Unemployment at lowest level since 2008

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that unemployment has fallen to 1.84 million which is a fall of 76,000 people over the last three months. The number of claimants of Job-Seeker’s Allowance has fallen to 772,400 which is a fall of 20,700 people. The sharp increase in employment takes the number of people in the UK working to over 31 million for the first time and the highest percentage figure since the early 1970s.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said in a speech today:

“We are living through a jobs miracle – brought to you by a Conservative Government that has backed business, reformed welfare and rewarded work”.

Full details of the data are available at the ONS site.

Ken Clarke calls Tory Party too right-wing

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Ken Clarke, the former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, has said in an interview with the New Statesman that “we’ve got a very good recovery at the moment” but that this “could be swept away if we start doing silly things”.

Clarke also said that:

“No one seems to be able to win elections nowadays. I belong to the Conservative party that usually won elections! Before 1992, the Conservative party had been the national governing party of the country for most of my lifetime. And most elections I fought the Conservative party had won. And now we haven’t been able to win an election for 23 years”.

When asked why this was Clarke replied that:

“[The Conservative Party] has become much too right-wing. Which I hope David will continue to seek to redress in coming times”.

Richard Desmond gives £1 million to UKIP

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Richard Desmond, the owner of the Daily Express and Sunday Express, has donated £1 million to UKIP. Desmond, a former donor to the Labour Party, also donated £300,000 to UKIP in 2014.

In a statement Desmond said:

“They are struggling to have a voice. They do not have a massive party machine or highly paid public relations people. They are human; they are not perfect and they do not pretend to be. But what they believe in is the best for the British people. They are the sort of people who will stand up for people who are struggling”.

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, said:

“I know there are a lot more people out there who agree in private but I hope this public gesture encourages others to follow his example”.

Sir Simon Fraser departs the Foreign Office

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have confirmed the departure of Sir Simon Fraser, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary since 2010.

Sir Simon said:

“It has been a tremendous honour to lead the Foreign and Commonwealth Office over five exciting and demanding years. I feel that this is the right time to stand down and to allow someone else to guide the organisation through the coming phase under the next Government. I pay tribute to the dedicated and skilled staff of the FCO who give such outstanding service to our country every day in all corners of the world. I am also pleased to have been able to contribute to the wider leadership of the Civil Service in my time at BIS and the FCO”.

A successor will be appointed after the General Election.

Chamali Fernando criticised for mental health comments

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Chamali Fernando, the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Cambridge, has been criticised following comments she made about mental health at a hustings in the city.

The barrister said that:

“Maybe it’s something as simple as there are certain conditions which are more common, where people can wear a wristband to identify they have that condition, so that then we can perhaps, not diagnose, but spot it earlier and ensure that we deal with it”.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said:

“Silly ideas like making people suffering from mental health issues wear wristbands would only increase the discrimination and stigma around mental health, rather than end it”.

Richard Taylor, a political blogger, posted on Twitter during the event:

“She …. says those with certain mental health issues ought wear wristbands to identify their conditions”.

In response to the press reaction Fernando said:

“Richard Taylor is distorting commentary for his self publicity purposes”.