Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ammunition against Labour

In the Political Communications Unit I produce a monthly document called Issues of the Month. This is emailed to people who are on the Daily Bulletin circulation list. If you don't get this, I have included below the sections on Labour problems and government policy setbacks. This makes for useful ammunition against Labour.

I have summarised the main areas as follows:

Labour were is trouble over Jack Straw's comments on veils, Clare Short's resignation of the Labour Whip and Sion Simon's spoof video.

Labour's favourite issue, crime, was not putting them in a good light: Blunkett had called for prison inmates to be "machine gunned"; reoffending rates were up; robberies were up; prisons were bursting at the seems and police cells had to be used; the effectivenes of control orders was brought into doubt.

As for health: the NHS had clocked up debts of half a billion pounds; 1600 dentists had left the NHS since April; community hospitals were more likely to close in Lib Dem or Tory constituencies; 900 NHS staff posts gone in four months.

And the one that just won't go away, Iraq: Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt said the presence of UK forces exacerbates problems in the country; the cost of the war to the taxpayer was revealed as 4 billion pounds, and the terrorism continues.

Labour problems:
On 5th October Labour announced that they were cancelling their spring conference due to be held in Glasgow in the run up to the Scottish Parliament and local elections. Labour denied this was done for cost cutting reasons and said that the event would be replaced by smaller meetings and blogging. BBC

On 6th October Jack Straw sparked a debate about cultural separation after he encouraged Islamic women to stop wearing veils covering their face, saying the practice hindered community relations. Guardian

On 11th October, Clare Short MP was reprimanded by Labour Chief Whip Jacqui Smith for announcing she would campaign for a hung Parliament in the next election. BBC

On 12th October at attempt by Labour backbencher to parody David Cameron’s “Webcameron” backfired, causing embarrassment to Labour. Times

On 16th October it was revealed that David Blunkett had told prison staff to call in the Army and “machine gun” inmates in order to restore order of a riot-torn jail, according to the former Director-General of the service, Martin Narey. [Times]

On 20th October Labour Leadership challenger John McConnell attacks Brown for being too neo-con. [epolitix]

On 20th October, Clare Short MP, resigned the Labour whip to become an independent Labour MP: [Guardian]

On 23rd October Government criticised for letting down children in England and Wales over education: [BBC]

On 23rd October, Government is attacked by opposition parties on re-offending rates: [epolitix]

On 24th October, polls show a majority of voters want troops out of Iraq soon and Beckett admits Iraq could disintegrate: [Guardian], [Telegraph], [Times], politics.co.uk, Independent

On 31st October the government saw off an attempt by opposition parties to force an inquiry into the war in Iraq though the majority in the Commons against the call slumped to only 25. Times

Government policy setbacks:
On 4th October, a report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies showed that Gordon Brown's complex tax system makes it more attractive for millions to stay at home rather than go to work. The report showed that the tax credits system was discouraging some 2.2 million people on lower incomes from working more, because if their incomes rise the tax credits will be taken away and they face paying up to half of their extra income in tax. [Telegraph] [Guardian]

On 5th October, it was revealed that there were only 160 prison places left in England and Wales and “bursting point” was expected to be reached in a matter of days. BBC

On 9th October, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt MP revealed that in the last financial year, the NHS ran up debts of over half a billion pounds. Guardian

There is still a significant north-south health divide in England, government data have revealed. The Health Profile of England report published on 10th October shows that northern areas have higher obesity rates, more smoking-related deaths and lower life expectancies. [BBC] [Obesity Rates] [Smoking Deaths] [Life Expectancy]

More than 1,600 dentists have quit the NHS rather than sign new contracts, according to official figures. The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, published on 10th October, are the first to be released since the controversial contract was introduced in April. [Daily Mail]

The death toll among Iraqis as a result of the US-led invasion has reached an estimated 655,000, a study in the Lancet medical journal reported on 11th October. The figure - which amounts to around 2.5% of the population - is at odds with figures cited by the US and UK. The Lancet says the figures have been independently checked. [BBC]

On 11th October Mail industry regulator Postcomm called on the government to clear up the uncertainty over the future of the Post Office network and said the social role of branches should be taken into consideration when deciding their future. BBC

On 11th October, Tories obtained figures that suggest taxpayers are paying 4 time more that expected for NHS deficit crisis. [The Times]

12th October: more than half of NHS bodies in England need to improve the quality of their services or their financial management, the Healthcare Commission have found. Primary Care Trusts fared particularly badly. Trust re-organisation, was cited as possible reasons for the findings. BBC

On 13th October in an interview with the Daily Mail, the Head of the Army, Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, said that the presence of UK armed forces in Iraq "exacerbates the security problems" and they should "get out some time soon". He also said that the initial planning for the post war period had been poor. BBC

On 16th October it was revealed that community hospitals that lie in Conservative or Lib Dem constituencies will bear the brunt of the Government’s closure programme, re-igniting accusations of political interference in the NHS. [Times]

On 16th October it was revealed that two alleged terrorism suspects - said by the government to be so dangerous they had to be subjected to highly restrictive control orders - were on the run, with the authorities clueless as to their whereabouts. The incident brought into question the use of the orders and the competence of the Home Office. Guardian

On 17th October the Public Accounts Committee said that almost a million children in England are being let down by poor teaching and inadequate leadership in hundreds of under-performing schools. [Times] [BBC]

On 18th October, the biggest petition ever has been given to Downing Street to save Post Offices. Labour wants to close many as part of a change in subsidizing them. But 28 million use Post Offices and 400 MPs have called for the decision to be reversed. [BBC], [Guardian]

On 18th October, Ministers were accused of spending too much time vetting thousands of controversial freedom of information requests. [The Times]

On 18th October, John Reid comes under fire from opposition parties over control orders [epolitix], [The Times], [The Guardian], [The Guardian 2]

On 19th October, Blair facing criticism on Iraq policy after he says that troops will stay until “the job is done”. [Independent], [Guardian], [BBC]

On 19th October it was announced there was a fall for applications to universities. [Guardian]

On 19th October crime figures show robberies have gone up significantly. [epolitix], [Yahoo], [Times]

On 19th October, education figures show pupils failing in English and Maths. [Yahoo]

On 20th October it was reported that nurses were angry about their pay rise: [Guardian]

On 20th October it was announced that the CSA will have to write off large debts resulting in some parents missing out on payments: [Times]

On 20th October, there is criticism from independent research that teenagers are not getting the best education because of targets. [Yahoo], [BBC]

On 24th October, Government is told it will take ‘years’ to fix immigration system: [BBC]

On 24th October doctors and lawyers say NHS is ‘in illegal immigrants mess’: [BBC]

On 24th October Youth Justice Board say young in custody were in a ‘crisis’: [BBC], [Guardian]

On 24th October overcrowding in English and Welsh jails means police turn to use of prison cells to detain convicted prisoners: [BBC]

On 24th October Ministry of Defence bans ITV from going to war zones: [Times]

On 26th October Education Select Committee criticise Brown for wanting to achieve the same funding for state school children as private school and for the fact children are not achieving at GCSEs: Times

On 27th October, Alan Johnson u-turned on the policy of quotas for faith schools, dropping the requirement to have 25% of pupils from non faith or other faith backgrounds: BBC

On 30th October, figures show there have been 900 NHS jobs cut in the past 4 months because of a financial crisis: politics.co.uk

On 31st October, it was announced that police authorities will have to pay the costs incurred during the botched attempt to merge forces in the summer: politics.co.uk

On 31st October it was revealed that the cost of the war in Iraq to British tax payers was £4 billion. Guardian

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