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Is Clegg right to offer flexible parental leave?

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wants to give parents the right to share and swap their statutory leave for looking after newborn babies and children. That’s good news for parents, although the new arrangements have to be knocked into shape after consultation with employers and won’t come into force until 2015. Clegg said in a speech on Monday to the Demos think tank that increasing flexibility over parental leave was a priority for him and for the Prime Minister David Cameron. Both have young families and like most fathers these days have taken time out from work following their new arrivals. At present mothers get up to a year’s statutory leave, while fathers only qualify for two weeks. Clegg wants to change that so that parents can divide up this time off as it suits them, even taking the leave at the same time if that is what they want. Unions say the proposals are long overdue, but employers are less keen. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said Clegg’s plan might be politically popular but it “fundamentally ignores the needs of business.” “How is an employer expected to plan and arrange cover with this fully-flexible system,” asked BCC director general David Frost. Have employers got a valid point? Or is it time for business to do more to ensure children see the most of both their parents in their earliest months. Tell us what you think.

BRITAIN/Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wants to give parents the right to share and swap their statutory leave for looking after newborn babies.

That’s good news for parents, although the new arrangements have to be knocked into shape after consultation with employers and won’t come into force until 2015.

Clegg said in a speech on Monday to the Demos think tank that increasing flexibility over parental leave was a priority for him and for Prime Minister David Cameron.  Both have young families and like most fathers these days have taken time out from work following their new arrivals.

At present mothers get up to a year’s statutory leave, including 39 weeks of pay, while fathers only qualify for two weeks’ of paid leave. Clegg wants to change that so that parents can divide up this time off as it suits them, even taking the leave at the same time if that is what they want.

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.

from The Great Debate UK:

Will Nick Clegg’s government “suggestion box” work?

-Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’.The opinions expressed are his own.-

If Thomas Paine were around today he would be a blogger, writing virtual pamphlets that shake a fist at the machinery of government.

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.

How long can the negotiations go on?

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It should have been all over now. But no, we’re on day five and no one really seems to know which way things are going to go.

All over Westminster, people are looking tired. Journalists, politicians, aides and most of all the 24-hour news anchors.

The big rescue package has bought the politicians some time

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They promised us market meltdown if there was a hung parliament. That was the Conservative pitch before the election.

That isn’t quite what happened. The pound did fall a bit, so did gilts and stocks but most losses were made up by the end of the first day after the result became known, which had been widely expected.

Irish lesson for Clegg: get coalition right or face oblivion

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If the Irish experience of coalition politics is anything to go by, Nick Clegg risks a lot more than unpopularity if he strikes a half-baked coalition deal with the Conservative Party. He also faces electoral oblivion should he fail to win enough concessions and power to carry his grassroots supporters with him.

Ireland’s pro-business Progressive Democrats (PDs) — relatively loyal junior coalition partners in successive administrations led by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern — imploded at the last Irish general election, winning just two seats in parliament. They subsequently disbanded altogether.

Gordon Brown will seek deal with LibDems

Gordon Brown is clearly looking to form a coalition government with the LibDems. It seems to be a matter of when as everyone waits for the results to come in.

Shortly before he was about to speak in Kirkcaldy, an aide briefed just that. Economic uncertainty meant that a strong coalition government was better than a minority one and signalled Labour could do a deal.

Twitter users still agree with Nick

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One the eve of the general election, our exclusive Twitter analysis of political sentiment shows that while the latest opinion polls point to a late rally by Gordon Brown’s Labour Party, users of the micro-blogging site still favour Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats over the other two main parties.

US market research firm Crimson Hexagon (on behalf of Reuters.co.uk) has been archiving all tweets on British politics since March 22 and analysing them for positive and negative sentiment. All parties have had their ups and downs, most notably in the aftermath of the first leaders’ debate (which led to a spike in support for the LibDems and the hashtag #iagreewithnick trending on Twitter) and Gordon Brown’s “bigot” gaffe in Rochdale,which gave us the highest percentage of negative tweets for any party during the campaign.

Nick Clegg’s celebrity-free hair cut

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Nick Clegg went to a London barbers at the height of Cleggmania, where he might have expected to attract a bit more attention than usual.

The Liberal Democrat leader’s success in the first televised election debate had put his face on the front of nearly every newspaper and at the top of every news bulletin.

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