Marijane Funess May 10, 2013 | 04:39:43

Lost in Translation? What a Client Says/What it Really Means

At our New York PR agency, we sometimes wish for some kind of client translation software to confirm that what we heard is what was actually meant. For example, we’re working on a proposal for a prospective client who told us, “don’t work too hard on it, we just want to see some sample ideas.”

Now, what does that really mean? If we offer a single page of “thought-starters,” will that suffice? Or is it like when a hostess says “no gifts” and everyone but you ignores her request and actually brings something?

With that in mind, have a look at some actual client comments and our “translations.”

“I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it.” What it usually really means is “I have no idea what I want and I probably won’t like what you do.” Seasoned PR pros may also infer, “and I will tear apart everything you ever present.” Try to get more direction, preferably in writing, and proceed with caution.

“I’m just a start-up, I can’t afford much now, but as we grow, we will increase our budgets.” Often said by prospects and clients who are trying to win your sympathy so that you will charge less. But, services have a price. Would they dine in a restaurant and expect to pay less because they’re a newer company?

The close relative of this comment: “We have no budget in mind, you tell us.” This usually translates as we have “no budget,” period, and want some work on the cheap. The smartest move is to set your minimum retainer in a meeting ahead of preparing a detailed proposal so as not to surprise the recipient and take you nowhere.

“My nephew/wife/friend does PR.” This may be a set-up for all kinds of critiques of your work by someone who perhaps did local PR for the PTA (not that there is anything wrong with that) but telling you about this other relationship may act as subterfuge and undermine everything from your fee to your writing and your campaign results.

“I absolutely must have this by 4:00 p.m.” This statement is usually made at 3:00 p.m. by a client with less than perfect planning skills. And if you’re good at your job, the client knows they can count on you again and again to get them out of a jam. This is not a bad thing if it’s occasional and in the spirit of partnership; otherwise, think twice about setting and repeating the precedent.

“Let’s have a short meeting.” The sin of the meandering, unstructured meeting can be be committed by anyone, but you can prevent it! Take smart steps early in the relationship to use an agenda, Outlook calendar and other tools to structure meetings and get the most out of everyone’s time.

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  1. “It’s been a fantastic year for the Dambusters, with the anniversary this year,” says the modern-day heir to Guy Gibson, Wing Commander David Arthurton. “Reflecting on the events of 70 years ago, the whole squadron recognises the spirit and the ethos that was forged back then.” He does not own a Labrador – unlike Wing Commander Gibson, whose dog was famously portrayed in the 1955 film – but is otherwise very much in the mould of his predecessors in his calm, unassuming demeanour. “We’ve carried that ethos through to today and we’ll be taking it with us on operations in Afghanistan,” he says. Afghan cold This week, he and the 180 or so men and women of the squadron are bringing together all their pre-deployment training at their windswept base. The rain and cloud of this October day may well be replicated in the sometimes bitterly cold Afghan winter at Kandahar airbase, where many in the squadron have already served on previous tours of duty. The mission rehearsal today is a realistic one for Tornado pilot Flight Lieutenant Al Spence, who at 29 is already a veteran of Afghanistan. As part of the exercise, he runs to the aircraft to fly in aid of coalition and Afghan troops on the ground needing close air support. This will be his third tour of duty in Afghanistan before he takes up a new role as a trainer. “The challenge for us in flying during a winter tour of Afghanistan is that unlike in the summer, where we have crystal-clear blue skies and no real weather to worry about, we’ll be battling rain, icing, snow, and it will make the tasking more difficult and the recovery to the airfield more challenging,” he says. So is he looking forward to the deployment? “In a strange way, yes I am,” he smiles. Flying with him as navigator, or weapons systems officer in the back of the Tornado, Fl Lt Alex Lock, 28, will be on his first operational tour of Afghanistan. “I’m glad I’m deploying with this squadron. It’s a real honour and a privilege,” he says. “My family have come to terms with it and it’s not been a rushed decision so they’ve seen this on the horizon for the last few years.” During their final mission rehearsal exercise today, the Scottish skies and the waters of the Moray Firth stand in for the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan – where 617 Squadron will be called on to support Nato and Afghan troops, still under fire even as the Nato combat mission draws to a close by the end of 2014. At 45, Fl Lt Ian Abson is the squadron’s most experienced navigator. He last served in Afghanistan on exchange, flying with the French, and will again leave his wife and two children back at home. “I’ve done it before, so I’m not that tense about it,” he says. “It’s probably just as difficult as ever for the family, because invariably it’s the families who never get a mention, but they’re the ones who are left back at home and managing things, while we jet off and do our thing.” Seventy years ago this March, the Dambusters took to the skies to help turn the tide of war. On this winter tour of duty, they’ll fly together for the last time – before they’re disbanded next spring. But in 2016, the squadron will rise again with the new Joint Strike Fighter jet – as the Tornados slowly take their place in RAF history.16 May 2013Last updated at 09:38 GMT Dambusters raid: Retrace the daring journey The hand-coloured map above is from the official June 1943 British Air Ministry report on the Dambusters raid. The letters on the map represent the call signs for the planes that made it to the targets in Germany’s Ruhr valley. The routes show how they reached the dams and how they returned. The location of the planes that crashed is approximate. When they crashed it was common for all the men to be killed. You can read live-tweets of the original wireless telegraphy signals sent back by the Dambusters to RAF Scampton on twitter Production: John Walton, Bella Hurrell, Steven Atherton, Helene Sears Photos and map courtesy of1 October 2013Last updated at 01:04 GMT Danny Dyer to take over EastEnders’ Queen Vic Actor Danny Dyer is to become the new landlord of the Queen Vic, when he joins EastEnders at Christmas. The 36-year-old, who is often typecast in “hard man” roles, will play Mick Carter, brother to Shirley Carter (Linda Henry). Mick is described as a “bloke’s bloke” with a soft heart. He will be joined behind the bar by his wife Linda, played by actress Kellie Bright. “I’m so excited about starting a new chapter in my career,” said Dyer. “I cannot wait to become part of the East End family.” The actor is a real-life East end boy, born in Canning Town in 1977. As a teenager, he was talent-spotted at his Sunday School by an agent who put him forward for a role alongside Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect 3. His role as a conflicted football hooligan in 2004’s The Football Factory won critical acclaim, but he has also been mocked for low-rent movies like Doghouse, in which he fought off a group of man-hating female zombie cannibals. “Danny Dyer has become the byword for low-budget, no-quality Brit-trash cinema,” in 2010, “but beneath the cockney swagger there’s a decent actor struggling to get out”. Indeed, he starred in two Harold Pinter plays early in his career, striking up a lasting friendship with the enigmatic playwright. EastEnders’ executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said he was looking forward to the arrival of Mick and Linda Carter in the soap’s infamous public house. “I’m so excited to have actors of Danny and Kellie’s calibre joining what is an already strong and talented company of actors,” he said in a statement. “Having been together over 20 years, Mick and Linda have a good marriage and an easy shorthand with each other – but can also still fight like teenagers. “They will laugh, cry, argue and make-up… much to the embarrassment of their children and the delight of Albert Square’s residents.” Dyer had previously discussed a role on Albert Square in 2009, but decided against it. “I quite liked the idea,” he said at the time, “but actually, in reality, I just got cold feet. “Just from having a meeting, it’s all over the newspapers and it gave me the horrors. Imagine if I went in it?” It has already been revealed that former This Life and Holby City star Luisa Bradshaw-White is to join the EastEnders cast as Tina Carter, another of Shirley’s siblings.27 January 2012Last updated at 12:58 GMT Dark Sky Observatory work under way in Dalmellington Work is under way on a Dark Sky Observatory at the Galloway Forest Park in south west Scotland. Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing took part in the groundbreaking ceremony at Dalmellington in Ayrshire. The new facility, which has received ?94,000 in funding from the Scottish government, will be used by schools, colleges and universities. Ministers said they also hoped to capitalise on the recent popularity of the BBC’s Stargazing Live programme. The Galloway Forest Park straddles the regions of East Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway. It received Dark Sky Park recognition in 2009, and is the only such site in Britain. The new observatory, costing almost ?700,000 in total, aims to build on the park’s status and will offer visitors a chance to observe the Northern Lights, the Milky Way, planets, comets and shooting stars. Mr Ewing said: “Scotland has made an immense contribution to shaping the modern world through science and research excellence, and this new observatory builds on our reputation as a hotbed of innovation and ideas. “The creation of a state-of-the-art, first of its kind in Britain, observatory will attract stargazers and astronomers
    from near and far. “The Galloway Forest Park area enjoys some of the darkest skies in the world and this new facility will showcase the area’s stunning natural scenery and resources to attract new visitors and investment to Ayrshire.” Observatory manager Cath Seeds said it had taken two years to “generate the enthusiasm and raise funds for this project”. She paid tribute to the wide range of organisations funding the scheme. “Often, the science can feel overwhelming, so we want the observatory to break down these barriers by bringing together astronomy, nocturnal natural history and arts and crafts inspired by the night sky,” she said. “We also want to play a key role in the future development of this area. “Great things are occurring and great talent is abundant. “Our role is to improve science in our community, whether by inspiring the next generation of scientists or providing the spark needed by an inventor to produce something truly remarkable.” Depute leader of East Ayrshire Council, Iain Linton, said it would be a “huge asset” to the area. “It will hopefully attract not only local visitors, but many tourists and keen stargazers from around the world who I’m sure will be extremely impressed with the new facility,” he said. “This in turn will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the area and will really put East Ayrshire on the map.”13 December 2010Last updated at 18:09 GMT Database shows how bees see world in UV By Neil BowdlerScience reporter, BBC News Researchers are being offered a glimpse of how bees may see flowers in all their ultra-violet (UV) glory. The was created by researchers at Imperial College London and Queen Mary, University of London. It enables researchers to “see” plant colours through the eyes of bees and other pollinating insects. Bees have different colour detection systems from humans, and can see in the UV spectrum. Details of the free database are published in the open-access journal . “This research highlights that the world we see is not the physical or the ‘real’ world – different animals have very different senses, depending on the environment the animals operate in,” said Professor Lars Chittka from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. “Much of the coloured world that’s accessible to bees and other animals with UV receptors is entirely invisible for us. In order to see that invisible part of the world, we need this special machinery.” The researchers collected what’s called “spectroreflective” measurements of the petals and leaves of a large number of different plants. These measurements show the colour of plants across both the visible and invisible spectrum. Users of the database can then calculate how these plants appear to different pollinating insects, based on studies of what different parts of the spectrum different species see. Scientists have inferred what colours insects see by inserting microelectrodes into their photoreceptors, and by using less invasive behavioural studies. Seeing the world as insects may see it can reveal “landing strips” which are invisible to the human eye. These act to guide insects to the nectar they feed on. These landing strips might take the form of concentric circles of colour or dots. “Quite often, you will find in radial symmetrical patterns that there is a central area which is differently coloured. In other flowers there are also dots in the centre which indicate where there is basically an orifice for the bee to put in its tongue to extract the goods.” Greenhouse use But what is the point of such a tool beyond giving researchers an insect’s view? Professor Chittka says seeing these invisible colours may have commercial applications in the greenhouse and beyond. “Every third bite that you consume at the dinner table is the result of insect pollinators’ work. In order to utilise insects for commercial pollination purposes, we need to understand how insects see flowers. “We need to understand what kind of a light climate we need to generate in commercial glass houses to facilitate detection of flowers by bees.” Co-author Professor Vincent Savolainen, from Imperial College London, says the database also offers us new perspectives on how plant colour evolved. “We hope this work can help biologists understand how plants have evolved in different habitats, from biodiversity hotspots in South Africa to the cold habitats of northern Europe,” he says. “FReD’s global records may show how flower colour could have changed over time, and how this relates to the different insects that pollinate them, and other factors in their local environment.”30 September 2013Last updated at 14:04 GMT Date set for Popes John Paul II and John XXIII sainthood Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be declared saints on 27 April 2014, Pope Francis has announced. The Pope said in July that he would canonise his two predecessors, after approving a second miracle attributed to John Paul. Polish John Paul, the first non-Italian pope for more than 400 years, led the Catholic Church from 1978-2005. Pope John was pontiff from 1958-1963, calling the Second Vatican Council that transformed the Church. The decision to canonise the two at the same time appears designed to unify Catholics, correspondents say. John Paul II is a favourite of conservative Catholics, while John XXIII is widely admired by the Church’s progressive wing. ‘The good pope’ John Paul stood out for his media-friendly, globetrotting style. He was a fierce critic of communism, and is credited with helping inspire opposition to communist rule in eastern Europe. John Paul has been on a fast track to sainthood since his death, when crowds in St Peter’s Square chanted “santo subito” (“sainthood now”). During his own papacy he simplified the process by which people are made saints, and created more of them than all previous popes combined. John XXIII is remembered for introducing the vernacular to replace Latin in church masses and for creating warmer ties between the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith. He has a big following in Italy, where he is known as Il Papa Buono, the good pope. The BBC’s David Willey reports from Rome that Pope John was in many ways similar to Pope Francis, a humble, down-to-earth man with a fine sense of humour. Two living popes are expected to be present at the canonisation ceremony: Francis, who will officiate, and Pope Benedict, who retired earlier this year. The double canonisation will be the first in the Church’s history. Miracles Two miracles have been officially attributed to Pope John Paul II – the number usually needed for canonisation. The first miracle was the apparent curing of a 49-year-old French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, the same malady which afflicted the pope himself in his later years. The second miracle came on the day of John Paul II’s beatification by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. A Costa Rican woman reportedly made an “inexplicable recovery” from a serious brain illness, and the only explanation was believed to be the fact that her family had prayed for John Paul II’s intercession. Pope John XXIII was beatified by John Paul II in 2000, and Pope Francis took the unusual step of waiving the requirement of a second miracle in his case.11 September 2013Last updated at 12:06 GMT Daunting task of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons By Jonathan MarcusBBC defence correspondent The Syrian government’s acknowledgement that it has a chemical weapons stockpile and is now, apparently, willing to destroy it under international supervision provides – at f
    ace value – a tantalising “win-win” option for US President Barack Obama. The Russian-brokered deal holds out the possibility of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stocks in their entirety, while at the same time avoiding any US military action. But appearances can be deceptive. The proposal raises an array of legal, technical and practical problems. Dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure would take considerable time – even under the best of circumstances, and the situation on the ground in Syria is very far from being a benign environment. The broad procedures for setting about such a task are well-defined and tested. The body that would most likely take on a key role is the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – the OPCW. This is the implementing authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the development, production, stockpiling and use of these weapons. Six of its staff members were involved with the UN-inspection team that has already been on the ground in Syria and the organisation’s director general, Ahmet Uzumcu, says that his organisation stands ready to play a role if requested by the UN. Legal framework The exact process by which any Syrian disarmament initiative would get under way is for now unclear. Would it require a decision of the UN Security Council or the UN secretary general? Would Syria simply join the Chemical Weapons Convention? Time is of the essence – some special interim arrangement might well be needed, but inspectors on the ground would clearly need some legal framework within which they would be working. But the diplomatic and legal difficulties pale in comparison to the practical problems involved. In a nutshell, what has to happen is that: Libya provides an example of a country that made a sudden decision to abandon its chemical stockpile, sign-up to the CW Convention and then set about the process of dismantling and destruction. In broad terms things went relatively smoothly, though progress was interrupted and ultimately delayed for months by the war that ousted Col Muammar Gaddafi – causing shortages of spare parts for the plant and the trashing of living quarters for inspectors and so on. Unprecedented Some useful lessons were learnt. But fundamentally Syria presents very different and unprecedented problems. For the OPCW and the international community as a whole, this would be a leap into the unknown. First, the scale of the problem. Syria has probably the largest active chemical munitions stockpile in the world. Intelligence provided by the French government suggests there is something in the order of 1,000 tonnes of agent in total: a mix of sulphur mustard, VX and sarin. US sources suggest that there are at least 20 sites of interest – possibly considerably more. Some, like a plant near Safira in northern Syria, are very close to contested areas. The context in Syria is far from benign. A full-scale civil war is raging. There are groups who would love to get their hands on chemical stocks and who would have no interest in making the international community’s disarmament effort go smoothly. Then there is the nature of the Syrian regime itself: secretive, in many ways fighting for its survival. Access For Syria to sign up on the dotted line is relatively easy. The instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention needs to be signed – probably by President Bashar al-Assad himself; it is then deposited and some 30 days later Syria is a fully-fledged member of the treaty. But then the whole declaration, verification and inspection process begins. That could take months, raising all sorts of questions. How far can the Assad regime’s declarations be trusted? Would they provide full access to facilities and stockpiles? What about access to any other sites that intelligence suggested were linked to the chemical programme? And who would guarantee the safety of inspectors? The problems are immense. This even before the gathering of munitions in secure locations or any thoughts of actual destruction. This proposed deal, in the words of one leading weapons expert, is “deceptively attractive”. It may just get President Obama off a hook of his own making: if it genuinely pushes Syria down the road towards verifiable chemical disarmament it will help to establish a powerful precedent, that “you use chemical weapons and you lose them”. Mr Obama is no doubt hoping that a serious diplomatic effort now will enable him to rally support for military action later on if the disarmament effort stalls or collapses altogether.1 October 2013Last updated at 14:45 GMT Dave Lee Travis charged with two further indecent assault counts Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis has been charged with two counts of indecent assault in addition to 12 charges he already faces. The 68-year-old is accused of assaulting a woman aged over 16 between 1 January 1992 and 31 December 1993. Mr Travis, of Mentmore, Bucks – whose real name is David Patrick Griffin – will appear on bail at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 3 October. He already faces 11 indecent assault charges and one of sexual assault. He has indicated he will plead not guilty to the first 12 charges. He appeared in court at the Old Bailey on 6 September in relation to these counts. Mr Travis, a Radio 1 presenter between 1968 and 1993, was first charged on 15 August as part of Operation Yewtree, an investigation into historical claims of sexual offences linked to the entertainment industry. Nine female complainants At his last court appearance, he was released on bail on condition that he lives at his home and does not contact the alleged victims. The existing allegations date from 1977 to 2007 and relate to nine female complainants aged between 15 and 29 at the time. A trial date for these charges has been set for 4 March 2014. The trial is expected to last four to five weeks. Mr Travis was charged with the latest two counts of indecent assault when he attended a police station by appointment, Scotland Yard confirmed. Operation Yewtree was launched in the wake of sexual offence allegations against ex-TV presenter and Radio 1 DJ Jimmy Savile. The operation has three strands. One is looking specifically at the actions of Savile and the second strand concerns allegations of sexual offences against “Savile and others”. Mr Travis’s arrest falls within a third strand, relating to allegations against other people unconnected to the Savile investigation.3 October 2013Last updated at 10:04 GMT Dave Lee Travis in court on two new sex charges Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis has appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to face two further sexual offence charges. Mr Travis, 68, of Mentmore, Bucks, is alleged to have indecently assaulted a woman aged over 16 between 1 January 1992 and 31 December 1993. These are in addition to 12 counts he already faces. Mr Travis, who has indicated he will contest all charges, spoke to confirm his name, address and date of birth. He previously appeared in court to face 12 charges, which are said to have taken place between 1977 and 2007 against nine alleged victims aged between 15 and 29. Leaving the court in central London, Mr Travis, whose real name is David Patrick Griffin, did not make any comment to reporters. Released on bail Mr Travis was first arrested in November 2012 and charged on 15 August as part of Operation Yewtree, the police investigation which followed the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal, but the accusations against him are not connected with the disgraced ex-DJ and TV presenter. He was charged with the two fresh counts on 1 October. Mr Travis was released on bail following an appearance at the Old Bailey on 6 September
    on condition that he lives at his Buckinghamshire home and does not contact the alleged victims. Mr Justice Sweeney adjourned the case for a plea and case management hearing on 21 October and fixed a trial date for 4 March 2014. Mr Travis faces the following counts:17 May 2013Last updated at 16:05 GMT David Beckham’s career in numbers As David Beckham announces his retirement from professional football, we look at his career in statistics and images. Trend it like Beckham: his look on and off the pitchGolden touch: Silverware won with Beckham on the teamBrand Beckham David Beckham’s annual earnings far exceeded his sizeable salary, with a vast proportion coming from endorsements with major global brands such as Adidas and Pepsi Cola. Along with his pop star-turned-fashion designer wife Victoria, he has amassed an estimated fortune of ?200m in property and business ventures.1 October 2013Last updated at 16:09 GMT David Cameron – how many cuts? Is the Tory prescription for the nation’s economic health another dose of austerity? That is the question David Cameron faced on the morning after the promise before, a promise that in future government will spend less than it taxes, a promise which friend and foe alike have seen as likely to lead to seven more years of cuts. This is what the prime minister said when I spoke to him: “No, It doesn’t necessarily mean that. We’ve set out our spending plans for 2015/ 16 and the spending totals for the following two years. “What it means is not further cuts over and above that necessarily, but it means you couldn’t possibly go on a spending splurge once you’ve done the difficult work and it wouldn’t be right for the country to do so.” He insists that his and George Osborne’s plan is common sense and not ideology. “If you’ve had overdraft after overdraft year after year, it matters that in the good years you start putting some money aside for potentially rainy days that might lie a long way ahead.” I pointed out that no previous chancellor, no previous Conservative PM has promised a budget surplus year in year out precisely because it could lead to cuts in public spending. He replied that: “If economy continues to grow, if tax revenues increase and if unemployment falls, there would be money to spend on other departments. But I’m not arguing this is an easy choice. It’s a difficult choice.” In other words he hopes that higher tax receipts and lower welfare bills will mean that the Treasury does not have to raid one Whitehall department’s budget to subsidise increases in another. “Obviously you have to make the decisions about what you do with each department but we’ve demonstrated in government that you can make reductions but improve services. “Here we’ve cut police budgets by 20%, but crime has fallen and policing is very visible. “So I don’t accept we should measure how effective government is by how much money it spends. We should measure government by what results it gets.” I also asked him why he was subsidising the mortgage of someone who could afford a ?600,000 house – a subsidised loan worth the cost of an entire house in some parts of Manchester; why he was in favour of interfering in the housing market and not the energy market and about Boris Johnson and Ed Miliband’s row with the Daily Mail. (You can watch the interview at the top of this page)29 September 2013Last updated at 17:13 GMT David Cameron brings forward Help to Buy scheme A controversial scheme allowing people across the UK to take out 95% mortgages will be launched next week – three months earlier than planned. PM David Cameron made the announcement as the Conservatives gathered in Manchester for their annual conference. He rejected fears the Help to Buy scheme will fuel a housing bubble. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show the market was “recovering from a very low base” and first-time buyers needed help to get on the housing ladder. “As prime minister I am not going to stand by while people’s aspirations to get on the housing ladder are being trashed.” He added: “If we don’t do this it will only be people with rich parents to help them who can get on the housing ladder – that is not fair, it is not right.” ‘Trust’ He rejected concerns – raised by Business Secretary Vince Cable among others – of an unsustainable boom in house prices, particularly in the south-east of England. The prime minister urged people to “trust” the Bank of England, which has been given an enhanced role in monitoring the effect of the scheme on prices. And he said mortgage-lenders, including the Halifax, RBS and Nat West, had already signed up to it. Some of the UK’s biggest lenders – HSBC, Santander, Nationwide and Barclays – have yet to decide whether to take part, the banks told the BBC. Mr Cameron also used his Andrew Marr interview to stress that there would be no “mansion tax” if he his prime minister after the next election, making it clear that this would be a so-called “red line” – a point he would refuse to concede – in coalition negotiations. A property tax on more valuable homes – known as a mansion tax – is a key demand of the Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, outside the conference against government austerity policies, particularly those affecting the NHS. Greater Manchester Police described it as one of the largest protests they had ever policed. In other developments: Mr Cameron admitted to mistakes in the way the government handled the gay marriage issue, saying: “I don’t think I expected quite the furore that there was.” He said he understood and respected people’s difficulties with the policy and said the government had failed to convey the fact the policy would not affect what happened in churches, mosques and synagogues. ‘Build more homes’ The Conservatives will use their week in Manchester to unveil a series of policies aimed at showing they are “on the side of hard working people”. Other policy announcements are set to include a crackdown on welfare payments and an expansion of free schools. Labour extended its lead in the opinion polls after announcing at its conference last week that it would freeze energy prices and increase corporation tax to pay for a cut in business rates for small firms. Mr Cameron dismissed Labour leader Ed Miliband’s economic strategy as “nuts,” arguing that increasing tax on big business risked choking off the recovery. He said the only way to “sustainably raise living standards is to keep the recovery going, and the economy is now moving, to keep on creating jobs…to keep on cutting the deficit.” Under the first phase of the Help to Buy scheme, launched in April, the government will give homebuyers in England equity loans of up to 20% of the price of a new property worth up to ?600,000. Homebuyers need to contribute at least 5% of the property price as a deposit, with a 75% mortgage to cover the rest. Under the second phase of Help to Buy, which had been due to launch in January, the government will underwrite 15% of the value of a mortgage, allowing people to buy properties with a 5% deposit. It will apply to all home purchases in the UK of up to ?600,000. Applications for loans from the scheme will now be brought forward to the week beginning 7 October but the loans will not be paid out until 1 January. Anyone hoping to complete on their home purchase using the second phase of Help to Buy before 2014 will not be able to. ‘Less than responsible’ Adam Marshall, of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “With all the concern expressed about Help to Buy – rushing into it seems less than responsible on part of government.” House prices rose at their fastest rate in more than six years in Septe
    mber, according to property analysts Hometrack. Labour said the government needed to build more houses to ease shortages. “Unless David Cameron acts now to build more affordable homes, as Labour has urged, then soaring prices risk making it even harder for first time buyers to get on the housing ladder,” said Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. “You can’t deal with the cost of living crisis without building more homes, so it’s no wonder that for millions of families this is no recovery at all. It comes as a poll of more than 1,400 Conservative councillors in England and Wales for BBC One’s Sunday Politics suggested nearly a quarter would support an electoral pact with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) at the next general election. A Tory source said: “80% of our councillors didn’t respond to this survey so it’s hardly representative. It should be taken with a large pinch of salt.” The conference opened on Sunday with a tribute to former Prime Minster Baroness Thatcher, who died aged 87 in April. It will close with Mr Cameron’s keynote speech on Wednesday.1 February 2013Last updated at 19:18 GMT David Cameron calls on UN to end ‘extreme poverty’ David Cameron has told a UN meeting in Liberia that “eradicating extreme poverty” should be the focus of a new set of international development goals. The British PM was co-chair of the panel, which met on Friday to discuss new targets to replace the millennium development goals which expire in 2015. Mr Cameron said the UN must focus on ending poverty factors, including “corruption [and] lack of justice”. If agreed later this year, the new pledges will run until 2030. Mr Cameron – who chaired the high-level panel jointly with Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Indonesia’s Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – said the north African country had been “absolutely devastated by conflict and civil war”. But he insisted more than just financial aid was required to lift countries in a similar situation out of poverty. ‘Rule of law’ Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Cameron said: “[Liberia] is now recovering but there is still desperate poverty… one in 10 children do not make it to the age of five. “It is important we look at those things that keep countries poor. Conflict, corruption, lack of justice, lack of the rule of law. These things matter as well as money.” During the press conference, the Prime Minister was also forced to defend his commitment to dedicate 0.7% of British gross domestic product to foreign aid. Mr Cameron has pledged to protect the international development budget but conceded on Thursday that the UK defence budget could be cut further in 2015-16. He said: “I am proud of the fact that Britain has kept its promises. We will achieve 0.7% of our gross national income in aid as promised. And I am proud to be the PM who has helped deliver that.” The GDP commitment has yet to be enshrined in law. UN goals The millennium development goals, designed to be completed by 2015, are pledges by UN member countries to increase living standards in poorer parts of the world. The first of the targets – halving poverty among some of the very poorest – has been achieved, due largely to big increases in income in recent years in China and India. But attempts to reach other goals have been less successful. Mr Cameron was selected by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as joint chair the meeting. The next set of UN goals will be drafted with input from charities and advocacy groups. More than 60 groups were in the Liberian capital Monrovia – where the meeting took place – to air their views. Earlier, Mr Cameron visited the Anna F Whisnant elementary school with President Sirleaf. He said many of the children he spoke to in the playground “wanted to be doctors, lawyers and even government ministers. “If you ask children in the UK, all they want to be is pop stars and footballers,” he joked. The next meeting will be in Indonesia. followed by a final gathering in New York in May – where the findings will be presented to Ban Ki Moon.2 October 2013Last updated at 14:14 GMT David Cameron: Labour’s the point Elections are won by the party that defines the question. That is an essential truism of politics and it explains what David Cameron was trying to do today. Labour want the choice at the 2015 general election to be between which party can best help voters with the cost of living. The economy may be growing but only Labour, so their argument goes, can best ensure that the benefits will be shared fairly. Thus higher taxes on big business to help small business. Thus fewer profits for energy firms and cheaper bills for consumers. And only Labour, so the rhetoric goes, can make Britain better. Today the prime minister challenged that analysis. He wishes the election to be a question over which party can best secure the recovery and offer the best vision for the future. Let’s stick with it, he said, and finish the job we have started. The Tories will support business in a way Labour would not. Profit is not a dirty word. No gimmicks, no quick fix, he said, just more hard work. Being deliberately cautious, he said it was not job done but job begun. And he went further. The Conservatives, he said, were not just trying to fix the economy, dreaming of decimal points and dry fiscal plans. He said they want to do more than clear up the mess they believe was left by Labour. They also want to support aspiration, creating what he calls a land of opportunity, helping people to get a job through their welfare reforms, to “rise up and succeed” with their education changes, and grow their businesses by keeping interest rates low. It was an echo of much of what Mr Cameron said in his conference speech last year. Relentless critique There was little new policy apart from the idea that unemployment benefit might be docked from the under 25s unless they are in education, training, work or an apprenticeship. But perhaps what was most surprising was the relentless critique of Labour. Mr Cameron referred to his opponents twenty five times, more than any other of his themes or lines. The prime minister mocked his Liberal Democrat coalition colleagues just once, briefly and gently, and did not mention UKIP once, despite it being the talk of many fringes here in Manchester. Instead, Mr Cameron attacked Labour’s record in office and what he sees as its failure to understand what is wrong with Britain today and what the country needs for the future. Let me give you a flavour of some of the attack, just to get a sense of how much time he devoted to Labour: “We are clearing up the mess that Labour left.” “Who protected spending on the NHS? Not Labour – us. Who presided over Mid Staffs??patients left for so long without water, they were drinking out of dirty vases…people’s grandparents lying filthy and unwashed for days. Who allowed that to happen? Yes, it was Labour…” “The casino economy meets the welfare society meets the broken education system… country for the few built by the so-called party of the many??and Labour: we will never let you forget it.” ‘Fantasy land’ “We still haven’t finished paying for Labour’s Debt Crisis. If anyone thinks that’s over, done, dealt with – they’re living in a fantasy land. This country’s debt crisis, created by Labour, is not over.” “Labour have stopped talking about the debt crisis and now they talk about the cost of living crisis. As if one wasn’t directly related to the other. If you want to know what happens if you don’t deal with a debt crisis….and how it affects the cost of living…..just go and ask the Greeks.” “To abandon deficit reduction now would throw away all the progress we’ve made. It would put us back to square one. Unbelievabl
    y, that’s exactly what Labour now want to do. “How did they get us into this mess? Too much spending, too much borrowing, too much debt. And what did they propose last week? More spending, more borrowing, more debt. They have learned nothing – literally nothing – from the crisis they created.” “Last week Labour proposed to put up corporation tax on our biggest and most successful employers. That is just about the most damaging, nonsensical, twisted economic policy you could possibly come up with.” “We’ve heard Labour’s ideas to help with the cost of living. Taxes on banks they want to spend ten times over. Promising free childcare – then saying that actually, you’ve got to pay for it. An energy promise they admitted 24 hours later they might not be able to keep. It’s all sticking plasters and quick fixes… cobbled together for the TV cameras. Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy.” “The land of despair was Labour…but the land of hope is Tory.” Political weather Now many in Labour take it as a compliment that Mr Cameron felt the need to make so much of his speech a response to what Ed Miliband said last week at his conference. They see it as Labour making the political weather, forcing Mr Cameron to sing to their tune rather than set his own agenda. They say the one thing that people will remember from this conference season is their promise to freeze energy bills. And they note, too, there were no claims that Mr Miliband is weak, until now a familiar Tory refrain. But Conservatives dispute that analysis. They say that Tory leaders always respond to their Labour counterparts because of chronology, their conferences by convention follow Labour’s. They say that they are responding to Labour because they now have a target, what they see as a left wing set of socialist proposals, something they can push back against. And they also note that they are not responding in kind with what they describe as a short term gimmick to match Mr Miliband’s energy price freeze. That is not to say the Conservatives will not match Mr Miliband’s price freeze. They will but they do not feel the need to do so now. One very senior Tory minister told me that what Labour has done is what oppositions always do and that is defining a problem. But, he said, only governments can actually affect solutions. So he said we should expect some kind of energy price cut, funded by a reduction in renewable subsidies, before the election, And that is the point. Voters may support the party they think best placed to secure the recovery. But they also might want to support they party they think will most likely keep their bills down.1 October 2013Last updated at 14:42 GMT David Cameron reveals love of bread-making David Cameron has revealed that he fits in time between his prime ministerial duties to make bread for his children. The Conservative leader expressed his “delight” at creating the occasional granary loaf using a labour-saving electric bread-maker. The subject came up during an interview when the PM was unable to give the price of a “value sliced white loaf”. Mr Cameron told LBC 97.3 that, rather than go to the shops, he liked a baking smell to “waft” through his kitchen. Questions about the costs of everyday goods – groceries in particular – are often fired at politicians to test how in touch they are with ordinary people’s lives. ‘North of a pound’ Speaking on BBC Two’s Newsnight on Monday, London Mayor Boris Johnson incorrectly suggested a pint of milk came to about 90p – the true figure is usually about half that. On LBC, presenter Nick Ferrari asked the prime minister how much a typical supermarket value loaf of sliced white bread costs. Mr Cameron replied: “I don’t buy the value sliced loaf. I’ve got a bread-maker at home which I delight in using and it turns out in all sorts of different ways. “But you can buy a loaf in the supermarket for well north of a pound.” The radio host said the actual figure was about 47p. Mr Cameron added: “I’m trying to get my children to eat the sort of granary. And they take it actually. They like my homemade bread.” The prime minister then went on to plug a brand of flour made in his parliamentary constituency of Witney, in Oxfordshire. He added: “You set the timer [of the bread-maker] overnight so when you wake up there is this wonderful smell wafting through your kitchen. It takes 30 seconds to put in the ingredients.” Home baking has become more fashionable in recent years, with BBC Two’s The Great British Bake-Off attracting millions of viewers. Mr Cameron’s wife Samantha held a cake sale to raise money for BBC’s Comic Relief in March.2 October 2013Last updated at 20:26 GMT David Cameron suggests cutting benefits for under-25s David Cameron has suggested benefits paid to people under the age of 25 could be cut in an effort to reduce long-term worklessness. In his speech to the Conservative conference, the prime minister promised to “nag and push and guide” young people away from a life on the dole. It was later confirmed that the government is reviewing policies for 16 to 25-year-olds. But Labour accused the Conservatives of a “desperate” lack of ideas. In his speech, Mr Cameron promised to create a “land of opportunity” by boosting business and reducing reliance on benefits. He also vowed to improve the education system and told party activists that there was still much work to do to fix the economic “mess” left by Labour. ‘Bold action’ The from the Department of Work and Pensions showed 1.09 million people between the ages of 16 and 24 were not in work, education or training. The problem has proved stubbornly hard to tackle across Europe, with rates of youth unemployment soaring above 50% in Spain. Mr Cameron argued that action was needed in the UK, saying: “There are still over a million young people not in education, employment, or training. “Today it is still possible to leave school, sign on, find a flat, start claiming housing benefit and opt for a life on benefits. It’s time for bold action here.” He promised the Conservatives would consider, as they write their manifesto for the 2015 general election, whether “that option should really exist at all”. A Conservative source has told the BBC the manifesto will definitely contain a commitment to end the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for the under-25s, as suggested previously by Mr Cameron. In his speech, the prime minister criticised reliance on benefits, saying: “Instead we should give young people a clear, positive choice: Go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job. “But just choose the dole? We’ve got to offer them something better than that.” ‘Dunt’ He added: “And let no one paint ideas like this as callous. Think about it: with your children, would you dream of just leaving them to their own devices, not getting a job, not training, nothing? “No – you’d nag and push and guide and do anything to get them on their way?? and so must we. So this is what we want to see: everyone under 25 – earning or learning.” During the week-long conference in Manchester, the Conservatives have announced plans to make the long-term unemployed undertake work placements if they want to continue receiving benefits. Mr Cameron did not set out any specific changes regarding under-25s during his 50-minute speech, but Education Secretary Michael Gove offered more detail when questioned on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One. He announced that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was already reviewing the policies in place. He is expected to report his findings by the end of the year. Mr Gove said: “It is always going to be the case that there are some people for whom you need not so much a nudge as a dunt (a firm blow or stroke) towards the workplac
    e. “It’s important also that we all recognise that welfare is there explicitly to help those people through hard times that it shouldn’t become habituated.” He said he would not pre-empt the policy review, adding: “I don’t think any of us would want to take away any form of necessary support to young or old vulnerable people.” ‘Suffering’ However, unions warned that any cut in benefits would hurt the worst-off. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Given the government’s awful track record of helping young people find jobs, the prime minister’s threat to ban the dole for under-25s will simply push hundreds of thousands of young people, including those with young families, even deeper into poverty. “Young people suffered most in the recession. Today the prime minister has pledged that they will suffer most during the recovery too.” The general secretary of the University and College Union, Sally Hunt, said: “What we need is a real plan at local and national level which provides sustainable and secure employment opportunities for young people and access to education which is useful and mind-broadening. “Cheap headlines about lazy youngsters or cutting their benefits are no substitute for a strategy which is on the side of young people and allows them to realise their potential.” A Labour spokesperson said: “This is an empty and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that there was absolutely nothing in David Cameron’s speech to deal with the cost-of-living crisis facing families. “If the Conservatives really wanted to get young people off benefits, they’d be backing Labour’s youth jobs guarantee, giving young people who’ve been out of work for over a year a job they must take or lose benefits.”2 October 2013Last updated at 16:03 GMT David Cameron: We’re building land of hope and opportunity David Cameron vowed to get behind business to create a “land of opportunity for all”, in his big speech to close the Conservative conference. His 50-minute address sought to set out dividing lines with “the 1970s-style socialism” he said Labour now offered. He claimed the economy was “turning the corner” and the “land of hope is Tory”, while “the land of despair was Labour”. Mr Cameron also hinted that benefits for under-25s could be cut in an effort to get more young people into work. But Labour said the prime minister had failed to address the “cost-of-living crisis” and offered a land of opportunity “for just a privileged few”. ‘Nag and push’ During the 50-minute speech, Mr Cameron contrasted his own party’s philosophy with that of the opposition, saying: “If Labour’s plan for jobs is to attack business, ours is to back business.” He criticised Labour leader Ed Miliband, who promised in his end-of-conference address last week to freeze energy prices and increase corporate tax on big firms, telling Tory activists that “profits, tax cuts and enterprise… are not dirty, elitist words”. Mr Cameron argued that adding more state borrowing and spending to ease the “cost-of-living crisis” would risk putting the UK on the economic trajectory of Greece. “It’s all sticking plasters and quick fixes cobbled together for the TV cameras – Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy, ” said the prime minister. Earlier in the week, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to make the long-term unemployed undertake work placements if they want to continue receiving benefits. In his speech, Mr Cameron did not make any specific policy announcements, but suggested his party was looking at further changes to the welfare system to include in its manifesto for the 2015 general election. It was wrong that young people could “choose the dole” and right to “offer them something better”. Mr Cameron added: “And let no one paint ideas like this as callous. “Think about it: with your children, would you dream of just leaving them to their own devices, not getting a job, not training, nothing? “No – you’d nag and push and guide and do anything to get them on their way?? and so must we. So this is what we want to see: everyone under 25 – earning or learning.” ‘Stand tall’ Mr Cameron, who did not repeat previous no-notes speeches, often looked straight into the lens of the TV camera to address directly the audience outside the Manchester conference centre. The BBC’s chief political correspondent Norman Smith said it was a surprisingly sober speech in parts, with Mr Cameron stressing there was still much work to do to fix Britain’s economy. It was not enough just to clean up Labour’s “mess” and pay off the deficit, he wanted to “build something better in its place”. He added: “In place of the casino economy, one where people who work hard can actually get on; in place of the welfare society, one where no individual is written off; in place of the broken education system, one that gives every child the chance to rise up and succeed.” Mr Cameron invoked the spirit of his predecessor Margaret Thatcher, the winner of three general elections, who died earlier this year, saying she had “made our country stand tall again, at home and abroad”. He also made efforts to distance his party, and himself, from the Liberal Democrats, with whom the Tories have ruled in coalition for more than three years. He promised: “When the election comes, we won’t be campaigning for a coalition, we will be fighting heart and soul for a majority Conservative government – because that is what our country needs… “This party at its heart is about big people, strong communities, responsible businesses, a bigger society – not a bigger state.” ‘Strong message’ To cheers, Mr Cameron attacked the Lib Dems for “trying to take all the credit” for lowering the minimum earnings threshold at which people start paying income tax. He joked: “Well, memo to the Lib Dems: you lecturing us on low taxes is like us lecturing you on pointless constitutional tinkering. “We are Tories, we believe in low taxes and, believe me, we will keep on cutting the taxes of hard-working people in our country.” Mr Cameron received a standing ovation after the speech, his ninth to conference since becoming leader in 2005. But, afterwards, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the prime minister had offered nothing to address “the cost-of-living crisis facing Britain’s hard-working families”. The Lib Dems said they, not the Conservatives, had made a manifesto commitment in 2010 to raise the level at which people start paying tax to ?10,000. And UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the pro-business message conflicted with the reality that membership of the EU was costing the UK “billions in red tape and direct payments from high taxes”. But there was a more favourable response from business groups, with CBI director-general John Cridland saying the prime minister had “sent out a strong message about how vital British business is to the future prosperity of people across the UK”. Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors also welcomed the speech, but warned that firms would “be looking for him to match the sentiment with action – if tax cuts aren’t dirty, let’s have a few more of them”.2 October 2013Last updated at 12:05 GMT David Cameron: Word count reveals all Count up the repeated words and phrases in David Cameron’s conference speech and you capture what it was really about. Labour was mentioned 25 times whereas the Lib Dems just twice , the Coalition once, Nick Clegg, UKIP and Nigel Farage not at all. The prime minister wants to turn the political argument into what he calls a straight red/blue fight. His message was summed up in a single soundbite attacking “Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy

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