The digest opens with yet another economic relaunch seeing prime minister David Cameron rolling out the same old clichés of a need for more cuts and austerity and bonuses for bankers is the way to revive the UK economy. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey responded by repeating his call for an immediate £1-an-hour increase in the minimum wage to put money into the wallets of the lowest paid workers and said the speech was a lesson in complacency and incompetence. Len added: “David Cameron failed to address the key issues facing the British economy which is how to inject extra cash into people’s pockets and introduce steps to kick start lending by banks to promote job creation ... he ought to have stood before the nation today and apologised, but instead he stubbornly refuses to shake the austerity addiction.”
Troubling for the PM is that his speech gets quite limited coverage as the other key political story of the day is the conviction of Vicky Pryce for perverting the course of justice over switching her speeding points with disgraced ex-MP and onetime Lib Dem leadership contender Chris Huhne. The jury rejected Pryce's claims of being "pressurised" by the former energy secretary to take the points, and followed two trials which laid bare details of the couple's bitter marriage breakup, Huhne’s infidelity, and what can only be considered her mission to destroy him in the press. Both Pryce and Huhne face the possibility of jail sentences, but many of the papers use it to focus on the problems for the coalition overall with Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph arguing the Con-Dem alliance is starting to crumble and the polls don’t look to positive with the Mail reporting that the Lib Dems are down to under 10 per cent although Labour is yet to take as full advantage of the coalition infighting with the party on 40 per cent, followed by the Tories on 32 per cent. However the news is worst for the Lib Dems with the analysis showing that only a third of Lib Dems are left backing the party, the Eastleigh bonus has been rather short lived and will leave more pressure at the party’s spring conference this weekend.
And on to bonuses and there is some good news for ordinary workers after John Lewis announced that after a surge in profits staff at the employee-owned department store chain are in line for a £4,000 bonus. Good for them and an example of the proper awarding of bonuses. Also of note is a report in the FT that the annual pay of the head of Nokia, Stephen Elop, has had his pay cut in half as his plans to turn around the company have been slow to pay off, for once no major reward for failure, if only that could happen more widely. Sadly the banking sector is still leading the way in pay for failure with RBS chief Stephen Hester due to bank a bonus of £700,000. That was on the same day that the bank’s hardware failed and customers could not even access their own cash, yet another example of wrong priorities, the campaign for the bonus cap continues.
And on International Womens’ Day another campaign that deserves more coverage in the press is gender equality in the workplace. The FT has a strong feature on why progress has stalled – and other papers also report ion the poor performance of the UK which is now mired at 18 out of 27 in the index of economic empowerment for women; the UK continues to have a worse than average pay gap and the number of women in full time employment is way below the OECD average. Sadly the Con-Dem government is driving equality backwards as the cuts hit women in the workplace and at home. There’s a three page spread in the Morning Star on how the coalition has failed women and why the fight must go on.
And talking of fighting and campaigning Paul Routledge highlights the forthcoming Unite political fund ballot and those for other UK unions. Millions of trade unionists will be asked to vote YES so they can fight for our better wages, holiday, workplace rights, our NHS, for housing, decent homes, health and safety and more…
(no links all stories behind paywall)
- Aviva payout cu rocks pension funds (p1)
- Cameron takes on Thatcher mantle (p2)
- Curtain rises on [coalition] spending policy split (p2)
- Progress over gender equality in workforce stalls (p3)
- Huhne’s wife faces jail (p4)
- Former SFO head criticised (p4)
- John Lewis staff share £211 million pot (p17)
- Nokia halves chief’s pay (p17)
- Banks face loan loss provision shake up (p18)
sees growing demand for SUVs (p20)
- Weak car demand to put brakes on Continental (p20)
- EADS cautions on tech lessons (p21)
- Balfour to sell most of its European businesses (p23)
Edited by Mik Sabiers