Theresa May speaks at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on June 11, 2014 in London. Photograph: Getty Images.
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The blame for the Butler-Sloss debacle rests with Theresa May

The Home Secretary failed to carry out the most basic background checks. 

That Elizabeth Butler-Sloss felt unable to remain as head of the child abuse inquiry is not surprising. After the media reported first that her brother, the late Michael Havers, was attorney general during the 1980s, the period the panel will investigate, and then that she excluded allegations regarding a bishop from a review of how the Church of England dealt with two alleged paedophile priests (because she "cared about the Church"), her position became untenable. The conflict of interest, which was genuine, not merely "perceived", was too great for any other outcome. 

What is remarkable is that the Home Office was unprepared for all of this. Theresa May, who appointed Butler-Sloss last week, failed to carry out the most basic background checks into the former High Court judge. It took the media all of half an hour to discover that her brother was attorney general at the time much of the abuse is alleged to have taken place. The impression left is one of a government that, in its rush to get a "grip" of the story, neglected to perform due diligence. 

As Yvette Cooper noted in her statement on Butler-Sloss's resignation, the last minute nature of the government's response (Labour had called for an inquiry for over 18 months) meant "proper consideration" was not given to the conflict of interest and Butler-Sloss was left in an impossible position by the Home Office. 

This debacle should help to finally dispel the myth that May is a "safe pair of hands". There was the time she was forced to admit that "we will never know how many people entered the UK who should have been prevented from doing so", and the time she wrongly claimed that an illegal immigrant was able to avoid deportation due to owning a cat, not to mention the botched police commissioner elections, the "go home" vans and the recent passport disaster. Yes, crime has fallen, but that is a decades-long trend that May can take little personal credit for (that she has done, and has protected her "safe hands" image is a tribute to her political operation).

May, the longest-serving Home Secretary since Rab Butler, and a future Conservative leadership candidate, will rightly be damaged by this shambles. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland