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The private sector vs. definitions of fairness

– Ingrid Smith is Business Planning Editor,  Reuters Consumer Television –

Sitting in the auditorium of the London School of Economic’s Old Theatre earlier this month, I listened to Lord Turner pose the question – in rich societies is there a clear correlation between increased wealth and human well being?

An apt question indeed from the chairman of the soon-to-be-defunct UK Financial Services Authority, in light of the UK coalition government’s austerity review.

On the international stage, the OECD has described the spending review as “tough, necessary and courageous.”

from Breakingviews:

Britain’s unkind cuts may help growth sprout

It was billed as a bloodbath, and it is. By slashing public spending by 81 billion pounds over five years, Britain's coalition government is reversing the big increases of previous years. The plan is billed as necessary pain to secure the country's financial future, but it is also ideological. The aim is to move from unaffordable levels of public employment and welfare to private employment and a balanced budget. The danger, however, is that the economy stalls.

The cuts to the civil service are drastic and will cause distress, even though most departments' budgets over the life of the parliament have been reduced by a fifth, not the threatened quarter. The BBC, the foreign office, the police, even the royal family: none have been spared. The government wants services to be delivered more cheaply -- which means by fewer people.

Best of Britain: Power players

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Whether they’re pumping up the crowd, or getting ready to cut people down, this week’s Best of Britain photos are about power players. Whether it’s bodybuilder-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joking with David Cameron, Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton greeting excited fans, or defending WBA heavyweight champion David Haye training for his next bout, these are people that mean business.

Also included are photos of a re-enactor at Hastings posing as if to cleave off the photographer’s head, smoke bombs at a demonstration, a soldier’s homecoming, and the Queen looking at a painting of her likeness as she tours a new liner, also bearing her name.

Best of Britain: In the lead

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This week’s Best of Britain photos are about people in, or trying to take the lead, whether it’s David Cameron laughing during the Conservative party conference or a streaker proudly strutting through the greens of Celtic Manor. There’s also photos of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf talking about his potential return to Pakistani politics as well as European team captain Colin Montgomerie proudly displaying the Ryder Cup after his team’s win.

Also included are photos of a paper Buckingham Palace model, tourists watching the changing of the guard at Clarence House, and the tragic suspected arson fire which destroyed much of Hastings Pier.

Is there a Plan B for the government?

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Our Reuters/Ipsos MORI poll is likely to make cheery reading for Britain’s Labour party.

For the first time since January 2008, they are level pegging with the Conservatives in terms of popular support; for the first time since May’s general election, more people are dissatisfied with the government than are pleased with it, and – perhaps most heartening of all for the opposition – three-quarters of the public would rather see slower public spending cuts than swift ones. And all that without Labour even having a leader.

Best friends in the whole world, at least for now

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Prime Minister David Cameron has spent the last few days playing down expectations of just how special Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States is.

He was afraid of being seen, like Tony Blair, as another American “poodle”, well aware that some aspects of the alliance have not played out in Britain’s best interest and also worried that the UK has to concentrate on forming strong ties beyond the U.S. to maintain international influence.

Best of Britain: Fakes and spills

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This week’s Best of Britain brings us everything from highs and lows to fakes and spills.

Prince Harry falls off his horse as he plays polo in the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic on Governor's Island in New York, June 27, 2010.   REUTERS/Stephen Lovekin/Pool

Prince Harry falls off his horse as he plays polo in the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic on Governor’s Island in New York, June 27, 2010. REUTERS/Stephen Lovekin/Pool

Cameron: British patience with the Afghan mission is not limitless

OUKTP-UK-BRITAIN-ARMY-STRENGTHNew British Prime Minister David Cameron is not giving a timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan but during his first visit to the country as premier on Thursday he was already looking ahead to a time when the British have left the country.

“Even after our troops have left Afghanistan — and I believe that they will — the relationship between Britain and Afghanistan, just as the relationship between Britain and Pakistan, are vitally important relationships for all of our countries,” Cameron said at a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

This may hurt a little

Britons are being prepared for the hardest of hard times. Prime Minister David Cameron has warned the public that they will feel the impact of deficit-cutting decisions for years and maybe even decades. Cameron justifies the pain by saying that doing nothing about debt would be disastrous and that Britain will come out of the other side as a stronger country.

His finance minister George Osborne and LibDem sidekick Danny Alexander were setting out plans on Tuesday for how to conduct this year’s spending review, with  unions, the public and the private sector asked to contribute ideas.

Reality intrudes on new British political order

cameron_cleggBritain’s new political order was on display in the House of Commons on Tuesday when Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg squeezed  happily between Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague  on the government front bench.

The house was packed and in an excited, start-of-term mood. Everything was going swimmingly, with former Conservative minister Peter Lilley cracking jokes as he gaves what is typically a light-hearted response to the Queen’s Speech.

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