World watch

Thursday GMT

WorldWatch

There’s a lot of things happening of interest around the world, from the Brexit split between the United Kingdom and the European Union to Donald Trump’s young presidency in the United States, from the civil war in Syria and the associated surrounding Middle East mess, to growing tensions around North Korea and China.

15 Comments

  1. Missy

     /  May 19, 2017

    The Liberal Democrats Manifesto launch last night has not garnered much publicity today.

    The basis of their manifesto is around Brexit, and the idea of reversing it. The main policy is offering a second referendum on Brexit. This was nicely illustrated by Tim Farron at the launch where the stage had the image of an EU flag and union flag, something that did not go down well on social media. It was noted by someone on twitter that it looked like the EU encroaching on the heart of the UK.

    Though Brexit is not the only thing in their manifesto. It has already been released that they will raise taxes by 1p in order to pay for the NHS.

    Other points are:

    * reverse the most brutal welfare cuts, (though I haven’t seen it reported what the Lib Dems believe are the most brutal cuts)
    * remove the cap on public sector pay
    * legalise Cannabis
    * they will introduce a rent to buy scheme to get more young people into their own homes
    * Extend the Syrian resettlement scheme to 50,000 vulnerable refugees over 5 years , and reopen the Dubs scheme to take 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees from Europe – though they don’t say if they will be actual children, or the grown men saying they are children that it has been in the past.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/17/liberal-democrat-manifesto-key-points-and-analysis

  2. Missy

     /  May 19, 2017

    This morning the Conservatives launched their manifesto, predictably this has dominated the news cycle all day.

    Some key points (with a few comments from me) are below:

    Social Care:
    * Winter fuel payments for pensioners will be means-tested and people will pay more towards home care visits to plug the £2.8 billion social care funding gap.
    Comment: Labour have hammered this policy today, conveniently forgetting it was proposed by Labour 2 years ago.
    * Pensioners will stop paying for their own care once their savings and assets are down to £100,000. At present only £23,250 is protected.But a person’s home will be counted among their assets when they are means-tested for domiciliary care (currently this only applies to people needing residential care) meaning more people will pay. No-one will have to sell their home during their lifetime, as they will be able to borrow money which will be paid back from their estate after their death.

    Schools:
    * Lifting the ban on new selective schools.
    Comment: This has been something that Theresa May has been promoting since she became PM, so not surprising it is int he Manifesto.
    * Build at least a hundred new schools a year.
    * £1 billion more per year for schools, paid for by ending universal free school lunches for children aged 5 to 7 (a policy brought in by Nick Clegg in 2014).
    Comment: Nick Clegg is not happy about the ending of universal free school lunches.
    * All children to be offered free school breakfast.
    Comment: A policy familiar to NZers, this hasn’t been well received by some conservative commentators in the media.
    * Banning failing schools from accepting new pupils
    * 100 top private schools could lose charitable status

    Tax:
    * David Cameron’s tax “triple lock”, which guaranteed there would be no rise in national insurance, VAT or income tax, will be scrapped in favour of a general statement of intent to lower tax and simplify the tax system.
    Comment: I think this will potentially lead to an increase in National Insurance, but a decrease in Income tax, the Conservatives have previously tried to increase National Insurance, but been slammed as it wasn’t in the manifesto. By removing the triple lock they have removed that barrier.
    * No increase in the level of VAT

    Income Tax:
    * A commitment to raise the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 by 2020 will stay.
    * The Tories will also keep a commitment to raise the threshold for the 40p tax rate to £50,000 by 2020.
    Comment: these will both be seen as a tax cut for many without an actual tax cut. Both good moves in my opinion.

    Immigration:
    * An objective to reduce annual net migration to the tens of thousands. Overseas student numbers will remain in the immigration statistics.
    Comment: Theresa May and the Conservatives have fallen on this promise previously. I think it is unrealistic and will be something they will not be able to stick to.
    * Students will be expected to leave the country at the end of their course unless they meet new, higher, requirements allowing them to stay.
    * The Immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers, to be doubled to £2,000 a year by the end of the parliament, using the revenue generated to invest in higher level skills training for workers in the UK.

    Media:
    * The second part of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press will not take place.
    Comment: This won’t be welcomed by many liberals, but is the right choice.
    * Repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014. This would have forced newspapers to pay their opponents’ libel and privacy action legal costs, no matter who wins in court, if not signed up to an officially-recognised regulator.
    Comment: This is a good move, and once again won’t be welcomed by some. It was seen as a move to try and punish some papers, but the media industry said it would lead to extreme censorship, stifle investigative journalism, and potentially force small local newspapers out of business. This is something that was championed, and pushed for, by the likes of Max Mosley and Hugh Grant and his Hacked off group.
    * New powers to force internet firms to remove explicit or extremist material, backed by legal power to impose fines.

    Democracy:
    * Pledge to go ahead with a boundary review and to reduce the number of MPs to 600.
    * Voters will be made to present identification before they can vote while the traditional voting method of using a pencil and paper will be kept.
    * The honours system to be reviewed to make sure it commands public confidence and to protect the integrity of the honours bestowed.

    Scotland:
    * A referendum on Scottish independence will only be allowed to take place after Brexit has “played out” and should not take place “unless there is public consent for it to happen”.

    Energy:
    * A fixed cap on energy tariffs, to be set by the regulator Ofgem and reviewed every six months.
    * Smart meters to be offered to every household and business by the end of 2020.
    * Make it easier to switch energy providers.

    Others:
    * MPs will be given a free vote on repealing the ban on fox hunting

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/18/general-election-2017-latest-news-polls-analysis/

  3. Missy

     /  May 19, 2017

    Watching this election play out in the UK is giving me a sense of deja vu….

    Most notably, the Liberal Democrats campaign slogan: #BrighterFuture. I am sure I have heard that before somewhere….

    Also, the whole campaigning for the Conservatives is very similar to that of National under Key. Theresa May is front and centre in the campaigning, and very prominent in all of the literature, not unlike that of John Key in 2011 / 2014.

    Finally, there is a total absence of the Labour leader on literature / posters / TV ads etc. In fact it is being anecdotally reported (via sources and social media) that most Labour candidates are not even mentioning their leader when campaigning (Jeremy who?).

    In conclusion, having watched the referendum last year, and watching the first few weeks of the election campaigning this year, I have decided that NZ may be a younger country with a younger democracy but we have – in general – a much more sophisticated view of democracy, and a more mature attitude to it all. We are in fact leading in many areas of democracy, as we always have done.

    On a slightly different note, this election in the UK, and the prospect of having to vote for only a constituency MP has given me a new appreciation for MMP – flaws and all.

  4. Meanwhile in the “things that really matter” dept.

    “Gender-neutral birth certificates could be issued to those who want them in Ontario as early as next year, provided the province can work out bureaucratic hurdles involving other governments.

    Ontario’s minister of government and consumer services says consultations will be held on the matter this summer and the province is working to ensure a gender-neutral birth certificate would be legally recognized in other jurisdictions.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-developing-a-gender-neutral-option-for-birth-certificates/article35047206/

  5. Missy

     /  May 19, 2017

    All the big issues in the Telegraph tomorrow as the country gears up for the wedding of Pippa Middleton, yes she of the nice bum from Prince William’s wedding.

    I will of course do my duty and report on it fully over the weekend, it is of course expected to be the society event of the year, and reports are that she broke her ‘no ring no bring’ policy for partners of guests for Prince Harry, who will be attending with the lovely Meghan Markle.

  6. Trumpenreich

     /  May 19, 2017

    This sums up the meaning of “diversity’ as implemented by Globalists:

    https://heartiste.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/maricon.jpeg?w=500&h=500

  7. Gezza

     /  May 19, 2017

    Al Jazeera tv Breaking News: Swedish prosecutors have announced they are dropping the rape case against Julian Assange. More details when known.