Media Watch 24/4/15

By Rowan Williams

The Labour party has defended itself from Conservative criticism, after it was revealed that Ed Miliband would blame the surge in deaths of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea on poor post-conflict planning in Libya. In his speech, Miliband had planned to say that the Prime Minister had been wrong to assume that Libya’s political culture and institutions could survive on their own after the ousting of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi in 2011. Conservatives have said that blaming Cameron for migrant deaths is shameful; Labour has stressed that it was not blaming the Prime Minister for the migrant crisis. The Prime Minister, meanwhile, hopes to reach out to English nationalists and UK Independence Party (UKIP) voters today with proposals for a separate election manifesto for England. The manifesto will include a pledge for an ‘English-only tax’. The Conservative Party will need to win over as many UKIP voters as possible to secure a majority government. The Prime Minister denies his proposals could stoke divisions between England and Scotland.

Armenia has held commemorative events on Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, known to some as the Armenian genocide. Flowers were laid and a minute’s silence was held near the Armenian capital Yerevan to mark the killings, in which Armenia says over 1.5 million people died. States recognising the killings as ‘genocide’ have seen strong criticism from Turkey, with Pope Francis’ use of the word ‘genocide’ to describe the conflict the most recent to cause a diplomatic row. French and Russian leaders are in Yerevan today to mark the event, both nations having recognised the event as ‘genocide’. Britain has sidestepped the issue surrounding the term ‘genocide’. Friday also sees commemorative events in Turkey for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipolli landings.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is to hold talks with the Chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party in Beijing in May, the KMT has announced. The talks would be the first meeting between the two Chairmen of the ruling parties of China and Taiwan. While the political atmosphere surrounding China and Taiwan remains tense, relations have warmed considerably over recent years as business ties have improved. The meeting in Beijing is expected to improve the standing of KMT Chairman Eric Chu, who observers say is the most promising candidate to rival Taiwan’s opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP, seen as being more wary of closer ties with China, have seen growing support over the past year, as concerns in Taiwan have grown over the nation’s growing closeness with the mainland.

The Papers

Politics and money are the top issues again today. The Guardian leads with news of the Prime Minister’s “gamble on English tax”. According to the paper, David Cameron is attempting to woo UK Independence Party voters by pledging England-only policies, including tax rules. Cameron has been warned he is “playing with fire”, the paper reports.  The Times leads with news that Labour will be charging on average an extra “£1,000 tax on families”, according to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The paper reports the IFS’ findings that Labour would “raise tax revenues by £12 billion more than the Tories by the end of the decade” – the equivalent of £1,000 per family. The Daily Telegraph leads with news that Labour’s Lord Jones has accused Party Leader Ed Miliband of “sneering at wealth creators”. Jones, who had been a trade chief in Gordon Brown’s government, expressed concerns over the effects of the party’s plans on business. Political worries also make the Financial Times top story, with the paper reporting of “Business jitters at Tory tactics”. Business leaders fearful of a Labour government have expressed frustration at Conservative election tactics, the paper reports. In other news, The Independent reports that the EU has vowed to “capture and destroy migrant boats” in its bid to tackle the Mediterranean migrant crisis. The budget for ocean patrols has been tripled, the paper writes, while Britain is to “send three rescue ships” to the Mediterranean.

British Media on China

On the banning of ‘funeral strippers’ in China: in the most widely-reported China story of the day, The Guardian, The Independent, and The Daily Telegraph all covered the news that Chinese authorities are cracking down on the hiring of strippers for funerals. The Guardian writes that the bereaved “often put on elaborate entertainment to send the departed off in style and draw more mourners to the ceremony”. The Daily Telegraph reports that “the practice remained largely an underground phenomenon” until photos emerged from two such funerals last month. The practice has now been outlawed by the Ministry of Culture, The Independent reports, citing a Chinese state media statement from the ministry saying the practice was “uncivilised”. The ministry blames “a general lack of other cultural events” for the popularity of the practice, the paper writes.

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