Wednesday’s World News Updates: My Views

Bringing you a rounded update of the news by collating information from various publications and broadcasters, and sharing my opinion on this week’s top stories.

1. Labour Party annual conference. On Tuesday 23rd, Ed Miliband discussed the party’s plan to improve the NHS by raising an annual funding boost of £2.5bn. The BBC reports: ‘He said the “time to care” fund would be paid for by:

  • raising £1.2bn a year through a “mansion tax” on houses worth more than £2m
  • a crackdown on tax loopholes used by hedge funds and other City firms, expected to raise £1.1bn
  • requiring tobacco firms to contribute to the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses, raising about £150m.’

The Mansion Tax Policy will affect an estimated 58,000-110,000 houses, particularly in the South East and London. On the ‘Mansion Tax Policy’, BBC News reports: ‘Labour says this would be a progressive tax, so those with the biggest homes would pay proportionately more than those just above the £2m threshold.’ ‘That threshold would also rise in line with rising house prices, so homeowners would not be dragged into the tax as a result of their existing home rising in value.’ ‘Labour also say there would be protection for cash-poor but equity-rich owners – likely to be the option of paying the charge from their estate when they die.’

However, the tax has come under heavy criticism. The Telegraph reports that it ‘almost exclusively penalises homeowners in the south east of the country’, and in a television interview Boris Johnson stated that it is a tax on London. The Mansion Tax Policy will also affect pensions.

Mr Miliband, the BBC reports, ‘said his government would provide for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 more midwives by 2020.’ He also ‘promised to raise the minimum wage by £1.50 an hour by 2020’ taking it from £6.31 to £8, said that ‘Britain under Labour would be building 200,000 home a year by 2020, and by 2025 he wanted as many young people taking apprenticeships as currently go to university.’ The MailOnline reports Mr Miliband plans to ‘save £400m by capping rises in child benefit at 1%’.

Although his proposals were solid, critics have questioned Ed Miliband’s leadership qualities after he failed to generate momentum. Also, his speech has come under scrutiny after he forgot three key areas of discussion – welfare, the deficit and immigration.

Tied up with Scottish referendum campaigning left Mr Miliband with a lack of preparation time, leaving him to speak without the help of an autocue, much to his detriment. Immigration is such a huge topic, especially with the promise of an EU referendum. With it being such a big issue begs the question: ‘Is Mr Miliband in touch with the people?’ Also, forgetting to address the public’s fear of immigration as support for the UKIP Party rises leaves the door open to Nigel Farage to speak to the hearts and minds where Ed Miliband forgot to do so.

2. US and five Arab nations launch air strikes in Eastern Syria on Monday. On Friday, David Cameron will decide if the UK will join the forces with the US and Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan, in the attack against the Islamic State (IS). The Independent reports: ‘Mr Cameron has said that “this is a fight you cannot opt out of”.’ Speaking in the US where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly, he told TV channel NBC: “These people want to kill us. They’ve got us in their sights and we have to put together this coalition… to make sure that we ultimately destroy this evil organisation.”

Mr Cameron is seeking MP’s and the opposition parties’ approval for action. Ed Miliband told BBC Breakfast this morning that he is “open to the possibility” of backing air strikes against Isis but ‘would like’ UN Security Council resolution before backing strikes in Syria.

Latest news on this story reported by The Guardian: ‘Five air strikes hit territory controlled by Islamic State (Isis) in Syria near the Iraqi border on Wednesday, following overnight attacks on the group’s strongholds along the Turkey border.’

In their latest threat, IS have captured Alan Henning. His wife Barbara Henning received an audio recording in which he pleaded for his life.

3. 100 world leaders attend UN Climate Change Summit. According to The Guardian, ‘China has pledged to take firm action on climate change…and said it will ensure its carbon dioxide emissions peak as early as possible.’ Just a day before the UN Climate Change Summit, carbon emissions in reached a 40bn ton high, with China, India and US the biggest contributors. President Barack Obama, CNN reports, ‘called out China, saying that the most populous country on Earth, with the fastest increase in carbon pollution, must join the United States to lead the rest of the world in carbon reduction.’

Although there is a need for a drastic reversal in toxic emissions, not everyone was on board. The Independent reports: ‘Brazil has refused to sign an anti-deforestation pledge, dealing a blow to the Climate Change summit in New York.’ ‘Ending deforestation is pivotal to dealing with climate change, the British Development Secretary Justine Greening said in New York.’ However, ‘the Brazilian delegation claimed measures to end illegal deforestation had been drafted behind closed doors at the United Nations without its participation.’

Reuters reports that on the eve of the UN Climate Summit, which was held on Tuesday 23rd, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet stated that women and children are 14 times more vulnerable than men in climate change-related natural disasters, such as the floods and droughts.

4.Woman dies during labour after mid-wife leaves her in agony. The Evening Standard reports: ‘The husband of a woman who died after giving birth at an east London hospital said it was “a scandal” that the midwife who went home rather than help her had been suspended for only three months.’ ‘Rebecca Matovu failed to help Sareena Ali, 27, despite desperate pleas from her husband Usman Javed that she was in agony at Queen’s Hospital, Romford.’ ‘She had been admitted to be induced in January 2011 as she was overdue, but was soon in difficulties.’ ‘A crash team was finally called when Ms Ali became cold and unresponsive, but Matovu went home instead of helping resuscitation efforts as her shift had ended, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.’

Earlier this year in June, The Romford Recorder reported: ‘The trust that runs Queen’s has demanded answers after a new official website ranked the hospital “among the worst” in England for infection control and cleanliness.’ There have been many other reports and cases released about Queen’s Hospital. Today The Romford Recorder states that ‘patients are being recruited as “mystery shoppers” to ensure the improvement of services’ at the hospital.

The sentence Rebecca Matovu received is a major injustice to the family in question and to peoples’ trust in the NHS. Sareena’s husband had pleaded to nurses on his wife’s behalf a number of times and was ignored, and even worse that his wife was left alone to suffer. Sareena Ali gave birth to a child who died some days later.

5. Tesco overstated its half-year profits by £250m. Overstating their half-year profit by almost a quarter of the £1.1bn expected saw Tesco’s shares plunge by 10%, sending the stock market plummeting and pushed down the share price of Sainsbury’s and Morrisons by about 5%.  Tesco’s accounting crisis led to an investigation by Deloitte and law firm Freshfields and The Financial Conduct Authority. Since reports revealed that Tesco have overstated their half-year profit, four executives have been suspended. As a result of this accounting bungle, Tesco is facing its worse crisis in 95 years.

In a debate on TIP TV, I urged people to shop elsewhere such as their local stores for communitarian reasons. With big supermarkets like Tesco dominating the playing field, shop-owners are suffering and so is community cohesion. Gone are the times when you would ‘pop down to the shops’ for your groceries and bump into your friends. Gone is that community spirit.

I also stated that other places are cheaper. As Zak Mir said in our discussion on TIP TV, people are now shopping around. The Guardian reports that Tesco is losing out ‘to vigorous competition from discounters such as Aldi and Lidl as well as upmarket rivals Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.’ Tesco is falling through the large class gap in society.

The TIP TV debate saw Zak and I differing on whether this is the end for Tesco. I argued that new boss David Lewis, ex-Unilever Executive, has come in hard and will keep hold of the reigns. On the other hand, Zak argued that gone are Tesco’s boom years. With their loss of integrity on the stock market and with consumers after the horse meat scandal, Tesco’s future is in question. Watch Zak and I debate Tesco (and Scotland) here: TIP TV TESCO & SCOTLAND DEBATE

6. Calls for Constitutional Reform – what should we do? During Scottish referendum campaigning, political party leaders made a promise to devolve powers in a desperate plea to persuade Scotland to stay. The aftermath has seen the constitution and how it is run come under question. Conservatives are talking of devolving powers and creating an English-votes-for-English-laws to make it ‘fair’ for the English because England’s MPs cannot vote on Scottish-only issues. However, this will mean checking the small print on clauses to check which are for England which are for Scotland.

On the other hand, the Labour Party are proposing a devolution of powers to cities instead of countries to create regional reform. In this case, cities will have greater powers and the people will have somebody with greater power to address any issues. However, dispersing power among the region means greater state control and intervention – state intervention something Ed Miliband definitely supports according to reporters after the Labour Party annual conference. Do we need a constitutional reform? How would you like to see your country governed?