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Updated: 1 hour 53 min ago

‘The US cannot rewrite international law to fit Trump’s ideology’, says former spokeswoman for Palestinian PM

1 hour 55 min ago

Well joining me now from Ramallah in the West Bank is Nour Odeh, a political analyst and former Spokeswoman for the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s government.

Categories: Media

Israel PM Netanyahu thanks Trump for Israeli settlements decision

2 hours 1 min ago

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has travelled to the West Bank to celebrate after the Trump administration declared that Israeli settlements there are not a violation of international law.

Though it may also have boosted his chances of forming another government, after two elections produced a political stalemate.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war.

Both the UN and the European Union consider all settlement activity there as illegal –  though Israel has always disputed this.

Categories: Media

Green Party pledge net zero carbon emissions by 2030

2 hours 6 min ago

The Green Party has promised to spend £100bn a year to make Britain achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 if they form a government

Launching their election manifesto today, the party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley called it “the most ambitious green new deal anywhere”.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are preparing to go head to head in a television debate – which starts in the next hour.

Categories: Media

Hong Kong: Student protesters’ standoff with police continues

2 hours 11 min ago

1500 tear gas canisters, more than 1000 rubber bullets have been fired – and still the siege goes on.

A hardcore group of protesters remains inside Hong Kong’s Polytechnic – preparing, perhaps for the final police showdown.

Any adults who leave the campus have been warned they will be arrested on suspicion of rioting – which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail.

Those inside have described the situation as ‘desperate’ – short on food, water and medical supplies.

Categories: Media

‘My baby was killed by their failings to learn’, says bereaved mother after Telford and Shrewsbury hospital maternity scandal

2 hours 15 min ago

We are joined now from Hereford by Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton – whose daughter Kate died shortly after birth in 2009.

cathyThey have campaigned ever since for the truth.

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Babies and mums died amid ‘toxic’ culture at Telford and Shrewsbury hospital, leaked report says

2 hours 33 min ago

Babies and mothers died. Others were left permanently disabled. Distraught families were left struggling to find out any information from a hospital that repeatedly failed to learn from mistakes.

This could well be the country’s worst ever maternity scandal – as a leaked report into the Shewsbury and Telford NHS trust found a toxic culture stretching back 40 years.

And, it warns, key lessons are still not being learned there today.

Categories: Media

FactCheck: Labour’s misleading £100bn tax cut claim

3 hours 23 min ago

“£100bn has been given away in tax cuts”

That was the claim from John McDonnell this morning.

The shadow chancellor said “over £85bn” of that came from cuts to corporation tax, with the rest from changes to capital gains, inheritance and top-rate income taxes. That, he says “has benefited corporations and the wealthy”.

But the “£100bn” figure is misleading. It fails to account for the tax rises the government has levied on businesses and top earners.

Where’s the £100bn from?

The £100bn figure comes from a Labour report called “In the pockets of the many.”

The first thing to note is that not all of these supposed government giveaways have happened yet: they’re based on stats for the period 2010-11 (when the Conservatives took office) to 2023-24 (the furthest ahead official forecasts go).

Labour say they reached the total by combining £86bn cuts to corporation tax, £5.5bn cuts to capital gains tax, £5.6bn in inheritance tax giveaways, and £1.2bn from cuts to income tax for top earners.

They’ve used numbers from the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) Policy Measures Database, although the watchdog confirmed to FactCheck that they were not responsible for the analysis.

The net corporation tax giveaway is nothing like £86bn

The problem is that this “£100bn” that Mr McDonnell says has been given away in tax cuts to “corporations and the wealthy” doesn’t account for the fact that those same businesses and individuals have also been subject to tax rises since 2010.

Let’s take corporation tax, which according to Labour’s calculations, makes up £86bn of the £100bn “giveaway”.

The headline rate of corporation tax has been cut from 26 per cent to 19 per cent since 2010 (which Labour would reverse if in power — as FactCheck reported yesterday).

Returning to the OBR Policy Measures Database, if we include all the changes that the Conservatives have introduced under the category “on-shore CT [corporation tax]” — so the tax giveaways and the tax rises — we calculate the net giveaway to businesses is £7.2bn.

That’s substantially less than the gross figure of £86bn that Labour were quoting.

As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) pointed out yesterday: “While the government has reduced the headline rate of corporation tax, at the same time it has increased corporation tax in other ways, including reducing capital allowances for investment, introducing the bank surcharge, restricting companies’ ability to offset past losses against future profits, and a raft of anti-avoidance measures.”

Top earners are paying more than they would have done without government reforms

It’s a similar picture when we look at the top rate of income tax. Labour have focused on “£1.2 bn from cuts to income tax for the very wealthiest.” They’re referring to a 2012 policy to reduce the top rate of tax to 45p.

But as the IFS found last week, overall, top earners are paying more: “The share of income tax provided by the top 1 per cent of taxpayers has increased from 24 per cent in 2007-08, just before the financial crisis, to 30 per cent now.”

And “unlike the increases in previous decades, this has not been driven by a rising income share at the top. Rather, it reflects policy reforms: there have been income tax rises for high-income individuals,” including “the additional rate of income tax above £150,000” and “the withdrawal of the personal allowance above £100,000.”

Does this method even tell us much?

As the IFS explained to FactCheck, the methodology Labour have chosen is not especially reliable — even if they had used net, rather than gross, figures.

For one thing, the OBR Policy Measures Database is not updated to reflect new estimates of what each policy announcement will cost (which can often change as policymakers and economists get a better idea of how businesses and individuals will actually respond to a change).

More broadly, aggregating figures over a 13-year period, and including future projections, like this is pretty unconventional for statisticians. The IFS recommend we use annual numbers instead.

We should also say that framing the alleged “giveaways” as benefiting “corporations and the wealthy” wrongly gives the impression that businesses and high earners are one-in-the-same.

In fact, as the IFS have documented in the past: “Like all taxes, corporation tax rises are always borne ultimately by households, through lower wages for workers, higher prices for consumers or lower returns for shareholders.” The report goes on to highlight evidence that “a significant share of the burden of corporation tax tends to get shifted to workers.”

It’s not the first time politicians have used a gross figure when a net figure would have been more appropriate. Boris Johnson was rapped by the head of the UK Statistics Authority during the 2016 referendum for his now-infamous battle bus that claimed we were sending £350m a week to the EU — a figure that ignored the rebate and other funds we get back in return.

FactCheck contacted the Labour party. They showed us their report but declined to offer further comment.

FactCheck verdict

John McDonnell says “£100bn has been given away in tax cuts” that have “benefitted corporations and the wealthy.”

He’s referring to Labour research on the combined effect of cuts to corporation, inheritance, capital gains and top-rate income taxes over the period 2010-11 to 2023-24.

This figure is misleading because it fails to take account of the tax rises that have hit businesses and top earners in that time.

For example, Labour say £86bn of the £100bn total comes from corporation tax cuts. But using what we understand Labour’s methodology to be, the net giveaway to businesses is substantially less: around £7bn.

Similarly, research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies published last week found that top earners are now paying more of the national tax bill as a direct result of government policies since 2010.

Categories: Media

Carbon offsets: can you really pay off your carbon footprint?

9 hours 34 min ago

Can we pay someone else to take responsibility for our carbon emissions?

Climate change and the climate crisis has people around the world going on strike, marching on the streets and demanding action on global warming. But, we all have a carbon footprint and for more of us it involves carbon-intensive activities like flying around the world.

Which brings us to carbon offsets.

Is it the answer to the growing problem of aviation emissions and can it help solve the climate crisis?

Categories: Media

Torsten Bell: “People from the FT through to ‘revolutionaries’ think things need to change”

Mon, 2019-11-18 20:28

Edwin Morgan, the director of policy at the business organisation the Institute of Directors and Torsten Bell, Chief Executive of the left of centre think tank the Resolution Foundation joins Cathy in the studio.

Categories: Media

What is happening to modern capitalism?

Mon, 2019-11-18 20:25

‘The constant revolutionising of production, everlasting uncertainty and agitation – all fixed relations are swept away, all that is solid melts into air.’

If that sounds like the non-stop pace of our high-tech modern world – it was actually Karl Marx’s description of capitalism, 170 years ago.

But today’s critics of the onward march of free enterprise are not just confined to the far left – some traditional champions of the market economy are also calling for a rethink.

Categories: Media

The West African children brought up by white foster families in the English countryside

Mon, 2019-11-18 20:02

For many migrant families, private foster arrangements have helped them get temporary child care while they find work and establish roots.

But because it happens outside local authority regulation officials admit they have no idea how many children are in private foster care, leaving them at greater risk of neglect, or worse.

Since the 1950’s, there’s been an unrecorded history of West African children sent from the inner cities to be fostered by white parents in rural England. Now their forgotten stories are being told.

Categories: Media

Prince Andrew accused of using N-word by former Downing Street aide

Mon, 2019-11-18 20:00

The Duke of York is coming under growing pressure to give a formal statement to the US authorities investigating the Jeffrey Epstein scandal – after his widely-criticised television interview at the weekend.

And there was yet more controversy today – after a former Downing Street aide claimed Prince Andrew used the N-word during a conversation they had in Buckingham Palace in 2012, a claim the Palace has strongly denied. 

Categories: Media

Party leaders pitch plans to CBI to win business votes

Mon, 2019-11-18 19:41

The two main parties have been defending their big spending plans to a potentially hostile audience today: business leaders.

Boris Johnson told the CBI conference he would cancel a planned cut in corporation tax – claiming he’d use the cash for public services instead.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn defended his plans to take some key services into public ownership – calling it an essential step towards building a ‘genuinely mixed economy’.

And Jo Swinson described the Lib Dems as the natural party of business because of their plans to cancel Brexit.

Categories: Media

Bonnie Leung: “we cannot get peace if the arrogance of the HK government continues”

Mon, 2019-11-18 19:18

China has warned that no one should underestimate its will to safeguard its sovereignty – the Chinese ambassador to the UK said Beijing would not just sit back and watch if the situation in Hong Kong became ‘uncontrollable’.

One of the protest leaders Bonnie Leung joins Matt Frei.

Categories: Media

Hong Kong students and police clash on decimated university campus

Mon, 2019-11-18 18:52

Around a hundred exhausted, bedraggled young men and women are hunkered down in Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University, the scene of pitched battles between police and activists.

Inside we found exhausted teenagers, stranded and desperate, worried as much about being arrested by police as by their parents’ reaction. Some of the protestors were ditching their distinctive black clothes, the uniform of the protest,  to try and make a run for it. Others stay put, wanting to fight until the bitter end.

Tonight tension has flared up all around the city as other protesters try to distract police, hoping to give the stranded students a chance to break out.

More mass protests may be on the horizon too, as rumours swirl that, after months of chaos, the government is going to cancel this weekend’s election.

Categories: Media

FactCheck: Johnson wrong about Labour corporation tax

Mon, 2019-11-18 17:21

Boris Johnson addressed business leaders at the CBI annual conference this morning.

Having regaled the audience with tales of a short-lived ambition to set up a kitchen tiles company after he left university, the Prime Minister got onto corporation tax — understandably a major concern for the assembled guests.

He told the crowd that the Conservatives would postpone plans to cut business rates, but sought to “remind” them that:

“The alternative is Jeremy Corbyn — who would whack it straight back up to the highest levels in Europe.”

But Mr Johnson is wrong.

As it stands, corporation tax is currently 19 per cent, and had been slated to drop to 17 per cent, (though Mr Johnson confirmed today that his party will not go ahead with the cut).

Labour say they will raise the main rate of corporation tax to 26 per cent by 2022 — the level it was in 2011.

There are various ways to measure corporate tax rates, but stats from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that on all standard measures, a 26 per cent rate would not see the UK take top spot as Mr Johnson claims.

Looking at the rate set by central governments, we’d be behind France, Portugal, Belgium, and Greece. The same is true when we look at the combined corporate income tax rate (a measure that includes taxes levelled locally, as happens in some countries outside the UK).

The Conservative Party were contacted for comment.

Categories: Media

Gotabaya Rajapaksa elected President of Sri Lanka

Sun, 2019-11-17 19:12

The man accused of running military death squads during decades of civil war in Sri Lanka has been elected President with an overwhelming majority.

Victory for former defence minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa, marks the return to power of a family dynasty which has been mired in allegations of corruption, nepotism, torture and other human rights abuses – as Simon Israel reports.

And a warning – there are scenes which viewers may find distressing.

Categories: Media

Tories v Labour: Battle of the immigration policies

Sun, 2019-11-17 19:11

General election discussion turned to policy debates over immigration and access to dental care.

But it’s been polls and personalities that have grabbed the most attention.

Categories: Media

Hong Kong Protests: Siege of Polytechnic University

Sun, 2019-11-17 19:05

Hong Kong police have launched an operation to drive hundreds of anti government protestors off a university campus – after a day of violent clashes.

A policeman was injured after he was shot in the leg with an arrow – while a huge fire broke out on a footbridge after protestors set debris ablaze.

Police have now issued an ultimatum for people to leave the area – with a barrage of tear gas and water cannon fire.

From Hong Kong, Matt Frei reports.

Categories: Media

‘It was a really bad interview’, says royal biographer Catherine Mayer

Sun, 2019-11-17 19:04

Biographer of Prince Charles and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, the writer and campaigner Catherine Mayer, joins Cathy in the studio.




Categories: Media