The ten things you need to know on Tuesday 27th November 2012...
1) CARNEY'S RESCUE MISSION
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the (former) governor of the Bank of Canada. Mark Carney was yesterday announced as the new man in charge of our very own Bank of England; he told reporters back home that he was "going to where the challenges are greatest”. Uh-oh.
The chancellor George Osborne, announcing the appointment of Carney to surprised MPs in the Commons yesterday afternoon, described the Canadian as "literally... the best person in the world to do this job".
The Times welcomes the appointment of the "outstanding" Carney: "The more important reason that it is good to have a Canadian is that the country’s financial system has weathered the crisis better than pretty much any other developed economy. Much of the credit must go to the Bank of Canada, which Mr Carney has run for five years."
The Telegraph seems pleased, too: "Mr Carney is... an engaging individual and a good communicator and promises to be a persuasive and accessible public face of the Bank... This is an interesting choice, and a bold one."
The Guardian, in its leader, says a "Canadian passport is an asset, seeing as that country escaped with one of the rich world's smallest slumps and fastest rebounds in 2008-09" but adds that "Carney has not been as radical a reformer as we might have liked... he has revealed an orthodox preference for sticking with inflation targets".
Carney is an Oxford and Harvard graduate who spent 13 years at Goldman Sachs and five years at the helm of the Bank of Canada. The HuffPost UK's business reporter Charlie Thomas profiles the new guvnor here.
It's also worth noting that Carney is the Bank of England's first foreign governor in its 318-year history. Will he pass the coalition's Life in the UK citizenship test, asked wags on Twitter? Well, his wife is British, his two kids have dual-nationality and, as a Canadian, Carney is, as Osborne noted yesterday, "a subject of the Queen". Beware the backslapping though: Sven-Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello's appointments were also hailed as "interesting" and "bold" at the time...
Meanwhile, writing for the Huffington Post UK, economist Ann Pettifor strikes a separate note of caution:
"Matt Taibi of Rolling Stone was right about the Vampire Squid: 'the first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere.'
"Now a scion of Goldman Sachs is to be the governor of the Bank of England.
"The Chancellor's announcement today is audacious. He rode roughshod over a careful and open appointments procedure to ensure that Britain will, for the next eight years have a governor of the Bank of England whose experience, history and record is totally aligned with 'the takers' - the bankers and speculators that have asset-stripped the British economy."
(On a lighter note, the HuffPost UK has also put together a list of the '10 Other Things We'd Like To Steal From Canada'. Warning: it includes Ryan Gosling.)
2) DEAL OR NO DEAL?
The Ukip row rumbles on, with the party's treasurer, former Tory donor Stuart Wheeler, claiming, according to the Telegraph, that "eight Conservative MPs have held talks with senior figures in Ukip about defecting to the anti–EU party".
Meanwhile, the Guardian's Nick Watt says the Conservative leadership has been "forced to slap down" vice-chairman Michael Fabricant for suggesting an electoral alliance with Ukip and quotes Tory chairman Grant Shapps as saying that the party would "categorically" not form any pact with Ukip.
That might be a wise move. In a blog for the Huffington Post UK, Manchester University's Rob Ford, who has conducted one of the biggest studies into the views and backgrounds of Ukip's voters, writes that "intolerance is more prevalent among Ukip supporters than among supporters of any other political party except the openly racist BNP. It is therefore pretty clear that while not all Ukip supporters are intolerant, intolerant voters clearly find Ukip attractive."
He concludes: "Ukip's politicians are right to condemn the seizure of children due to their parents political views as the worst kind of political bigotry. But they must also acknowledge and respond to the darker motives attracting some voters to their party."
3) LEVESON WATCH
Two days to go. From the Guardian:
"Both Cameron and Clegg will gain access to the report 24 hours before its formal publication, and will have to come to a rapid decision [on Thursday morning] on whether they can agree a common position. If no agreement is possible the Liberal Democrats stressed they will find a vehicle for Clegg to make his views known, and to say that Cameron is speaking on behalf of the Tory party.
"A senior aide to Clegg said: 'If we don't agree with Cameron, we are going to say so.'"
The Lib Dem leader, like his Labour counterpart, has pledged to back Leveson's proposals if they're fair and proportionate. The PM, however, is under pressure from several Tory Cabinet colleagues - the latest being Owen Paterson, the environment secretary - to resist any proposals for statutory regulation of the press.
But does Leveson even care if anyone listens to what he has to say? The Independent says he is already planning the next stage of his career:
"Senior colleagues expect Lord Justice Leveson to apply for the job of head of the judiciary when it is formally advertised later this year or early in 2013... Senior judicial colleagues understand that he intends to apply for the post of Lord Chief Justice, to be vacated by Igor Judge who announced last week that he is to retire early.
"The Leveson Inquiry's second phase - the examination of the specific 'unlawful practices within News International and other newspapers' - would be re-assigned to another senior judge, if not shelved altogether, if Lord Justice Leveson were to be appointed Lord Chief Justice next year. Lord Justice Leveson, 63, is being described as 'a strong candidate' by some leading judges and barristers."
4) CLUEDO, WEST-BANK-STYLE
Was it Professor Plum in the study with a candle stick? Or a Mossad agent in the Muqata with poison? From the BBC:
"The remains of Yasser Arafat have been exhumed, Palestinian officials say, as part of an investigation into how the Palestinian leader died.
"Swiss, French and Russian experts will take samples to establish whether his death, at a military hospital in Paris in 2004, was the result of poisoning."
5) 'OFSTED' FOR HOSPITALS
From the Daily Mail:
"Hospitals and care homes will be given Ofsted-style ratings in a drive to root out 'bog-standard' performance in the NHS.
"Jeremy Hunt will pledge an overhaul of the inspection regime, which he says gives institutions little incentive to improve.
"The Health Secretary has been 'appalled' by last week's report from the Care Quality Commission, which found standards so poor that a fifth of care homes do not even feed residents properly.
"He wants easily accessible ratings on an official website, allowing patients and relatives to choose a hospital or care home by comparing it with others.
"Mr Hunt will announce the overhaul in a speech at the King's Fund in London tomorrow.
Funny to see Jeremy Hunt, in his new role, advocating regulation, eh?
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this clip of two sleeping meerkats in a park in Japan (not all of them are as irritating as the ones in that ad...)
6) AUSTERITY WATCH, PART 354
Still no signs of growth in Greece, but lots more austerity. From the BBC:
"Eurozone finance ministers and the IMF have reached a deal on an urgently needed bailout for debt-laden Greece.
"They have agreed to cut debts by 40bn euros ($51bn; £32bn) and have paved the way for releasing the next tranche of bailout loans - some 44bn euros.
"Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras welcomed the deal, saying 'a new day begins for all Greeks'."
Er, I doubt that Antonis...
7) SHOULD WE STAY OR SHOULD WE GO?
How long are we planning to keep 'our boys' in the killing fields of Helmand? From the Guardian:
David Cameron is expected to rule on the scale and scope of the British military withdrawal from Afghanistan over the next two years when he chairs a meeting on Tuesday of the national security council.
...One scenario with widespread military support involves keeping troop numbers stable at 9,000 until September next year, the end of the next "fighting season", and then withdrawing 8,000 personnel over the following 12 months."
Reports across the pond, however, suggest that the Yanks want to stay out in Afghanistan, it seems, well... forever. From the Wall St Journal:
"Top Obama administration officials want to keep around 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when formal combat ends in 2014, cementing a limited, long-term American military presence in the country if Kabul agrees, said senior U.S. officials."
8) HERE COMES THE 'GRAND POOBAH'...
Speaking ahead of his appearance at the Culture, Media and Sport select committee later today, the BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten, yesterday launched a pretty forthright defence of the corporation's former director-general George Entwistle and criticised the media's attacks on him.
From the Independent:
"Mr Entwistle had been "trashed" and "written off by large sections of the press as some sort of hapless or inadequate figure" since resigning, Lord Patten said, ahead of his own appearance before Parliament today to face questions about Mr Entwistle's £450,000 pay-off, in the wake of the Savile and McAlpine furores. "I don't remember very many people saying that when we appointed him," the peer continued.
"Given everything that went wrong, it was the right thing for him to go when he did. But that should in no way justify the way his reputation is now being traduced."
9) A SPRING IN THEIR STEP
Despite the Times' claim today that "the omens [in Egypt] aren't good" and the country might go the way of post-1979 Iran, there is some good news out of Cairo: the Arab Spring isn't dead and buried. From the New York Times:
"With public pressure mounting, President Mohamed Morsi appeared to pull back Monday from his attempt to assert an authority beyond the reach of any court. His allies in the Muslim Brotherhood canceled plans for a large demonstration in his support, signaling a chance to calm an escalating battle that has paralyzed a divided nation.
"After Mr. Morsi met for hours with the judges of Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council, his spokesman read an “explanation” on television that appeared to backtrack from a presidential decree placing Mr. Morsi’s official edicts above judicial scrutiny...
"Though details of the talks remained hazy, and it was not clear whether the opposition or the court would accept his position, Mr. Morsi’s gesture was another demonstration that Egyptians would no longer allow their rulers to operate above the law."
10) GOODBYE NADINE?
From the Sun:
"MP Nadine Dorries faces being booted out of the Tory Party for good on her return to Westminster, The Sun can reveal.
"On arriving home from her I’m A Celebrity stint yesterday, Mad Nad said she expected to resume her place on the Conservatives’ benches.
"But furious senior party figures revealed she is in for a nasty surprise after her jaunt to the Oz jungle.
"The suspended MP has been summoned to a showdown with Tory Chief Whip Sir George Young at 10am today.
And unless she grovels and apologises fully for skipping Britain, she’ll be ejected from the party for good, senior sources said.
"Even if she repents, the offence she caused may be judged so grave that she may STILL get the boot."
Oh Nad! We hardly knew you...
"If you want to have doughnuts for breakfast, fine, but there is a cost implication down the line." - Tory MP, and doctor, Phillip Lee, warning sufferers of type 2 diabetes and similar illnesses that they may have to lose their right to free NHS prescriptions at the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) yesterday.
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From the new Independent/ComRes poll:
Lib Dems 10
That would give Labour a majority of 86.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@anntreneman I think we can safely say that after the carney announcement there was a wikipedia stampede
@Marthakearney Many thanks for all the congratulations on my new appointment. My liquidity plans will of course involve honey #BoE
@Andrew_ComRes ComRes/Independent: 54% want to leave the EU 'but maintain close trading links'; 36% disagree #ukip
900 WORDS OR MORE
Nigel Farage, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says: "We're not closet racists - but we've had enough."
Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "Europe, energy, gay marriage, Leveson – the next few turbulent weeks will define this Government’s character."
Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says: "The absurdity of the constitutional freak show of the House of Lords can only get worse with another 100 members."
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