Monthly Archives: October 2011
The new Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, must stay the course on unfinished defence reforms while managing the forces that will work heavily against him.
It is just over two weeks since Liam Fox resigned as the Secretary of State for Defence and Phillip Hammond, the former Transport Secretary, was promoted into his position. What Fox has left behind at the MoD is what some have characterised as ‘unfinished business’ or a job half done (although he would have liked to have finished). This is no truer than the job of reducing the department’s budget – including the £38 billion ‘black hole’ – and enacting the cuts first set out in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
In the wake of President Obama’s announcement that a mass withdrawal of troops from Iraq is imminent, many have been left confused as to the future of the conflict. Major talking points include the authenticity of the withdrawal, given the maintenance of a significant NATO presence, and the future of an Iraqi state that is still fragile in spite of the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. Obama’s state visit to the UK earlier this year may have been a PR friendly affair, but it once more called into question the solidity of the Special Relationship, something that will be scrutinised once again in the aftermath of this announcement. Read the rest of this entry
Ok, I admit it, I only used that title to grab people’s attention, I’m not quite as xenophobic as all that! Anyway, in Prime Minister’s Questions on last week, David Cameron gave an unequipocal ‘Non’ when asked whether he would ‘follow in the footsteps of other great Prime Ministers’ on giving Britons a chance to vote on how far we are integrated with the EU. Mr Cameron cited the recent European Union Act as Britain’s safeguard against a further depletion in this country’s powers without a referendum. Indeed he said it was Conservative policy to actively seek ways in which to get powers returned to Britain. In other words, there is no need to have a vote on it as a whole. As we all know, the motion on Monday was defeated, with 79 Conservative MPs rebelling against the wishes of their leader. My colleague Natalie Cox has already questioned whether the three-line whip was really necessary over this issue, which lead me to muse over where Mr Cameron’s loyalties lie. Read the rest of this entry
Since the economic crash of 2008, governments of the world have shored up their own economies by bailing out the financial sector including banks and large companies. This has been a large factor for contributing to the emergence of enormous budget deficits seen amongst nation states. In order to counter the large budget deficits of many nations other actors such as, financial institutions, politicians and economists have advocated austerity measures, the freezing of pay combined with the lowering of corporation tax. However, the recent stagnation in the global economic recovery has sparked a new enthusiasm amongst some for the concept of a Tobin tax or Robin Hood tax. Some of Europe’s most important leaders, German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy , have come to the conclusion that, a simplistic prescription as highlighted above, in eradicating these public deficits should be combined with ‘Robin Hood’ style of tax, on financial institutions such as banks. Click here to keep reading
Monday’s debate was highly anticipated but why? Even true optimists could not rally their beliefs that the motion could actually be passed with three line whips in place from all the three main parties. It could be said then that the debate then was not really about Europe at all, but was actually a debate to answer two questions: the strength of Mr Cameron’s leadership and the power of a three line whip. Different commentators will give you a diverse range of opinions on this topic and I am sure we have heard many over the last few days but the question in my mind that needs answering is: was it really worth Cameron enforcing a three line whip at all?