Pick of the Week: Diane Abbott on the male, the pale and the stale
Our top five most-read stories this week, for your reading pleasure
With the Labour party immersed in an apparently endless leadership contest, the business of being the official opposition has gone somewhat off the boil. Their response this week to the first Conservative budget in almost two decades was notable by its timidity. Speaking to journalists after George Osborne sat down, shadow chancellor Chris Leslie was reluctant to appear to oppose almost any of the major austerity measures in the budget, insisting that the party had to "be more thoughtful in the way we don't just literally oppose everything." But rather than oppose everything, they appeared to oppose almost nothing. With the opposition absent without leave, it was left to others to tear holes out of Osborne's budget.
The income benchmark on spousal visas was always different to other anti-immigration rules. Whenever you mentioned it to someone – even if they were instinctively quite hostile to immigration – they always expressed outrage. Probably because it's an anti-immigration rule which specifically targets Brits. Now even the Telegraph is turning against it, four years after it was introduced.
This story from last week continued to grab your attention this week. The terror attacks in Tunisia. prompted much debate about how the UK government can best protect its citizens at home. Inevitably this led to renewed calls to push through the latest version of the so-called snoopers' charter. The investigatory powers bill will enable the security services to access individual's private online communications. The prime minister was asked whether the current privacy policies were "unsustainable". He replied that spooks must always be able to "get to the bottom" of online communications.
The ongoing crisis in Greece has done more to further the eurosceptic cause than anything Ukip has ever done. The debate has shifted from the right-wing critique of Europe – immigration, market interference – to the left-wing one, which is of German fiscal extremism applied to powerless local communities. Are the British left now finally turning against the EU?
Our most-read story this week was our report on comments by Labour London mayoral hopeful Diane Abbott, during a hustings last week. Abbott, suggested that London has been led for too long by people who look like her rival Gareth Thomas. "Gareth has said that he knows what leadership looks like," Abbott told a hustings in central London last night. "And of course what Gareth literally means is that it looks like him." It's fair to say that not all of our readers agreed with Abbott's comments. However, with UK politicians both nationally and locally still so overwhelmingly male, pale and stale, doesn't she have a point?