Andrew Lansley, Economy, Europe, Finance, Iran, Liberal Democrats, NHS, oil, Syria, Terrorism, World

Harry’s five of the week: Market analysis, Syria, mansion tax, Kurdish terrorism, NHS

mansion tax

The mansion tax has raised its head again

With the riots consuming most of the newsprint and dominating the airwaves, you may not be aware that Bolton are sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League. Harry Raffal brings you the other storylines that may have slipped your notice. 

With the riots in Britain and the subsequent political fallout occupying central stage this week and only broken to bring us the first week of the Premier League and England thrashing India to go 3-0 up in the series, meaning that no matter what the outcome at the Oval we will be the number one cricket side in the world, here are the five stories which have been marginalised.

One:  The Bank of England downgraded its predictions for British growth in 2011 from 1.8% to 1.5%. The forecast for 2012 was also downgraded from 2.5% to just above 2%. This event was widely reported but elsewhere in the economy comes news that France, Spain, Italy and Belgium have banned short-selling in an attempt to ease the force of market pressures. The European Securities and Markets Authority said they the countries had done so to “either to restrict the benefits that can be achieved from spreading false rumours or to achieve a regulatory level playing field, given the close inter-linkage between some EU markets.” However, some market analysts are predicting the move will prompt the markets to fall further amidst suspicions that the move is an attempt to provide cover for real internal problems. In Switzerland this week officials announced that they would be further devaluing the franc in an attempt to maintain their export driven economy. This is the second round of Swiss quantitative easing this year and follows a move earlier this month to cut interest rates in what was also an attempt to drive down the value of the Franc.

Two: In Syria the government has been taking increasingly repressive measures in an attempt to counter the growing dissent within the country. Tanks and armoured cars have been active against the city of Latakia. The action against Latakia has also involved the use of gunboats machine gunning the port and its facilities. Syrian government forces have also attacked Houleh and Deir Ezzor in a week which has seen the Syrian government increasingly active in its attempts to repress the dissent in the country. Meanwhile the US has called for a wider boycott of Syria’s oil which comprise a third of the Syrian governments revenues.

Three: The Liberal Democrats are positioning themselves to capitalise on any decision to reduce the 50p tax band on those earning more than £150,000 by advocating the implementation of a new ‘mansion’ tax should any change take place. This new land tax will levy capital gains tax on any money made on a property sold after the fist £1 million in value. Vince Cable has made clear moves that any reduction in taxation on the rich in one area must be rebalanced in another. The ‘mansion’ tax proved controversial when it was first suggested by the Liberal Democrats some two years ago and if it emerges into any public debate it will likely become so once again.

Four: Kurdish rebels have claimed responsibility for the explosion at a pipeline In the Turkish province of Agri.  The explosion has halted the import of Iranian gas supplies into Turkey country. Kurdish rebels, the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party, have previously targeted pipelines into Turkey as a weapon in their fight for autonomy from Turkey with this the fist major attack since July of last year pn the oil pipelines from Iraq. Tension between the Turkish government and the Kurdish communities in the south-east of the country have recently been greatly reduced compared to the height of the conflict which has so far claimed over 50,000 lives. Iran has also been in the news due to the completion of its Bushehrn plant and the proximity of its connection to the national grid. The plant has suffered severe delays which many have ascribed to a sophisticated cyber attack. Russia will operate the plant and only Israel has been vocal over the risk of any potential proliferation of nuclear material necessary for a nuclear weapon.

Five:  A report published this week by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has argued for the current efficiency of the NHS. The report has shown that only Ireland receives better value for it health care system when judged with lives saved to pounds spent. The report involves key research undertaken by Professor Pritchard which makes its conclusions difficult for the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to dismiss as he has previously used research by professor Pritchard in support of his arguments for NHS reform. Of course you can also produce figures to show that pound-to-points Sam Allardyce is the best manager in the history of the Premier League (well it is the first week of the season there did have to be a football point in).

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About Harry Raffal

Harry Raffal has a BA in History and Politics, an MA in Military History and is currently studying for a PhD exploring the role of the RAF during Operation Dynamo. Previously employed to analyse the role of tribal loyalty in Somalia and Djibouti and recently finished researching the capabilities of the Eritrean Air Force Harry is currently compiling statistics on the effect of deforestation across Ethiopia for a number of N.G.O.s. Due to a keen interest in forestry management and bio-diversity Harry also does voluntary work for the Sleepy Tree Organisation.

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