it. It will require fundamental reform.” > It comes after Mr Streeting declared the NHS “broken” on his first day as Britain’s health secretary. > > He went on to declare the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is “no longer simply a public service department” but an “economic growth department”, because health and the economy are “inextricably linked” and improving the health of the nation can help to “drive the economic growth of the country”. > > “That is a major shift in mindset,” he said. “It’s a rethinking of the role of the department. > > “It also means ending the begging bowl culture, where the only interaction the Treasury has with DHSC is that we need more money for X, Y and Z. > > “The starting point has got to be, ‘We will help you achieve your mission for growth and improve the prosperity and lives of everyone in this country by making sure that we are with you lockstep in driving growth’.” > […] > Experts from the Nuffield Trust point out that Labour has inherited a waiting list for pre-planned hospital treatment of around 7.5 million in England – a 66% increase since the start of the pandemic. > > While progress has been made in some areas, such as cataract surgery, waits for some major surgeries have been slower to get back to pre-Covid levels, experts said.

  • Ed Miliband orders immediate ban on new drilling in North Sea

    cross-posted from:

    > > In an unusual move, the Energy Secretary – a committed opponent of oil and gas – has told regulators not to approve a new round of drilling that was slated for confirmation in the coming weeks. > > > >It means companies have potentially wasted millions on preparing their bids, with experts warning legal action is likely. > > > >The decision follows crisis meetings held this week between Miliband and his aides after questions were asked by journalists about outstanding drilling applications. > > > > Applications were submitted by 76 oil and gas companies as part of the 33rd offshore oil and gas licensing round initiated by the last government in autumn 2023. > > > >Bids for up to 35 areas of the North Sea were still awaiting a decision from the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) when the election was called. > > > > In a statement late on Wednesday, Miliband's spokesman said: “We will not issue new licences to explore new fields, and will not revoke existing oil and gas licences. We will manage existing fields for the entirety of their lifespan.”

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