UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

How big a problem is workplace bullying?

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worker2A political row is brewing after allegations of bullying were aimed at Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The claims, made in a book and published in a Sunday newspaper, accused Brown of several abusive outbursts, including grabbing staff by the lapels, shoving them aside and shouting at them.

Downing Street has strenuously denied that the “malicious allegations” are true, while Conservative leader David Cameron has said he expects there to be an inquiry into the claims.

Christine Pratt, head of the National Bullying Helpline, weighed into the debate by saying several people who worked at Number 10 had been in touch with the charity, adding that none had directly accused Mr Brown of bullying.

Meanwhile, Business secretary Lord Mandelson, in an interview with the BBC, said that Brown is “demanding of people” and himself but has never bullied anyone.

TV interview shows Brown is brushing up

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BrownIt should have been toe-curlingly embarrassing but Gordon Brown seemed to come out of it pretty well, raising the stakes for the planned debates between party leaders ahead of the election.

The prime minister’s appearance on Piers Morgan’s celebrity interview programme on Sunday night must have been designed to  show a more human side to Brown — who often comes across as awkward and intellectual.

Opinion poll raises spectre of hung British parliament

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OUKTP-UK-BRITAIN-BROWN-TAXESThe latest opinion poll in Britain showing the opposition Conservatives six points ahead of the ruling Labour party has raised the possibility of a hung parliament with no one party having an overall majority and a return to the kind of political uncertainty not seen since the 1970s.

Kenneth Clarke, the Conservatives’ business spokesman, said earlier this month that a hung parliament at this point in the economic cycle would be a disaster, an assertion his boss David Cameron was quick to try to play down after the latest survey.

Live blog: BNP on Question Time

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Welcome to our live blog of the BBC’s Question Time, which tonight features British National Party leader Nick Griffin on its panel.

Whichever side of the debate you fall on, no-one can deny that this has developed into a huge story. The BBC has defended its decision to invite Griffin on, Gordon Brown has predicted that it will backfire and security has been ramped up ahead of the show.

Should the BNP be able to use military imagery?

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griffinThis is a busy week for the British National Party (BNP).

Today it was warned to stop using military imagery in its campaign material. A group of former military leaders accused the BNP, which has used photographs of spitfire fighter planes and Winston Churchill, of hijacking Britain’s history for their own “dubious ends.”

The distinguished generals said this tarnished the reputation of the armed forces and called on them to “cease and desist.”

from The Great Debate UK:

Send your questions to Alistair Darling

darlingDo you have a question you would like to ask Chancellor Alistair Darling? Now is your chance.

At 1:30pm British time on Wednesday, October 21, Reuters is hosting an exclusive Web 2.0 interview with Darling and we want you to send us your questions to put to the top man from the Treasury.

Is five too young to start primary school?

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schoolThe largest review of primary schooling in England for 40 years has said children at five are too young to start formal education and that six would be a more suitable age.

The Cambridge University study says play-based learning should go on for another year. Making children start school so young was a throwback to the Victorian age when the factories wanted them to start early so they could finish early and get working on the production line sooner.

Tories and Trotskyites

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thatcher.JPGChalk and organic cheese would be an understatement.

There is a surprising public perception that there wouldn’t be much difference between a Conservative or Labour government, but there couldn’t be fewer similarities between the supporters of both movements and the two party conferences.

It would be hard to imagine union activists sipping on cocktails from the Knightsbridge luxury store Harvey Nichols stand at the Labour party conference in Brighton, but in Manchester thirsty Conservatives can enjoy an HN gin ricky.

Does class matter in politics?

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borisThree big speeches have been delivered at the Conservative Party conference so far — by party leader David Cameron, the mayor of London and national bumbler, Boris Johnson, and the party’s spokesman on the economy, George Osborne.

What do all three men have in common apart from their membership of the Conservative Party? They were all educated at elite public schools (Johnson and Cameron at Eton and Osborne at St Paul’s) and all went to Oxford, where they were members of the same dining and social set, the secretive and selective Bullingdon Club.

People, Britain and change – Brown’s speech keywords

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised to clean up politics, get tough on crime in his keynote speech to the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton. He also pledged to address the bonus culture that many blame for the financial crisis.

The ‘Word Cloud’ below (click the image for a larger view), produced by Wordle, shows the words he used most frequently.

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