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May 22, 2008

Britain should "expect significant slowdown" in the economy

After last week’s inflation report from the Bank of England, RaW News spoke to Dr Andrew Sentance, an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at the Bank of England. He told us that he expected inflation to return towards the 2% target in the medium run and whilst he said that we cannot rule out a recession, we should expect a “significant slowdown” in the growth of the economy. Asked whether the rising food prices would hit students would be disproportionately, he said that everybody would be affected. He also said that students should be the ones to decide what economic problem they should worry about, but wanted to emphasise the point that we all benefit from a low inflation economy.

As regards the future, he thought that if consumers become more cautious in the coming years, we may become more dependent on export led growth. This will also be helped by the depreciation of the pound.

The MPC is responsible for setting interest rates in the United Kingdom and it targets the Government’s target of 2% inflation (CPI).

We began by asking what his role is:

Please note: if your browser is having trouble opening the file, click here. and then click continue.

To read the overview of May’s inflation report, click here.

Sam Shirley
Programme Controller

The interview was conducted on Tuesday 20th May.

April 28, 2008

Sense Through the Smoke: Student's Views on Cannabis

Earlier this month the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs issued its
update on the classification of cannabis. The government had sought a
review of its 2004 re classification of the drug from a class B to class C. The
review was commissioned out of a concern that the strength of cannabis
people are taking is far stronger than it was four years ago. Concern is also shown by the home secretary Jacquie Smith and PM Gordon Brown, who appeare determined to tighten the laws on cannabis, but The advisory council suggested that the drug remain at its current classification. The Association of Chief Police Officers, however, have compelled the government to reverse its 2004 decision. They suggest that the drug be taken back up to class b. Downgrading cannabis sent out the wrong message that cannabis was legal and harmless. This has all been a bit of a confusion for the government, as saving police time and resources was the primary reason put forward by the Home Office for the down grading of cannabis in the first place.

As for the statistics, well, come to all sorts of conclusions. For example last year the London’s Institute of Psychiatry, estimated that at least 1/10th of the 250,000 schizophrenics in the UK could have avoided the illness if they had not used cannabis. Only this month, Keele University’s research suggested this wasn’t wholly true; there was no causal link between cannabis use and mental health problems. So with the government, police and experts all giving out mixed messages, is it possible to find our way through the smoke? I spoke to 2 students about their encounters with cannabis and other drugs and what they made of the inconsistencies. I began by asking them, if they thought the government was right to down grade cannabis four years ago…

Listen to Rithee’s report here:

February 18, 2008

Channel 4 journalist says more information to be released against MMR reports

Brian Deer, the Channel 4 journalist who produced a documentary criticising the reports which link between MMR vaccines to autism, has said he would release even more information this year against the reports.

Speaking to RaW News, Deer said that there was “a big bunch of stuff” he would “release to the world” against the report published by a medical team led by Dr. Andrew Wakefield more than 10 years ago.

Deer’s previous documentaries have led to Wakefield launching libel action against him, which was subsequently dropped later.
Brian Deer
Deer called Wakefield’s action “the biggest mistake in his life.”

Speaking about the current state of journalism, he feels that competition has restricted the scope of stories which journalists could cover.

He thinks that journalists can no longer cover more general social issues such as poverty and homelessness.

“We are more caring about ourselves, and less caring about others,” says Deer, who thinks that people are no longer looking out for each other as they had in the past.

The journalist also looks fondly back at his days when he was an undergraduate philosophy student, from the time when he was the only student in the whole of what is now the Rootes Residences, to the time when he planned an attack with the student union president against the pro vice chancellor and had his degree award delayed.

He encourages students to get engaged with journalism, saying it is one of the most open industries in the market.

Listen to the interview here:

Or, click here:

Jon Ng
Political Correspondent

Please leave your comments below

February 16, 2008

As Go Green Week begins, will halls have recycling next year?

Go Green Week begins next week, so RaW News decided to find out what is going to happen and what the University and Union are doing with regard to environment policy.

RaW News has been speaking with the University’s Environment Officer – Nick Hillard, Go Green Week’s Coordinator- Hannah Smith, and Tom Callow who is Finance Officer at the Union.

The University:

Nick Hillard promised that there was going to be some ‘exciting news’ with regard to recycling in the coming months. Whilst being slightly evasive over the issue of recycling in halls, it seems that it might well be introduced in the near future, and he said it was part of the University’s sustainability matrix. When we asked him, he said ‘Yes, indeed’ to whether there would in-hall recycling, but he wouldn’t be drawn on a date. However, he added that Warwick Accommodation had to incorporate sustainability into their aims and told people to ‘watch this space’. It wasn’t a question of cost but a question of behavioural change, he said.

Mr Hillard said that the University had saved 763 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide this year against the target of 800 tonnes as part of the carbon management scheme. The Environmental policy of the University apparently contains targets that exceed the commitments of national legislation. As for the University’s expansion, he didn’t believe that the aiming for carbon neutral buildings was right and that it was instead ‘greenwash’. Instead all buildings will be ‘BREEAM excellent’.

Nick Hillard also said that the University was providing funds for Go Green Week’s Publicity, and was ‘delighted’ that they were able to assist. He hoped that the University would meet its environmental targets and said that he was there to ensure that it happens.

To see the University’s Environment targets, click here.

To see the Environment policy, click here.

The Union:

The Union said that they had managed to secure some furniture for Go Green Week.

The University’s policy and achievements seems to be quite clear, however for the Union the water is much muggier. As the Union is a part of the University (though separate politically speaking in the words of Tom Callow), the Union finds it hard to separate the achievements that it has made. The Union’s Environment Policy (674) has only just come into force last term after been changed by the Finance, Democracy and Governance Officer, Tom Callow and Environment Officer Asen Geshakov. The Policy outlines hard lobbying on the University and NUSSL to help find more environmental friendly methods as well as mandating the Union itself to make its actions as green as possible.

However in the discussion hosted by RaW News, the Finance Officer was unable to come forward with any hard figures on the actual achievements of the Union in terms of its green objectives. The Union’s Executive will soon be presented with a report from the Finance and Communications Officer which shall give an update on the progress (or lack there of) that has been made towards the targets set out by Policy 674.

There is the hint of tension as well with the Environment Officer allegedly stating that he was ‘unhappy’ with the funds that had been given to him to do his job. Mr. Callow did not agree however and said that there was a difference between the funding allotted to campaigning for the environment and money allotted to making the Union greene

To see the Union’s policy, click here.

You can listen to the feature here. We begin by previewing what’s happening in Go Green Week and then tackling Nick Hillard and Tom Callow:

Sam Shirley
Head of News
Andrew O’Brien
Political Correspondent

Please leave your COMMENTS below the image

Go Green Week

February 12, 2008

Shadow Attorney General has anxieties over 'surveillance society'

In light of the government’s proposals to extend detention without trial for terrorist suspects to 42 days, the recent revelations of the bugging of Labour MP Sadiq Khan, and the ongoing controversy over ID cards and a biometric database, RaW News has been addressing the issue of the “surveillance society” and the ubiquitous dichotomy between liberty and security we face.

In the same vein of last week’s discussion on civil liberties with interviews with Conservative and Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretaries, David Davis and Chris Huhne, I interviewed Dominic Grieve, Conservative MP and Shadow Attorney General, on the issue.

Dominic Grieve spoke clearly and elegantly on the issues of 42 day detention and ID cards, advancing an argument based chiefly on pragmatism rather than an ideological regard for civil liberties.

Sceptical of the efficacy of such procedures as extending detention without charge, but aware of the need to restrict some liberty in exchange for security, he called upon the existing powers and civil law, like the Civil Contingencies Act, to be used more effectively; he went on to criticise proposals for 42 days as an “act of administrative discretion.”

Grieve, who has been his party’s spokesman on community cohesion, highlighted the need to use also persuasion to prevent people becoming sympathetic to terrorism, and in such a “values battle”, he stated firmly that “the last thing you should do is to bin your own values.”

On the issue of ID Cards and a national database he again offered criticism based on a pragmatic outlook, but also underlined anxieties he had over the implications that the “surveillance society” would have on the liberty and fulfilment of future generations.

Puneet Dhaliwal
Political Correspondent

February 02, 2008

Presidential debate – to help you choose who you want running the Union

All the presidential candidates for this coming week’s Students’ Union Elections were interviewed together on RaW News Insight. We tackled them on their proposals, personal qualities, and how much they really knew about your Union with a multimillion pound turnover.

Who are they and what do they do?

Their reasons for standing and what they know about union finances:

POLICY – we unleash our our political correspondent attack dog Andrew O’Brien (this clip has the best information and entertainment value):

Please leave your comments below. They will feature on Big D on Elections night…

And a post debate review:

See the debate as it happened…

Want to know about the Governance and Finance Officer Candidates? Well, Chris Beckett, Chief Business Correspondent brought Ross Palmer and Andy Glyde head to head to see what they would do:

Please leave your comments below. What do you think of the candidates? What policy would you like to see?

January 30, 2008

Union deficit may be just short of £200,000.

It is believed the the Students’ Union is heading for an even larger deficit than last year. In an interview with RaW News, Tom Callow – this year’s Finance Officer has said that the Union is trying to avoid a worsening situation. The deficit seems to be heading to a figure of over 100,000 pounds, but will absorbed by the Union’s reserves, which are supposedly over half a million pounds.

However, there are questions over the sustainability of maintaining such a deficit. Next year’s Finance Officer will have to reconcile the need to balance the books and maintaining current society funding levels. Tom Lindsay, the current SSDO believes that if the Union were doing badly, society funding would not be as adversely affected because much of the money comes from the subscription fees, but it would be affected nevertheless. If one takes a look at last year’s figures, there might be a greater need to focus on finding efficiencies in the £2.7 million wage bill compared to the relatively meagre £460,000 sports club and society costs.

We have just the Statement regarding the Students’ Union’s finances:

The Student’s Union has a deficit budget for the year 2007/08, but intends to restrict this deficit to less than £200,000. This figure is based on the budgeted deficit before contingencies, which are regularly used in any standard business planning.

The redevelopment of the Union South building was originally planned to begin in April, but the planned start date has now been pushed back to the end of the academic year. This is clearly beneficial to our members as there will be less disruption, but it also means income will be retained through our commercial services within Union South that was not included in the budget.

Our annual re-forecasting process will take place soon that will provide a much clearer picture of the financial state of the Union by the end of the year.

As always, there are plans in place to ensure the financial security of the Students’ Union in the long-term. The University is fully supportive of these and of our current budget.

This came from Tom Callow -Finance, Democracy and Strategy Officer

You can listen to the interview with the Finance Officer here where he was given the chance to reflect on his many manifesto promises, including cheaper drinks offers,and an increase of awareness of union democracy, to see whether or not he had fulfilled the promises made a year ago.:

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