Labour Party checking legal position over leadership contest

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A spokesman for the Labour Party has confirmed that they have been receiving legal advice over the legality of the current leadership contest. A party spokesman said:

“We have taken legal advice to make sure that the rules are being complied with and that all due diligence as possible was being done”.

The spokesman also confirmed that there were no plans to delay or suspend the leadership contest despite claims that members of other parties had joined under the new £3 rate to cast a vote.

Following the resignation of Ed Miliband in May 2015 the acting leader, Harriet Harman, had said:

“This contest will be run under the new rules we agreed last year: a broad and open contest with one person, one vote. We want as many people as possible to take part. More than 30,000 new members have joined the party in the last few days and I hope many more members and supporters will take this opportunity to have their voice heard”.

The four candidates in the leadership process are Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall. The voting process is already underway and the result will be announced at a special conference to be held on Saturday 12 September 2015.

Foreign Secretary condemns terrorist attack in Bangkok

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Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has condemned the terrorist attack in Bangkok which killed over twenty people and injured over 120. One of the dead has also been confirmed as a British citizen although her name has yet to be released.

The terrorist attack is the largest to have taken place in Thailand and the authorities have admitted that they have been taken surprise by the bombing. The authorities confirmed that the bomb was a 3 kilogram pipe bomb designed to cause maximum damage.

Hammond said in a statement:

“The loss of life and injury in Bangkok is horrific and I condemn this callous act of violence against completely innocent and unsuspecting members of the public.

I can confirm that one British national, a resident of Hong Kong, lost her life in the attack. British Embassy staff in Thailand are assisting her family at this very difficult time.

My thoughts are with the victims, their families and loved ones, and with the Thai people.

Foreign Office officials are in close contact with the Thai authorities and have offered UK assistance in the investigation of this abhorrent act.

British nationals in Thailand should check the Foreign Office website for the latest travel advice”.

Inflation increases to 0.1%

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The RPI increased in July to 0.1% from the previous 0.0% in June 2015. Separating out energy and food figures inflation has increased to 1.2% over the last month which may put pressure on the Bank of England to increase interest rates.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he could work with Andy Burnham

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Jeremy Corbyn, one of the four candidates for the leadership of the Labour Party, has said that he could work with Andy Burnham who is one of the other candidates.

Corbyn said on Newsnight:

“Obviously there has to be a party of all the talents and of course, we can work together, and that’s an easy thing to do”.

Yvette Cooper, also standing for leadership of the Labour Party, criticised Burnham’s position which represents a change to previous stances that he has taken on Jeremy Corbyn. She called on Burnham to stand down with her campaign team saying:

“Our figures show he will drop out in the second round because his campaign is failing to provide an effective alternative to Jeremy and he is losing first preferences as a consequence. If he isn’t prepared to offer an alternative to Jeremy, he needs to step back and leave it to Yvette”.

Yvette Cooper denies Mandelson called on her to stand down

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Yvette Cooper has denied allegations made in a Daily Telegraph article that Peter Mandelson had called on her, and the other leadership candidates, to step down.

Confirming that she didn’t intend to step down from the contest Cooper said:

“I’ve not discussed this with Peter Mandelson. I gather there was some view that maybe the whole process should be stopped because so many people were joining at the last minute”.

Peter Mandelson, the former First Secretary of State, was accused of interfering with the process to leave Jeremy Corbyn as the only candidate in the leadership race.

UK Government joins international response on Libyan situation

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The Foreign Office has issued a statement with the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States on the situation in Libya.

The statement read:

“The Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States strongly condemn the ongoing barbaric acts by ISIL-affiliated terrorists in the Libyan city of Sirte. We are deeply concerned about reports that these fighters have shelled densely populated parts of the city and committed indiscriminate acts of violence to terrorize the Libyan population. We call on all parties in Libya aspiring to a peaceful and unified nation to join efforts to combat the threat posed by transnational terrorist groups exploiting Libya for their own agenda.

We welcome the recent round of the UN political dialogue in Geneva and reiterate our full support to the UN process led by SRSG Bernardino Leon. The deplorable developments in Sirte underscore the urgent need for parties in Libya to reach agreement on forming a Government of National Accord that, in partnership with the international community, can provide security against violent extremist groups seeking to destabilize the country. We reiterate that there is no military solution to the political conflict in Libya and remain concerned that the economic and humanitarian situation is worsening every day. We stand ready to support the implementation of a political agreement to ensure that a Government of National Accord and its national institutions can function effectively and meet the urgent needs of the Libyan people”.

Earlier in the year Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, ruled out military action, saying:

“The problem is that there isn’t a government in Libya that is effective and in control of its territory. There isn’t a Libyan military which the international community can effectively support.”

David Miliband warns against the “angry defiance” of Jeremy Corbyn

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David Miliband, the former Labour Foreign Secretary and leadership contender, has said that he is supporting Liz Kendall’s bid to lead the Labour Party.

Writing in the Guardian Miliband said:

“I know from experience the challenge and demands of running in a leadership campaign, so I have good reason to respect the commitment and integrity of all the candidates. I have been struck since the beginning of the campaign by the plain speaking, fresh thinking and political courage of Liz Kendall and the new generation of politicians – Chuka Umunna, Emma Reynolds, Tristram Hunt – who have declared their support for her. From industrial policy to the devolution of power, from housing to education, they got the message from the 2010 and 2015 elections that trying to turn the Labour clock back to the pre-Blair era made no sense”.

Miliband also criticised strongly the policies of Jeremy Corbyn saying:

“The Corbyn programme looks backwards. The pledges of nationalisation, 7p in the pound increases in national insurance for those earning more than £50,000, and equivocation about Britain’s place in the EU are the same ideas that I learned were wrong when I joined the Labour party in 1981”.

Miliband’s intervention came after similar criticisms of Corbyn’s chances from former senior Labour figures including Tony Blair, Alan Johnson and Jack Straw. Gordon Brown also strongly indicated in a speech that economic credibility was crucial in what was seen as a criticism of the Corbyn campaign.

Government says that every young person should be “earning or learning”

2015 General Election - Cabinet

Matthew Hancock, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, has said that the Government has new plans to end youth unemployment.

The measures include a “boot-camp” lasting three weeks to give unemployed youngsters training and advice to get into work. Other proposals include the requirement for the youth unemployed to take a job, apprenticeship, traineeship or unpaid work placements or lose benefits as well as plans to create more than three million new apprenticeships by 2020.

Hancock said:

“We are determined to fulfil our commitments to end the welfare culture that is embedded in some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities. By working across government to make sure that every young person is in work or training, by opening up 3 million more apprenticeships, expanding traineeships, and making sure that a life on benefits is simply not an option, we want to end rolling welfare dependency for good, so welfare dependency is no longer passed down the generations.

We are absolutely committed to ending long-term youth unemployment and building a country for workers, where nobody is defined by birth and everyone can achieve their potential”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team responded quickly in rejecting the bulk of the plans and saying:

“As it takes away opportunities for young people to earn or learn, this government is blaming young people rather than addressing the real problems. It proposes more free labour from the young with fewer rights, and will be resisted by young people and Labour MPs”.

Foreign Secretary reacts to Japanese Prime Minister’s comments

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Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has reacted positively to comments made by Shinzō Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, apologising for the treatment of British prisoners of war in the Second World War. The comments were made on the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender.

Hammond said in a statement:

“I welcome Prime Minister Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. I was pleased to read the reaffirmation of previous Japanese statements of apology and acknowledge Japan’s commitment, over 70 years, to peaceful development and to the rules-based international system. I welcome, as well, PM Abe’s acknowledgement of the suffering of Japanese POWs, including many thousands of Britons.

“I hope this statement will be received as a positive contribution to reconciliation between Japan and its neighbours in North East Asia”.

Kezia Dugdale elected new leader of Labour in Scotland

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Kezia Dugdale has been elected as the new leader of Scottish Labour the party has announced today.

Dugdale is 33 and has been an MSP for the Lothians region since 2001 and is currently the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

The new deputy leader of the party in Scotland is Alex Rowley who is a current MSP and was formerly an aide to Gordon Brown.

The other candidate for the party’s leadership was Ken Macintosh and the other two candidates for the party’s deputy leadership were Richard Baker and Gordon Matheson.