Daily View 2×2: 7 July 2009

by Stephen Tall on July 7, 2009

2 3 Big Stories

US and Russia agree nuclear cuts

The BBC reports:

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have reached an outline agreement to cut back their nations’ stockpiles of nuclear weapons. The “joint understanding” signed in Moscow would see reductions of deployed nuclear warheads to below 1,700 each within seven years of a new treaty. The accord would replace the 1991 Start I treaty, which expires in December.

Nick Clegg welcomed the announcement:

This decision is a great moment and a promising step ahead of next year’s NPT talks. Britain must now play our own part by ruling out like-for-like replacement of Trident. Gordon Brown should follow his international colleagues and finally show some real leadership on this issue, instead of signing the contracts for a new generation of nuclear submarines this summer.”

Post office undervalued, say MPs

Here’s the BBC report:

The government has undervalued the Post Office network as a link with citizens, according to a committee of MPs. The Business and Enterprise Select Committee also said the government’s response to an inquiry aimed at saving post offices had been “inadequate”. … The committee was asked by the the government to study how the network could be improved, but, according to the report, “most departments failed to suggest any way in which they might use the post office network”.

Back in March, the Lib Dem spring conference re-affirmed the party’s plans for the post office and Royal Mail, stressing the importance of staff-ownership to modernisation – you can read the motion passed by confernece in full HERE.

Brown faces new 10p tax revolt

As the BBC tells us:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is braced for a fresh backbench revolt over his 2007 decision to scrap the 10p bottom rate of income tax. A group of Labour MPs – led by Frank Field and Greg Pope – have threatened to block this year’s entire Budget in a vote in the Commons on Tuesday. Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats say they are backing an amendment tabled by the rebels.

If only Gordon Brown and his fellow Labour MPs had been paying attention to then Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell over two years ago, perhaps their actions would have had more effect?

2 must-read blog-posts

Bonfire of the Quangos? (Mark Thompson)

The media have had some fun today with the Tories by contrasting David Cameron’s rhetoric on Quangos with the fact that they have already pledged to bring in through various announcments. … The most important thing for me about this though is what it exposes about government and bueraucracy.

Packing my Bags (Bridget Fox)

Would you pass the citizenship test? I didn’t. I was prompted to try it by Sandra Gidley MP (who passed – cleverclogs!) and the journalist Maggie Philbin, who have been highlighting the absurdity of the citizenship test on Twitter.


Thanks Stephen. I realised that my first paragraph that you quoted was a bit garbled so I have updated it in my post now.

PS: I was working my way back through some old Lib Dem bloggers posts yesterday and came across your tribute to WebCameron. Nice Tumble-dryer!

by Mark Reckons on July 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm. Reply #

Just goes to show how serious the Russians are about nuke reduction. Perhaps now people will take our bargaining position next year more seriously.

by Simon R. on July 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm. Reply #

I failed the “citizenship test” too, Bridget. Almost all the questions are 100% irrelevant.

Would knowing the year when married women became able to divorce their husbands make me a better citizen?

Would knowing precisely how many Muslims there were in the UK in 2001?

Would knowing which groups of foreigners are entitled to vote in all elections?

The people who designed this test – and I strongly recommend that you all have a go at it – have quite simply forgotten what the test is for.

Or perhaps I am mistaken, and this has nothing to do with knowing about the way the country works.

by John on July 7, 2009 at 8:16 pm. Reply #

I agree that the citizenship test is a bit dubious as to the value of some of the knowledge. But I think some of the hyperbole over how irrelevant it all is is getting a bit ugly. I’ve noticed a trend of people out there on the internet getting obstreperous and bullying over being expected to know basic things, and rudely make out that you have to be weird to know the things they don’t.

There are plenty of questions in there that are common, general knowledge, and much of it useful knowledge. There are one or two questions that seem to be there just to test the reading comprehension and cognitive skills, and this may not be a good thing. Is the test’s real aim to weed out people with poor English and reasoning skills?

The denegration of facts and knowledge, and the sheer hyperbole over the nuber of statistcal trivia questions, that is going on in the place of actually making this point is quite nasty and unpleasant to me.

by Biscit on July 8, 2009 at 9:51 am. Reply #

Oh and I failed too, but I did it off the top of my head without reading the accompanying booklet.

by Biscit on July 8, 2009 at 9:57 am. Reply #

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