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. Conservative Party Conference. David Cameron announced tax cuts that will benefit 30 million people. Sky News reports: ‘David Cameron has promised to raise the 40p tax threshold to £50,000 if the Tories win another five years in power.’ This means the 40p income tax rate would be raised from £41,900 to £50,000 by the end of a 5-year Conservative government. ‘He vowed to balance the nation’s books by 2018 so he could deliver tax cuts for “hard-working families”, including lifting the tax-free allowance from £10,500 to £12,500.’ ‘The PM said it would mean a tax cut for 30 million people and that those on the national minimum wage working a 30-hour week would pay “nothing, zero, zilch” in income tax.’ The BBC reports: ‘Mr Cameron also promised:

  • A Conservative government would protect the NHS budget for England
  • He would “deliver” on a pledge of “English votes for English laws”
  • The UK could not “walk on by” in the battle with Islamic State extremists
  • Immigration would be at the heart of his EU negotiation strategy
  • A vote for UKIP at the next election would be “a vote for Labour”
  • He would scrap the Human Rights Act
  • Every teenager could have a place on the National Citizenship Service.’

My analysis:

The Prime Minister’s speech was personal, connected with the public and portrayed him as understanding of what the people need. Unlike Ed Miliband, Cameron did not forget key aspects of his speech such as immigration of which he said would be at the heart of his strategy, and of the economy which is in a state of recovery allowing him to promise such tax cuts. However, earlier this week Business Secretary Vince Cable urged Home Secretary Theresa May to lift the cap on workers from outside the EU as it is damaging the recovery of the economy. So whether Cameron can deliver on his immigration policies is questionable. It is also questionable as to why Vince Cable wants world-class workers from other countries to work in this one rather than focusing on breeding the best here; after all, we are home to Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking to name a few.

Cameron touched upon the importance of Britain’s health services in an emotional speech about his personal experiences. But, while the reformation of the NHS was the focus of the Labour Party, Cameron directed his attention to cutting taxes for nearly half of the population, in light of the economy becoming stronger in the last four years under the Tory Party.

By raising the threshold from £41,900 to £50,000 means people will no longer fall out of the ‘middle class’ bracket and simultaneously raising personal income tax allowance by £2000 means people will be saving more and the gap in society will be bridged.

The Prime Minister was clearly happy that Scotland had not gone awash while under his feet but his English votes for English laws is questionable. Cameron will bring in the constitutional reform to create a fairer England, he says, while devolving more powers to Scotland. However, this may not work in practise and divides England and Scotland in most senses except currency; which may not be so fair on the English.

On the air strikes in Iraq, Cameron stated ‘unless we deal with ISIL, they will deal with us – bringing terror and murder to our streets.’ Cameron’s statement is convincing yet the paradox of the fear of extremism as well as fighting against it remains.

In light of what came across as a convincing, strong and heart-felt speech, Tory MP Arron Banks has defected to UKIP. The Independent Online reports ‘A multi-millionaire Tory donor has defected to UKIP, announcing he will be giving Nigel Farage’s party a £100,000 boost on the day of David Cameron’s conference speech.’ ‘Mr Banks told Sky News he does not believe the Prime Minister will reform the EU or facilitate the UK’s exit from it in the event of an “out” vote in the promised referendum.’ According to BBC News ‘Mr Banks told journalists he had been a Conservative “all his life” but believed the UK would be better off outside the EU, which he described as a “closed shop for bankrupt countries”.’ Other sources state that Mr Banks left after an insult by Foreign Secretary William Hague. Arron Banks is the second Tory MP to defect to UKIP this week, after MP of Braintree Mark Reckless left the Party stating he did not believe Cameron could follow through his policies.

2. Police confirm they have found the body of Alice Gross. ITV reports, ‘People living close to where Alice Gross went missing spoke today of their sadness after a body was found in the River Brent.’ After finding Alice’s body, the police are treating this as a murder investigation and are on the hunt for her killer. The MailOnline reports ‘prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns, 41, who has been missing since 3 September, remains at large.’ Detectives today sealed off a wooden shed at a building site in Isleworth where Zalkalns – a known survival expert after years in the Latvian military – worked as they confirmed the convicted murderer remained a prime suspect in what is now a murder hunt. Zalkalns, who served time in prison in Latvia for bludgeoning his wife to death in 1997, was – until he disappeared – working at the site. He was caught on CCTV cycling in the same direction as Alice was walking, 15 minutes behind her on 28 August, the day she disappeared.’

The Guardian reports: ‘Last week British police arrived in Latvia, where local officers have been making inquiries in case Zalkalns had returned there. On Wednesday morning, Toms Sadovskis, spokesman for the Latvian state police, said there was no evidence Zalkalns was in Latvia. He said: “We have been fully cooperating with the Metropolitan police and are going to continue that work. The focus of our work is to do whatever the Met police ask us to do.”’

3. After a series of security lapses, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigns. Reported in The Huffington Post, ‘Pierson came under fire after a number of Secret Service security breaches, including an armed man jumping over the White House fence and entering the executive mansion.’ Press Secretary Josh Earnest said ‘”The president concluded that new leadership of that agency was required”’.

The New York Times reports: ‘Ms. Pierson offered her resignation on Wednesday during a meeting with Jeh C. Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that oversees the Secret Service.’ ‘In a statement, Mr. Johnson said that he had appointed Joseph Clancy, a former agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division, to become the Secret Service’s acting director. Mr. Clancy was in charge of the presidential detail the night in November 2009 when Michaele and Tareq Salahi, then a married couple, managed to get past Secret Service checkpoints for President Obama’s first state dinner without being on the guest list.’

4. Mohamed El-Erian quit PIMCO after his daughter handed him a list of milestones he had missed. El-Erian quit his $100m job as Chief Executive of the trillion dollar company PIMCO after a simple conversation with his daughter about brushing her teeth. The Tech Times reports: ‘It was revealed that his resignation was, in truth, triggered by a conversation with his 10-year-old daughter. One morning, she refused to brush her teeth after he told her to do so several times.

Growing impatient, Mohamed told her that there was a time not long ago when she would have done what he asked of her.

Her response was to excuse herself to get a piece of paper from her room to give her father. It was a list of 22 milestones in her life that he had missed because of work, including her first day in school, a soccer match, a Halloween parade, and others.’

In her article in The Telegraph, Beverley Turner criticises this headline by stating that it would have been more emotional if a single father on the verge of poverty had quit his job for his daughter. Turner also stated that he was rich enough to quit, he should have been told by his wife in those 11 years to get more involved in their daughter’s life, and that women do it all the time.

I spoke about this story and responded to Beverley Turner’s criticism in an interview on TIP TV with Zak Mir. One of the reasons that the word ‘feminism’ has negative connotations is because a premise is decided but if it does not fit in with the correct circumstance or situation it is not praised. Why should this story be more emotional if the man was not wealthy – why discriminate against a wealthy man when the argument remains the same that men should share parental responsibilities and be equally involved in their children’s lives? The fact that women do it all the time proves that it is a norm for women and not men – another reason that makes this story what it is. And he left a trillion dollar company. Later in the week, Bill Gross, co-founder of PIMCO, left for Janus which saw a 43% rise in Janus’ shares, demonstrating the repercussions of leaving such a big company. Watch Zak and I speak about it here: PIMCO & PENSIONS DEATH TAX

5. Pensions Death Tax Scrapped. George Osborne announces Pension Death tax cut by 55%. The BBC states: ‘The 55% pension tax currently applies to untouched “defined contribution” pots left by those aged 75 or over, and to pensions from which money has already been withdrawn. Inheritors will now only pay the marginal income tax rate, or no tax at all if the deceased was under 75 and the pension is left untouched. The Treasury predicts the new policy will cost approximately £150m per year.’

This will affect insurance companies that provide annuities, prompting shares in major insurers to plummet. Legal & General shares went tumbling by 10%, AVIVA by 7.5% and Prudential by 2.5% after the Chancellor announced the cut before the Tory Party conference. The announcement came directly after a sexting scandal involving a Tory MP and Tory MP Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP.

For young people, the cut means private pensions will rise from the age of 55-57 by 2028.

6. I did not find it newsworthy that David Cameron had commented on how Her Royal Highness The Queen ‘purred’ on the phone after hearing the news of Scotland’s ‘Yes’ vote. He was blasted by Alex Salmond and it was used as propaganda against him. But, after he apologised and vowed to never make the same mistake, he did it again. The MailOnline reports: ‘According to Mr Cameron, the Queen was taken on the same tour as the MPs. When she spotted the Van Dyck she remarked that she had the original hanging at Windsor Castle. Mr Cameron allegedly told MPs that a Chequers curator set the Queen straight – insisting that the version she was looking at was in fact the original, and hers must be the copy.’ To repeat is to no longer be making a mistake but a choice, and it seems as though Cameron does not respect the royal family or its traditions.

7. Stella McCartney comes under criticism twice this week. At Paris Fashion Week, Stella McCartney stated that strong women are not ‘terribly attractive’. Today, she has come under fire again for a badly received picture of a size zero model on her Instagram. People commented saying the model did not reflect real women and therefore her collection does not represent women. I believe that a woman is as attractive as she feels and she should not be criticised for being ‘strong’ because every woman and man embarks on their own journey, and it may have taken them a lot, and they may have been through a lot, to have become that strong. How can this be unattractive? It is like Emma Watson said in her speech at the United Nations, how she is deemed unattractive because she is strong. ‘Strong’ women need to be celebrated so that we smash the glass-ceiling. And the more other women put strong women down, the more we are taking the wrong direction in our fight for equality and beyond. As for the size-zero model, each person is their own so I cannot judge or criticise the model. But as for McCartney’s collection, she appears to have a smaller frame of woman in mind.