Government accused of ‘total failure’ to widen elite university access

From the Guardian: Ministers have been accused of a “total and abject failure” to widen access to top universities for disadvantaged students, after analysis by the Labour party found the proportions attending Russell Group universities had increased by only one percentage point since 2010.

Separately, research by a group of Labour MPs suggests pupils from towns are less likely to attend university than those from London, with a nine percentage point gap between pupils from London and the rest of the country, and a 20-point gap between those from low-income families in the capital and in towns.

Labour said the Russell Group, which includes Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College London and Imperial College, had failed to recruit students from neighbourhoods where few traditionally enter higher education.

The party’s analysis of the Higher Education Statistics Agency data found the proportion of students from those areas had increased by one percentage point across all Russell Group universities to 6%, less than half that at non-Russell Group institutions.

Labour said it was clear the Department for Education would not reach the target set in 2013 by the then prime minister, David Cameron, to double the proportion of university entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2020.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Labour Party complains to regulator over coverage of cemetery visit

From the Guardian: The Labour Party has formally complained to the press regulator Ipso about the coverage by several British newspapers of Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to lay a wreath at a cemetery in Tunisia.

In its complaint, the party said The SunThe Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and Metro had misrepresented the event, which the Labour leader attended in 2014.

Labour said subsequent reporting of the incident across the media had seriously misrepresented the event, misidentified those buried in the cemetery and underplayed the role of mainstream Palestinian leaders conducting the ceremony.

The complaint focuses on incidents where newspapers have specifically stated in news stories that the event was commemorating members of the Black September terrorist group or those who carried out the 1972 Munich massacre. Labour says there are no graves for such individuals and the event did not commemorate the Munich terrorists.

Labour acknowledges that the cemetery contains the graves of senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation individuals Salah Khalaf and Atef Besiso, who were assassinated in the early 1990s and have been accused by Israel of having had links with Black September, something the PLO has always denied. However, it insists Corbyn did not take part in laying wreaths on their specific graves.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

40 senior academics condemn anti-Corbyn bias in media coverage of antisemitism

More than forty senior academics write to the Guardian to condemn what they see as an anti-Corbyn bias in media coverage of the antisemitism debate…

“One of the main concepts in journalism education is that of framing: the highlighting of particular issues, and the avoidance of others, in order to produce a desired interpretation. We have been reminded of the importance of framing when considering the vast amounts of media coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged failure to deal with antisemitism inside the Labour party. On Sunday, three national titles led with the story while news bulletins focused on the allegations all last week. Dominant sections of the media have framed the story in such a way as to suggest that antisemitism is a problem mostly to do with Labour and that Corbyn is personally responsible for failing to deal with it. The coverage has relied on a handful of sources such as the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and well-known political opponents of Corbyn himself.

“Yet where are the Jewish voices who support Corbyn and who welcome his long-established anti-racist record? Where are the pieces that look at the political motivations of some of Corbyn’s most vocal critics?”

[Read full letter and signatories on Guardian website…]

‘Worst ever’ July A&E performance shows collapse in NHS standards under Theresa May

From Morning Star: Latest figures on A&E waiting times reveal the “astonishing” collapse in NHS standards under Theresa May, Labour said today.

Monthly statistics for July 2018 published by #NHS England show that just 89.3 per cent of people attending A&E were seen within four hours, well below the 95 per cent target.

That dismal performance means NHS England has consistently failed to meet the 95 per cent four-hour target — lowered from 98 per cent by the coalition government — since July 2015.

The number of people attending A&E in July 2018 also hit a record 2.176 million people in July 2018, the highest figure since records began in 2010.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

More blood on Britain’s hands as Saudis kill children in bus attack

From Morning Star: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman may project himself to simpering allies in Washington, London and Tel Aviv as the face of change, but domestic repression and war crimes in Yemen persist.

The Saudi military coalition, engaged in erasing all resistance in its southern neighbour, obliterated a bus in Saada province today, killing up to 39 people – the majority infants – and wounding another 43.

This massacre is merely the latest in a long list by the Saudi coalition, seeking to impose its will by terror bombing since its ground troops have failed so far to achieve its aim.

To improve its chances, Saudi Arabia and its coalition of corrupt Gulf kingdoms spend freely on weapons of mass destruction from Western powers, especially the US and Britain.

Britain’s Campaign Against the Arms Trade estimates that our Tory government has licensed £4.7 billion of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing campaign began in 2015, during which period 10,000 people have been killed.

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Tory MP breaks ranks on Northamptonshire council crisis

From The Guardian: A Conservative MP has said ministers need to urgently “learn the lessons” from the financial collapse of Tory-run Northamptonshire county council if they are to prevent more councils slipping into insolvency.

Andrew Lewer, the MP for Northamptonshire South, said that while mismanagement had fuelled the Northamptonshire crisis, the council was also a victim of underlying financial pressures affecting all local authorities with social care responsibilities.

Lewer’s comments will be seen as a breaking of ranks both with the government and with his six fellow Tory MPs in the county, who have up to now sought to present the council’s problems as unrelated to wider funding issues.

His intervention came as Northamptonshire county councillors prepare to take further steps towards drawing up a drastic cuts plan that they hope will close a £70m black hole in the accounts over the next few months.

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Tory Government ‘ignoring Grenfell warning signs’, say firefighters’ leaders

From Morning Star: Firefighters’ leaders have accused the government of ignoring the warning signs of Grenfell, as new figures showed a rise in incidents amid continued fire service cuts.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said that, despite mounting difficulties over the last year, the government continued to “starve” fire authorities of funding.

There were 564,827 incidents in England in the past year, an increase of more than 4,000.

Firefighters attended more than 167,000 fires, the most since 2011-12, said the FBU, adding that the long period of improvements in public safety has plateaued, with cuts the “most likely explanation” for the rise.

The union said that, since 2010, one in five firefighting jobs have been cut, including around 10,000 in Englan

FBU national officer Dave Green said: “These dreadful new figures confirm firefighters’ worst fears. Austerity cuts are now damaging public safety.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Budget crisis takes Northamptonshire council into uncharted territory

From The Guardian: The most high-profile symbol of the cuts in Northamptonshire to date has arguably the county’s 36 libraries, 21 of which the council wants to close or sell. There is popular outrage at this, not least in Northamptonshire’s more well-heeled rural areas, making its Tory MPs nervous. The proposal is being challenged in the courts.

Less well known is that 19 of the 21 libraries under threat host early-years children’s services such as mother-and-baby groups and health visitor sessions. These services were moved into libraries two years ago when an earlier round of cuts closed several SureStart centres. Where these services will go now is unclear.

Northamptonshire’s cuts will be felt in even its leafiest and most prosperous areas. Dig into the council’s cuts plans and you find an axe taken to highways budgets – less pothole filling, winter gritting and traffic light maintenance. The council expects legal challenges to these, too.

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Voter fraud cases vs. impact of Tory Government’s ID scheme

From Full Fact:

In a single day across five councils, twice as many people didn’t vote due to having incorrect ID, as have been accused…

Posted by Full Fact on Sunday, July 29, 2018

 

“As we suffer in the heatwave and Greece burns, the Tories are signing off a fracking bill that is laughable”

Harry Cockburn writes in The Independent: “In Greece, the death count may reach triple figures. Wildfires have melted cars, wiped villages off the map and decimated families… What could our governments do to alleviate the carnage? What about some fracking? What about pumping millions upon millions of gallons of water and chemicals down into earth to break rocks to release gas which we can then burn?”

[Read column on Independent website…]

Private water company bosses have pocketed £175 million in last 5 years

From Morning Star: Bosses of England’s nine private water companies have pocketed £175 million in pay and benefits in the last five years, general union GMB disclosed today.

GMB, which has thousands of members working in the water industry, revealed the pay packages as part of its “Take Back the Tap” campaign, calling for the water industry to be returned to public ownership.

Since water privatisation in 1989, customers’ bills have increased by 40 per cent in real terms.

The union says the industry’s top 54 executives pocketed an enormous £40.3 million in 2017 alone. Executive directors and senior management received an average of £746,296 each in salaries, pension contributions, bonuses and benefits.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

UK facing legal action over ‘unlawful’ decision not to protect Isis ‘Beatles’ from death penalty

From The Independent: Legal action could be launched against the government over its failure to demand that two members of a British Isis cell will not be executed in the US. MPs are in uproar over not being consulted about the reversal of a long-held policy barring extradition or intelligence sharing in cases where the death penalty may be used.

[Read article on Independent website…]

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