Headline of the Week!

And this is actually quite topical/important

Never let it be said that this blog does not charge headlong into the domains of current affairs/global politics/climate change. This article from Xinhua has ALL THREE, but it also has a marvellous headline:

Quoteable Quotes from Chinese President's Tour in US

"Quoteable quotes". As opposed to unquotable quotes. Or quotable unquotes. Or unquotable unquotes. But somehow seeing a whole list of quotable quotes together rather reduces their impact. These are my favourites:

"Climate change is an environment issue, but also, and more importantly, a development issue."

"Bilateral relations are facing major opportunities for development at higher levels and in greater space."

"Overcoming differences in each other's stances is a diplomacy of fraternity."

I mean, once you've read those a few times they really start to lose some of their impact. But still, these are the quotable quotes, so quote them we will. I'd like to imagine some unquotable quotes, though:

"Oh, I hate UN meetings -- they go on for ages and nothing actually happens."

"We're in New York, for Lord's sake, can't we go out and have a pizza?"

"Yo. Anyone know what the dude from Peru is saying? I think the translator's gone off for his lunch break."

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Theresa May defies the right by maintaining 0.7% aid pledge

The Prime Minister offers rare continuity with David Cameron but vows to re-examine how the money is spent. 

From the moment Theresa May became Prime Minister, there was speculation that she would abandon the UK's 0.7 per cent aid pledge. She appointed Priti Patel, a previous opponent of the target, as International Development Secretary and repeatedly refused to extend the commitment beyond this parliament. When an early general election was called, the assumption was that 0.7 per cent would not make the manifesto.

But at a campaign event in her Maidenhead constituency, May announced that it would. "Let’s be clear – the 0.7 per cent commitment remains, and will remain," she said in response to a question from the Daily Telegraph's Kate McCann. But she added: "What we need to do, though, is to look at how that money will be spent, and make sure that we are able to spend that money in the most effective way." May has left open the possibility that the UK could abandon the OECD definition of aid and potentially reclassify defence spending for this purpose.

Yet by maintaining the 0.7 per cent pledge, May has faced down her party's right and title such as the Sun and the Daily Mail. On grammar schools, climate change and Brexit, Tory MPs have cheered the Prime Minister's stances but she has now upheld a key component of David Cameron's legacy. George Osborne was one of the first to praise May's decision, tweeting: "Recommitment to 0.7% aid target very welcome. Morally right, strengthens UK influence & was key to creating modern compassionate Conservatives".

A Conservative aide told me that the announcement reflected May's personal commitment to international development, pointing to her recent speech to International Development staff. 

But another Cameron-era target - the state pension "triple lock" - appears less secure. Asked whether the government would continue to raise pensions every year, May pointed to the Tories' record, rather than making any future commitment. The triple lock, which ensures pensions rise in line with average earnings, CPI inflation or by 2.5 per cent (whichever is highest), has long been regarded by some Conservatives as unaffordable. 

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has hinted that the Tories' "tax lock", which bars increases in income tax, VAT and National Insurance, could be similarly dropped. He said: "I’m a Conservative. I have no ideological desire to to raise taxes. But we need to manage the economy sensibly and sustainably. We need to get the fiscal accounts back into shape.

"It was self evidently clear that the commitments that were made in the 2015 manifesto did and do today constrain the ability to manage the economy flexibly."

May's short speech to workers at a GlaxoSmithKline factory was most notable for her emphasis that "the result is not certain" (the same message delivered by Jeremy Corbyn yesterday). As I reported on Wednesday, the Tories fear that the belief that Labour cannot win could reduce their lead as voters conclude there is no need to turn out. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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