Wednesday, 19 January 2011

EMA cuts could ruin alcohol trade

The government’s plans to cut the weekly allowance for students is causing concern in the alcohol industry.

Nathan Lynett
The FET, Wednesday 19th January
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The Education Maintenance Allowance currently provides 16-19 year-olds from poorer backgrounds with between ten and thirty pounds a week.

While some students are believed to be blowing the money on school-related costs, such as books and travel, the majority of recipients have been contributing to the retail sector through heavy purchasing of alcopops and cheap lager.

However, as part of the general scheme of cutbacks in welfare, the government is planning to remove the EMA on account of it being “wasteful”.

The announcement has led to heavy criticism from the Labour Party and a flurry of student protests across the country.

The leader of the Labour Party Ed Milliband has described the cuts as a threat to the economic recovery, citing the alcohol trade as an area with considerable potential for growth.

“At a time of general despair like this, lots of people are turning to drink and we should be encouraging them” said Milliband.

“But instead, David Cameron wants to stop some of our most passionate binge drinkers, those in their late teens, by taking away the money that’s funding it.”

The chancellor George Osborne has responded to these criticisms by emphasising his commitment to an economy that is strong on alcohol. He insisted that the money saved by cancelling the EMA would be channelled into more efficient economic stimuli.

“We appreciate the importance of the alcohol industry, but we don’t think that the EMA is the best way to help that sector” said Osborne. “Students simply aren’t reliable enough drinkers, and the EMA isn’t sufficiently targeted on alcohol consumption.”

“We think that this money would be better invested in the homeless and those with a history of alcohol dependence.”

A representative of the student protesters in Dudley described the accusation that students are not reliable consumers of alcohol as “laughable”. Many young people also fear that a decline in drinking could lead to fewer jobs being created in the bottling industry and the social care sector.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Clegg sued for criticising UK libel

Nick Clegg's attempts to reform libel legislation backfire.

Emily Rosengreen
The FET, Monday 10th January
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The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is being sued by Tony Blair for comments that he has made about the UK libel laws.

The British system is renowned for offering particularly strong legal protection to those who feel that they have been subjected to unfair public criticism. Many people now fear that the threat of legal action is curtailing freedom of speech.

In a speech on civil liberties, Clegg blamed the Labour party under Blair for failing to tackle the issue before it got out of hand. He accused the former prime minister of having “overlooked a pretty significant problem with our legal system”.

A range of similar attacks were printed on Clegg’s website and distributed on the social media website Twitter.

Blair, having described the allegations as “inflammatory and completely untrue”, is now known to be in the process of suing the Lib Dem leader.

“The is absolutely nothing wrong with the way that Britain handles defamation”, Blair told reporters at a press conference. “And unless Nick Clegg can definitively prove that there is, I will be looking for at least six figures in damages”.

Blair has justified his taking legal action by claiming that this incident may result in personal financial loss. His lawyers are believed to be compiling evidence to show that a slight against his personal integrity could seriously damage sales of his autobiography.

“My entire public career has been based upon having an unblemished character. The last thing I want is for this to damage my credibility as a Middle East peace envoy.”

Clegg, being in the fortunate position of having examined the libel laws very recently, is understood to be entertaining little hope of prevailing in court. It is expected that his only reasonable strategy will be to overturn the current legislation before Blair can successfully sue him.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Telegraph makes Cable apology

The Daily Telegraph defends Vince Cable against its own undercover reporting allegations.

Emily Rosengreen
The FET, Monday 3rd January
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This morning’s edition of The Daily Telegraph included an apology to Vince Cable for “misleading statements” made by the newspaper.

The Business Secretary was humiliated last week when it was revealed that he had boasted of planning to “beat Rupert Murdoch to death with my schlong” to two undercover female journalists.

Cable was consequently stripped of his authority over Murdoch’s BSkyB takeover bid, and replaced by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Hunt immediately moved to demonstrate his neutrality by attending a private meeting with Murdoch on the media tycoon’s luxury yacht.

However, in a startling about-face, The Telegraph is now calling for Cable’s reinstatement, claiming that their treatment of him had been unjust. Most notably, last week’s description of Cable taking off his shirt and cracking peanuts with his biceps has been retracted.

“We feel that our reporting of the peanut incident failed to do justice to Vince Cable’s class, charisma and really quite extraordinary talent”, stated the apology. “The ladies were genuinely impressed.”

Tony Gallagher, the editor of The Telegraph, told reporters that he deeply regretted setting up the sting. “It was really very unkind of us. We have tarnished the reputations of married men before, but I feel that we went a step too far with Vince.”

“The reporters working undercover were really outrageously pretty. We feel that Vince wouldn’t have acted as he did if they hadn’t been on strict orders to giggle continuously and drop hints that they found opinions about media regulation to be a sexual turn-on.”

The Daily Telegraph has not been alone in publicly defending Vince Cable. Since the government transferred media policy to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail and thirty-five other newspapers and television stations have come out in support of the beleaguered business secretary.

This demonstration of solidarity has included fourteen criticisms of the undercover reporting, twelve warm appraisals of Cable’s career, a front page analysis of his British lineage reaching back to the sixteenth century from The Daily Mail, and no less than twenty-nine assertions of his sexual decency and all-round marital regularity.

The government has yet to respond to this surge of media support for Cable, but it is thought that any attempt to remove Jeremy Hunt’s new responsibilities and reinstate Cable would be seen as political indecisiveness.

Hunt has been unavailable for comment on the subject since Wednesday, as he is currently working on the Murdoch takeover case from his new holiday home in the Canary Islands.