What a wonderful 17 days of #Olympics2012 we all had in watching and reading all about it and not to mention the blunders the coalitions came up with only goes to show how weak the coalition has become. Oh before I forget the disgraceful comments from a Tory MP about the Olympic games on the opening night if he does not like the the fact that UK is a multi- culure society then he should not be fit to be a MP representing Constituency in words he is not fit for purpose about sums it up for him so I would urgue the citizens of Cannock Chase, in Staffordshire to join our Labour councillor George Adamson, leader of Cannock Chase Council, said: “Since the weekend I have had people coming up to me, including people who voted Conservative in 2010, asking when we are going to get rid of him.” Mr Burley has come under fire from a range of critics in his own party following his comments about the Olympic opening ceremony – including David Cameron, who came close to taking a four-letter swipe at the MP.
Speaking during a visit to the Olympic Park, the Conservative leader said: “What he said was completely wrong.
“I think an idiotic thing to say… I did once say something about people who use Twitter, particularly politicians, and I think in this case I was absolutely spot on.”
The MP faces a battle to hang on to his seat, which he won with a majority of just 3,185 in 2010, after Labour MPs and bloggers launched an internet-based fundraising campaign to depose him.
David Cameron previously sacked Mr Burley from his job as an aide to Transport Secretary Justine Greening after it emerged he hired a Nazi uniform for a stag do, in the skiing resort of Val Thorens last December, where the groom dressed as an SS officer.
But the Conservative Party is refusing to publish the findings of an internal party inquiry into the affair, saying it cannot comment until an inquiry by French police into the incident is completed
More runners, jumpers and throwers of working-class or peasant origins will move to centre stage. African nations will come to the fore.
Football and various forms of fighting aside, too many of the first week’s competitions have reflected the wide social disparities between and within the competing countries.
How many of the poorest African and Latin American nations, for example, have the capacity to churn out medal-winners in badminton, beach volleyball, the canoe slalom or equestrian dressage?
As of mid-day today, the whole African continent accounted for just four of the 285 medals won and they had gone to South Africa and Egypt.
Five Latin American countries had accumulated the grand total of 15, the same as Team GB alone, while India’s billion-plus population – almost a fifth of the world total – shared a solitary bronze.
Most of the competitions in which Team GB have excelled so far have hardly been those that enjoy wide access and participation here.
Indeed, many working-class people would not regard them as sports at all.
The narrow range of social backgrounds of our medallists have been painfully obvious as soon as many open their mouths to speak.
The real problem is that this social disparity is growing rather than diminishing.
Around 5,000 state schools sold off their playing fields in the decade before controls were introduced in 1999.
More recently, countless leisure centres and swimming pools have been cutting their opening hours, raising their charges or closing altogether and the trend will continue until the present austerity programme is halted.
At the same time, Britain’s public schools expand their sports and leisure facilities to entice the wealthy and the comfortable to buy their children a privileged education.
Without massive investment in sports and schools facilities, and the abolition of the grotesque private education system, Britain is heading for the scenario in which most sports competitors are upper or middle-class while their spectators, if they can afford the tickets, are mostly working class.
Croeso i’r ‘Steddfod
One of Britain’s biggest cultural festivals opens in Llandow today – the National Eisteddfod of Wales.
At least 160,000 people will enjoy a week of music, poetry, recitation, art, literature and sculpture provided free by thousands of performers.
Backed by public and private-sector sponsors, it will be run mostly by unpaid volunteers.
And here’s the extraordinary thing – all the platform performances will be conducted entirely in the Welsh language.
While there will be plenty of English heard on the field and in the beer tents, Cymraeg will predominate.
The thousands of young people who flock to this peripatetic event every year to enjoy the rock scene that launched Super Furry Animals, Cerys Matthews and Catatonia, Duffy and Gorky’s Zygotic Myncis will be doing everything that young people do, but through the medium of Welsh.
The festival will be a glorious celebration of the survival of an ancient language and its culture next door to the birthplace of English-language imperialism.
Lets begin with the Tory Mp refusing to acknowledging that UK is a multicultural country with a wealth of diversity and the classic of Boris Johnson being caught short by left dangling on a linezip.
Even worse the economy has gone from double dip to triple dip recession as most tourist stayed away to only watch it live on television most hotels had to cut their prices for the Olympics. In my opinion the coalition has gone into meltdown over a number of issues like Boundary Changes and House Of lords Reforms.
An otherwise peaceful and successful lawful picket near the Olympic Stadium turned sour today when a striking cleaner got a less than diplomatic earful from a volunteer “ambassador.”
The London Tube worker was with colleagues outside Stratford Station bringing their Games bonus fight to the streets in a 48-hour strike which had 500 out across London.
Up until then the official picket – demonstrations in the zone are banned during the Games – was peaceful as relaxed police and other officials stood well back.
RMT union reps had used megaphones to tell passers-by, mainly sports fans and tourists, about why they were on strike for 48 hours and they had got a lot of support.
Then a male ambassador, one of the army of volunteers supposed to be the “face of London,” apparently lost his temper and had an upfront rant at the female picket. He was seen to push her, according to eyewitnesses.
RMT regional organiser Steve Hedley said the man then talked to a British Rail policeman and walked away.
However, pickets got his name and where he works and intend to approach the Metropolitan Police.
The pickets, employed by private subcontractors through London Underground and Transport for London, walked out from 13 depots at 5.30am, mounting picket lines outside.
The Stratford incident happened at lunchtime.
It follows a solid 48-hour strike action at the start of the Olympics.
On the megaphone at Stratford was Clara Osagiede, who has been a cleaner since 1998 and is an RMT rep.
She said: “We are the only cleaners not getting an Olympic bonus.
“Everyone knows how difficult it is to clean the trains and we’re not even entitled to sick pay or free travel. We are being treated like slaves.
“They give us deadly chemicals to work with and when we fall sick they don’t want to take responsibility.”
The pickets said it was difficult to live on their wages of £6.09 an hour in London and said that many cleaners were forced to have two or more jobs to make ends meet.
Mr Hedley said other cleaners were getting around £100 a week bonus and RMT was aiming for the same.
He said the private firms had brought in “scab” agency workers, who he said had been intimidated into working by being told they would not get other work if they didn’t.
I’ve come to some conclusion that not all bad news is good news take the case of a furious war of words erupted after a Tory MP accused teachers taking industrial action of hampering provision of sport in schools.
Damian Hinds, who sits on the education select committee hit out at the NASUWT union calling it “utterly hypocritical” for blaming the government for a lack of sport in schools “at the same time as ordering their members not to help with activities outside of school hours.”
He declared: “Following the huge success of the Olympics, the last thing we want is to go back to a time when school sport was crippled by militant union leaders embarking on a damaging and irresponsible work to rule.
“If everyone in #TeamGB worked to rule like the NASUWT we would have fewer medals than Australia.”
But the union’s general secretary Chris Keates accused the government of “clutching at straws” and said that its action short of strike action had not affected sports provision at all.
She said: “Selectively quoting from the NASUWT action instructions is just clutching at straws in an attempt to divert attention from the fact that one of the first acts of this government was to slash the funding for the School Sport Trust networks.
“This was followed by the unilateral decision to include the English Baccalaureate subjects in school performance tables which, virtually overnight, drove schools to reduce staff and teaching time in non-EBacc subjects, including PE.
“Add to this the government’s increasingly elitist education policies, which are dismissive of subjects not considered ‘academic’ and the two years of deep cuts to school budgets and local authority services, including support for school sport, and it’s absolutely clear where the blame for any decline in provision for sport lies.”
She added that the NASUWT action had been “specifically designed to be pupil, parent and public friendly.
“The whole action is premised on standing up for standards, something the government is failing to do.
“The sport saboteurs are not unions, but ideologically driven government ministers who are vandalising our education service.”
Bankers creaming off the profits to maintain their lavish lifestyles and the poor get poorer while the rich gets richer yet the coalition has the cheek to say the so call #Bigsociety is working. Er it’s not working but it’s hurting to the many who has to work on the assumption of cheap labour and volunteering for nothing is more likely the answer to the Tories Big Society to hide behind the dreaded word of cuts.
What I really enjoyed from the opening ceremony was a classic of the NHS that summed it up for me. Many of us were born in the NHS and very few were not. Yet they have cheek to blame it on the Big society.
In actual fact I will go as far to say both #Labour and #Coalition has had a hand in this just look around hospital projects like PFI Foundation Trust to name a few and the list goes on.
I remember watching a Conservative Conference Debate on television when David Cameron said one word NHS and the funny thing about it I remember saying to fellow comrades at the time this will be the end of our NHS as we know it to be.
Profit-driven cuts to hospital jobs and services will be pushed through on a “dangerous scale” if Hinchingbrooke hospital becomes a template for privateers muscling in on the national health service, campaigners said today.
In February, Circle Group became the first private company to run an NHS district general hospital – Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
And gloating Circle boss Ali Parsa has said he would like to see more private companies take charge of NHS hospitals up and down the country.
He said: “The British economy is losing £170 billion a year. If a company came in and said: ‘I can save all that money for the British taxpayer and in return I want 10 per cent,’ I would do that deal as a taxpayer, any day. That’s the deal we did with the NHS.”
But health campaigners have pointed out that it was a rip-off private finance initiative (PFI) that got Hinchingbrooke into a financial mess in the first place.
Circle needs a surplus of £70 million over the next 10 years to make a profit at the hospital.
And Mr Parsa has already indicated that this would only happen if Hinchingbrooke wipes out £230m losses, which campaigners and unions say will come at the expense of jobs and services.
Chairman of campaign group Health Emergency Geoff Martin warned that Mr Parsa’s comments will now be used as wholly bogus grounds for the private takeover of other NHS hospitals up and down the country.
He said: “If selling NHS units as private franchises becomes normal practice we will see cuts to support services like cleaning and catering on a massive and dangerous scale as profit margins are fattened up.
“Promises made today will be broken tomorrow as we stand on the edge of a rerun of the NHS PFI disaster. This carve up must be stopped in its tracks.”
Health union Unison assistant general secretary Karen Jennings said the company’s arrival has led to a cut in cleaning and increased job insecurity for staff, which could be detrimental to patient care.
She said: “The hospital’s enormous PFI debt remains, and we’re already seeing the early steps toward job cuts, through voluntary severance schemes and reductions in vital cleaning staff.”
In 2004 the hospital faced tough questions over its cleanliness after two men, 17-year-old Alexander Ogden and Patrick Grey, 69, died.
During post-mortem examinations both were found to have been infected by the hospital super-bug MRSA, which contributed to their deaths.
The risk of MRSA infections are decreased if proper cleaning protocols are in place.
A spokeswoman for Hinchingbrooke hospital said that cuts to cleaning services have been made in non-clinical areas such as offices rather than wards.
Mr Cameron, asked during a visit to the Olympics whether Mr Osborne would be staying in his job, said: “George Osborne is doing an excellent job in very difficult circumstances and he has my full support in going on doing that job.”
Asked if Mr Osborne would be chancellor at the next election, which is due in 2015, Mr Cameron said: “He’s not going anywhere… yes.”
The PM was then asked about the future of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has also been under pressure after the News International takeover bid.
David Cameron said he was not going to take part in “reshuffle bingo” but said that the Olympics showed Mr Hunt and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had “self-evidently done a very good job”. What a joke well I can say is where is your plan B mate as it is not working and it’s hurt.
Can you image that people who wanted to purchase tickets to watch the Olympics and the cheek of John Lewis actually charging its customers a sum of £2:00 spokesperson for the retailer explained that two separate queues have been set up- one allows customers who want to shop in the London 2012 outlet to enter for free and the other is for those who want to pay to get a glimpse of the park.
In a statement, John Lewis said: “We have introduced a small charge to enter the viewing gallery at our Stratford shop – £2 for adults, under 16 years go free – as operationally we felt the need to separate those customers who wish to visit the London 2012 shop and those who wish to experience the view.
“This is something we’ve introduced from a need to manage the crowds.”
The retailer added that all the profits from spectators visiting the viewing gallery at the store will go to local charities.
The good causes being supported by the move are East Thames Potential, Cardboard Citizens and The Panathlon Challenge.
The news comes following criticism from would-be spectators about the inability to purchase tickets for Olympic events.
Mr Osborne was “not going anywhere” and would be in the role at the next election, Cameron has purported in most of the media.
His comments follow reports of unhappiness amongst some Tories at Mr Osborne combining the roles of party election strategist with chancellor.
A Lib Dem peer last month also called for Vince Cable to be chancellor.
Business Secretary Vince Cable reacted to that call by saying he would make a “good chancellor”, but added that he was not pushing for the job,
Now we have learnt that banks became “detached from society” and still need to reconnect with their customers, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has admitted.
Stephen Hester said the industry was “coming down to earth with a bump” following recent scandals.
He added that the UK could not afford “blasting it to smithereens” because of the vital role banks played.
However, he also said further problems at the banks may be discovered.
Mr Hester was speaking after RBS reported a half-year loss of £1.5bn.
The bank also confirmed on Friday that it would put aside £125m to pay compensation to customers affected by the recent breakdown in its computer systems.
Account holders at RBS and its NatWest and Ulster Bank subsidiaries faced disruption for up to two weeks in June after a software upgrade at the bank.
RBS has been caught up in three recent scandals affecting the banking sector.
Firstly, it is being investigated over the Libor interest rate-fixing scandal that saw fellow bank Barclays fined £290m in June.
RBS was “still being investigated” it did not yet know what fines or settlements it may face.
RBS has already sacked a number of staff connected to the matter.
Separately, RBS is having to pay compensation for two mis-selling scandals: mis-selling payment protection insurance, and mis-selling specialist insurance called interest rate swaps to small businesses.
Mr Hester said: “We can’t afford the luxury of giving up on the banking industry, of blasting it to smithereens, as much as that might be enjoyable, or get out our frustrations.
“This is an industry that the world needs, that the country needs, it needs it to oil, if you like, the economic wheels, and we need it because it employs in its own right millions of people, and pays huge amounts of taxes and so on.”
Regarding the possibility of banks discovering additional problems, he said: “of course there is still a risk that you turn over rocks and find new things [that you have to clean up]“.
Mr Hester added that while the banks had now largely fixed all their structural faults, they still had to return to putting customers first.
“It is very clear to me,” he said. “A successful business must be built off the back of serving customers well, and until we as an industry can say we are doing that, we won’t have finished the changes we need to make.”
Mr Hester was appointed RBS chief executive in 2008, with the job of turning it around after the government bailed it out with billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
The government currently owns an 82% stake in the bank.
Why am I not surprised by the latest report:
I don’t know if I feel sad or sorry for a Tory MP who recently admitted she took Class A drugs that ‘messed with her head’ has sensationally quit this morning.
Chick lit author Louise Mensch says she can no longer represent Corby in Northamptonshire because she cannot juggle her political and family lives.
Mrs Mensch, who had been touted as a future minister, will instead move to New York with her three children to live with her second husband Peter, who is manager of rock supergroup Metallica.
They secretly married in America last year.
‘I am completely devastated. It’s been unbelievably difficult to manage family life,’ she told the Northamptonshire Telegraph.
‘We have been trying to find a way forward with the Prime Minister’s office but I just can’t spend as much time with my children as I want to.’
Mrs Mensch will announce her resignation later this morning and a by-election will take place on November 15.
It is understood she was going to quit in 2015 but couldn’t carry on any longer.
She has three children, aged four, seven and eight, from her first marriage to property developer Anthony LoCicero.
‘I love Corby and East Northamptonshire but my family has to come first,’ she said.
‘When I took the post I was in a different position but sometimes life throws you a curve ball that you didn’t expect.
‘We are now going to be moving out to New York as a family.
‘Every family is different and another mother might feel she can manage things.
‘It’s been an honour to represent the people of Corby and East Northants and I will miss them.’
The backbencher shot to prominence as a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee which investigated the phone-hacking scandal.
And her resignation in a tight marginal seat will prove a major test for David Cameron’s Tories.
Mrs Mensch – then Louise Bagshawe before her marriage last year – won by only 1,951 votes in the 2010 general election. Labour had previously held the constituency since 1997.
Her resignation sparked rumors that Boris Johnson would be jettisoned in to fight for the vacant seat.
But the Mayor of London said this morning: ‘I’m sure Corby is a lovely town but I have a fantastic job running the best big city on the planet.’
In her resignation letter to the Prime Minister, the mother-of-three said: ‘As you know, I have been struggling for some time to find the best outcome for my family life, and have decided, in order to keep us together, to move to New York.
Mrs Mensch told Mr Cameron that letting her to work from her constituency on Thursdays and Fridays had allowed her to spend more time with her children.
‘Unfortunately, it has not proved to be enough. I am very sorry that, despite my best efforts, I have been unable to make the balancing act work for our family,’ she said.
The Prime Minister replied that he was aware it had been ‘a particularly difficult period for you and your family.
‘With that in mind, it is with enormous regret that I accept your resignation as the Member of Parliament for Corby and East Northamptonshire, a seat that had been Labour for 13 years before you,’ he said.
‘I do so only because I wish to support you in acting in the best interests of your family, which must come first.’
Mr Cameron said Mrs Mensch had been an ‘inspiring’ MP and hinted that she had been in line for a role in the Government.
‘It goes without saying that I had wished to see you serve for longer and at a more senior level,’ he said.
‘But you have made a tremendous contribution in the short period you have served in the House of Commons, and have much to be very proud of.’
The Tory MP managed to shock viewers of BBC’s Question Time with an emotional account of how doing Class A drugs in her youth had ‘messed with her head’.
Mrs Mensch, 41, refused to reveal what she had taken, as she said she did not want to ‘glorify’ the use of any particular drug.
‘It’s something that I regret incredibly in my youth, that I messed with my brain. I have said we all do stupid things when we are young. It’s had long-term mental health effects on me,’ she said.
‘It’s caused me to be more anxious than I need to be… I did serious drugs and it messed with my head and it’s a terrible thing.’
Mrs Mensch, whose novels are published under her maiden name Louise Bagshawe, had previously admitted she took drugs in her 20s, when she worked in the music industry.
Last year, when confronted over claims she had taken drugs with classical violinist Nigel Kennedy in a Birmingham nightclub several years ago, she said it was ‘highly probable’.
Mensch clashed with punk star Johnny Rotten – real name John Lydon – on the topic of the legalisation of drugs, appearing close to tears as she claimed her experiences had left her with ‘long-term mental health effects’.
In a funny twist of faith some Conservative faithful’s has hit out at Louise Mensch for her decision to stand down, with leading Tories questioning her commitment to her constituents.
The prominent Corby MP was met with widespread sympathy when she announced she was resigning as an MP to spend more time with family in New York, but a minority of commentators attacked her for not treating her parliamentary career with the seriousness it deserved.
“Forty-year-old Louise had claimed the high ground as champion of modern ‘have it all’ women. Now, apparently, it can’t be done,” former Tory health minister Edwina Currie wrote in the Daily Express.
“To hold down a demanding job in country A, it doesn’t help to have a spouse in country B (let alone a different continent). Nor is it a great plan to spend the summer writing novels.
“Surely that could have been put on hold? Being an MP matters.
“I feel let down and I bet the voters of Corby are furious.”
Currie was joined in her attack by Norman Tebbit, former Conservative chairman and still an influential voice in Tory circles.
“I cannot look into the heart of Mrs Mensch, but it appears that she has put her newly acquired husband above the constituents that her website still says she was ‘honoured to have been elected to represent’ only two years ago,” he wrote in the Telegraph.
“It is the apparently casual attitude of Mrs Mensch towards the obligations she had undertaken which concerns me: it is as if these days being a member of parliament is no more than a job.”
Mensch was a chick-lit author before entering parliament and started up a social media site while at Westminster – a project she is expected to continue once she moves to the US.
The attractive backbencher figure was popular online for her brand of Conservative feminism and independent views, but some suggested her decision to resign reveals the flippancy with which David Cameron’s A-list of 2010 candidates treat politics.
Ed Miliband has delivered “a message of hope” to voters in Corby at the launch of his party’s by-election campaign.
Mr Miliband said he wanted people to trust Labour again and promised to reach out to “everybody in Corby”.
Louise Mensch, who has held the seat since 2010, is stepping down and moving to New York with her family.
The by-election is expected to be held in November. Labour’s candidate will be Andy Sawford, the son of former Kettering MP Phil Sawford.
Mr Miliband said Labour had a “very tough fight” on its hands but said his party could make a difference to people’s lives.
“We can put our young people back to work by taxing bankers’ bonuses. We can take action to force the energy companies to give people a fairer deal. We can reform our banks so they better serve small business.
“And we can deliver an NHS focused on the needs of the patients even in tough times. So that’s who we are fighting for.”
He attacked the government’s record on youth unemployment, saying they were making young people’s lives worse.
“Young people who are desperate to work,” he said.
“Young people who want to make a contribution to our country and want to do better for themselves but can’t because Government is not letting it happen.”
‘Not all the same’
He said in the run-up to polling day Labour – who suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Respect’s George Galloway in Bradford West earlier this year – would try to visit every home in the constituency.
“Our opponents in this by-election are not just the Tories and Lib Dems but those who think that politics cannot make a difference.
“The last time there were council elections here in Corby less than half those eligible to vote did so. We all hear it on the doorsteps. People who say all politicians are the same. Who say that voting won’t make any difference.”
Mrs Mensch has been a prominent face among the 2010 intake of MPs, known for her activities on the culture, media and sport select committee and her Twitter presence.
She said she had decided to step down after finding it increasingly difficult to juggle family responsibilities with her political career.
Mrs Mensch married Peter Mensch, the US-based manager of rock band Metallica, last year and she is moving with her three children to be with him.
Mrs Mensch won Corby at the 2010 election with a 3.4% swing from Labour to unseat former health minister Phil Hope.
The by-election is expected to be held on 15 November, the same day as elections for police and crime commissioners are held across England and Wales.
I suspect that all the main three political parties conference will be in top gear over the Police Crime and Commissioner Elections and what more social policies that can be achieved if implemented and not heavily depend on big businesses to give us more of the same over the years it’s time for a Movement for Change to achieve our aims and objectives to bring about changes we all crave to see in our society. Always remember that one size does not fit all.
How pathtic can the Big society be now I undwerstand that Coalition leader is calling on volunteers around the country could join local sports club to train youngsters to become the elite athletes of the future.
Asked about the Daily Telegraph’s Keep The Flame Alive campaign, launched today in order to ensure that the enthusiasm and good-will brought about by the Games are maintained, Mr Cameron said that the success of Britain’s medal winners at London 2012 showed that the country was already on the right path.
Asked what more could be done to Keep The Flame Alive after the Games, he told BBC Radio Two: “One of the most impressive things I have seen at this Olympics is this army of volunteers, and volunteer spirit is something we also have to continue as we go ahead.
“It is about much more than just the Olympics, it is about the rest of the country, bottling the volunteering spirit. Take what we have got, the volunteering, the elite spirit, the way we support our Olympians, and take that forward. Starting at primary school, not just at secondary school, that is what it is all about.”
Mr Cameron praised his local village sports club in Oxfordshire, where he said his six-year-old son Elwen went for football training. “That is what we want for all our children,” he said.
The Prime Minister highlighted the contribution of Sir John Major, his predecessor as Conservative prime minister, who introduced the National Lottery which has funded elite sport since its introduction in 1994.
He said: “The National Lottery totally transformed the funding of sport, and that was John Major’s vision. It transformed the funding of sport and the arts and heritage.
“Nothing inspires people more than seeing a [Lord] Seb Coe, or Jessica Ennis or Chris Hoy winning. The investment has been really worthwhile.
“It doesn’t mean we’re all going to suddenly become Jessica Ennis, but it is the inspiration. Role models are incredibly important in life. It can change your attitude and make you think.”
Mr Cameron singled out Amir Khan, who won a silver medal at the Athens Games in 2004, as an example to young Muslim boys that they could feel part of the rest of the country.
And he said that his own personal inspiration was Mo Farah, the long distance runner who he watched win gold in the 10,000 metres on a thrilling day of athletics for British fans on Saturday night.
“He just kept pegging away,” Mr Cameron said. “That last lap, it was just unbelievably exciting.”
The Prime Minister praised the success of British athletes London 2012, getting in a dig at his French counterpart President Francois Hollande, who early on in the Games, when Team GB’s gold rush had yet to begin and the French were performing well, mockingly thanked London for “rolling out the red carpet” for his country’s competitors.
Mr Cameron said: “We have got a system that works. The whole country is holding hands and crossing the line together for a great Olympics.
“It is driving the French mad, they can’t bear it. They virtually accused us of cheating.”
Labour Tessa Jowell, the shadow Olympics minister, vowed that all of the country’s political parties would work together to ensure the legacy of the Games was one of sporting success.
She told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “One of the reasons the Olympics have been so successful in their planning and execution is that all the parties have worked together in the national interest, built a national consensus about how to deliver the Olympics.
“I think that sense of unity of purpose should be applied to delivering this legacy.”
I have to say the more I read The Third Man the more conviced where Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and Lord Mandelson gets their energy from and it’s no surprise when I was looking through some media I came across this Mr Blair also told a German newspaper that the UK’s exit from the EU could be sparked by too much power being transferred to Brussels.
David Cameron said in July that it was a “perfectly honourable position” to call for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU – something polls show a majority of British people would vote to reject – but has resisted pulling the country out of his own accord because of fears it would harm UK interests.
Mr Blair told Die Zeit it was clear that the ongoing eurozone debt crisis would lead to a “powerful political change of the EU”, adding: “And on this point, I am deeply worried that Britain could decide by referendum to leave the whole process.”
“If more competences are transferred to the EU, then its democratic legitimacy must be built up too,” he added. “Britain must play a strong role in this. Because we need a balance between European institutions and the nation states.
“If this is done wrongly, we could create a political crisis that could become just as a big as the euro crisis. People will not go along with the abolishment of the nation state.”
Mr Cameron has often attempted to take a hard line with Europe, most notably by vetoing a new fiscal treaty in December.
Sceptics say EU regulations hold back Britain’s £1.59 trillion economy and that leaving the 27-nation bloc would allow London to restore its sovereignty while saving billions of pounds in membership dues.
However, supporters of the UK’s participation in the EU argue that Britain would lose influence if it left the union, and that its economy would still be influenced by rules made in Brussels anyway.
Official stastics showed last month that Britain is exporting more goods to countries outside the European Union than to countries inside for the first time since the UK joined the Common Market in the 1970s.
Well here is more news on our double dip economy Britain slumped to its longest double-dip recession in more than 50 years today after shock figures revealed the economy shrank by a worse-than-expected 0.7% between April and June.
Gross domestic product (GDP) – a broad measure for the economy – fell for the third quarter in a row and by much more than the 0.2% expected by forecasters, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).The dire performance, which represented the biggest quarterly fall since the depths of the financial crisis in the first quarter of 2009, was hindered by an extra bank holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the wettest April to June period on record.
The figure is the ONS’s first estimate and may be revised in coming months, but it suggests the UK is mired in the longest double-dip recession since quarterly records began in 1955 and it is believed to be the longest since the Second World War.
It’s just been revealed that Google has paid only £6 million in UK tax on profits of nearly £395 million.  Google seems to have managed to pull off this huge tax dodge by using tricks like sheltering its profits in tax havens, such as Bermuda. 
Google has long prided itself on its reputation as a responsible corporate citizen.  But there’s nothing responsible about dodging tax at a time when the country is facing deep cuts.
Google’s boss has said in the past: “We could pay more tax but we would have to do so voluntarily”.  Google will only make this choice if they feel enough pressure from us – their users and customers – and understand the risk to their reputation from continuing to dodge tax. Showing them how we feel with huge petition is the first step.
Can you sign the petition demanding that Google pay their fair share of tax?
In the run-up to the Olympics, 38 Degrees members forced high profile sponsors like McDonald’s, Coke and VISA to commit to paying their fair share of taxon their Olympic profits. Our campaign worked because these huge companies were worried about bad PR. The same will be true of Google.
Once the petition’s grown to thousands of signatures we’ll organise a high profile petition delivery to their new UK headquarters. We’ll follow that up with the same kind of tactics on Facebook that were so effective in the Olympic tax-dodging campaign.If the petition is big enough, and attracts enough media attention, it could be the first step in forcing Google to reconsider its position on tax-dodging.
Can you tell Google it’s time to pay their fair share? Sign the petition here:
In a further twist four years after the global financial crisis, the British economy remains flat on its back, the Bank of England confirmed. The Bank also warned that George Osborne’s new scheme to kickstart lending to credit-starved households and businesses might end up boosting bank profits rather than helping the economy.
The Bank slashed its 2012 official growth forecast, saying the economy will experience zero growth over the year. As recently as May, the Bank had expected the UK economy, which is in the grip of a double-dip recession, to grow by 0.8 per cent.
It also downgraded its medium-term forecast, saying that the economy will be growing at 2 per cent in two years’ time, down from the 2.7 per cent it forecast in May. The British economy is not now expected by the Bank to recover the economic ground lost in the 2008-09 recession until 2014.
The new forecast brings the Bank into line with the consensus of City economists and leaves the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) – the Chancellor’s official forecaster –isolated. In March, the OBR estimated the economy would expand by 0.8 per cent in 2012, rising to 2 per cent in 2013 and 2.7 per cent in 2014. The OBR is widely expected to downgrade its own growth forecasts in November, which would prompt the watchdog to increase estimates of how much the Government will need to borrow. This would throw the Chancellor’s deficit reduction strategy off course once again and heap further pressure on Mr Osborne to adopt a fiscal “Plan B”.
“With growth forecasts slashed yet again, not just this year but in future years too, it is clear that we cannot go on with the same failing plan from this Government,” said Labour’s Rachel Reeves.
Mr Osborne described the state of the economy yesterday as “disappointing” but said that he would give “110 per cent attention and effort and energy” to getting it moving.
But in a further blow to the Chancellor, the Bank’s Inflation Report admitted that the £80bn “Funding for Lending” scheme, unveiled last month, could end up boosting banks’ profits rather than channelling credit to hard-pressed businesses.
The report said: “It is possible that some banks raising funding through the Scheme will take the opportunity to boost profits and capital rather than lowering lending rates.”
The Bank’s Governor, Sir Mervyn King, blamed the sharp downgrade in its growth forecasts on the eurozone crisis. The Bank also downgraded its inflation outlook, saying the 2 per cent target should be hit by the end of the year.
There were further signs of economic crisis on the Continent, where the French central bank predicted that the French economy will return to recession this year.
I can’t help continue to laurch my attacks on the coalition eight Conservative-led town halls are to join forces to campaign against cuts to council tax benefit.
Ministers face fury over moves to trim spending on the benefit by £500m – and to tell councils to decide where the axe should fall.
Councils across North Yorkshire – including the constituency of the Foreign Secretary, William Hague – have met to discuss ways of thwarting the change, the Independent can disclose.
They are to write to local MPs to “highlight the unfairness of transferring responsibility… to local areas when each area has different demographics”.
Pensioners are protected from having their benefit reduced, so authorities could be forced to levy council tax for the first time on the unemployed and low-paid.
Manchester is consulting on plans to charge all working age people a minimum 15 per cent of their council tax burden, while in Barnet the charge could be 25 per cent.
Hilary Benn MP, the Shadow Communities Secretary, said: “To see tax cuts for millionaires and tax increases for those on low incomes planned to come in on the very same day next April tells us everything we need to know about whose side the coalition is on.”
In a recent survey the Conservatives are to blamed for the division in the coalition, according to a new poll released shows YouGov survey comes days after Nick Clegg announced he would not support the constituency boundaries review as a punishment for lack of Tory commitment to House of Lords reform.
Forty-four per cent of people said the Liberal Democrats had kept to their side of the coalition bargain, against 32% who said they have not.
That compares to just 30% who said the Tories have stuck to their side of the bargain, while 51% disagreed.
Fifty-two per cent of respondents told YouGov the Tories gained more from the coalition, while just 23% believed the Liberal Democrats benefitted more.
David Cameron issued a robust rebuttal to Clegg yesterday, when he insisted the deal during the coalition talks exchanged the AV referendum, rather than Lords reform, for the boundaries review.
“There’s a fundamental disagreement here in that I profoundly believe that the link was between the AV referendum that we promised to deliver and the boundary changes,” the prime minister told LBC radio yesterday.
“Now Nick takes a different view, he’s entitled to do that.”
Clegg said: “The Conservative party is not honouring the agreement to Lords reform and as a result part of our contract has been broken.
“I cannot permit a situation where Tory rebels pick the part of the contract they like. Coalition works on mutual respect, it is a reciprocal arrangement.
“When, in due course, parliament votes on boundary changes for the 2015 election I will be instructing my party to oppose them.”
The development suggests the 91 Tory rebels may have made a mistake in opposing Lords reform, at least at a strategic level.
The rebellion killed off the prospect for a boundary review and lost the Conservatives at least 20 seats at the next election. They seem to be losing the battle of public opinion as well.
Forty-three per cent of respondents to the YouGov survey wanted the coalition to split immediately, with many of them favouring an immediate general election.
Sixty-six per cent backed an immediate election, against 22% who would be happy to see a minority Tory administration.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to chart the coalition’s deceptive attacks on education in Britain, and one scandal which went virtually undetected was a proposal allowing academies to use employ unqualified staff to teach our children.
There has been a notable absence of rightful outrage among parents and teachers alike because, like any good crooks, they are utilising a distraction (in this particular case the Olympics) to shamelessly smuggle through these plans with minimal discussion or negotiation.
The crucial liberty of our children to be taught by professionals is in peril by a dishonest ploy to reduce education standards in poor areas as an exercise to save money.
The 25-year-old became the first man to retain both the 100m and 200m Olympic titles – the so-called “double-double”.
He won the race in 19.32 seconds, ahead of fellow Jamaicans Yohan Blake and Warren Weir.
Bolt, who could win yet another gold in the 4x100m relay, said after the race: “I’m now a living legend, I’m also the greatest athlete to live.
“Now I am going to sit back, relax and think about what’s next.
“But I am not ready to retire. I love this sport. The rest of the season I am just going to have fun because I did what I came here to do.”
The one man who came close to winning the 200m at two successive Olympic Games was American Carl Lewis.
The former champion claimed gold in the event at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and finished second four years later in Seoul.
In the past Lewis, who has won nine Olympic golds in total, has been quoted as saying Jamaica’s doping controls were not as strong as other countries.
More recently, Lewis cast doubt on whether Bolt could achieve the double-double.
So when Bolt was asked at a post-race media conference if he would like to be compared to Lewis or late sprinting great Jesse Owens – the Jamaican lashed out at the American legend.
“I’m going to say something controversial right now. Carl Lewis, I have no respect for him,” Bolt said.
“The things he says about the track athletes is really downgrading for another athlete to say something like that. I think he’s just looking for attention, really, because nobody really talks much about him.
“That was really sad for me when I heard the other day what he was saying. It was upsetting. I’ve lost all respect for him. All respect.”
Asked which specific comments from Lewis made him angry, Bolt replied: “It was all about drugs. Talking about drugs.
“For me, an athlete out of the sport to be saying that. That was really upsetting for me. Really upsetting.
“To jump up and say something like that. As far as I’m concerned he’s looking for attention. That’s all.”
When are we going to begin defending future generations from the devastating impact of these measures through mass action this question was recently asked of me.
The question is there any appetite for a general strike I think most people do care about our education system but is enough to go on a large scale of strike the answer to this that it’s up to individuals to decide when it involves young families with children and could they afford to go on strike or is the word strike a bygone era. I for my sins have been on strikes some had achieved it’s objectives while some have fell by the wayside. I believe this country does not have the appetite as the arrival of the Thatcher years made sure of this by taking on the trade unions and tried her best to crush them to kingdom come.
But if you ask me will strikes last the course I would whole heartily say it will gain in the short term but not for the long term as many of us families to think of and how to provide for them.
I can’t help but to think that the Prime Minister is taking the P then talks about hosting a “hunger summit” at 10 Downing Street, with African leaders, other heads of state, charities and athletes including Somali-born British gold medal-winner Mo Farah to discuss ways to combat malnutrition in the developing world.
Ministers want progress on tackling hunger among children around the world to be as much of a legacy of London 2012 as the sporting inspiration the Games have provided.
Earlier this week, however, Mr Cameron was taken to task on a live radio show by a cancer sufferer who had been denied the drugs she needed for her condition, and who asked how he justified sending taxpayers’ money overseas when Britain was suffering from a double-dip recession.
He defended the policy again today, telling ITV1′s Daybreak: “I wanted to do this during the Olympic Games – we are all thinking about the next gold medal, but there are millions of children around the world who are thinking: ‘Am I going to get the next meal?’
“There are 170 million children who are malnourished. In some cases it results in death, but in a lot of cases it results in stunting, it means people don’t reach their full potential and have all sorts of restrictions and illnesses later on in life.
“I think most people recognise that when there are 170 million people around the world suffering from malnutrition, when there are millions of people living on less than a dollar a day, even at a tough time in Britain, we are right to meet our aid commitments.”
Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, added that both Britain and Brazil, which will host the 2016 Games in Rio, were keen to use the Olympics to have a lasting impact on tackling malnutrition.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme, he said: “It’s an important moment to galvanise public support for something Britain wants to be a real legacy of these Games, along with all our sporting aspirations for the future too.
“It’s a terrible thing that 170 million children go to bed starving every night in our world, one in three of the poorest children in the world, and it’s a chance for Britain together with the next hosts of the Olympics – the Brazilians – to put a real flag in the sand about the importance of tackling malnutrition in the future.
“We’ve made good progress in a number of areas. We’ve made good progress this year on family planning where British leadership will mean that up to half the woman who want contraception today but don’t have it will be able to get it, but not enough is being done to tackle malnutrition and this is a real chance for Britain and Brazil to say something about galvanising world support in this important area.”
Anti-Poverty charity War on Want shoved David Cameron into the spotlight over his incompetence to address the root causes of global food crisis. War on Want addressing Hunger Summit in London recently blamed world governments including the UK Coalition of record levels of global hunger on food system was being highjacked big corporations.
Which they named and shame Cargill the world’s largest grain trader which the company announced £85bn in consolidated revenues for the year 2012. The corporation announcement came on the same day as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reported a 18% rise in its cereal price index from Jun to Jul the charity proclaimed.
Rather than tackling such firms War on Want said that the UK coalition focused on food aid and nutritional intervention, which would amount tokenism rather than the root causes. It said that sustainable farming under the alternative framework of argoecology applying ecological principles to the production of food, fuel and fibre which has been supported by UN special rapporteur on the right to food Oliver De Schutter, would be far more effective.
UK coalition has continually oppose this approach, defending a global food system ‘which has condemned 1billion people to starvation and pressing for a greater role for the private sector,’ the charity claims.
Interestingly War on Want executive director John Hilary mentioned ‘the world needs a massive shake up of farming and food distribution if we are to end the global food crisis. Record numbers of people live in starvation as an everyday reality, yet the big food companies continue to profit from their control over the system.’
Meanwhile aid charities handed in petitions with 500,000 signatures to Downing St calling on the coalition to tackle the crisis in regions such as Sahel in West Africa. Save the Children and World Vision warned more than 1 million children in Sahel were at risk of severe malnutrition.
The main cause was a lack of protection against stock prices rise and called for greater investment to tackle food insecurity. Coalition International Development Secretary is more interested in securing a legacy over the Olympics 2012 let us not forget it was a Labour Government initiative that brought the games to the UK.
Andrew Mitchell MP informed BBC Radio4s Today programme it’s an important moment to galvanise public support for something that Britain wants to be a real legacy for the games, along with all our sporting aspirations for the future too. We think it’s a terrible thing that 170 million children go to bed starving every night in our world, one in three of the poorest children in the world. It’s a change for Britain,together with the next host of Olympics, the Brazilians to put a real flag in the sand about the importance of tackling malnutrition in the future.
In a interesting development Police and Crime Commissioner Role A Labour Candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner announced that he will be stepping down because of a criminal office he committed nearly 50 years ago, when he was just 14. Alan Charles, who has been a Derbyshire councillor for more 20 years and vicechairman of the regions police authority, said that rules that barred him from standing for the post because he received a conditional discharge for the “minor” crime.
I’ve been informed that rip off rents are set to continue to raise over coming years experts predict, as tenants struggle to make ends meet. Recently rent increases has soared by 5% over the last 12 months driven in part by high demand for rental properties, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. It is predicted that further rent increases will incur by another 4% on average across Britain over the next year. Which will mean tenants are being forced to rent more longer due to huge deposits that need to be saved before tenants can even consider buying. This demand will continue escalate and it has been outpacing the change in supply since the first half of 2009. While tenants are riding high what remains to be seen is whether many are willing to meet the increasing demands in rents by Landlords. However it is clear that we have witnessed rents steadily right across UK for sometime.
Those barriers to home ownership need to be addressed alongside the shortage of new stock coming to the market. In the Northwest rents increased by the biggest margins by 8% rise whereas surveyors in Wales reported that rents had remained at the same level over the 12 months. There is strong feelings that many people are choosing to rent because of uncertainty surrounding the housing markets.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders mentioned that buy to let lending has increased by nearly a fifth in the space of a year amid strong growth in the rental sector.
When the flames have gone out we’ll still face the long night of Tory austerity
For the past two weeks the nation has been engaged in something akin to a group hug over the undoubted success of the London Olympics.
#TeamGB have done better than expected and amassed enough medals to make Britain seem a nation of high achievers.
This has been reflected in the BBC’s blanket coverage of the event, which early on abandoned objectivity for jingoism to the point where on day eight of the Games – when #TeamGB won six golds – you could have been forgiven for expecting a squadron of Lancaster bombers to fly over the Olympic stadium to the theme from Dambusters.
The uplift the Games have given to the nation is undeniable, as has been the extent to which the likes of David Cameron, Boris Johnson and the government as a whole have sought to extract as much political capital from this event as they possibly can.
Cameron in particular would appear to have lost all sense of perspective as he sets about using the event as a launchpad for the promotion of competitive sport in schools, equating Britain’s future prosperity with sustained Olympics success. Running faster, throwing farther and jumping higher are the ingredients of a healthy society all of a sudden, one in which everything will be rosy and bright if we can just harness the competitive spirit and achievements of #TeamGB.
This of course chimes with the fulminating one-nation Tory “we’re all in this together” mantra, the very same the party been spouting since entering Number 10 two years ago to set about implementing the vast experiment in human despair it has the gall to describe as an economic policy.
In this regard workfare fits in with the philosophical bent of the Tories, for whom society is defined by the deserving rich at one end of the spectrum and the undeserving poor at the other.
In the midst of Olympic fever young people in Britain are being inculcated with the belief that they can be the next Jessica Ennis or Chris Hoy if only they dedicate themselves to the task.
The energy being expended by Cameron and co in spreading this message calls to mind Bertolt Brecht’s dictum: “Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.”
Given the increasingly vicious attacks on the poor and the unemployed in the country, Britain increasingly becomes a nation more in need of the next Rosa Luxemburg and Vladimir Lenin than either of the aforementioned Olympians.
As the saying goes, “they that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.”
One of Britain’s leading economists who is quitting our shores for the US put the boot into the Con-Dem coalition government today, blaming its austerity agenda for the nation’s crippling woes.
Adam Posen, outgoing member of the Bank of England’s key base rate-setting team, fingered Prime Minister David Cameron and co for the deepest double-dip recession for five decades, heading towards an unprecedented third.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times, which his press officer confirmed was accurate, the economist said the Bank of England could do more to help the country recover from the economic doldrums.
He has been a member of the central bank’s nine-member monetary policy committee for three years and at the end of this month he’s off to head the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
FT economics editor Chris Giles said Mr Posen reckoned the main reason growth has been hammered is that “austerity has had a larger impact than the Bank of England or government thought possible.”
He was careful not to say that George Osborne shouldn’t have tried to tackle Britain’s largest-ever peacetime deficit, but he thinks the central bank should have been more active in its response.
Mr Posen said the lack of growth over the last 18 months has been a “big disappointment.”
US-born Mr Posen reckons there should be more tools in the toolbox for dealing with the economy.
He said: “I have no question … what we’re doing with quantitative easing (QE) is preventing things from getting worse, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t have an additional or better instrument.”
In other words, measures such as QE – printing money – should not be used for just buying government bonds but should be used directly for boosting the economy.
When even fully paid-up members of the bosses’ club start telling George Osborne he’s got it wrong, then surely it must be time for the posh boys who run this shambles of a government to start taking notice.
“Whether we will see Adam Posen and his like on the October 20 anti-cuts demo still remains to be seen.”
The bank declined to comment today – but members of the committee are free to say what they wish on the understanding other members, including Sir Mervyn, do not need to react.
A Treasury spokesman said the government’s plans have “boosted confidence and created the space needed to support the economy through lower interest rates.”
There was no comment from Number 10 and Mr Posen was unavailable for interview.
Independent candidates say the polls will be unfairly weighted in favour of political rivals because information is not going to every voter.
A group of independent hopefuls is to hand a protest letter to No 10 later.
The Home Office said details about candidates would go online and be delivered to those who wanted them.
Information about candidates is posted to every household during parliamentary, mayoral and European elections in the UK, but this will not be the case in the police and crime commissioner elections.
The first elections for police and crime commissioners will take place in 41 regions on 15 November.
The commissioners will replace police authorities, with the power to determine budgets and hire and fire chief constables.
‘Perverse and undemocratic’
The government says elected commissioners will be more publicly accountable.
Ann Barnes, an independent candidate in Kent, said: “It’s quite perverse because we have the prime minister, the policing minister and the home secretary on record saying they want highly visible, strongly credible independent candidates to stand.
“And yet they will not give them the one thing… that will help them get their message out to voters. It’s perverse, it’s undemocratic and it’s really unjust.”
She said that without a state-funded mailshot those representing political parties had an unfair advantage because they had more money and resources to run their campaigns.
Mrs Barnes will hand in a letter of protest at Downing Street on behalf of a number of independent contenders.
The Home Office said information would be readily available but the Electoral Commission, which scrutinises the running of elections, warned earlier this year that seven million voters who do not use the internet could be denied information.
Policing Minister Nick Herbert said the £25-35m cost of the mailshot was not justifiable in the current climate.
Information about the website, which will be promoted on polling cards, will cost £100,000, while £2m has been budgeted for leaflets, which can be requested.
Mr Herbert said: “It’s wrong to believe success or failure for an independent candidate depends on one thing, whether they get a free election address.
“Surely there is the local media, surely there is the meetings they have to capture public attention, surely there is new media.”
The number of independent candidates is not yet known as formal nominations do not open until 8 October.
A nomination for a candidate will need to be signed by 100 people registered to vote in the police force area where the candidate is standing.
The candidate will also need to give a deposit of £5,000, which will be returned if they receive more than 5% of the votes cast.
Last week, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Transitional Board, which is overseeing the move from police authorities to commissioners, urged ministers to reconsider the rules so juvenile convictions could not be used to bar candidates from standing.
It was prompted by the withdrawal of a number of candidates because they committed “minor” criminal offences as juveniles.
There is strong anger over the coalition to allow private train companies to push fares should to cancellation. This. h be one of the policy which may or may not see the end of the coalition defeat at the General Elections 2015.
It’s still no surprise that commuters will have to payout nearly on a average of between 4.2 to 6.3% in train fares. Granted there may be some improvements on the rail but at what cost the answer is simple this coalition are reflecting to Thatch when she cut subsidies to train companies as part of the so called Big Society to help companies cream of our best services to increase their profits which our service users will pay for the privilege of using our train services in a nutshell is called a travel tax on the poorest in society to travel on trains. Well done coalition.
Commuters are aware that they are being bleed dry from rail companies which include myself who depends on the train services. It’s no wonder rail staff could see that this coalition would want to cut their pay and conditions then have to say that we are all in it together under the guise of the Big Society. Interestingly the coalition has acknowledged the McNulty Report which potential lead some to job loses to the total sum of nearly 20,000 is this management or mismanagement from the coalition or is it to please the right wing of the Tories of the coalition. It’s rumoured that political considerations has forced the coalition hands of minister in Westminster to forego the fuel duty increase that was due to be implemented by the end of this month.
Many could use the same argument deployed by the road lobby applied similarly to our railways by using the environment case. Some would argue that the coalition nationalise the railways back into public ownership which was once part of Labour constitution before it was changed. I would say to all those who want to see this happen I say to them that as we all live in a modern world things change and we have to move with the times to continue to modernise our services we all enjoy today or we all can remain in the past.
It is said that after decades of outperforming the continental economies, Britain seems set to become the “sick man of Europe”, languishing at the bottom of the European growth league table.
Official figures released by Eurostat revealed that the eurozone economies, comprising 16 of the EU’s 27 member states, are now officially out of recession, having grown by 0.4 per cent in the third quarter. The growth rate for the EU as a whole, dragged down by the UK and some east European states, was 0.2 per cent. Both are the first positive news on growth since spring last year, though they are somewhat below market expectations.
Of the five largest European economies, only Britain and Spain are still in recession, and even the stricken Spanish economy is performing marginally better than the UK. The US and Japan are also out of recession.
Meanwhile, the German economy has staged a remarkable comeback from the depths it suffered as world trade and her manufactured exports fell off a cliff earlier in the year. Now Europe’s largest economy is pulling the rest of the continent into an upswing, as exports revive and German industry begins to rebuild stocks and investment. Exceptional fiscal stimulus measures, such as a generous car scrappage scheme and job subsidies, seem also to have succeeded.
A spokesperson for Joaquí*Almunia, the European commissioner for economic affairs, said the figures were “broadly in line” with Commission forecasts and that the Commission expected growth to stay positive to 2011.
While growth in the UK’s major trading partners is good news, the danger now is that the Berlin government and the European Central Bank take the latest figures as justification for a withdrawal of monetary and fiscal stimulus measures before growth in laggard nations such as the UK has even begun. The G20 Communiqué agreed that such “exit strategies” should not be implemented before the global recovery had been “secured”.
With a 0.7 per cent rise in quarterly GDP, Germany is the major driver of European growth, contributing nearly half of the total GDP growth in the single currency zone in Q3. Italy saw a sharp reversal in fortunes for the better, with 0.6 per cent growth, and France, which suffered a mild recession by most standards, is up 0.3 per cent. Robust expansions were also registered in the Netherlands (0.4 per cent and Portugal (0.9 per cent).
By contrast, the downturns in Spain and Greece dragged on, with GDP falling in each by 0.3 per cent quarter on quarter. Spanish unemployment is especially severe, at almost one on five of the workforce. The collapse of the property boom has apparently poleaxed the nation’s economy, though her banking system is relatively healthy.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury spokesman, said: “There is now a real danger that the heart attack the British economy suffered has made us the sick man of Europe.
“The growth in the eurozone is due in good part to a successful fiscal stimulus. Had the UK concentrated on building up infrastructure and jobs rather than wasting money on the VAT cut, then we would be in a much stronger position.”
The shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, added: “Far from ‘leading the world out of recession’ as Gordon Brown has claimed, the evidence shows how his economic policies have failed.”
Nick Kounis, economist at Fortis Bank, said: “The message is that the recovery has begun, but the upswing will be a moderate and gradual affair as domestic demand will remain lacklustre. In such a scenario, the ECB does not need to rush towards the exit.”
The data shows a wide disparity in economic performance across the European Union. Hungary remains the worst performer in the Union, with output slumping by 1.8 per cent between June and September. But the neighbouring Czech Republic is the star performer among EU nations reporting figures so far – output is up 0.8 per cent last quarter.
Travel organisations and shopkeepers around London and many working in tourism outside the capital described the period of the Games as one of their worst and questioned how easy it would be for many small firms to recover.
They were angered yesterday when Mr Hunt denied there had been a fall in trade and went on to claim the Games had been good for the industry. Mr Hunt told The Independent: “It was quieter in the first week of the Olympics, but picked up a lot in the second week. West End businesses did well – theatre bookings up 25 per cent on a year ago according to Andrew Lloyd Webber, restaurant bookings up 20 per cent according to Visa.”
But Neil Wootton, managing director of the sightseeing specialist Premium Tours, said business was down by 42 per cent year on year: “It will take a long time to repair the shortfall of this summer. The knock-on implication has been felt by all attractions, venues, hotels and pubs we use – with some privately owned establishments calling us in panic-stricken attempts to drum up business. The biggest concern is how many smaller companies, which depend upon the key selling months of June, July and August, can survive the winter.”
JacTravel, a hotel wholesaler, reported that London bookings were down by more than one-third – in contrast with a 45 per cent rise in sales in key Continental cities. A spokesman said: “There was a clear displacement of tourists who would normally come to London, though UK domestic tourists began to appear after word got out that London was deserted and there were incredible bargains to be had.”
A West End art dealer with a high proportion of overseas customers, Rosslyn Glassman, said: “Turnover has been half that of regular weeks.”
He said official warnings to avoid the capital had been far too strident.
The Culture Secretary rejected the criticism. “What we actually had last week was record numbers travelling on the Tube – 4.61 million people on certain days. We got everyone to their Olympic events on time. We wouldn’t have been able to do that if we hadn’t warned people that central London was going to be busy, discouraging some non-essential travel.”
Figures released by Heathrow’s owner, BAA, revealed far fewer arrivals than expected for the Olympics. The company had predicted that 26 July, the day before the Opening Ceremony, would be the busiest day in its history for arrivals, with a record 138,000 passengers touching down. The forecast was 36 per cent higher than the actual number of travellers. With just 102,000 arrivals, the day proved quieter than an average summer’s Thursday at Europe’s busiest airport.
A spokeswoman for BAA said: “We assumed passenger numbers would be at the upper end of estimates. We think this was the responsible and prudent thing to do, and it meant that we could be confident that our plans would be robust.”
The shortfall in inbound visitors hit business elsewhere in Britain. Nick Brooks-Sykes of Bath Tourism Plus described the Olympics period as “quite difficult” for the city, with a drop of up to one-fifth in visitors.
Andrew Johnson, director of Camera Obscura on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, said: “Our visitor numbers have fallen by 10 per cent over the past two weeks. That is actually rather good compared to the other attractions I have spoken to.”
Neil Wootton of Premium Tours said the Government had inflated expectations of visitor numbers, which in turn had led to unrealistic hotel rates: “There was no need for normal leisure tourism to be turned away. The authorities had a responsibility to consult, advise and even lay down guidelines for how hoteliers structured their pricing during the Games.”
The chief executive of Visit Britain, Sandie Dawe, said: “We always knew that in the year of the Olympics it would be quite a challenge to hold on to our regular tourism market. So far this year we’re doing pretty well, we’re two per cent up in the first six months. Of course that doesn’t deal with the Olympic period, but longer term we think it has fantastic prospects. The world now sees Britain as a place that can party and let its hair down.”
In a speech at Tate Modern on the South Bank, Mr Hunt unveiled a £10m plan to increase inbound tourism by one-third to 40 million by 2020. He said: “We’ve been at the centre of global attention in a way that has never happened before in our lifetimes and may never happen again. Let’s turn that into people who actually want to come and visit us.”
Case study: ‘The Government told them to keep away. They did’
Tim Bryars is a dealer in antique maps in the West End and relies heavily on London’s tourist trade
“Hosting the Olympics was a privilege. However, that should be set aside from the corporate nature of the organisation of the Games, and the asinine insistence by Mr Hunt and others (including Boris Johnson, who should know better) that the Games were good for business, a mantra they’ve clung to before, during and after the event”.
“I have never seen the West End so quiet. That I can live with, but I do object to being told that if my takings have slumped it is in some way my fault. How could one have marketed on the strength of the Games when all mention of the ‘O’ word was prohibited? And how could anyone have second-guessed that the Government’s own marketing strategy for central London would boil down to ‘Keep away!’”
Now here comes the icing on the the cake compliments from the coalition a number of Great Britain’s Olympic teams could lose their funding, despite the government recently announcing investment of £508m through to 2016.
Athletes or sports that are not expected to reach the Rio Games in 2016 will not receive any money.
“We will fund any sport where we think there is a realistic chance of a medal in Rio or in the 2020 Games”
Hugh Robertson Sports minister
Sports like handball and volleyball, which relied on host-nation places to compete in London, could be affected.
“There’s no point funding sports that are not going to qualify,” said sports minister Hugh Robertson.
The policy is known as ‘no compromise’. Supporters say it is the fairest and most accountable way of channelling public finances into developing elite level athletes for competition.
Critics, however, insist that investment is needed to develop Britain’s less popular sports to allow Britain to compete at international level.
“We will fund any sport where we think there is a realistic chance of a medal in Rio or in the 2020 Games. The base cutoff is if a sport does not qualify for an Olympics, that is very important,” clarified Robertson.
“But remember that even if there are sports that don’t attract funding, they can still get funding through Sport England and so on to develop their talent into a position where they will qualify for a Games in the future.”
The British Volleyball Federation, who lost men’s coach Harry Brokking on Tuesday through not being able to fund his salary, received over £3.5m from UK Sport in the build-up to London but did not meet all their performance targets.
And rower Katherine Grainger, who won a gold medal at London 2012 in the women’s double sculls and has three other Olympic silver medals, insisted that elite sports funding must be based on an athlete or team’s ability to succeed.
“This is accountable money, public money,” she said. “It has to be based on performance and it always has been.
“Every athlete comes in knowing that if they perform there’s more chance of the support and the funding being there. If they don’t, they’re not going to get that. So no-one’s surprised if the better they are the more support they’ll get.”
Baroness Sue Campbell, chair of UK Sport, said: “Investing in sport in an expensive business – world class success is expensive. We are investing the viewers’ money, whether its coming from the government or Lottery.
“To invest large amounts of public money in people who quite frankly aren’t going to get there is not good investment.”