News digest 23 July 2014

News digest 23 July 2014

23 July 2014

Today’s top reads: Stories to keep an eye out for:

·                More children than militants are dying in Gaza - Telegraph

·                MH17 crash coverage – Indie

·                Northampton hospital staff in protest over lockout tactics - Guardian

·                The VAT loophole driving NHS pharmacy services into the private sector – Indie

·                Government borrowing figures dent deficit reduction target - Guardian

Gaza and MH17 continue to dominate the papers. On Gaza, the UN secretary general Ban ki-Moon condemned rocket fire from Hamas while urging the 'maximum restraint' from Israel [rather than the maximum assault we’ve seen so far], while US secretary of state John Kerry was in Cairo to try to support a ceasefire in the conflict that has seen more than 600 Palestinians killed (including 125 children) and 3,720 injured. 30 Israelis have died, although on two were civilians. Israeli justice minister Tzipi Livni said “There is no real option for a ceasefire now.” Let’s just hope justice is blind and that is not the case, put simply Israel should stop the bombardments now…

Over in Ukraine there was some progress with the grim task of repatriating the bodies of the 298 people who died in the attack. The train believed to be carrying 282 bodies arrived in Kharkiv last night, and the bodies are expected to be flown to the Netherlands with flights starting today. The black boxes from the flight are also making their way to the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch, a specialist agency in analysing air crashes. While the data can be downloaded quickly, it will likely take weeks for it to be analysed fully.

And in the UK the top political story is the NHS, the creeping privatisation and sharp practices are outlined in a  good feature in the Guardian about the locked out biomedical scientists at Northampton General Hospital, while the Indie (and Mirror) have a piece that looks at how VAT loopholes are driving pharmacy services into the private sector. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey highlighted that “since the [Health & Social Care] Act came in 70 per cent of health services put out to tender have gone to the private sector” and a further 18 contracts are currently out to tender, how many of those will go to private hands?

And the anger in the NHS is rising as Unite (and other unions) are to ballot NHS members for strike action over the ‘insulting’ pay offer by health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “This will send a crystal clear message to health secretary Jeremy Hunt that he needs to sit down with the unions and listen to our proposals for fair pay for the biggest workforce in this country. Industrial action will be carefully calibrated to balance the real and deep anger that our members feel about their falling incomes, with concern for patient care which is paramount for the health professionals we represent.” Ballot papers will drop on doormats from 26 August and the ballot closes on 26 September.

From anger in the health sector to anger in welfare and there’s another round of bad headlines for work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith who has been told that he should rip up the flawed ‘back to work’ tests. As ever Duncan Smith is in denial, he must have some good stuff on Cameron to survive the reshuffle.

And talking of good stuff on people, we may never know what is happening by the security services, or will we, David Davis and Tom Watson said yesterday they will apply for judicial review of 'emergency' Drip Act legislation, which was rushed through parliament. Good luck.

And from good luck to good rewards, and Cameron has given knighthoods to three junior ministers who departed in last week's reshuffle, while making veteran frontbencher Ken Clarke a prestigious Companion of Honour. Cameron made knights of former development minister Alan Duncan, ex-Foreign Office minister Hugh Robertson and Oliver Heald, sacked as solicitor general in the reshuffle. But the ex-chancellor gets the best gong, wonder what the future holds for the current one?

Well the reality is the deficit and debt is getting worse, chancellor George Osborne's so-called long-term economic plan was pushed off course again as the government borrowed more than expected in June. Borrowing totalled £11.4 billion over the month, a third higher than in June 2013. The UK's national debt was £1.3 trillion at the end of June, with borrowing £190 billion more than planned under the Con-Dem coalition. Yet another Tory fail, so not only do we have a recovery for the rich only, it is based on the backs of those who can least afford it, the Mail reports the government has raked in a record £100 billion in VAT revenues [remind me who increased VAT to 20 per cent], and that’s because the regressive tax hits the poorest hardest…

Edited by Mik Sabiers

  Morning Star

  Daily Mirror

  Sun (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • ‘Weak leaders let Putin off over sanctions’ (p1)
  • Trojan Horse rants exposed (p2)
  • Doomed jet crisis (p8-9)
  • Gaza death toll soars past 600 (p10)
  • Brits pay highest air tax (p14)
  • Birthday loan rap (p18)
  • Parcel farce as Mail shares dive (p43)
  • Exceedingly bad for Premier (p43)



  Times (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • France turns on Britain over links to oligarchs (p1)
  • Axing student loan book leaves £12bn hole (p2)
  • MH17 evidence lost (p6-9)
  • Miliband breaks ranks with attack on Israeli invasion (p12)
  • Trojan horse teachers risk being struck off (p23)
  • Blairism worked, but we can’t go back to it – Daniel Finkelstein (p25)
  • RBS in dock over claim it misled MPs (p35)
  • Impact of sterling sees exports fall (p39)
  • Royal Mail parcel plans come undone (p41)
  • Premier hit by hard times (p43)




  FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Cameron accused of Russian hypocrisy (p1-2)
  • Unions to ballot NHS staff over strike (p4) – Unite cited
  • Public finances hardly improve despite year of growth (p4)
  • Tax office under fire over £10bn IT outsourcing cost (p6)
  • In banking too much competition is as bad as too little – John Kay (p11)(p)
  • Royal Mail hot by parcel battle (p19)

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