Politics in pictures: How Cameron, Clegg & Miliband led from the front this week

It’s been a tumultuous week in the political world. So let’s have a look at how the three main party leaders led from the front in statesmanlike fashion…

David Cameron played badminton in a suit…

Ed Miliband bought sausage rolls in Greggs…

… And Nick Clegg met President Obama to agree how the UK can help halt trafficking of nuclear material

To find out more about what Nick Clegg’s been up to this week — such as, y’know, signing a hugely significant Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Korea that will bring an estimated £500 million of annual benefits to the UK and create £2bn of additional export opportunities for UK businesses… or committing the UK to taking decisive action to tackle the threat of nuclear terrorism at the second global Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul — you can check out his official DPM’s website here, as apparently the British media is fully occupied covering issues like the pasty tax.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Stuart Mitchell 31st Mar '12 - 8:14pm

    Interesting to note that Clegg’s visit to Seoul included a meeting with the head of S Korea’s national pension scheme, which has invested over £1 billion in the UK over the past two years, and is to set to expand its UK operations with a new London base.

    I suppose it’s too much to hope that Clegg might have taken this opportunity to ask his Korean hosts just how they manage to provide such excellent pension provision for their citizens? Their national scheme is open to both public and private workers, has low levels of contributions (much lower than our public schemes), has very high take-up, and allows workers to retire on a generous full pension at age 60. This despite the fact that S Korea has a lower GDP per capita than the UK, and virtually the same life expectancy (within less than one year).

    Though the Koreans are increasing the pension age in response to demographic changes, this is happening very gradually, with the age increasing to 65 by 2033 (in the UK it will rise to 67 by 2026).

    The contrast between the generous, far-sighted and well-funded Korean scheme, and the madcap race-to-the-bottom envisioned by the coalition for UK pensions, is so sharp you could impale yourself on it. I hope Clegg learned something from his visit.

  • Richard Dean 31st Mar '12 - 8:24pm

    We definitely need better PR!

  • Richard Dean 31st Mar '12 - 8:32pm

    Stuart, Is it really as womnderful as that? Some peopel say their scheme is unsustainable, with bankruptcy forecast in 2042. See the opinion (perhaps a wrong one?) on http://www.aon.com/thought-leadership/asia-connect/2010-mar/pension-time-bomb-and-aging-talent-pool.jsp

  • Agreed, Richard, but I tend to think that, no matter how good our PR is or becomes, unless something more is done to require a sense of proportion and responsibility in our free press, long will this blatant imbalance continue.
    It is blatantly obvious that the media (and the broadcasters meekly follow the print media) have an agenda all of their own, and it certainly isn’t serving the British public with honest reporting of what is going on in the world. How many times do we hear, after an election, ‘it all changed in the last week’, but no-one points the finger at the loaded reportage of these guys, their excuse references to bookies odds, and ‘opinion’ polls (most of which are done on their behalf to their own pre-set story line).
    Is anyone telling any of this to Leveson, or are they all too scared of being the next target of the press mafia?
    Our front bench team and our Leader are brilliant, and its time we got brave enough to challenge anyone who tries to distort this truth, especially those whining weasels in our own party.

  • peterApr 01 – 11:52 am…………….Our front bench team and our Leader are brilliant, and its time we got brave enough to challenge anyone who tries to distort this truth, especially those whining weasels in our own party……………

    Now, I know, it’s April 1st.

  • Stuart Mitchell 1st Apr '12 - 1:50pm

    Richard, the Aon document you link to is quite obviously a sales spiel (they are trying to sell alternative pension schemes to Korean corporations) so it would be in their interests to denigrate the national scheme. Presumably Nick Clegg believes the Korean national scheme to be viable because he’s just been begging them to increase investment in our own ailing economy.

    Things have changed a lot in the two years since the Aon article. The NPR’s fund reserves have increased 20%, from 300 trillion won to 360 trillion won (see http://www.koreaherald.com/business/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20120325000065). This compares favourably with the 7.72 trillion won (presumably per annum) the Aon article claimed would be needed to pay for the baby boomers’ pensions.

    Whereas we treat our national pension schemes as just one great big liability, a millstone round the taxpayer’s necks, the Korean’s treat their’s as a means of investment, and have been so successful in this that we are now begging their pension scheme to invest in the UK to help keep us afloat!

    In Korea, most people actually retire in their 50s, and even with the proposed changes this will only increase to the early 60s. It’s interesting that many Korean business leaders are actually opposed to making workers carry on for longer – they would rather employ younger people. They really do appear to value the importance of giving old people some dignity and rest in later life, instead of the UK government’s obsession with making the lower classes work until they drop (quite literally, in some areas of the country).

    Of course it helps that S Korea is not saddled with youth unemployment of over 20% like we have inthe UK (theirs is more like 6.7%). In Korea, young people work while old people retire. It’s the natural order of things. I’m only mentioning this because I genuinely hope that Nick Clegg is looking for more than just money from the Korean pension fund – he should also be looking to them for ideas.

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