ONS Warn of “Notable Slowdown” in Latest GDP Figures

The ONS has warned that there has been a “notable slowdown” in the economy following the publication of the second quarter GDP figures. The UK economy has grown by 0.3% between April to June 2017, but construction and manufacturing growth is negative compared to the previous quarter.

Darren Morgan from the ONS said:

“The economy has experienced a notable slowdown in the first half of this year. While services such as retail, and film production and distribution showed some improvement in the second quarter, a weaker performance from construction and manufacturing pulled down overall growth”.

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, welcomed the economic growth but added:

“We need to focus on restoring productivity growth to deliver higher wages and living standards for people across the country”.

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, said in a statement:

“Growth for the first half of 2017 is below expectations, and it follows continued data showing working families are being squeezed with wages not keeping up with prices. The truth is that the Tories’ austerity cuts have undermined working people’s living standards and weakened the UK economy”.

The data summary is available at the ONS web-site.

Jeremy Corbyn Repeats Labour Pledge to Increase Minimum Wage to £10 per Hour

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has repeated Labour’s pledge to increase the national minimum wage to £10 per hour. The increase would be implemented immediately in 2020 if the Labour Party won the next General Election.

Corbyn said in a statement:

“Labour’s real living wage will immediately boost the incomes and opportunities of more than 20% of the workforce, especially in sectors such as retail, care and hospitality. We know that where work pays, living standards rise and reliance on benefits falls. This is the right thing to do, and a Labour government will be committed to rebalancing our economy so that no one and no community is left behind”.

The current living wage is set to increase the minimum wage to £9 by 2020, although younger workers may receive a lower rate. Labour’s plan was first mentioned by John McConnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the party’s annual conference.

Naz Shah Re-admitted to Labour Party after Hate Posts

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The Labour Party has confirmed that Naz Shah, the MP for Bradford West, has been re-admitted after she was found to have made hate posts on-line. She was suspended from the party in April 2016 and she also resigned from her position as PPS to John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor.

The Labour Party National Executive Committee confirmed that she would need to apologise for bringing the party into disrepute and could face being expelled permanently if she repeated her actions.

Labour Set Out a New Economic Strategy

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, and John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, have unveiled Labour’s new economic strategy at an event held in London.

In two substantial speeches the pair out-lined Labour’s new focus on tackling inequality, building more homes and increasing opportunity.

In his speech Corbyn said:

“We need a Labour government that will put investment, productivity and sustainable growth first, alongside a 21st century industrial policy. That is how we will provide the economic security that the Tories are failing to deliver. Security and investment in jobs and skills. Security and investment in housing. Security and investment in our NHS and our schools. And, yes, security and investment in our public finances too”.

In the speech made by McDonnell, he said:

“From the ground up, we can start to transform how capitalism in Britain works. Previous Labour governments were content to only think about how to redistribute income. Today, technological change means we have to think more closely about ownership. I’ve spoken before of moving beyond the Tory Right to Buy and creating a Labour Right to Own. This can be at the centre of our offer to Britain. A radical decentralization of economic power and authority back to working people and local communities”.

Naz Shah, John McDonnell’s PPS, Resigns After Hate Post

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Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, has resigned as the PPS to John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Her resignation comes after suggestions were made that she may face suspension from the Labour Party.

The MP’s posts, made on Twitter two years ago, were noticed by the Guido Fawkes blog and add to the allegations that Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, isn’t doing enough to tackle anti-antisemitism in the party.

Sir Eric Pickles, the former Conservative Cabinet Minister and current MP for Brentwood and Ongar, said:

“These harmful words echo the acts of hate and intolerance we as a country have always stood against and for them to come from a Member of Parliament about to conduct an inquiry into the rise of anti-Semitism is outrageous. I would urge Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to take immediate action”.

Michael Fabricant, the Conserative MP for Lichfield said:

“Naz Shah has appeared to have out done George Galloway in sheer spite and loathing. Her sitting on a Home Office inquiry into antisemitism means she will bring her own personal expertise to the Committee. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be laughable”.

The MP is also expected to stand down from the Home Affairs Select Committee which is currently discussing how to tackle antisemitism. The Telegraph has reported that two of her colleagues on the committee believe she should stand down.

Shah said:

“I deeply regret the hurt I have caused by comments made on social media before I was elected as an MP. I made these posts at the height of the Gaza conflict in 2014, when emotions were running high around the Middle East conflict”.

Boris Johnson Plunges Conservative Party Into Racism Row

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Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has embroiled the Conservative Party into allegations of racism after referring to Barack Obama, the President of the United States, as “part-Kenyan” whilst criticising his input into the EU debate.

Johnson said in an article for The Sun newspaper, said:

“Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender”.

Nicholas Soames, a Conservative MP and grandson of Winston Churchill, said:

“Appalling article by Boris Johnson in The Sun, totally wrong on almost everything”.

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, said:

“The mask has slipped again. Boris Johnson’s part-Kenyan comment about Barack Obama is yet another example of dog whistle racism from senior Tories. He should withdraw it immediately”.

Yvette Cooper, a contender for the Labour leadership in 2015, said:

“As ever, it’s more bad judgment from Boris Johnson. Is this really how a man who wants to be prime minister should be talking about the president of the United States?”

Protest Against Austerity Takes Place in London

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A protest against austerity has taken place today in London attended by thousands of people. John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, was present at the march which was organised by The People’s Assembly.

McDonnell said at the rally that Labour “will make the rich and corporations pay their way in society” and added “we will halt the privatisation of our NHS and make it public once again”.

Government Rule out Steel Nationalisation

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The Government has ruled out nationalising the steel industry saying that “it is not the answer”.  John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, called for the Government to “get a grip” on the situation, with 40,000 jobs at risk following Tata Steel’s decision to shut down UK operations.

Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, issued this statement:

“I am deeply concerned about the situation. I think it is absolutely clear that the UK steel industry is absolutely vital for the country. We will look at all viable options to keep steelmaking continuing in Port Talbot. We also are very much alive to the human cost. We want to make sure that no worker is left behind, so where workers are affected, that we’re doing everything we possibly can to help them and their families.

Options – renationalise

At this stage, given the announcement from Tata has just come out, it is important we talk to them properly and understand the exact situation and look at all viable options. I don’t think that nationalisation is going to be the solution, particularly if you take into account the big challenges the industry faces. But there are solutions to this once we understand the situation better and we want to make sure that we explore all of them.

Who is going to buy a business that is losing a million pounds a day?
Well actually Tata has announced recently another part of their steel business in the UK that they were planning to close down, and a buyer has been found for that. Recently, there was an announcement for part of their business in Scotland where a buyer has been found. So I think there are buyers out there. It might require some kind of government support, and we are more than ready to look at all ways that we can provide commercial support to really secure the long-term future of steelmaking in Port Talbot.

How long would you give that support for?

I think we will look at all options. Right now it is too early to tell what options are exactly on the table, because we want to speak to potential buyers, but the good thing is that we have been in discussions with Tata for a number of weeks over a number of issues that they have faced. I spoke today to the head of Tata and we have his assurance that we will work together constructively to try and secure the long-term future of steelmaking in Port Talbot.

Message to workers and their families

I think this kind of news is absolutely devastating for a local community. For so many workers in a place where steelmaking has been the culture, the fabric of the community for such a long time, I am very much alive to that human cost, and my assurance to them is that the government will do everything it can to keep steelmaking in Port Talbot. And secondly, where workers are affected, to make sure that that impact is minimal and we do everything we can to help them and their families”.

John McDonnell said:

“I think in the short-term nationalise to stabilise and then look at the plans that have been brought forward by a combination of workers and management, which is about restructuring the company. Too many jobs are at stake, we know we’ll need steel in the future and it’s better for that steel to come from our own country than elsewhere”.

Labour express concern over the cut in the UK’s growth forecasts

John McDonnell GB Labour MP Hayes and Harlington

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, has expressed concern following the cut in the UK’s growth forecast by both the European Commission and the Bank of England.

The Bank of England confirmed today that they were cutting the UK’s growth prediction from 2.5% down to 2.2%. The bank’s report also cut the expected increase in wage growth from 3.75% down to 3%.

In a statement McDonnell said:

“It’s unwelcome that both the EU Commission and the Bank of England have cut their expected growth forecasts for the UK.

Labour has been cautioning for several months now about growing global uncertainty, something that George Osborne has only woken up to recently.

We should be particularly concerned that, in Mark Carney’s own words, the “accelerating fiscal consolidation” is part of the reason for why UK growth is expected to dip below past averages.

This is further evidence that the Chancellor’s austerity programme is driven by ideology and could be undermining the potential of the UK economy”.

Campaigning Continues as 100 Days Until London Mayoral Elections

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Campaigning is continuing for the London Mayoral elections which are to be held in 100 days. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, urged Londoners not to back Labour’s candidate, Sadiq Khan and instead to support Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative candidate.

Cameron said:

“Sadiq Khan nominated Jeremy Corbyn to be leader of the Labour party and he doesn’t regret it. Never mind the fact that he wants to give the Falklands back to Argentina or he thinks that nuclear submarines should patrol the Atlantic without any missiles.

“His policy is to bring back and legalise secondary strikes and flying pickets. Just think what the first Corbyn-elected Mayor would be like for our economy, for our city. You do not want to be lab rats in the first Corbyn economic experiment in public life”.

Sadiq Khan also spoke of his bid to become Mayor in the Daily Telegraph and rejected the leader’s view on Trident, saying:

“I’m quite clear that I can’t foresee any circumstances in which I would vote to unilaterally end our nuclear capability”.

Khan also rejected the idea of John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, to abolish the City of London Corporation. He said in an interview with City AM that:

“Any suggestion that the Corporation should be abolished is ridiculous and clearly not in the interests of London”.

Speaking to The Guardian, Caroline Pidgeon, standing for the Liberal Democrats, said that “morale is actually very, very good in the party”. She added that the party had more new members in the city than it had received for sometime.

The Mayoral elections will take place on 5 May 2016 and other candidates include Siân Berry (Green Party), Peter Whittle (UKIP), David Furness (BNP) and George Galloway (Respect Party).