Media Watch 29/3/15

By Rowan Williams

In Tunis, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in an unity rally, after an attack on the city’s Bardo Museum on 18 March that left 21 tourists and one policeman dead. French President Francois Hollande joined Tunisia’s President Essebsi at the museum for a memorial ceremony on Sunday. The attack on 18 March had been carried out by two gunmen, both of whom were shot dead by police. Tunisian authorities confirmed on Sunday that the leader of the group who organised the attack had been killed on Saturday during a clash with Tunisia’s national guard.

Details of £12 billion of the government’s planned welfare cuts may not be revealed until after the UK’s general election on 7 May, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said. Leaked documents last week suggested that future cuts could include cutting Carer’s Allowance, taxing disability benefits, and limiting child benefit to a family’s first two children. Smith has said that none of the suggested options in the document were party policy. The Labour Party has also said it will not outline further details of its plans for potential cuts until after the election. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said that the planned £12 billion will require substantial reductions in housing and disability benefits over the next three years.

China must be vigilant in observing potential signs of deflation, the Governor of its central bank has said. Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank of China, has said that China’s policymakers have been monitoring sliding global economic growth and falling commodity prices. With the price of iron ore falling to a post-economic crisis record low on Friday, Zhou’s comments could prompt further concerns that China is in danger of slipping into deflation. Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia, Zhou also said that the slow in inflation was a little quick.

The Papers

A few political stories in the headlines today. The Sunday Times leads with news that the Labour Party has raced into a four-point lead in a YouGov poll “after Miliband’s TV success”. While Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband seems to have had success during his pre-election television interview, the Prime Minister’s “gaffes” during his own interview have fuelled “Tory nerves”, the paper writes. The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, leads with news of the Prime Minister’s “plan to win back disgruntled Tories”. In an interview with the paper, David Cameron revealed plans for new marriage tax breaks, as well as details on immigration and pensions. The Independent leads with news of the NHS’ “£7.5bn property nest egg”. The paper reports that NHS trusts are selling off surplus land and buildings “to help pay off deficit and fund services”. The Observer, meanwhile, leads with a warning not to “stigmatise depression” after it was learnt the pilot who crashed a Germanwings flight in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing 150, had suffered from depression. Senior UK psychiatrist Professor Simon Wessely stressed that having a history of depression should not bar someone from flying.

British Media on China

On the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB): With the 31 March application deadline approaching, more Western nations have applied to join the AIIB, with Russia, the Netherlands, Spain and Australia all now hoping to join. The AIIB’s continuing growth has received coverage from The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. The Guardian reports that Australia “is still telegraphing concerns about the structure” of the AIIB. The Daily Telegraph writes that the US appears “increasingly isolated” after Russia and Australia’s applications to join the bank.

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