Welcome to this week’s blog. Not the happiest, but you know what the saying is; bad news is good news, and good news is no news. At least you’ll be in the know of the important developments that shape your immediate world…
The news was as grey as the morning it broke on; The UK dropped into a double-dip recession (the first since 1975) last Wednesday. Shrinking for a second quarter in a row, in simple terms, our economy is basically slipping.
Economic recovery has not been helped by the fact that much of Europe is heading or is already in recession and is in heavy debt, and basically our Government’s public spending cuts (or ‘austerity measures’) have come too quick and too heavy, which has had a massive impact on consumer and business confidence in our local economies.
Recent high unemployment figures and higher inflation rates (price of goods and services .vs. our ability to purchase), paint a gloomier medium term picture. We’re trying to look for something positive to close this news item with, but the best we can give is that the Olympics are just around the corner, and supposedly the tourist spend during that period can give the wider economy a much needed kick up the arse. We’ll see.
On a serious note, if we all look within ourselves for a solution and not wait for the Government to fix things, then that’s a first step to greater prosperity. Back to basics.
Newham Council, in East London, has said that there are around 32,000 people on their housing waiting list, but says housing rents are far too high and claims it can’t afford to put housing tenants in private accommodation (as they lack numbers in available social housing). One of the poorest boroughs in London is writing to housing associations around the country, as far as Stoke-on-Trent (160 miles away), to house around 500 families. The Government insist there are homes available in the borough, and accused Newham council of ‘playing politics’.
But this issue is a direct result of the Government’s decision to cut the spiralling welfare bill, by introduced weekly caps on housing benefit of between £250 a week for a one-bedroom flat and £400 a week for a four-bedroom property. This leaves various councils and boroughs shackled.
The Government need to remember that social housing is the backbone to the welfare state, dramatic measures nationally introduced will reap dramatic consequences locally.
So we saw the King Pin Rupert Murdoch, CEO and Chairman of News Corporation (News Corp) back in the hot seat at the Leveson Inquiry this week. This inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron after allegations of phone hacking engulfed the now defunct The News of The World in 2011.
Click here for a pretty cool and quick recap.
The focus recently has been on News Corp’s takeover bid BskyB, considering all the phone hacking shenanigans (useful to mention here that News Corp currently owns 39.14% of BskyB). Tuesday brought attention to the questionable relationship between Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Murdoch’s, following the release of emails to the Leveson Inquiry on Tuesday which detail contacts between Hunt’s special advisor Adam Smith and Frédéric Michel, a lobbyist for James Murdoch (Rupert’s son and Deputy Chief Operating Officer of News Corp). Jeremy Hunt played a powerful role in the Government on judging whether News Corp was fit and proper for the takeover of BSkyB last year. Can you see why this is wrong yet?
Smith played scapegoat and resigned on 25 April, taking the heat off of Hunt, who narrowly escaped a spanking by Cameron.
This nine-month long case has exposed the corrupt and behind-closed-doors, sleazy relationship between past and present British governments, powerful media moguls, and the police. It’s shameful, it’s disappointing and it needs cleaning up. But it’s all good; Rupert Murdoch offered a ‘deep apology’ for leaving the ethics of British press in tatters. Cheers to you and your ethics.
Comedian, actor and former heroin addict, Russell Brand, was invited to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee into drugs policy. Arriving wearing a black hat, gold chains and a torn black vest top, he suggested politicians should regard drug addiction as a disease to be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal or judicial matter.
He described his frequent arrests for possession of drugs as an “administrative blip” and said resources should be shifted away from the policing of drugs to education and treatment, and pleaded for “love and compassion” in society’s response to addicts.
This brings an end to this week’s blog. Hopefully next week is a livelier week. As always, we invite comments and suggestions, debate and engagement.
Until next week…
Words by Maan Majali
Edited by Natalia