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PA's PA 9th January

PA's PA 9th January

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the first PA’s PA of 2015.  This week we have sadly seen a fundamental principle of publishing – the promotion and upholding of freedom of speech – directly attacked in one of the most tragic ways possible.  Our thoughts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of those who lost their lives in the offices of Charlie Hebdo this week.  Je Suis Charlie. 

UK politics

With the start of the new year came, to the delight of the political anoraks in The PA office, the start of the 2015 General Election campaign.  Ed Milibandlaunched Labour’s campaign to a room packed so full of the party faithful a BBC journalist who had the temerity to query some of the figures being presented found himself heckled.   The strategy, where Miliband will win the election by having four million conversations, sees Labour place the survival of the NHS at its heart.  The Tories wheeled out the big guns (Hague, Osborne, May, Javid and (er…) Morgan) to attack Labour’s spending pledges with an ‘independent’ analysis of the proposals, using the age-old political trick of packaging it to resemble an official Treasury document.  Not to be left out, Nick Clegg also popped up to make his pitch for a "a strong coalition government, with Lib Dems anchoring it in the centre ground".

Writing in The Telegraph Liberal Democrat Education Minister, David Laws, seized on a leaked Conservative briefing, which revealed that future cuts to education are not to be ruled out, to accuse his coalition partners of abandoning ‘compassionate conservatism’.  Refusing to protect schools spending after the election will harm British businesses and hold back poor children, he said. 

According to the FT (£) Theresa May’s plans to introduce curbs on international student visas have been quashed by Chancellor George Osborne following concerns over their impact on UK businesses and universities. 

Education Select Committee

The Education Select Committee continued its investigation into careers advice in schools, questioning Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.  According to the Committee the existing requirement for schools to secure independent careers guidance was not suitable.  Research from Unison has shown that 83% of schools do not employ professional careers advisors, with existing, ill-equipped staff at schools picking up the role instead.  Morgan said that the Government was setting up an independent careers company to liaise with schools and offer advice over how to deliver the service.  This issue of careers advice is also on The PA’s radar and is being discussed within the Workforce Development Taskforce.

European developments

Having learnt lessons from the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) debacle, which saw the traditional closed-door way of conducting treaty negotiations add to the perception of a grand anti-consumer conspiracy, the Commission has published the legal texts of the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). This is the first time the Commission has made public such proposals in bilateral trade talks. 

And finally…PA Chief Executive Richard Mollet blogs about five things for publishing to watch out for in 2015. 

This week we…

Met with the Copyright Hub, caught up with the National Literacy Trust and attended the Doha Book Fair.

Next week we will…

Travel to Brussels to meet with the Directors General of Education and Culture and Connect and Head of the EU’s Copyright Team, Maria Martin-Prat; meet with the newly appointed Shadow Culture Minister Chris Bryant; take the Reading for Pleasure roadshow to Bloomsbury and meet with Save the Children to discuss the Read On Get On campaign; attend a panel discussion on libraries with William Sieghart; meet with Schools Reform Minister Nick Gibb following his comments on the quality of textbooks and with Ros Lynch of the Intellectual Property Office.